(CORRECTION UPDATE, JULY 9: The suggested retail price for the 2020 Raoul Gautherin et Fils Grands Vins de Bourgogne Chablis is $36 a bottle. I erroneously reported the cost in my original article, for which I apologize to Craig Gandolf at Cynthia Hurley French Wines and, of course, my readers. That said, I stand by my opinion expressed in the following article: The Gautherin Chablis is fabulous!)
With summer flowers in bloom and temperatures climbing, I crave chilled, crisp, refreshing and elegant white wines. One of my favorite drinks is French Chablis, the dry, somewhat flinty and roundly textured kind that soothes the palate – and mind – after a sunny day of good retirement living.
Five months ago, knowing full well that the snow was melting and it would soon be spring, I asked one of my top wine expert friends, Craig Gandolf, for a recommendation on a nice, affordable Chablis to suit my taste. It helps that Craig is a neighbor and the National Sales Director of Cynthia Hurley French Wines in West Newton, Mass. I value his expertise immensely.
Naturally, Craig came up with another gem: a Grands Vins de Bourgogne Chablis 2020 made by the historic house of Domaine Raoul Gautherin & Fils.
It’s difficult to find a quality Chablis for $25 or less, and Gautherin’s is one of the special white wines that delivers across the board for the money.
Yes, it’s the entry level Chablis for Gautherin, a family-owned estate that’s been producing wines in Burgundy for eight generations. Yet the same care and detail go into this bottling as Gautherin’s prestigious Premier Crus and Grands Cru Chablis. The Chardonnay grapes get the benefit of Burgundy’s famous terroir: hillside vineyards planted in unique Kimmeridgian clay/limestone soils that elevate the Chablis region to its world-class status.
Gautherin’s estate vineyards total 16 hectares (39.6 acres) with 87 percent of them planted to Chardonnay. They are classified into three quality-tier sections: Grands Cru (2.4 acres); Premier Crus (9.8 acres), and Chablis (22 acres). The average age of the vines is 37 years.
So back to the Chablis.
There’s no looking back after uncorking the bottle. It’s enticingly aromatic in green apple, lemon and mint. There’s a wet stone scent too – a harbinger of the minerality that flows through the wine on the palate. And that’s where the Chablis hits its peak, in the mouth, with freshness, verve and a soft, soothing texture. The finish is dry and uplifting, with a lemony highlight.
Gautherins’ Grands Vins de Borgogne Chablis is vinified in steel tanks and aged nearly 11 months on the lees.
For roughly $22 a bottle, it’s an overachiever in what it delivers on Chablis’ quality spectrum.
As mentioned previously, Raoul Gautherin & Fils produces a highly acclaimed Grand Cru Chablis ($70) and two Premier Crus – Vailllons ($45) and Montmains ($35).
You can learn more about these wines at www.cynthiahurley.com. And remember to ask for Craig.