About this wine
Petit Chablis needs a new marketing team. The name suggests an inferior version of Chablis but it's just a different expression. Eighteen percent of the appellation’s vineyards are designated Petit. The soil, Portlandian limestone, is more recently developed than Kimmeridgien.
100% Chardonnay from plateau sites in Bienes and Frye (usually grapes from Maligny are included for their more forward fruit but there was none in 2016). The vines are about 10 years old.
About the grape
Chardonnay is the most popular wine variety in the world - and in the US. Winemakers love the green-skinned grape as well because it’s so easy to grow and adaptive to many different production techniques. Grown everywhere, Chardonnay’s greatest expressions are widely believed to come from Burgundy. Indeed, this is believed to be where the grape originated. Chablis, in Northern Burgundy and Champagne also offer superlative examples of Chardonnay.
About the vintageStéphanie Courtault-Michelet referred to 2016 as “a nightmare for vignerons.” All of their plots were impacted and often by a variety of problems (hail frost, rain & intense heat). More and earlier treatments were needed and still they wound up with one-third the usual yield. The vintage for Petit Chablis, specifically, was even more widely exposed to the frost so volume was even less. However, lower yields often result in greater concentration.
Our Tasting ImpressionsVery crisp yet good body. The limestone minerality really comes through on the nose. Tremendous length for a Petit with some lingering spice. Drink now or hold for a few more years. Stéphanie says theirs matures uncommonly well.
On Your TableThe acidic tension in this wine makes it incredibly versatile and a great aperitif -though preferably with food. We would be hard pressed to think of a snack or appetizer this wouldn’t taste great alongside. OK, that’s a bit of a cop-out. I recently enjoyed it with some very simple sushi - light on the soy sauce. Delicious! Serve at about 50 degrees.
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We were introduced to Stéphanie Courtault-Michelet by Christine Dubreuil. Both are members of the prestigious Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne. Stéphanie’s father, Jean-Claude Courtault established Domaine JC Courtault with just 1.5 hectares of very young vines. His first wine production was in 1987. Stéphanie and her husband Vincent Michelet joined him in 2007 after working at a domaine in Alsace. Through a land grant, they started their own estate but decided to merge with JC. The result is one family jointly operating two estates from one property.
Today, they have a combined 11 hectares in Chablis and 16 in Petit Chablis - all Chardonnay. All of their 1er and Grand Cru wines are from carefully selected, purchased grapes. Vincent manages the vineyards and he and Stephanie make the wines. Their vineyards are in 6 different communes, but mostly Lingorelles and Beines. Vines are up to 35 years old though they recently acquired a plot with 60 year old vines.
Since 2012, they have used the DEPHY program - a more natural approach that reduces treatments. Picking is by machine and all bunches are de-stemmed and immediately pressed for optimal freshness. Typical yield is 50 hl/ha.
Fermentation is in steel tanks for 8-10 days. Two months after harvest, the juice undergoes malolactic fermentation to balance the acidity and add complexity. The wine is aged on fine sediment until spring, enhancing the structure. Then in the spring or summer, the wine is racked to separate out the sediment, fined if necessary and filtered.
About 120,000 bottles are produced and sold, mostly in Asia, from their new and modern production and tasting facility in Lingorelles. To our memory, this is the only tasting room with a working aquarium.
This is a joyful family and that comes across in their wine. Stéphanie is a consummate professional but she always seems to have a big, beautiful smile on her face. One family...two estates and everything we love about Chablis!