1997 Domaine Servin Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru


The 1997 Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise at the end of my tasting of 2018s and 2017s at Domaine Servin. I can’t say I have a ton of experience with 1997, which is not exactly remembered as a great year for Chablis. Of 1997, my colleague Steve Tanzer writes “…a large rainstorm at the beginning of September revived wines after a hot, dry August, and the late-September harvest produced wines with good fruit maturity and mostly low acidity,” before assigning a score of 89 to the vintage in the Vinous Vintage Chart. Not exactly the most inspiring of comments.

And yet, in the glass, Servin’s 1997 Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru is exactly what it should be at this stage: fully mature and at the total peak of what it has to give. The orange peel, hazelnut, spice and slate notes, and dense, rich texture, are all typical of a wine that has aged gracefully in bottle and has now arrived at its summit of expression. The 1997 won’t get any better with further time in bottle, and I would not push my luck with aging, but it is absolutely delicious today. The fear of premature oxidation has naturally and rightly scared consumers from cellaring white Burgundy, although in general Chablis seems to have been less affected than the Côte de Beaune. I will have more thoughts to share on premox in my upcoming report on Chablis. In the meantime, all I can say is that 1er Cru Chablis remains one of the best values for the consumer in fine whites that don’t cost a fortune and that can age well for many years, of course where premox is not an issue. 90/Drink 2019.