Besson – 2017


Tasted in Chablis with Camille Besson, 15 January 2019.

Domaine Besson
8 chemin de Valvan
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 40 88

Camille on 2018:
2018 – a magnificent harvest with ripe grapes and a great quantity – first time I’ve seen a full cellar, my father mentions 1947 as a comparable – but he wasn’t born either! Three weeks before the harvest we had no idea, in fact the vines were suffering from the heat. The dew of the mornings must have been the trigger, but I was skeptical before. I’ll sign up to that for the next 10 years!

Camille on 2017:
And to compare, this my smallest harvest ever! I’m 40% lower than regular, whereas in 2016 we lost only 10%. The quantity from Vaillons was quite good but across the whole range of our other areas we lost a lot to the frost. It’s a nice vintage though, fresh. A couple of wines (the Petit Chablis and the Chablis) were bottled after 10 months rather than 12 – as we had no more 2016s to sell, but the rest are exactly as normal. I have an impression of 2015 with the tasty open wines with good fruit. I like to have 12-12.5° but the date of harvest is a torture to choose!

The wines…

As in 2016, a simply delicious selection of wines from Camille.

2017 Petit Chablis
From vines on the hill behind the grand crus plus some behind Montmains too.
A freshness, a little green lime fruit in the aromas. Hmm, ooh that’s intense – great line purity and little finishing salinity – all that you could ask from the label – lovely – excellent wine.

2017 Chablis
Usually about 8 hectares worth, mainly from Fyé and towards Vaillons, plus another hectare in Courgis. 5% of elevage in barrel was with 300 litre barrels, now trying some 600s too – can buy one or two per year. Father hadn’t used barrel for a long time – so this was Camille’s idea which began with the 2014 vintage.
A narrower nose but, fresh, mineral and saline. Lots of volume, lime style again, a wave of fresh but weighted, saline-edged flavour. Good energy, lots of fine complexity – bravo – a little lush but absolutely beautifully put together with a floral finishing reprise.

2017 Chablis 1er Vaillons
Beugnons, Chatains and Sechets, 2.45 hectares. not particularly high, more mid-slope – the vines don’t suffer so much here. Overall about 8% new oak across the 1ers.
Fresh, citrus, also tending a little towards lime. Extra: extra energy, extra salinity, extra intensity. Really persistent, ooh – excellent Vaillons!

2017 Chablis 1er Montmains
Mainly from Butteaux plus a little Forêt, about 5.25 hectares worth. ‘For us it the more mineral and typical Chablis style.’
Hmm – so vibrant, definitely a lime nose. Extra mineral – a line if intensity melting over the palate, saline too. Very lovely melting flavour in the finish. Bravo!

2017 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
0.99 ha – mid-slope, plain south orientation, close to the forest at the top and next to Montée de Tonnerre – always very small grapes here and it’s difficult to vinify – also a riper style – I still have work to do here. First vines harvested in 2017.
Another citrus nose but not so wide. Full, weight like a grand cru, very saline too. Melting flavour – a big wine, quite round, finishing with good freshness. The last two wines are more my style, but this is delicious wine.

2017 Chablis Vaudesir
1.4 hectares in the domaine over 25 years. Both exposures, looking towards La Moutonne. Always 18 months of elevage and the wines then wait another year in bottle before selling – currently selling the last of the 2015s here. Some oak elevage here too – about 10%.
Hmm – a little wider, certainly more complexity. Hmm (again) – weight like the Mont de Milieu but with more drive and more direction – saline, complex – another level of finishing complexity. A wine that starts good but finishes brilliantly – I love the finish – here it’s absolutely great!

2017 Chablis Les Clos
0.15 ha – ‘5 rows and we never make the rendement it’s the rarity of the domaine’ so only about 800 bottles per year – ‘If we are lucky, sometimes 1,000 bottles!’ – quite high on the hill about 50m below the viewing table. Roughly 40 year-old vines – same as the Vaudesir. All tank elevage.
Floral above impressively deep below but a tightness in the width today. Very different, more incisive, modestly padded, growing, mouth-filling in the middle – more clarity and salinity. A fine burst of finishing energy and flavour – I prefer the start of this and the finish of the last – but both are excellent, delicious examples of 2017 grand cru.

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