2014 Chablis from Sébastien Dampt
It seems counterintuitive, nevertheless, I’m drawn to sleek, stripped-down whites like a nervy Chablis when it’s cold outside, baby! The mineral attack provided by well-made Chablis mimics that rush you get when you step outside into the chill. Your senses get a jolt.
The Wine House’s David Netzer (palate extraordinaire and lead wine scout) had been searching to direct-import a Chablis producer for some time. A series of fortunate twists and turns led David to young vigneron, Sébastien Dampt. Sébastien began making wines for himself in 2007, having acquired 7 hectares of vines; mostly old vine. Prior to starting out on his own venture, Sébastien had done the requisite internships in other viticultural areas and countries. He had been, and continues to still, work alongside his father and brother at the family’s, Domaine Daniel Dampt. Sébastien’s wines are incredibly pure, traditional in approach, and, because he is at the start of his career, wildly affordable.
Sébastien and his brother
A village Chablis can lack the distinction of Premier Cru or Grand Cru Chablis – not Sébastien’s. His village Chablis is well-above the crowd. Some of the credit goes to his vineyard holdings which include several parcels of lieux-dits – Vieille Voye, Champlain, Petit Léchet, Bois de Milly et les Fontenilles. He masterfully blends old vine with young vine fruit to create the right balance of fruit to acidity that he is looking for in his wines. As you’d expect, the wine is vinified in stainless steel tank. It goes through malo-fermentation and sits on its lees in tank for six months before bottling.
The 2014 vintage was a favorable one in Burgundy. In Chablis, fresh, vibrant mineral notes are the stand-out. You will get that in abundance with Sébastien’s 2014 Chablis. Crunchy on the palate with sparks of white fleshed fruit and delicate citrus notes that collide into a prolonged finish. This is what one hopes to achieve with Chardonnay grown on Kimmeridgian soil. While visiting Sébastien two weeks ago, David checked in via email and reported this back to us, “I went through all the ‘14s, and they are THE BOMB.”
By December, I’ve usually had a few meals with Dungeness crab thanks to my Sicilian father-in-law, who frequents, and is friendly with, the guys down at the wharf. Not this year. The crab season has been delayed (for good reason), and no start to it is in sight. Boo hoo! Still my mind can imagine how delicious a cold glass of Dampt Chablis with cracked crab would taste. Of course any crustacean or shellfish would pair beautifully with this wine, so I can also imagine a glass served with a tower of fruits de mer. Now wouldn’t that be grand!– Anya Balistreri