A visit to Chablis – 100 wines

These notes accompany our in-depth feature Chablis, when Burgundy Plays it Cool.

Daniel Defaix

Defaix’s wines are on sale through Berry Bros. & Rudd and Roberson.

(2016) The nose has a wonderful leesy and gently Chaource nose, intense and rich with iodine and salt. The palate has a wonderful saline and lemon purity, long with dazzling purity and intensity.
(2016) Harvest started 1st September, but two days of rain helped lift acidity in hot year. Intense, almost toasty notes, but a lovely floral lift too. There's a hugely silky saline character to this, an oyster note of salt and mineral ozone freshness,  but weighty with ripe fruit at the core.
(2016) From a very steep, 38% gradient that is "all rocks." Fabulous nose, so much complex sulphide flinitness, so much intensity, floral edged and strongly fruity,  but with that great mineral and brine freshness at the core.
(2016) Another very stony vineyard where the soil is also rich in iron.  Much more composed and reserved in some ways; more tightly wound with some green fig and herbaceous notes.  Lovely extract and fruit sweetness,  the apple core acidity plays against fine sweet mid-palate fruit. Lovely, elegant balance and huge length.
(2016) A year of excellent balance, reputed to be one of the best for a Chablis.  An open and attractive nuttiness to this, wax and buttery characters and silky texture. The palate has immense concentration and still that mid-palate sweetness and intense salt and lemons bite of acidity.  Very long, serious and intellectual.
(2016) Has so much toast and butter, that creamy and leesy concentration and again slate and flint and some spice. The palate bursts with orange and bright citrus, almost peachy ripeness before the salts and dashing lemon acid cuts in. Salty preserved lemons giving such tang and bite, a touch of truffle and briar.  Superb.
(2016) Only sold from the cellars in Chablis, though a little does go to the USA. From 104 year old vines, a vineyard planted by Daniel's grandfather. Very pale, translucent colour. Fascinating, medicinal stuff with clove and spice and high violet and rose floral notes. The palate has a delicious umami freshness and savoury character as well as really fresh raspberry and cherry fruit and acidity.  Superb stuff.

click-here to return to Chablis, when Burgundy Plays it Cool

Jean-Marc and Julien Brocard

Brocard’s wines are distrubuted by Berkmann Wine Cellars in the UK.

