2014 Chablis hits back with a loving line of mineral and acidity like that of the good old days. It's back baby!
If there's one thing to be said about great Chablis it has to be the focused chalky minerality throughout the wine. This is the Chablis of the good old days. You see it on the nose through the often publicised crushed oyster shell analogy and on the palate it's spoken commonly as mineral (unless of course you are against the word itself). When this "minerality" is evident almost nothing in the world of Chardonnay can compare, but when it's stripped of this character it losses its Chablis-ness, becoming flabby, flat and normal. How boring!
In the handful of years leading up to 2014, Chablis had experienced a plethora of vintage conditions. If you read the vintage charts you don't have to look too far into the detail. It simply says - "difficult", "hard", "tough", "disappointing"... just look at Jancis Robinson's review of Burgundy vintages:
"A disappointment to Burgundy’s Chardonnay growers who had hoped for higher volumes than 2012. Instead, a short crop thanks to the cold spring was diminished still further by the careful fruit selection required after an erratic summer. All in all, producers intent on quality have acquitted themselves well."
"Produced very low volumes of Chardonnay in Burgundy. What there is, however, is being welcomed with cautious enthusiasm. As with the reds, poor quality was expected after such challenging weather conditions, but the first tastings indicated the wines are very good. A triumph against adversity, perhaps?"
"Less ripe than the previous two vintages, needing chaptalisation in many cases. Chaotic weather made this a tricky vintage overall."
"High acidity, after the more opulent style of the 2009s. A small, ripe crop - although a storm in early September did produce some rot, so sorting was crucial - as ever."
The 2012 and 2013 vintages were extremely tough of Chablis in my eyes. These were vintages which saw extremely low yields which in turn brings about concentrated fruit characters and potentially lower acidities. These factors, along with rot can, in a lot of cases, create those flabby and boring wines I spoke of earlier. It's not all bad news though - 2014 was just around the corner!
The 2014 vintage has produced some stunners already. From my perspective, a retailer and a winemaker, these wines are back to the Chablis of old. Fine, mineral, and mouthwatering Chardonnay with a backbone.
Thank goodness for 2014!