Fancy a glass of sweet Chablis?

Burgundy wines Chardonnay Recolte Tardive
Alain supervising the harvest of his precious Chablis grapes!

Alain Geoffroy is a traditional Burgundy born and bred vitner, coming from a long line of wine growers but there’s a definite difference to some of his excellent Chablis wines!

After having spent over 50 years carefully nurturing his more traditional Chablis wine producing vineyards, he came up with a very innovative idea.

In 1997, Alain decided to produce a sweet Chardonnay wine grown on the Chablis vineyards! No doubt like most of us who live in Burgundy you’ve never heard of “Chardonnay Recolte Tardive” (which literally translates as late harvested Chardonnay).

Burgundy wines Chardonnay Recolte Tardive
Chardonnay Recolte Tardive, late harvested Chablis wine!

But don’t be surprised that you’ve never heard of this surprising and very confidential wine, most French people living in Burgundy don’t even know it exists either! In fact, Alain produces over 500,000 bottles of traditional Chablis wine a year but only 800 bottles of his extraordinary Chardonnay!

Alain came up with this amazing idea after having visited the Alsace vineyards where their sweet, late harvested Gewurztraminer is fairly common place. He heard of another vitner in the Maçon area who was already producing late harvested wines and Alain didn’t need any more encouragement to take on this unusual challenge!

In order to turn his dream into a reality he even had get a small parcel of his ‘official’ Chablis vineyards ‘declassed’ as Chablis land since Chablis wine has to have less than 3 grams of sugar per litre. But the Chardonnay Recolte Tardive is actually produced on the Chablis vineyards!

With late harvested wines, the sugar content of the grapes becomes more concentrated and therefore higher than the officially ‘accepted’ Chablis wine specifications! The Chardonnay Recolte Tardive is produce from vine plants that are about 15-20 years old.

Burgundy wines Chardonnay Recolte Tardive
The Chardonnay Recolte Tardive is harvested by hand!

The grape harvest for the Chardonnay Recolte Tardive takes place about one month after the more traditional Chablis wine harvest.

The fermentation process is stopped when the wine reaches 12% alcohol content and unlike traditional Chablis wine there is no second malo-lactic fermentation.
This allows the wine to keep its primary aromas without the acidity.
The Chardonnay Recolte Tardive contains between 30-40 grams of residual sugar per litre and has an alcoholic content of between 17-18%!

Expect to find the aromas of mature exotic fruits, apricots together with vanilla notes! It’s excellent served as an apperitif or with the traditional foie gras.

Alain’s favourite way of appreciating his much cherished Chardonnay, is by serving it with Parma ham and melon! And since it comes in a beautiful blue bottle you can impress you friends by offering it as a present, it’s certainly a wine they will never have tried before!

For more information on Alain Geoffroy’s wines (from petit Chablis to Chablis Grand Cru) visit www.chablis-geoffroy.com

© Jacquie Boulton-Bridoux

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