(2016) Bright, focused, very clean apples and lemons, with a rounded tiny confectionary note. Lovely sense of grassy and earthy quality beneath starts to come through, the wild yeast note evident. The palate has lovely weight and juiciness, with striking lemon fresh acidity. Long and really well done.
(2016) An organic certified wine, a more muted but more involving nose than the straight Chablis, compex notes of earth, apples, nuts, salty and terroir driven. The palate again has bursting intensity and freshness of flavour, with loads of tangy citrus fruit and that saltiness and tang driving through the finish.
(2016) I couldn't see a UK stockist for this organic wine from 60- to 70-year-old vines and just 30hl/ha yield. Big, leesy, toasty nose, the wild yeast character of earth, spice and smoke so clear on this wine. Touches of grass and even a touch of bacon fat in a complex nose. The palate is riven with grapefruit and lemon, a pithy, but juicy depth of flavour, and huge intensity. Natural concentration, citrus and salt, an apple core dryness. Only 12.5% alcohol. Superb.
(2016) From an east facing organic vineyard on the left bank that gets morning sun, and has a very steep exposure. This was a tank sample. A sweet note of toffee or honey, of mineral smokiness on the nose here, but soon those wild yeast notes of herbs and cool earth come through. A touch of flint and struck match complex sulphide. Wonderful palate, bursting with fruit and vivacious citrus and fleshy yellow plum, sweet concentration but striking mineral acidity also. Long and well balanced. Made in stainless steel.
(2016) Tank sample. From organic vineyards, this is riper and more obvious in some ways than the Vau de Vey, with plenty of fruit and a touch of orange and marmalade, a freshness and a crisply citric quality. The palate has great clarity and precision, and it is a complete and beautiful wine, though perhaps the Vau de Vey just wins on complexity.
(2016) A very low yield and unusually high concentration. Deep colour almost buttercup yellow with emerald edge. Lots of honey and confit lemon here, ripeness and a touch of smoke and buttered toast. The palate has the same silky and full character as the nose, loads of fat lemony fruit and such silky sweetness, the salts, the minerals, the drying and freshening acidity really pushing in and extending the finish. Glorious if not the finest of Chablis.
(2016) Again quite a deep but lively colour. A little vanilla and oatmeal here, a touch of mint also, the creamy orchard fruit and citrus beneath. On the palate this has a tight, precise, very focused charcter, the cool fruity core wrapped in a little toast and oatmeal, and the dry extract adding some grip, though not quite so long and shimmeringly bright as the Vau de Vey.
(2016) Toast in abundance here, warm gravel and some delicate blossom notes to very clear apple fruit coming through: cool, underripe apples and apple cores. The palate is not so vivacious as the 2013 Vau de Vey for example, not so lightly, purely citrus juicy, but it compensates with loads of concentrated power and lovely ripe, orange peel tang and fruitiness, and a lovely long finish that is rounded and composed, with lovely length.
(2016) Huge complex sulphide character, struck match and flint notes, intense and bound to the lime and toasty fat and waxy weight – quite something. Superb, with delicious tang and vibrancy on the palate, the juice and the intensity are there, driving this with precision and agility, but I love the hints of depth and smoky mineral substance too. Deep and yet pinpoint fresh and accurate. Biodynamic.
(2016) Stones and salty minerals, with a slightly more reserved character than the Vaulorent, but great power and a great sour lemon thrust of fruit. The palate has a chalky mineral dryness, salts and ozone, but the effortless concentration impresses most. Superb.
(2016) Meaty, toasty, tightly wound but such obvious concetration. A touch of green herbs and flint coming through. The palate has delicious concentration again, and it is dry, the squirt of bitter lemon against that ozone and saline richness and austerity, suggesting this needs some time. Huge length and composure, a weighty and deep wine with profound character for ageing.
(2016) Biodynamic. What a lovely, quite orthodox nose, the delicate cream and toast to the juicy orange fruit, and some lemon and ripe apple. The palate has a grip of earthy, meaty character, lots of precision, lots of sweet fruit, and a long, very clear and fresh finish, that cool earth character persisting to give this a touch of gravel and salt too.
(2016) Fine complex nose, flinty and mineral, with lime and dry apple cores, but that complex sulphide charcter strong and lovely. The palate has a touch of nettle and a touch of something smoky, a little green bean note, all fine and very terroir driven, with tight acids, smoke and salts, and such delicate talcum-like dry mineral acid in a very refined finish.
(2016) Some green bean and asparagus notes here, with some flint and mineral lift, and very pretty fruit. The palate also shows the green edged, herbal quality against the fresh apple and lemon, and a long very clean and clear finish. I love the freshness and lightness of this – so different from the 2012 Lechet, but lovely in its own right.

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Domaine Slyvian Mosnier

Mosnier’s wines are stocked by The Winery and Cork’s Out.

(2016) Very fresh, with very good lemon zest freshness and a lovely finish, long and elegant and true Chablis style.
(2016) Adds a cool lime and apple skin touch of concentration over the Domaine's Petit Chablis. The palate has a lovely and similar freshness and directness of citrus that is vibrant, but a fine tangy, fresh, really punchy finish with a hint of salt.
(2016) From several parcels, all vines over 50 years old. Relatively subdued, but intense on the nose, the touch of extra concentration perhaps. Huge natural concentration on the palate, with that lemon and lime rind intensity and a really delightful, long and pure finish with riveting intensity.
(2016) Immediate impression of intensity on the nose, with some floral characters, really quite a lifted character here with herbs and flint. Juicy and lemony, lots of apple freshness, but ripe with so much dashing acid intensity. A lovely young wine in the making.
(2016) There’s a hint of Cox’s Pippin ripeness and nuttiness to this, a touch of closed, mineral, tight personality compared to the Beauroy. Such lovely natural concentration on the palate, with really tight salt and citrus pith acidity that suggests this needs a little time to open further.
(2016) Lovely developed leesiness, with a tight mineral and salts character too and gentle apple fruit. A lovely big sour apple and orange hit of fruit and acidity, with intensity and a great focus and thrust of acidity through to the finish.
(2016) Fine leesy richness, with weight and texture suggested immediately, ripe and open fruit notes, backed up by scents that are more mineral and fruit skinny, with peel and zest. The plate has abundant fruit, and again a great sense of concentration. Lip-smacking acidity and a long, seamless finish. Perhaps not the decisive acid freshness of the 2014.
(2016) More clay in this soil, and the wine is a little rounder and more supple than some with that fruity open character, with lovely minerals, and a fine, refined, lean and lemony palate that is perhaps a touch dilute compared to the Vieilles Vignes also tasted. Lovely freshness, and perhaps it just needs time to develop a little more still.
(2016) Very stony soils. Real complex sulphide notes here, the flint and the struck match character, with real raciness and a long, linear, very clearly focused palate. Lovely wine, dazzling length.
(2016) So smoky with minerals and a fabulous demonstration of this terroir and of the cool Chablis character. The palate is just brilliant, riven with its acidity and keennees of the fruit, that stony mineral character running through it and a wonderful balance of the texture and structural grip and burgeoning sense of fruit concentration.
(2016) Again that nutty and leesy suggestion of richness, but there’s a smokiness to this, that mineral concentration, a touch of green to this, a vegetal character a touch of green bean in the background. The wonderful match with a dish prepared by winemaker Stephanie of slices of scallop that had been marinaded in lemon juice, served with a crushed fresh pea sauce, the steely lemon acidity and hint of green to the wine complimenint perfectly. The wine has a lovely acid balance, a twist of bitterness, but great length and composure.
(2016) Wonderful minerality and sense of harmony here, the flint and sulphides of the young wines melting into wax and lime blossom, with great finesse and juiciness, and such wonderful length and finesse: balanced, harmonius, a great wine.
(2016) A delicate, blossom, gentle wax and fresh apple nose with such lovely filigree aromas, all finess and delicacy. Retains a great core of grapefruit and lime, terrific acidity and just a rounding sweetness that makes it very easy to drink, very attractive. Another delightful wine.

