From €12.15, £11.75, $18.99, HK$180, 2180 yen, 175 Norwegian krone
It's always a thrill to encounter a promising new producer, and I'm indebted to Steve Daniel, who used to be the head wine buyer at Oddbins in its glory days, for steering me towards Patrick Piuze, a French Canadian who was introduced to the culture of wine by Marc Chapoutier, Michel's younger brother, at the age of 18 and set off around the wine world. He came back to his native Montreal and started a wine bar but ended up determined to make the stuff himself.
Lured by the beauty of Burgundy in 2000, he ended up making Chablis for Olivier Leflaive's négociant operation based in Puligny-Montrachet, A stint with Jean-Marie Guffens of Verget convinced him of the importance of terroir and the quality of the wines he was making led to his being appointed cellar master at the excellent Chablis producer Jean-Marc Brocard, but as the 2008 harvest loomed, he decided he had to go it alone.
He is not a vineyard owner but the quality of his wines suggests he certainly knows where the best vine roots are buried. He spies out great old vines and then picks their produce by hand himself. (Machine picking is now the norm in Chablis.) His speciality is bottling wines grown in very specific vineyards that are designed to showcase the particular qualities of those terroirs – not just in premier cru, and one grand cru, sites but, more distinctively, within the vast area designated simply Chablis. His 2009 from the lesser land designated Petit Chablis is also one of the best I can remember tasting.
What's exciting about his wines is that you really can see precise differences between the bottlings labelled, for instance, Terroirs de Chablis, Chichée, Courgis and Fleys, all villages within the Chablis appellation – and these terroir-driven examples of Chardonnay at its purest (and relatively long-lived) are not expensive. Bibendum in the UK currently have particularly good stocks of Patrck Piuze, Terroir de Chablis 2009 Chablis (much more tightly furled than the Terroir de Courgis 2009 - I'd ideally give it another year or two in bottle) at £13.25 a bottle, while the already open Petit Chablis 2009 is £11.75. See a wide range of other stockists at Wine-searcher.com.
For such a young producer with only two vintages on the market, from the great 2008 Chablis vintage and the rather softer 2009, Patrick Piuze aleady has impressive international distribution with wines available in Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, Benelux and the US particularly as well as in France.
See my tasting notes on a full range of his 2008s and many of his 2009s.