Why Big Red Diary?

Billaud-Simon – 2014

DSC09158Tasted in Chablis with Olivier Bailly, 11 January, 2016.

Domaine Billaud-Simon
1 quai de Reugny
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 10 33

Olivier Bailly is the new face at Billaud-Simon. He previously worked for a year at Domaine Bruno Clair (in 2005), and Jean-Marc et Hughes Pavelot before that. He arrived in Chablis in 2006, moving here to Billaud-Simon in May 2014. Olivier is originally from Savigny-lès-Beaune.

Olivier on 2015:
“A part of the domaine was hit by the hail; the beginning of the harvest which had been planned for the Monday was brought forward to Thursday – the hail had hit Sunday night/Monday morning the 30/31st. The heavy rain that came with the hail seemed to help wash the grapes and keep everything clean and rot free – certainly a relief! In 2015 we harvested using small cases to collect the grapes, just like in the Côte d’Or followed by triage with a new table – only the Petit Chablis and Chablis were harvested by machine.”

Olivier on 2014:
“I would say after the complicated, round, sometimes exotic 2013s that 2014 is typically Chablis – nice lines of flavour with fine purity. The Chablis vintage for purists.”

There is work planned for the buildings here near the river, with a tasting room look over the Serein towards the grand crus, but also in the centre of Chablis, I note the renovation of an important old building – and Billaud-Simon is also on the placard outside…

The wines…

This is the first vintage that the team of the domaine have done the bottling themselves – previously it was a contract bottler – investment is really not a question with the Faiveley ownership.

I note that the grand crus are now wearing a pretty yellow wax seal instead of a capsule. Yellow was longtime the colour here, but some cuvées wore black too, now all are yellow topped except their Chablis Tête d’Or ‘as it is so well-known in the restaurant trade.’ It was always a little unnecessarily complicated here with Bernard Billaud – he was totally committed only to Kimmerigian, but had multiple cuvées some more woody than others – I prefer the simple approach that is displayed here today.

The Chablis and Petit Chablis were bottled in May. The Chablis Tête d’Or in August and all 1er and grand cru wines were bottled right before Christmas – ‘as they were all tasting good, so…’

And the wines today? What can I say – they are simply delicious. I would feel bad at giving all an outstanding note, but frankly there isn’t one that I wouldn’t be happy to have in my cellar – but only the ‘smaller’ three wines wear DIAM (10s) – so I’d personally be drinking the 1er and grand cru wines before they are 5 years old!

2014 Petit Chablis Sur Les Clos
100% tank elevage. Literally two parcels from the flat land on the top of the hill above the grand crus of Les Clos and Valmur – totalling 1.33 hectares…
A very subtle, but fresh nose – extremely discreet but fine. Textured, round, sweetened at the edges, nicely intense – very nicely, lovely finishing salinity – yum!
2014 Chablis
From 3.17 hectares of vines on the continuation of the Blanchots hillside, direction north above Fye. 100% tank elevage also.
Here is a little more perfume, with a discreet base of lemon yellow fruit. Wider, more intense but again with a nice edge of sweetness, a super, very wide wave of finishing flavour – simply excellent!
2014 Chablis Tête d’Or
Assembly of the best parcels – 2.83 hectares from under the Montée de Tonnerre and between the Montée de Tonnerre and the Mont de Milieu. There’s some wood elevage here – some new wood too – this ia a cuvée for ‘washing’ the new barrels so they can be later used in other cuvées.
Pale lemon yellow. The nose is fresh and clean, maybe the slightest sweet roundness but no obvious vanilla or oak spice. Round, supple, energetic – clean, lovely bubbling complexity and width. Just towards the end there’s a faint salinity, but faint. Lovely, lovely, flowing flavour in the finish. Bravo – super!

2014 Chablis 1er Les Vaillons
Multiple parcels that amount to 2.95 hectares, all vinified separately and assembled before bottling.
A vibrant nose of some minerality. Wide, intense a little agrume, just avoiding an austerity of intensity – nicely packaged with good texture. Just a very tasty wine indeed – the finish is really a lovely mouth-watering thing.

2014 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
0.25 ha. The last part of Vaupulent.
A wow nose, vibrant, aromatic mix of herb and mineral, maybe a hidden reduction moving things along – super. Wide and delivering flavour in waves – and what flavour – super, intense faintly sweetened agrume, waves of them – this is just great!
2014 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Four parcels, 0.35 ha at the top pulled out after the 2015 harvest as there was virus and too low yields. 2.77 ha in total.
A slightly rounder nose with fresh white pear. Ooh –that’s lovely. Super mouth-watering, no aggression yet lovely waves of flavour with a subtle accent of salinity. Just a beauty! A narrower line that’s redolent of agrume to finish.
2014 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
2.15 ha in three parcels.
Also a little faint and fresh, white pear here too. Mouth-filling but elegant, lithe, lissome flavour. Really this has a beautiful aspect on the tongue. Simply delicious!

None of the following wines are as open and obviously gorgeous today as the 1ers – but don’t hold that against them – they are super, and ‘in-waiting’ – this is merely a stage in a longer elevage…

2014 Chablis Les Preuses
One parcel of 0.41 ha, vines that are 63 years old.
Just a little discretion here, but a subtle and complex depth of inviting aroma. This is fine and whilst starting wide, there is an intensity that grows and grows. Not a wine of fat, rather the supple delivery of fine flavour. Very good stuff!

2014 Chablis Vaudesir
Three parcels here that come to 0.49 ha.
Like all these wines – pale lemon yellow. A little more aromatic depth here, faintly barrel inflected – faintly, also with a modestly reductive element. Bigger in the mouth, intense layered flavour that comes in waves – again not fat but there is concentration and complexity. Fine, lingering more mineral and citrus finish. Simply lovely…

2014 Chablis Les Clos
From vines planted in 1952. 0.37 ha right at the top near Blanchots under table of orientation.
Here is a rather tighter nose – a faint mineral, even fainter saline personality – but tight. There’s an extra richness of texture here but not to the detriment of the balance – intense but measured intensity – nothing aggressive. Lovely mouth-watering finish that is also just a little discreet. Small – big – small – today! But very tasty, and very long!

2014 Chablis Les Blanchots
The tiniest parcel of grand cru here, just 0.18 ha – also right at the top near their parcel of Les Clos.
Like all the wines today, very pale in colour. Also tight, but a little warming in the hand brings a narrow but deep, vibrant mineral note – ‘drink me’ it says! Layered, waves of flavour, here is a super mineral flavour accented with salinity, this is simply lovely.

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