Tasted in Chablis with Lucie Depuydt, 05 January 2018.
Maison J. Moreau & Fils
La Croix St Joseph
15 Route d’Auxerre
Tel: +33 3 80 62 61 46
Joseph Moreau began this business way back in 1814 after marrying into an old-established Chablis family. The size of the business progressively grew, but began to have problems in the time of phylloxera. It was around this time that they began to cast their net much wider around France to source sufficient wine to maintain the company.
In the 1970s the company became part of Allied Domecq before later being acquired by JC Boisset in 1997. The last of the Moreaus left the business in 2001. But the historic name and contracts stayed with this business, whilst the domaine vines departed – now shared between Louis and Christian Moreau. Until 2008 all the wines under the the J.Moreau label – still including the wines of southern France – were made here in Chablis, but at this time Boisset chose to ‘make’ wines only in their own regions. So it’s only Chablis plus some Bourgogne blancs, et-cetera, from the region here.
Winemaker, Lucie Depuydt, has been working here since 2007, spending a lot of her time in the vines with the suppliers. It’s a massive building but with only 5 full-time workers – industrial style. The wine is distributed globally through the Boisset network.
Lucie on 2016/17:
2016 was 60% of a normal volume, but we were closer to 80% of a normal volume in 2017 – that’s because, counterintuitively, many producers would rather sell in bulk in a short vintage as the money comes faster – oh and it helps them that the bulk prices are high! Boisset don’t have special pricing, we pay the full bulk prices as defined each year by the BIVB, plus certain bonuses for quality targets… As such it is not an easy time for négoce, but the winery is all paid for so we don’t also have to pay for any loans!
Lucie on elevage:
“For vinification I hate to say it’s simplistic, but we don’t like to do too much. Neutral yeast, malos on lees, and then I don’t move the wines – I don’t mind plenty of turbidity at this stage! One bentonite fining and a single filtration. I work a lot to have aromas that are more Chablis than chardonnay. The bottling is usually planned along the lines of the Petit Chablis in March, the Chablis in May. I’m just starting on the 1ers, so there’s a second winter of elevage in this case, but usually they are done in December or January.”
A more than competent range – there is minerality and freshness – plus, at the top, wines that will really reward your patience.
2016 Petit Chablis
A relatively important cuvee in the range, a large part going to the northern-European monopolies – about 20% of purchases.
Hmm, a nice width of silky, faintly sweet lemon. Bright, lots of energy, quite sweet – a very attractive wine with no hard edges and plenty of insistent concentration – quite lovely actually with a suggestion of finishing tannin. Yum!
All stainless steel, no wood. Lots coming from Beines, Chichée, Beru and Courgis ‘with an important Kimmerigian influence.’
Hmm, this has some very faint reductive aspects but it’s also the first wine I’ve come across (so far) this year that directly says ‘Chablis’ from a seashore/iodine aspect. A little gas here – the wine doesn’t seem to need help in the energy department – depth of flavour, small waves of fresh concentration. Bravo – this is a perfect, ripe but fresh and friendly wine!
2016 Chablis 1er Vaillons
‘Essentially old vines just 30% are younger’ – the vines are in Roncieres, Epinottes, Chatains and Vaillons. About 20% oak elevage, none new.
A little less width of aroma – good depth – essentially tighter than the first two wines. Wide, incisive, layered wine with fine concentration, really lovely – there’s a little 2016-specific depth of texture and ripeness, but here is a delicious wine. Very pretty, almost elegantly finishing!
2016 Chablis 1er Fourchaune
The hardest place to find the best grapes – lots of soil types and potential maturity differences so lots of work in selection – though the potential is great. “The wine is well-known so some producers push the yields a little”
A more green herbed aspect to this nose – it’s a nose of depth but more limited width. More vibrant wine, nicely textured, a hint of the green herb from the nose is present in the flavour too – but only as an interesting additional complexity – Bright finishing. Weighted, but with quite good energy and lots and lots of flavour complexity. Delicious, but is it too easy?
From three parcels, one at the bottom with deep soil but pure Kimmerigian below, ‘always a little fume? – two other parcels from middle and top.
A little more aromatic vibration of minerality. Really a vibration in the mouth too – this is super – the first wine that is a bundle of prime Chablis energy and minerality, but softened with the ripeness of fruit. Delicious And highly recommended.
‘A favourite, partly because people don’t know it so well, but I love the smoky minerality and it keeps for so long.’ On every steep soil on the Kimmerigian rock, plus a part on the hard limestone on the plateau at the top.
Another nose that vibrates with minerality. A little more volume in the mouth, agrume fruit, fresh, complex, lovely energy. Now I’m torn – I liked the last a lot, but this is a little more subtle and has less overtly ripe fruit but I think is my new favourite! A lovely and wide mineral finish!
2016 Chablis 1er Montmains
A mix of Mont and Butteaux.
Perhaps the house style? Or maybe just Chablis style(?) but again a slight vibration of minerality, accented with smoke, though becoming more perfumed. A little gas, but wide, complex, deliciously mineral and energetic – the first wines were easy but Mont du Milieu onwards you have a mouth-full of proper, complex and mineral Chablis! Super in the finish – Yum!
2016 Chablis Valmur
Practically 1 hectare and always harvested quite late for the best maturity – ‘It always take a couple of years more in bottle to come around’ – only two weeks in bottle so far!
A deep and layered nose, plenty of vanilla oak in the depth. The vanilla suffuses this wine but above that base is very fine freshness, width, and complexity – a more open wine than some of the premiers and less overtly dense too – yet all is here. Wait at least 3 years for the oak to fade but the width of minerality is really lovely. Plenty of class here and with such a persistent finish.
2015 Chablis Valmur
A top layer of smoke and faint spice – some clarity of fruit – virtually no oak. Lovely line, direct, wide, insinuating, growing intensity of flavour – mineral. Ooh this is such an impressive 2015 still a suggestion of finishing oak here but I’m mightily impressed by this wine. Super.