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Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin

Droin’s wines are imported by Fields, Morris & Verdin.

(2016) A nice hint of minerality, quite a nice steely character, from a vineyard above Le Clos. There’s a creamy and leesy character, the Portlandian soils giving a more open feel. Delicious tang and hints of saltiness. A very good Petit Chablis indeed, made in stainless steel.
(2016) Made in stainless steel, left on the lees without battonage. A blend of 30 parcels of Chablis. A little touch of toast, and of lemon rind freshness and roundness. There’s delicious tang and bright tangerine juiciness, the palate broadly juicy in terms of the fruit, a touch of peach, but a lovely clarity and luminosity in the acids, a very precise, lightly salty note of oyser shells.
(2016) A little barrel compoment. Soils very stony, on the border with the Portlandian soil, all stones and clay. Certainly a little more flint and seashell minerality here, the palate riven with a strict defining acidity, it gives such a lean, elegant stony character on the palate, but there is such lovely apple freshness, and the perfect delicate balance and length.
(2016) Forty percent of this Cru is made in oak. Instantly it seems more complex, with more schist and flint, and a nutty character too, the gentle toasted almond very appealing. Mouth-filling and ripe, so much more weight here and more ripe juiciness than the Vaillons, quite a different style but then the finish is lean and super fresh, with the lick of salty acidity powering through.
(2016) From a Cru that lies a littel further south, made with around 25% oak, and from a very sunny exposition. There’s a definite peachiness to this, a yellow plum and apricot note, a touch of almond and a touch of the flinty character too. A really pleasing wine in the mouth, bursting with juicy fruit charcter, and a juicy lemon and lime acidity too, finishing with freshness against the bold fruit “My Condrieu,” according to Benoit.
(2016) A fair bit of prominent oak on the nose of this, with toast and smoke, and a lovely racing acidity at the core. It has a strictness about the structure of the wine, with real concentration and a biting acid, as well as some flinty reduction, but really the power and fruit concenttation drives this. Might nudge up a point or two with some time.
(2016) Every single wine in this line up has been excellent so far, but this is the first of a series that really knocked my socks off. Masses of gunflinty reduction, the complex sulphide character immediately arresting and appealing, with stones and seashells, and a core of nutty Cox’s pippin apple fruit. So sweetly fruited on the palate, masses of ripe stone fruits and a wonderfully clear acid length, so much tang and vibrancy, that salty mineral quality so thrilling. Note that the only UK stockist I can see, Berry Bros, is already onto the 2014 vintage by the six-bottle case.
(2016) Lots of flint, fresh-cracked river stones, a delightful sense of purity to it, a tiny note of nuttiness, but all very compact, composed, elegant and tight. The palate is riven by a cleansing salty minerality. Real running mountain stream clarity to this, a touch of grippy fruit skin comes through (plum and apricot), but it is the drive of the salty, fresh, ozoney clarity that is so covincing. One that will need more time than the Vaulorent for example, but a great wine
(2016) No oak in this Cru – the only grand Cru without oak. On top of the Grand Cru on part Portlandian soils, so Benoit does not want to swamp the delicate aromas. Plenty of flinty reduction here, the ultra-freshness of the palate is stirking with streamlined salts and a juiciness. A very quiet wine, not shouting, but lovely and so refined.
(2016) Classic oyster-shell soils. Elegant, sea shell and lightly chalky note here, that mineral dust character against bold lemon balm and juicy red apple skins. Beautiful palate, the dry, quite full fruit, like apple cores, the sweep of slaty minerals and the quite full in texture, but a lovely juiciness to this, with a fresh squeeze of citrus and lovely fruit definition.
(2016) Forty percent was made in oak (as is Vaudesir). Beautiful, serious white Burgundy nose, the flint is there, but there’s a toast and charming nutty character, and sweet, ripe orchard fruit. It’s aromatically like a serious 1er Cru Puligny perhaps, but then the palate brings that salty acidity swinging back through, cutting effortlessly through that clay-derived richness of texture and fruit. Such a juicy orange and peach tone beneath the acidity and the minerality, a hint of coffee smokiness adding and extra layer of intrigue. Fabulous.
(2016) Only 3000 bottles produced. Quite like the Valmur aromatically, the oak polished and creamy, the fruit fine and not too ripe or showy, with notes of flint and burning embers. The fruit on the palate is so much more open and charming, seductive fruit openness – the most openly seductive Cru so far, but has the saltiness, has the lick of mineral precision too, giving poise and elegance to the long finish. A lovely, concentrated wine from 68-year-old vines.
(2016) Little notes of truffle and mealiness here, a touch of slat, a touch of flint, and though the same amount of oak as the Grenouilles (50%) it shrugs it off aromatically because of that taut mineral character of the soils here. The palate has great concentration. It has a fabulous blend of the minerality of these soils, concentrated fruit and grippy fruit skin character, and the subtle background of the tight-grained, savoury oak produces a very harmonious and balanced wine, but tightly furled at the moment, sleeping and ready to burst forth in 5 to 10 years. Fabulous concentration and intensity, great length, the lips tingling with salt in the finish.

