Chablis has the potential to provide some of the most profound pleasures in the Chardonnay pantheon. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much of that lately: Before tasting the wines reviewed below, I had found myself in a bit of a Chablis rut, the telltale minerality and purity of the region often missing in the ones I’d filled my glasses with.
And then these samples came into my office. They were from a producer I’d never heard of before, bottled in relatively small quantities, and priced very fairly.
What a wonderful discovery.
Domaine Charly Nicolle, based in the village of Fleys, owns approximately 65 acres of vineyards, including 39.5 of Chablis, 5.1 of Petit Chablis (in the “Sur le Bois de Dessus” lieu-dit), 15 of Premier Cru “Les Fourneaux,” 5.1 of Premier Cru “Mont de Milieu,” and 1/3 of an acre of Grand Cru “Bougros.” The range of terroirs (which the Nicolle family has owned since 1780), as well as the keen eye and intense talent of Charly Nicolle himself, have resulted in a selection of wines that I heartily recommend.
The wines are now being represented by the excellent Robert Kacher Selections, which means that they will be far more readily available than they ever have been before in the United States. [Note: The sample bottle of Grand Cru Bougros I was sent seemed to be in a quiet phase when I tasted it. I will publish my review of a new bottle of it once I receive it.]
Domaine Charly Nicolle Petit Chablis 2012
Exceptionally crisp aromas that remind me of seashells and chalk: Very mineral and slate-y, with bright lemon-juice hints. On the palate, vibrant, taut acidity mingles with lemon first, then a hint of spice and lemon verbena. Chalky and quite mineral, almost drying on the palate. This is self-possessed, taut, and confident, as serious a Petit Chablis as you’ll ever find. Drink now or hold for a few years; it’ll be delicious either way. SRP: $25.
Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis “Ancestrum” 2012
Complex aromas of warm slate joined by a hint of honey, white licorice, and something that reminds me of halvah. These turn to lemon, lime, lemongrass, verbena, fresh ginger, shiso, mineral, and slate on the palate, all brightened up with zippy acidity. Drink now - 2022. SRP: $30.
Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Premier Cru “Mont de Milieu” 2012
Aromas of guava, passionfruit, dried pineapple, crunchy apple, and mineral: Riper, yes, but thoroughly self-possessed for all its lovely aromatics. The palate, all melted silk in texture, boasts subtly honey- and flower-tinged pineapple notes as well as a nod in the direction of financier and lemon creme anglaise. Drink now - 2023. SRP: $45.
Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Premier Cru “Les Fourneaux” 2012
Toasty, almost smoky almond skin aromas dance with seashell and schist-like aromatics, as well as preserved lemon, Middle Eastern spices, and a touch of brininess. This continues on the palate, which is savory and briny alongside flavors of dried pineapple, slightly tart pear, white tea, and honeysuckle, finishing with a bit of nuttiness. Great concentration, poise, and confidence. Drink now - 2024. SRP: $45.