It’s not a silly question. It’s very important. One simply never sees a 100/100 or a 20/20 point Chablis. Why?
And why ask this of Chablis, rather than some other heralded dry white wine—when we all know that the wines given 100 points are ageworthy, massive reds from Bordeaux, California, or Piedmont; dusty, vintage Champagnes; or, if made of entirely white varietals, dessert wines1? (It would seem old, brawny and sweet are generally the orgasmic fancy of the 100 pointers).
And even for those critics who do not distribute 100 point scores like so many cheap after-dinner mints—the “serious” Old World critics, who seem to look down their aristocratic bifocals at us: Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, Clive Coates, or even the Yankee outsider exception in the crowd, Allen Meadows—the greatest laurel Chablis can attain is a rare 98 points (Raveneau’s ‘98 Les Clos). Granted, Meadows is uniquely conservative relative to American critics: he has only attributed a 100 point score to the ‘45 DRC Romanée Conti2. For an idea how liberally someone like former Wine Spectator critic and cringeworthy barnstorming douchebag James Suckling applies a 100 point descriptor, see here3 :
But among Old or New World critics, only once did Chablis get a gold star. In November 20044, only weeks after Bettane and Dessauve split from La Revue du Vin de France5 in reaction to the Revue’s acquisition by the teen magazine publisher Marie Claire, the magazine awarded 20/20 points to the ’79 Raveneau Les Clos.
Pyrrhic victory for Chablis, perhaps, as makeup-covered, teeny-bopping Marie Claire was at the helm?
But, save for that: that’s it.
Really? Among the entire scored back vintage history of Chablis? Just one disputed, single instance of perfection, regardless of vintage and producer? “Even Raveneau was only able to get it together once in all those years”, you’d ask?
It’s odd, to say the least. But why not instead ask why there is rarely a 100-point dry Savennières? Keller Riesling6? Or Huet Vouvray7? You could just as easily prod our readiness to recognize perfection in those undeniably mesmerizing, ageworthy racehorses.
It’s because Chablis is the most amazing dry white wine in the world. It’s a standard-bearer for terroir-driven wines that show their minerality to nearly any taster (only Riesling gives Chardonnay growing in Chablis a run for its money regarding transparency). No one can argue with Chablis when it manages to transmit its Kimmeridgian or Portlandian limestone terroir in an indelible, recognizable aroma of the sea and its minerality.
- I know what you’re thinking: what’s the highest rated Montrachet? For Burghound, it was the ‘92 Ramonet tasted 8/10 at 99 points, highest of all Montrachet. [↩]
- http://www.princeofpinot.com/article/218/ [↩]
- Aww, bummer. Suckling finally took the original video I’d cited, Searching For 100 Points, down. Well, not to worry, the following video illustrates the point. [↩]
- http://90pluswines.com/Wine/1949KXJS979/Raveneau-(Domaine-Francois–Jean-Marie)—Chablis-Les-Clos/1979.aspx. Gilman also gave 98 to the 07 Raveneau Les Clos. [↩]
- http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/inside1004 [↩]
- Update below in the comments as of 10/2014! [↩]
- Jancis gave the 1947 Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut Lieu a 20/20 in ‘03. But: that’s sweet. http://90pluswines.com/Wine/22392449947/Huet-(Domaine-Noel-(Gaston)—Vouvray-Moelleux-Le-Haut-Lieu/1947.aspx [↩]