• Thunder Mountain Strike:  Louis Michel Chablis Montée de Tonnerre

    Thunder Mountain Strike: Louis Michel Chablis Montée de Tonnerre

    Sitting with friends at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe with a platter of oysters is one of life's great pleasures. This occurs far less frequently than I'd like, but after returning from a vineyard tour in Mendocino I found myself there before a late flight back home. Zuni's wine list is one of the best in the city, and it's always a challenge to be decisive before the oysters arrive. A friend wasted no time in choosing the perfect pairing of stainless steel Chablis. There may be several trustworthy options in this group, but nothing exceeds Louis Michel. And no bottling brings more obvious value than his famous Premier Cru, Montée de Tonnerre - or as it translates, Thunder Mountain.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2014, 2016, & 2017 Louis Michel Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre.


    Montée de Tonnerre, much like Gevrey's Clos Saint Jacques or Chambolle's Les Amoureuses, is really Premier Cru in name only given the proper hands. The south-west facing slope sits next to the 7 Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis along the right bank of the Serein river. In the northernmost region for still Chardonnay this SW exposure is vital to bring ripeness, one that seriously separates the great from the modest in Chablis.

    Louis Michel was an innovator in the 1960's, moving away from barrel aging of Chardonnay. The Kimmeridgian limestone soil here was viewed as so unique that stainless steel was the more ideal vessel to fully unmask the terroir. Steely Chablis and oysters can be a great combo, but the old vines of Montée de Tonnerre bring a sense of grandeur that marches to a different beat.

    Michel's Thunder Mountain is always a favorite selection for the cellar, as the wine picks up flesh and deeper color with time. The crushed oyster shell component that is exhibited on day one is met with sweet cream and hazelnut notes that slowly develop.

    In the context of great white Burgundy vineyards, Montée de Tonnerre is always part of the elite group. The price tag can start at $230+ from some Chablis domaines. Louis Michel's lineup has always been synonymous with value, but at as low as $45 per bottle his Thunder Mountain is unquestionably the gem of the region.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Moreau-Naudet Chablis: The Magic Touch

    Moreau-Naudet Chablis: The Magic Touch

    Chablis continues to offer value that's seemingly more and more unmatched. While prices of white Burgundy in the Côte de Beaune climb, Chablis from artisanal producers continually over-deliver at various price points. The small domaine of Moreau-Naudet really captures the best of this current state of affairs in Chablis.Quantities may be painfully low, but quality couldn't be higher.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a wide range from Moreau-Naudet stretching from 2016 back to 2013.


    Moreau-Naudet falls into a select camp of Chablis producers who are incredibly skilled in pushing ripeness to the max the old fashioned way, serious hands-on farming. In the cellar, the non-interventionist approach is then focused on two elements above all: preserving the distinctive characteristics of each Premier and Grand Cru site, and maintaining tension and salinity to counter this riper style of Chablis. 

    Sadly, today much of Chablis is still harvested by machine, and use of herbicides and pesticides is prevalent. Much of what we've become accustomed to drinking from these famed limestone slopes is a crisp and lean wine that's really just the result of early picking and industrial farming focused on high yields. The late Stéphane Moreau knew there was an alternative route to take after becoming enchanted with the wines and the more natural approach by the revered 
    Vincent Dauvissat.

    Stéphane joined his father, taking control of the family domaine in 1999, and flipped everything on its head. Today the regimen is full organic farming with biodynamic principles, natural yeast ferments, and harvesting 100% by hand. Relentless focus in the vineyard means picking, here in the coldest region in France for still Chardonnay, is pushed as late as possible to ensure maximum ripeness.

    The style here is supremely textural and deep Chardonnay, still with an unmistakable Chablisienne oyster-shell mineral component. The wines exemplify that ultimate ideal of density without weight. Moreau-Naudet joins the likes of Thomas Pico (Pattes Loup) and Alice et Olivier De Moor to embody this style perfectly.

    Allen Meadows of Burghound was one of the first to highlight the success here, 

    "I find Moreau to be one of the most exciting young growers in Chablis and his wines are well worth the trouble to get to know if you haven't yet tried them."
    Posted by Alexander Rosen