Laroche – 2016

Update 22.1.2018(18.1.2018)billn

Tasted in Chablis with Grégory Viennois, 18 January 2018.

Domaine Laroche
22 rue Louis Bro
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 89 00

Gregory on 2017:
We produced less than in 2016 – the frost touched more parcels. The frost was easy to see, but the effect of the cold was less easy to see until flowering – it’s called filage – we saw only half of the usual amount of flowers, so, of-course, half the number of grapes! 27-28 hl/ha was the average for us, and it was closer to 15 hl/ha in the grand crus. We started our harvest 1st September – the end of August was actually not that great weather – it was more like mid-September – I think of it as an early vintage but because of that cool weather with many of the characteristics of a cool vintage. There was a lot of acidity but much of that was malic due to the cooler end of August, so acidities went down quite quickly during the second fermentation – I see quite some similarities to 2014 – precise, direct but nothing hard. A vintage that bluffed a little, like in 2016, because the wines are not we might have expected during harvesting…

Gregory on 2016:
2016 in some places delivered nothing, in others 10-15 hectolitres per hectare. For us, this was all due to the frost as we were well prepared for the maladies that followed, so lost not much at this stage, and fortunately we have vines throughout the area, so we did reasonably well. Technically I find it a very interesting vintage – when they are good, they are very good. Late harvested, also the characteristics of a cool vintage but maturity that doesn’t match that. We started our harvest the 24 September.

The wines…

A couple of cuvées were too small for a separate bottling in 2016, so were included in Laroche’s ‘generic’ 1er Cru – “Which is also an important wine for us.

Always such a high-acheiving set of wines here – another great vintage for the team.

2016 Domaine, Chablis St.Martin
Usually an assembly of about 42 hectares from 60 hectares, with separate elevage – many terroirs – using old foudres 10% for the elevage. The aim is to add a little density. Never the same parcels used, always selected blind.
Lots of width and some weight to the nose too – composed though not super energetic. Different in the mouth – wide, pure – the tiniest accent of salinity and plenty of citrus complexity. A super finish of fine line – A beauty!

2016 Domaine, Chablis Vieille Voye
Third vintage, selected from 6.5 ha below Les Lys. The vines are over 75 years old. Elevage in foudre then finished in stainless steel with all the lees. Vieille Voye reflects the nearby Roman Road. A small lenticular filtration for this wine before bottling.
A more engaging nose of higher-toned freshness – ouch – oh this is a great entry – fresh, direct, intense and the flavours ride a wave of great but not oppressive freshness into the finish. Bravo as good as the 2014!

2016 Domaine, Chablis 1er Les Vaudevey
A deeper more concentrated nose, fresh but ripe lemon style at the core. Ooh – like the last, direct, fresh – more volume less direction but more complexity, a suggestion of oak spice in the mix – waves of long finishing flavour – excellent.

2016 Domaine, Chablis 1er Vaillons Vieilles Vignes
Depth and concentration here – modestly open. Ooh (again!) very fine minerality and width – not the overt volume or overt power of the previous wines, but really a detail that is engrossing and fabulous – a tiny touch of barrel towards the finish that will be gone in 6 months. Really a super fine, mineral but accessible 1er cru – bravo.

2016 Domaine, Chablis 1er Montmains
A modestly open nose fresh, pure ripe citrus notes. Like a cross between the last two in terms of shape – certinaly more line, more insistent intensity and a little more cushioning to the silky texture. Absolutely delicious – and here with an extra burst of finishing citrus. A beauty!

2016 Chablis 1er Vaucopins Selection
Bought grapes, but it’s a long-term contract, vines planted in 1955. 1 hectare, always the same parcel. Vinified with foudres.
A larger aromatic – lots of complexity here – a little agrume, almost in the direction of orange. Lots or mouth-filling volume, more overtly citrus, deliciously so – a very fruit driven wine but the freshest of citrus – this is absolutely delicious stuff and at this stage more about the fruit than the minerals – but such a fabulously delicious, if slightly non-standard, wine!

2016 Domaine, Chablis 1er Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes
Really, 80% from L’Homme Mort.
Ooh – now that’s a compelling nose – lots of width and really a great invitation to drink. Ooh (once more…) this has in spades the minerality that wasn’t obvious in the last wine – wide, melting flavour from a stony core – nothing austere just really great flavour. Excellent again and so long…

2016 Domaine, Chablis Les Bouguerots
All demi-muids – 600 litres
This nose really needs some coaxing from the glass but slowly it comes, complex and subtly citrussed. Extra weight and there’s depth to the slightly cushioned, silky texture too – growing in complexity, slightly saline. Really modestly showing despite how delicious it is today – but very, very long…. Elegant wine but for waiting a few years to enjoy all the potential.

2016 Domaine, Chablis Les Blanchots
7 different parcels – 4.5 hectares.
This also needs a little coaxing from the glass, but it comes much more quickly, with more width and volume, framed with a modest oak. Beautiful in the mouth, there’s dimension and direction – mobile, slightly cushioned, silky, really complex – absolutely perfect balance – directly this is ‘bravo’ wine. And such a weight and persistence of finishing flavour too!

2016 Domaine, Chablis Les Clos
The Clos has directly more scale of aroma – less density but more volume and more complexity – more oak too it’s fair to say. This is more active in the mouth – more energetic and perhaps more complex – the oak shows here too, today. More energetic finishing too.

Sometimes it’s hard to characterise the differences, but today the difference between these two wines was quite easy: The Blanchots today is a journey – taking you from here to there – and, perhaps, back. The Clos an experience, more fireworks – today I find journey is much more compelling.

2016 Domaine, Chablis Blanchots Reserve de l’Obediance
Always the best tasting parcels – blind. Not yet in bottle, waiting assembled in tank.
This remains a reticent nose, coaxing brings a little more – but it’s tight. Ooh, this is fine – in shape more to the style of the previous Blanchots but with some aspects of the Clos in terms of the volume. There is extra complexity here – composed, not firework-style – finishing long and subtly. The finish and nose are both a little tight, the middle is grandiose – just a hint more elevage needed here it seems. Great wine in waiting…

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