Why the Hell Don’t You Ever See a 100 point Chablis? pt 2/2

In this final article (here is the first) examining our curious critical prejudice against dry white wines, I examine our inability to fully appreciate perfect Chablis with Patrick Piuze and share tasting notes on four of my all-time favorites.

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If you’ve not yet tried a Piuze Chablis, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Patrick Piuze left his wine bar in Montréal in 2000 to make Chablis, and after working for Leflaive, Verget, and Brocard, he knocked it out of the park in his first solo vintage: the outstanding 2008. Some dubbed him the new Raveneau. In addition to his Grand and 1er cru bottlings and his absolutely stellar Petit Chablis, Piuze also vinifies AOC-level grapes that he purchases from growers in various Chablis regional terroirs that he groups in a single bottling: “Terroir de Courgis”, “Terroir de Fleys”, “Terroir de Chichée”, or “Terroir de Fyé”.

These subdivided AOC bottlings compel us to listen even closer to Chablis. “Talk to people in Courgis or in Fleys, and they’ll tell you it’s all the same. But it’s not,” Piuze notes. Piuze also notes how in one particular portion of the grand cru Valmur — where he purchases grapes from Domaine Vocoret — there is a significant difference in the size of the grapes based on the varying amounts of limestone and clay underfoot; he notes how this invariably affects drainage and drastically changes what ends up in the glass1.

One senses in Patrick Piuze a respect for his growers’ grapes and a deeply ingrained reverence for the Chablis terroir, a humble and passionate man before his task. He did have some slightly irreverent things to say, however, about wine critics’ inability to recognize perfect Chablis:

Aside from needing to be an authentic expression of terroir, what is a perfect Chablis? When does a Chablis distinguish itself from others to the point where it deserves to be considered perfect?

In Chablis, we produce Chablis, and the Chardonnay grape is only a vector to accomplish that goal. What deserves to be called “perfect” is when the wine talks about its origine — where it’s from. Chablis can be described as acidity and minerality, bonded together, lending Chablis its own particular personality.

Do you think Chablis must age its ten years and acquire tertiary characteristics in order to be considered perfect? Should a luscious, younger Chablis be judged perfect by critics?

In Chablis, vintage is a very important issue, quite simply because we end up with two distinct styles of wine. (Click to Read more)

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  1. http://www.patrickpiuze.com/Vendanges-2009-Grand-Cru-Valmur.html. []

My Unending Quest for the Holy Grail

Wine collectors, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: you’ve got a cellar full of lovely, sturdy red wines which you never seem to find time to drink, simply because you’re not able to eat red meat every single night and continue functioning as a healthy, ambulatory human being.

Because one must eat fish and vegetables to stay alive, it’s typically the light whites—most often Riesling, Chenin and Chablis—which burn through my wine cellar quicker than acid alien blood through the hull of the Alien spacecraft.

I’m forever searching for food pairings; but more than anything else, I’m on the hunt for pairings which allow me to drink my more sturdy Pinot Noir, my Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Beaujolais crus, and the few Bordeaux reds I do purchase, alongside things that are healthier than sausages or steak.

The “Holy Grail” link is where I shall chronicle said pairings/recipes, for both white and red wines.

How to Pair Sangiovese and Shrimp

Shrimp and sangiovese sounds bonkers, right? Watch this.

Traditional Tuscan fare has been dubbed cucina povera, and it’s indeed rather impoverished and simple with staples including beans, breads and some roasted meats. We all can imagine pairing sangiovese to red meats like steak or lamb shoulder chops, and that’s great. But you don’t always have a place to park that in your innards.

Given the ridiculous amount of garlic and sage in this recipe, the shrimp plays second fiddle. Sure, you do taste a briny element of the shrimp, and it’s great, but the rest of the elements envelope it such that it pairs perfectly with sangiovese.

And let’s hear it for cucina povera, because this is a pretty inexpensive meal if you source the shrimp cheaply. Plus if you decide you love it, you can tweak the amounts up and make a trough to last for days.

TUSCAN-STYLE WHITE BEANS WITH SHRIMP & TOMATOES

Cooking time: about 40 min Total time: about 2 hrs (Click to Read more)