Updated: Dec 29, 2020
The Village of Chablis
Yesterday I attended an amazing tasting here in Stockholm. The matter of interest was the splendid Chablis producer Jean-Marc Brocard and the event was organized by their Swedish importer, Johan Lidby Vinhandel. For over 40 years Jean-Marc Brocard has run his stellar company with passion and determination. Starting with one single hectar and a dream, Brocard is today one of Chabli's largest and most influential producers with a whopping 144 hectares. I visited Brocard only last summer, in June, and was very excited about this opportunity to get to try their whole range and back-vintages again.
In Sweden, Brocard is quite large in representation at the monopoly "Systembolaget" and its wines incredibly popular amongst us Swedes. No wonder. The part of our cousine that comes from the long coast line, with fresh shellfish and fish, lends itself extremely well to be paired with the Brocard style of Chablis.
As Jean-Marc due to retirement has taken a step back we got an in-depth, albeit 2-dimentional, introduction by his heir- the brilliant Julien Brocard. Zoom is a blessing in these uncertain times of no travel and social distancing. But there were perks! We got to enjoy the swallow's swift flight over the vineyard Sainte Claire behind Julien and happily took part in their spirit-lifting song accompanying Juliens charming French accent. A sure promise of a summer to come. Rain or shine.
The signature Vineyard Sainte Claire in the background and bottles from the Brocard-range. Note the chalky, light soil!
Soon-to-be Chablis grapes: Baby Chardonnay
What an incredibly rewarding tasting this was.
It truly illustrated how the Brocard range has common denominators as well as a vast diversity when it comes to the many various plots and terroir. The vintage in this Burgundian marginal, cool climate, is also always key. The vintage 2019 was present in the form of tank-samples and I must say it's looking good already from were I'm sitting. Sure, it will be hard to top amazing vintage 2018 but I think 2019 will give 2018 a good run for the money. We also got to experience how the older vinages hold up. And boy do they! We enjoyed vintages all the way down to 1990. Honestly, I'm still baffled. This is what dreams are made of. Wines from 1998, 1991 and 1992 so full of life, so very fresh and vital still and going on 30 years...Age AND beauty!
Chablis is a modest area in size and many of the ambitious winemakers here are very small scale. Brocard is one of the larger one's and as it were, one of the top producers of the region.
Brocard has all of 144 ha of vineyards spread out over the whole area of Chablis. The tasting of no less than 42 different wines displayed how masterful this producer is at exposing a certain vinayards sense of place, its essence, in the wine. The terroir takes a confident lead role and not some small walk-on-part in the character of the wines.
A lovely and sunny tasting day and lunch at Brocard in June 2019. Préhy, Chablis.
One of many things that impressed me in these flights was that not only the Premier- and Grand Cru's , but rather also the entry-level wines, are of such quality that they are eligible for aging as well.
Chablis is divided into four main chategories of classificaton; Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and, the jewels in the crown, the 7 Grand Cru's. The latter 7 plots are all situated on the same hillside. The soil is quite different especially between the Petite Chablis that has Portlandian Clay and the Premier- and Grand Cru-vineyards that consists of the iconic Kimmeridgian soil. For the incurably curious there is an explanation on the origin of the unique Chablis soil to be found at the end of the article.
The talented team at J-M Brocard are ahead when it comes to sustainability and are slowly but surely converting to Biodynamical farming and winemaking. As of yet, about 70 ha is certified.
Julien Brocard has large shoes to fill but alas, he is no spring chicken. He has been in charge of the vineyards since 1999. He also has great help and works closely with Odile Van den Moere, cellar master at Brocard since 20 years.
Julien is now naturally making his mark on the Brocard wines by carefully and slowly implementing his personal style. One change that might not, at first, have been to his fathers liking is the fermenting and ageing on foudres (large oak casks). This however applies first and foremost to the more complex Premier- and Grand Cru wines.
Another of Juliens missions as head chef is minimizing the use of sulfites, another step that is absolutely of great interest to the consumers as a result of the trend with natural wines and non-invasive winemaking.
At last. What is so impressive with the Chablis wines from Brocard, and certainly other producers, is that they age SO well. Even at entry-level! These wines are elegant, well-crafted, concentrated and full of that sense of place we just adore. Also these generally much affordable wines in the lower range still stand the test of time and are furthermore even improving with age. Well done indeed. Chablis- where dreams come true!
A bit about the region: The city of Chablis is located about 20 miles southeast of Paris. The history of its fascinating soil dates back all the way to Jurassic times (150 and 200 million years ago). The chalky fundament of Chablis consists of matter from a sea that used to be, the so called Paris Basin. Shells from oysters, mussels and bones from a myriad of sea life sedimented and created this unique, mineral foundation as the land eventually rose, and the natural habitat was gone. Much marine life fossilised and to look at stones dug up the Chablis region is truly a natural wonder.
Read more about the producer, Brocard: http://brocard.fr
Learn more about Grand Cru Chablis: http://www.grandscrusdechablis.com
Get in touch with the Swedish importer: http://www.johanlidbyvinhandel.se/