Following a delay of many months, a long-planned wine dinner among a small gathering of old and new friends finally took place recently on a warm Saturday evening in Mt Airy. The host, a wine enthusiast who's attended a number of my wine tasting classes over the years, featured an array of white and red burgundy wines (to which he is unabashedly partial), accompanied by a movable feast of French cheeses, shrimp cocktail, ripe, juicy Jersey tomatoes, rice and rack of lamb, topped off by a decadent selection of pastries and chocolates with a pour of a local Pennsylvania ice wine.
We started off at the home of the host's neighbor with the two white Burgundies: a 2018 Puligny-Montrachet from the Domaine Vincent Bachelet and a Premier Cru Chablis from the Vignoble Dampt.
The Puligny-Montrachet is produced at the family estate in Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune region of Burgundy where Vincent established in 2007 his portion of the original 4th generation estate of 100 hectares which was divided among him and his brothers.
This 100% Chardonnay exudes a particular aroma of tropical fruit, notably pineapple, along with hints of white flowers and orange zest, which carries onto the palate supported by a touch of minerality and bright acidity. The mouthfeel is full, enveloping and expressive; the finish is long and persistent. The host was a little surprised at how fruity the wine came off, more than he had recollected from previous tastings. What is especially notable about the wines of Burgundy, which, with a few exceptions, are produced from just two varietals (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), is that the expression of the same grape in the same region can vary widely depending on the particular terroir, appellation, and even vineyard, sometimes referred to as lieu-dit or locality. This is especially evident in the Chablis we tasted next.
The Chablis region is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region, and because of the somewhat cooler climate, the wines are typically less fruity, more acidic and more minerally, or even "steely" or "flinty". This is why I am especially fond of Chablis (not to be confused with imitations you may have come across growing up years ago when French wine designations were commonly appropriated by unscrupulous wine makers in California and elsewhere). Chablis is also generally only slightly oaked, if at all.
The 2018 Premier Cru Chablis we sampled was from the Mont-de-Milieu vineyard holding of Vignoble Dampt, another family estate that goes back generations and has earned a special HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale) certification that recognizes its sustainable farming practices. I should add that it is a very good value at just $37 a bottle as fine Chablis are often priced much higher.