Tasted in Chablis with Samuel Billaud, 12 January 2018.
Domaine Samuel Billaud
8 Boulevard Tacussel
Tel: +33 6 37 52 50 32
Samuel on 2017:
“2017 – its really quite good – like 2016, another vintage with concentration – perhaps a little more sunny. The frost was the great problem – -6°, -7°. There was enormous damage on the right bank – worse than in 2016 for the 1ers and grand crus, at least here. To ‘balance’ I have more in Chablis and Petit Chablis and the left bank was more generous. Whilst 2016 was half a harvest, in 2017 there was more – but not by much. In 2017 there was something of a deception as it looked like we had much more, but the grapes had less juice than we anticipated. It’s roughly one full vintage from the last 2 years and that makes the market, commercially, very complicated – it’s the phenomenon of rarity. We won’t have very much wine to sell in 2018, it’s clear.
“As for the wines themselves, they are currently in malo and their profiles look very interesting.”
Samuel on 2016:
“2016 had a hard frost, particularly to the east of Chablis and two instances of hail that first hit the north, north-west of Chablis then the south of Chablis. Of course there was a lot of rain in the weeks that followed which meant it was almost impossible to keep up with the mildew. Really I could call it an ‘année noir’ – a black year. You have to look almost to the 1800s for something so damaging. For me it was probably about a half a harvest – but the quality of the grapes was great.”
Simply a top class address – just like in 2015.
This year there is no Petit Chablis – all but 300 litres was lost to the frost – so it was sold in bulk. But new, to take up a little volume, is this wine:
A Bourgogne Blanc made from one-third Chablis and two-thirds Mâcon, bottled last summer ‘to trap the tension.’
A good aromatic volume – attractive, fruity and fresh. A little richness but such a pretty line of acidity – this is really super attractive and despite the quantity of Mâcon – I can’t see it – a little richness but very fine balance and acidity. Bravo!
Unfortunately the one-third from Les Pargues was lost to hail – so grapes from just two of the usual three locations.
A nose that slowly grows in volume. More incisive, still a little padding, but wide, mobile, transparent flavour – simply a delight. Beautiful wine! Bravo!
2016 Chablis 1er Fourneaux
40-year-old vines on quite a steep slope, all made in tank. Much less touched than some right bank areas
Directly from opening, like the last, the nose is a little compact, though slowly opening – at the start it’s a little more herby. Wide, gorgeously textured, melting a hint of salinity – long. Really a fabulous wine once more.
2016 Chablis 1er Vaillons Vieilles-Vignes
70-year-old vines from the heart of Vaillons, also 100% tank elevage, bottled after the harvest.
Compact, deep aroma, eventually letting some floral aspects escape the glass. Wide again, just a little less depth of texture but more transparent a little extra intensity of mid to finishing flavour – resting on the palate in small persistent waves of flavour. Again a beauty.
2016 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
3 heights of vines, all harvested by hand and vinified together as they are small parcels. This to be bottled next month. 80% tank and 20% larger barrel elevage. Assembled for 6 months in tank to finish.
Oh yes – this sample is open with a depth of vibrant fruit and minerality. More direct, a little gas. Flavour that is very mouth-watering – much more mineral in character, but no austerity, just enjoyment – Super wine! The finish is really top-rank!
2015 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
2 parcels of 40 and 45 year-old vines: the top of Chapelots, other at the top of the triangle. 20% in barrel same as the last. This is bottle since December – so about 1 month.
The most open nose of the bottled wines – a floral inflected minerality. Ooh direct, almost a grapefruit style but with no austerity – maybe a pinching of the cheek from the acidity a little but this makes you want more and more – just a fabulous, moreish wine – Bravo! Radiating great finishing flavour – intensity with finesse.
More than 70 years old vines from Samuel’s great-grandmother – ‘The most mineral part of Vaillons.’ All tank elevage. To be bottled next month.
A very fine top note, faintly yellow citrus, with some salinity. Fresh, a little gas. Beautiful citric flavours, so mouth-watering. A long, long line of finishing flavour. Great – really great, dynamic and pure wine!
All the grand crus saw 400 litre barrels for 12 months and 6 months on their lees in tank. Bottling is planned for March:
2016 Chablis Bougros
A really beautiful depth of aroma – tighter above. Intense and concentrated but not dense – layered fresh flavour in the middle with a subtle oak – but that might already be gone in 6 months – I would say a wine to wallow in but the acidity keeps this pure and taught – superb!
2015 Chablis Vaudesir
Two parcels east and west, one next to Moutonne, the next close to Valmur. ‘The two sides bring a special balance.’
Not the widest nose but top to bottom there’s a very fine mineral impression. A little gas – more width, an insinuating flavour – less of the roundness of Bougros – this more lithe and transparent. Hmm – lovely freshness of persistent finishing flavour – yes!
Vines older than 60 on the higher part of Preuses. A single 400 litre barrel then tank elevage.
A more open nose – halfway between the two previous wines. Fresher again – intense wine, really lots of mouth-filling volume – but always with fresh intensity – at table, today you would want something calmer – wait a year or three, but it’s fabulous stuff!
Only 15 hl/ha this year.
A super nose – taking all the constituent parts of the previous wines. Direct, intense, but with a depth of fresh concentration too. The previous GCs were all different rather than ‘better’ but this has something extra which you could say is better. Great wine! Richness, elegance, balance and freshness!