Domaine Christophe et fils

The Story

Sebastien Christophe is our budding superstar from Chablis. We love his wines, but we also love him, the ultimate underdog. While known for its stolid rigidity, France’s wine culture still allows for a lot of mobility. That’s how a young kid gifted just a couple of acres of average vineyard land in Chablis could rise up seemingly out of nowhere to make brilliant wine from the three most heralded Premier Crus in the region. That happened because he was also gifted with a good bit of moxie and a cranking work ethic, which will you get far anywhere. What makes Sebastien’s wines so great? Well, as is the case in Chablis, it’s not the winemaking, which is pretty standard for the region, as the goal here is never to showcase cellar prowess, but rather the nature of the vineyard. Sebastien vinifies and ages wine overwhelmingly in stainless steel, as is the general practice of the region. Less than 10% of the wines see cellar aging in neutral oak barrels, providing a little textural and structural contrast to the bristly energy of stainless steel.

He started with a small half hectare parcel of Petit Chablis from his family and made a run for it. After winemaking school he started to vinify this tiny parcel and has slowly acquired small parcels of village vineyards and a lot of Petit Chablis land. He also rents parcels that he farms entirely himself. Today, he has three premier crus on the right bank of the Serein river, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre. To our surprise, it’s difficult (almost impossible) to find his wines in town on any list. He exports almost everything, save the wines sold to some of the top spots in Paris. Luckily for us, we are the first to work with Christophe in the United States. -TV

Lay of the Land

Despite nearly unequivocally mentioned in the first breath by sommeliers as one of their favorite wine regions, Chablis often appears in books as the “I guess I should make a little room for Chablis in my Côte d’Or Burgundy bible” category. Indeed it’s not as sexy and elite as the Côte d’Or, but there is a lot to say that doesn’t get said enough. So, while we don’t intend to write an entire book out of this section on our website, perhaps we can bring some ideas not often discussed about Chablis, but relevant to better understand the subject—one that is not so expensive a lesson in understanding terroir compared to that Golden Slope, further south. (Maybe Chablis should consider changing its name to the Côte d’Argent, or maybe the Côte de Platine—a little silver or platinum could be a competitive contrast to the gold.

Chablis winters can be bitterly cold and dry. The lack of snowfall can be deceiving when you’re feeling the bite of the wind, and there are precious few easily found and inviting establishments to duck into and shake off the chill with a warming drink. Its semi-continental climate is similar to Champagne’s to the north, with the winds that whistle in from the North Sea. The frigid air that goes straight to the bone is caused by a relative lack of trees, which fully exposes to the elements, making one of the best refuges to warm up a 50-55°F cellar.

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Domaine Christophe et fils Petite Chablis

Domaine Christophe et fils - 2018 Petit Chablis Magnum

Price: $69.00
Size: 1500ml
Availability: 

21 in stock

Type of Wine: White
Grape(s): Chardonnay
Style: High acid, Mineral, Medium Body
Please note that shipping cost for Magnums is double the price than a regular bottle.

The Wine

Sebastien’s Petit Chablis is a great blind taste where even seasoned veterans within the wine trade can easily miss. The aromas of sweet preserved lemon, wet stone, flint and sweet and dry herbs are a clear sign of the region and grape, but it’s the palate that can be deceiving. It’s fully endowed body and softer edges places on the right bank of the Serein River—where all Sebastien’s vines are located—and carries power like a premier cru and can often be equal in body to some elegantly crafted grand cru Chablis; however, it’s not a true comparison in depth of complexity found in higher classed crus.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: It comes from a collection of parcels located on the plateau of Portlandian limestone behind the grand cru slope and premier crus on the right bank and is not as mineral-sharp as Petit Chablis grown on the left bank on more pure rock soils. Many of the plots are new and some date back to the 1960s, giving an average of about thirteen years (noted in 2020). The altitude ranges between 190-250 meters with multiple aspects, some flat and others steep. It’s a total knockout and has found its way onto may celebrated wine list by-the-glass programs; as has our next wine, the Chablis village.

Vinification: This wine is naturally fermented in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation is completed in all of Christophe’s wines and bottling takes place after 7-8 months depending on the vintage—less time for lower acid vintages and more time for higher ones. It’s fined with bentonite (a natural clay) and filtered with diatomaceous earth (fossilized sedimentary algae with a silaceous skeleton).

Aging: 7-8 months in stainless steel before bottling—higher acid vintages will be aged for more time and less time for those with lower acidity.

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Mineral, Soft Angles, Energetic, Sweet Green and Yellow Citrus, Full-Bodied for Petit Chablis

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

Portlandian limestone—a hard stone with less active calcium than Kimmeridgian limestone of Chablis

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted from 1960s until now with an average age of 12 years (2019)

Altitude (meters):

190-250

Aspect:

Multiple aspects in all directions

Slope:

Flat to steep
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfites. It’s fined with bentonite (a natural clay) and filtered with diatomaceous earth (fossilized sedimentary algae with a silaceous skeleton)—both are natural products.

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

12-12.6

pH:

3.00-3.10

Titratable Acidity:

N/A

Residual Sugar:

Dry

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Sebastien Christophe

About The Wine

Sebastien’s Petit Chablis is a great blind taste where even seasoned veterans within the wine trade can easily miss. The aromas of sweet preserved lemon, wet stone, flint and sweet and dry herbs are a clear sign of the region and grape, but it’s the palate that can be deceiving. It’s fully endowed body and softer edges places on the right bank of the Serein River—where all Sebastien’s vines are located—and carries power like a premier cru and can often be equal in body to some elegantly crafted grand cru Chablis; however, it’s not a true comparison in depth of complexity found in higher classed crus.