Meeting Clotilde Davenne and trying all her wines from the Petit Chablis to her best Grand Cru vineyards made things very clear: she knows what she is doing. Clotilde was not from a wine family; her father was a humble farmer near the Morvan mountains. She learned how to make wine at school in 1986 and later travelled to California for vintage. In 1989, Davenne's journey in Chablis started, working for one of the region's star producers: Jean-Marc Brocard. During a incredible 17 years with mentor Brocard, she gained an intimate knowledge of unique terroir and understanding of vintage styles.
Then in 2005, Davenne set off on her own path, starting with the 1.9-hectare plot of Petit Chablis called “Les Temps Perdu” (which mean the lost time). Despite locals telling her that this land was a waste of time, Davenne knew this vineyard had potential. The vines were lying on Kimmeridgian soils just like AOC Chablis terroir, only called “Petit” because of its exposition to the North.
With growing self confidence, she started putting together a patchwork of vineyard expressing different grapes and terroirs, one plot of land at a time. It now includes a mosaic of beautiful vineyards: Bourgogne AOC, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru (Vaucoupin, Montmains, Fourchaume, Vaillons) and Chablis Grand Cru (Bougros, Les Clos, Blanchots), as well as 100 year old Sauvignon Blanc from Saint-Bris and Pinot Noir from Irancy.
Her gamble paid off, becoming one of Chablis rising stars thanks to her hard work and the purity of her wines. Clotilde was hugely honoured to be included in Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson 's "The World Atlas of Wine" for one of her best vineyards: Montmains 1er Cru Chablis.
Now Davenne's 40 year old Chablis vines are located in the village of Courgis, south of Chablis. The vineyard is sheltered from winds, on a steep slope of Kimmeridgian with soil, peppered with fossilised oysters from when the sea covered the Paris basin150 million years ago. Clotilde farms her vineyard naturally, without the use of chemicals, with almost all of her production is harvested by hand.
You won't find any oak barrel in her cellars however, as Clotilde is a big believer of stainless steel vinification for her Chablis, focusing on purity and terroir expression. All Davenne's wines undergo malolactic fermentation for complexity, with use of the lunar calendar for racking and bottling, then light filtration.
White grapes: Chardonnay, Aligoté, Sauvignon Blanc
Red grape: Pinot Noir