Made from old Chardonnay grown organically on rocky vineyards loaded with marine fossils, Costal’s Vaillons displays an intensity not commonly associated with this typically delicate, floral premier cru. Uncorking a bottle today offers a glimpse at the magic of aged Chablis: it is rich—unctuous, even—yet remains incredibly dynamic, with plenty of lip-smacking acidity. Currently at its peak, it offers a smoky, lightly honeyed bouquet along with a trademark suggestion of salted butter that only perfectly mature Chablis can provide.
Domaine Costal is a unique collaboration between the well-known Chablis producer Domaine Jean Collet and Kermit Lynch. The project began with a simple barrel tasting with Kermit and led to the first of now two cuvées, a custom label, and custom vinification and bottling process exclusively for the American market.
The vines are worked organically and Kermit and the Collet family together agree on a blend of stainless steel, foudre, and barrel vinifications. The skill of the Collets and their excellent terroirs combine to give us wines of extraordinary purity and finesse. There is no mistaking it—one taste and you are in Chablis territory: zesty minerality, wet stone, freshness and nervosity.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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