There are co-ops and then there are co-ops. While I’ve had a lot of bad wine made at co-ops all over the world, there are several that over perform. Caves des Estazargues in the Rhone, Castelnau and Nicolas Feuillatte in Champagne. And La Chablisienne in Chablis to name a few. What do these over-performers have in common? The have good members (growers) and good leaders who have a clear vision of what fine wine from the area they inhabit can be. They are also well equipped and employ winemakers who have both technical expertise and a local understanding of the wine they make. These sorts of co-ops make fine wine that is often as good or better than wines made by domaines or the big negoçiants (who often buy juice from the co-ops). La Chablisienne is that sort of co-op in Chablis that consistently over delivers. To see just how good they can be, check out this village level Chablis “La Pierrelee.” While la Chablisienne makes lots of 1er cru and grand cru cuvees and even some other cuvees at the village level, this (like a Brut NV in Champagne) is where you check out the house style. In this case, you’ll be glad you did.
La CHABLISIENNE, Chablis La Pierrelee, 2014 ($19.94)
100% Chardonnay fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged 12 months, 95% in those same tanks and 5% in oak barrels (20% new). Straw color with green highlights and good legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Classic mineral and citrus fruit (lots of ripe lemon) Chablis with clean chalky-mineral earth and lots of focus. Great seafood wine (which most Chardonnay is not) and fine as an everyday white. Starts subtle but gains depth and complexity in the glass. BearScore: 91.