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Domaine Long-Depaquit

Long-Depaquit’s wines are imported by Fleet Wines.

(2016) Lovely glint of emerald green to quite a bold gold colour. This is apple-scented and rounded, no real sign of Chablis minerality, a touch bready. There’s an almost tropical tone to the fruit, a hint of pineapple and glace fruit, that core of sweet, sweet apple and then a generous orangey acidity. It’s a high quality white wine, but I am missing a bit of Chablis character, so a point or two deducted for that.
(2016) Les Lys is a climat of Vaillons, but on a cooler north-facing slope. Immediately light and elegant, a touch of green character, soft and leafy herbs, a bit of real flint too and pure apple fruit. The palate has a lot more salty, lean character than the straight Chablis, a thrilling rush of chalky acidity and dry, pithy lemon and lime. Delightful raciness and a definite Chablis this time. Lovely.
(2016) Around 10% oak fermented, from the 1er Cru of Vaillons, with a broader hint of toast and butter on the nose, nutty and more open. There’s still a hint of that flinty mineral reduction, but layered into the wine. The palate has a touch more spangle-bright fruitiness than the les Lys, seems like a touch more extract or lees, but the lemons and salt acidity keeps it very fresh again.
(2016) Around 15% oak fermented. Kimmeridgean soils on the slopes of the Cru, with more stones that the two left bank wines. Big fruit again here too, a touch of vanilla or brioche, and there’s some salts and flint. The lemon jelly freshness of the fruit comes through on the palate, but it floats on a raft of chalky acidity and that sharply focused citrus pith acidity, salts and mineral freshness to the fore. Lay & Wheeler are currently selling the 2014 vintage.
(2016) Complex mineral sulphides here, touching on the cheesy (though not negative – like the rind of a soft cheese, so verging on truffle) with a little flint note and taut apple core fruit. The palate has plenty of fruit sweetness. There’s a touch of orange and of peach skins, a little bite of tannin, and plenty of juicy citrus acidity finishing with a lick of salt. Long and tangy.
(2016) Quite closed, a touch of earth and oatmeal, some lemon rind, seems quite silky and rounded but not hugely aromatic. In the mouth this has a clear, running water freshness and juiciness, with a tart-edged pithy lemon charcter to the acids, lots of salt tingling on the lips. Concentrated and tightly wound at the moment, this does need time to open, but has obvious quality.
(2016) In a similar vein to les Clos, with a closed but elegantly silky and poised character, flint and complex minerals on the nose, then the palate explodes with life, great juicy apricot and nectarine fruit sweetness on the mid-palate, and then a lime and lemon zest lift before searing dry acidity, juicy but salt-licked and grapefruit pithy, both fruity and very dry. A lovely Grand Cru that has an austere side to its nature, but packed into its core are ripe stone fruits and sweet notes in abundance.

click-here to return to Chablis, when Burgundy Plays it Cool

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