Domaine Julien Baillard, "Les Pargues" Chablis 2018
Baillard’s “Les Pargues” is, at its heart, a Premier Cru wine hiding in plain sight. The vineyard lies nestled next to the 1er Cru “Montmains,” with the same southern exposures and iconic “Kimmeridgian” limestone soils. As the story goes, when the maps of Chablis were drawn up in the 1920s-’30s and the Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites identified, the owners and farmers who oversaw Les Pargues were fighting in WWI and the vineyard was essentially fallow, thereby excluded from consideration in the Premier Cru classification. That typographical oversight, and their loss, is our win: though the front label may just read “Vieilles Vignes,” those old vines are indeed from the Les Pargues site, as indicated on the back label and in the bottle.
Fermented beginning to end in stainless steel, this beautiful, fresh Chablis hits all the notes: cut white flowers, chalky wet rock, jasmine, lime zest, oyster shell, and stony peach pit with nervy minerality, focused citrus, herbs, and a brisk lemon-inflected finish. The soils, derived from ancient shellfish, inform the pairing: put this up against winter salt-and-pepper crab, oysters, or poached shrimp with lemongrass.
Julien Baillard comes from distinguished lineage, and one of only a handful of producers with access to this wonderful site. Elodie Servin, the proprietress and vigneronne, traces her lineage in Chablis to the 16th century – the Servin name is mentioned by the monks of the Saint-Martin abbey in ancient writings from that time. Her uncle, François, runs the eponymous Servin line and she maintains the Baillard name (her maternal grandmother) to differentiate the two.
Considering the family lineage, the painfully small number of houses producing a Chablis from the Les Pargues site, and the Premier Cru breed present in this wine, its $30 price tag makes for a standout bargain in a very crowded field of very expensive Chablis. Enjoy!