William Fèvre is one of the most highly regarded of the producers in Chablis. I met to taste with winemaker Didier Seguier. He’s been working for Fèvre for 21 years. He was born in Cognac, grew up in Blaye, and he arrived in Burgundy in 1992 after his studies. He started working for Bouchard Pere & Fils, and then in 1998, Henriot – the owner of Bouchard – purchased William Fèvre.
The Fèvre family is one of the oldest in Chablis, and can trace their lineage back to 1750 in the village. William started the company in 1958, when the whole of the Chablis vineyard was just 550 hectares. At the time land was inexpensive, so William decided to purchase and replant quickly the best sites in Chablis, growing the domain significantly during the 1960s.
Now they have 78 hectares in all, with holdings in five of the Grand Crus. They have 15.2 ha of Grand Cru vineyards, which is 15% pf the total, plus 16 ha of premier cru and 48 hectares of Chablis.
William Fèvre was 70 in 1998, and as his daughters didn’t want to continue he decided to sell to Henriot, the current owners.
‘Over the last 20 years we have changed a lot of things,’ says Didier. ‘We started organic practice in 2000, and now farm 100% organically, but we are not certified.’ He says that in 2016 they stopped organics for two weeks because we wanted to save the grapes. ‘It’s difficult to be certified for large vineyards because the weather isn’t perfect every time. 2016 was very difficult.’ For the Grand Crus and some right bank Premier Crus they have begun farming 20 hectares with biodynamics.
In all, Fèvre own 130 plots, and because all the grapes are harvested by hand, they need 200 pickers for 10 days.
In the vineyard, he admits that trunk diseases are a problem, killing around 2% of the vines per year.
‘In the cellar we stopped using new oak after 1998,’ he says. ‘We now vinify a part in neutral oak but the rest in tank.’
The premier cru and grand cru wines are bottled after 15-16 months. The domaine is 100% DIAM, which they started using in 2003/4. Now they only use screwcap for Petit Chablis and negoce Chardonnay, just some of the time.
Fevre Saint Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Burgundy, France
Negoce wine. Fresh and lemony with nice precision and focus. Has a subtle touch of grassiness and clean grapefruit and lemon fruit. Clean and bright. 88/100
Fevre Petit Chablis 2018 Burgundy, France
Negoce wine. Clean, linear and bright with nice precision to the lemony fruit, with some pear notes. Simple, bright and fruity. Fruit forward and attractive. 88/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis 2018 Burgundy, France
48 ha, 40 different plots, averaging 50 years old. Bright and nicely linear with some apple and pear, as well as some white peach. Shows lovely fruit intensity with nice appley, waxy hints. Fruit forward and direct. 90/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2017 Burgundy, France
3.9 ha in this 1er Cru, a third in Forets, Butteaux and Montmains. Intense and pure with a slight creamy edge to the crisp pear and apple fruit. Linear, pure, bright and harmonious with a lovely fruitiness. Clean, vivid style. 92/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2017 Burgundy, France
Have 3.6 ha, 10 different plots, the majority from Vaillon itself. This has early maturity and they start the harvest here first each year. This is linear and bright with apple, pear and cream notes, as well as white flowers and grapefruit. Very pretty but also with some seriousness. 93/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Vauleront 2017 Burgundy, France
Sub climat of Fourchaume, on the Grand Cru hill, and a special site so they bottle it separately because it has GC structure with freshness and energy. Powerful and bright with lovely freshness and focus. There’s a smooth silkiness to the creamy pear and white peach fruit, and also amazing citrus drive, some persistence, and some salinity. This is a special wine that needs time. 94/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros 2017 Burgundy, France
Bougros is a 12 hecatare vineyard, and Fèvre have 6 ha in two plots: one is flat SW facing with deep clay soils, giving large rich wines. The second is Cotes de Bougros, steep and south facing going down to the river. This is the first plot. Generous (it’s the most approachable Grand Cru) with sweet pear and some apricot notes, over a citrus core. Tightwound and fresh with lovely expressive fruit, and good energy. 94/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2017 Burgundy, France
Tight, concentrated and quite mineral. They have 1.2 hectares south-facing in two plots at the top of the vineyard. It’s a warm place that makes large and rich wine when it is young, but the minerality just keeps building in bottle, and after 10 or 15 years it is beautiful. Lovely intensity here with real finesse to the pear and peach fruit, finishing lemony and focused. Pure and precise with lots of potential. 94/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros ‘Côte Bougros’ 2016 Burgundy, France
A specific part of the vineyard towards to bottom that makes wines for Chablis lovers. Very intense with a cabbage and herb reductive edge to the supple pear and peach fruit, with a linear citrus core and hints of toast. Nicely focused with great concentration and exotic, beguiling flavours. Should come together very well over the next few years. Linear and bright, but also full flavoured. 93/100
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros 2013 Burgundy, France
Another difficult year, with bad weather and botrytis before harvest. Picked 25 September. Concentrated, linear and steely with bright citrus fruit and some notes of herb and tea. This has a nice mineral streak, and shows attractive quince and green apple fruit. Not a powerful wine, but has tensile acidity holding everything together. 93/100