Chablis is in a time of transformation. The clay-limestone soils, the slopes and the drainage are all the same, but into a time of warmer weather a wider range of styles is possible there. Many vignerons now raise more wine in small oak barrels in the style of the Cote d’Or an hour to the south, and now one can buy excellent Chablis that resembles Puligny-Montrachet as much as anything else.
Chablis in its classic form, pure and steely, smooth and clean, is still among wine’s great pleasures; and it is on this style of wine that the Domaine Gautheron focuses. Winemaking here is by Cyril Gautheron, who took over from his father not too many years ago. His laser focus resembles his wine. Cyril vinifies all the plots separately — the cuverie is long and holds dozens of stainless steel thanks — and he blends them into wines of remarkable precision and clarity.
The Gautherons offer wines at three levels. There is Petit Chablis, made from the ring of vineyards that surround the traditional limits of the appellation. This is straightforward wine, but very well made and a good value. At the village level we buy the Chablis Vieilles Vignes, a significant step up in complexity with just a whisper of oak. The premier cru Vaucoupin is entirely vat-raised, and while it retains the purity of its fruit, there is more opulence, more intensity, and a longer finish. We drink them all regularly, depending on the occasion.