Billaud-Simon – 2017


Tasted in Chablis with Olivier Bailly, 16 January, 2019.

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

As is the Faiveley way, soon after purchasing this domaine they invested – the fine old house next to the Serein river is being completely gutted and renovated – with an equally fine new tasting room included. It was practically a shell when I visited last year and it’s still not finished this year – but it’s close! Faiveley have also been working on their representation too – they didn’t change anything in the first couple of years, but today 35% of production now finds a home in France – under the old ownership it was only 5% of production.

Olivier on 2018:
2018 – Enfin! (At last!) A proper harvest, our patience was repaid. Certainly an exceptional vintage, starting 02 September. A lovely harvest in terms of quantity – we’re full – but also a vintage with proper maturity. We certainly waited in few places, but the last harvested grapes were getting high in degrees – though I think we did a good job of keeping the acidity – total acidities in the end were good. So far no malos, I use a neutral yeast here, and this year was very satisfied that all the tanks are properly finished – so nothing is distracting with problems.

Olivier on 2017:
2017 – We certainly started later than in 2018, and it was a quicker harvest too. It was a bit of a flashback vintage – it was the spring frost with lots of losses at the bottom of the hills – exactly the same average return as in 2016 – 32 hl/ha – but the losses were in different places. It’s a classic vintage but one with freshness, tension, one that you can keep if you wish – but it has the fruit too. I noted a little compensation in some younger vines that had been frosted in 2016 but the rest had proper concentration. A much cleaner vintage with no maladies vs 2016 and less exotic fruit than 2016 too. It was warm very early in the vintage but August was easier.

“Have been working on allocations since 2015, so it will be nice to please more people. Even the staff here have been able to buy less.

The wines…

Wow – half of the wines here are great in 2017 – unfortunately for the domaine, it’s much less than half the volume! Still a very fine range…

DIAM5 for the first few bottlings, 1ers and grand crus all receive cork tested for moisture content and TCA:

2017 Petit Chablis Sur Les Clos
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. Bottled July.
Hmm – not so wide, but bright and with a perfect ripe lemon fruit at the core. Hmm – this is bright, wide, energetic, saline, concentrated – then more energy – did I mention mineral’ A Petit Chablis with everything! Bravo.

2017 Chablis
An assembly of many parcels including some purchased must but a little over 4 hectares worth. Elevage mainly tank but one or two barrels. Reaches the market relatively early compared to the crus – also bottled in July.
A tighter nose but fresh and lemon-citrus. Hmm, here is a little more concentration, beautiful texture and a melting style of presentation – less overtly energetic versus the Petit Chablis, but with a little more of everything. Simply excellent Chablis.

2017 Chablis Tête d’Or
Bottled at the end of November. All domaine with some bottom of Montée de Tonnerre is the usual spine of this. A wine with a little barrel elevage in the mix.
Ooh – this is the most open nose so far, with much extra volume – a fine complexity and the first with a really overt salinity. Wide – silken, melting fresh, almost cool fruit – clearly a step up from the ‘basic’ Chablis. Beautiful citrus, fine and such elegance of presentation. Bravo.

All wines that follow are not yet bottled:

2017 Chablis 1er Les Vaillons
Two parcels in Chatains, 2 in Sechets and one each in minot and roncieres – 3 hecatres. A cuvee that’s nearly ready – just the gas hasn’t been ‘finessed.’
Hmm – another forward, expressive nose – agrume – some orange in the citrus. Ooh drive, beautiful clarity of saline-tinged fruit – agrume but not too zesty – there’s a zing though. Beautiful flavours – excellent wine.

2017 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
Normally 0.25 ha. The last part of Vaupulent. The typical micro-cuvée in 2017 – just 2 barrels in quarter of a hectare – 3 times less than normal.
Less forward aromas but with a fine depth of yellow agrume. Extra intensity, extra width here – but a burning intensity to this – though never painful. This is a super thing and the oak is very modes today and will only further fade. I find this really something – excellent!

2017 Chablis 1er Vaulorent
Third vintage. Another micro-cuvée of two barrels – here a purchase. One barrel and one ‘steel barrel – same as the last.
A little higher toned – fresh lemon. A touch of gas, but fuller, relatively round yet still with a driving, exciting energy – not a wine that will make you sleep!. More mineral in the middle and finishing flavours. Fine line of good intensity. Simply delicious again.

2017 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. 2.74 ha in total. About the same yield as 2017 – ‘a small’ 30 hl/ha after losing some at the bottom of the hill to frost. This was cold filtered two days before.
A tighter nose but of some width. Wide – transparent, depth of slightly reductive minerality but accented with agrume – a more forward salinity here – yet the ensemble is completely delicious. Simply excellent again. Hmm, that’s long too!

2016 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
2.15 ha in three parcels. The oldest vines of the domaine are here with 80-83 years of age. An important part to the domaine – the average age of vines here is at least 40 years of age.
A little more density of aroma though still not fully open – cushioned minerality. Some gas. Waiting for that to fade brings a plenty of citrus intensity, and still a big citrus finish too – long finishing again with the agrume-minerality. Yet again, great stuff!

2017 Chablis Vaudesir
Three parcels here that come to 0.49 ha – two in the colder part – that brings freshness in warm years.
Fine fresh depth, but a modest volume of aroma today. Fuller in the mouth – despite the freshness of presentation, there’s clearly more depth here. Beautifully textured – I seem to have been swept into the finish very quickly – but what a finish! Such great flavour. Hard to believe that this was one of the most austere wines during the last part of elevage!

2017 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. Actually more wine than in 2016 – 50% more – but than means just one more barrel – but all has stainless-steel elevage.
A fine width – very citrus – the first with a suggestion of lime. Some gas again. Very wide – super complexity, supple, layered delivery but with very fine freshness – this is great – profound and persistent!
2017 Chablis Les Preuses
Some width of ripeness, still fresh lemon, but this is essentially a tight nose. The most gas of all – so far! A little richness of texture some lemon zest to the overt citrus fruit – a super zest bitters in the last part of the flavour. Vibrant finishing – I’m not sure it’s the longest but I’m sure that it’s massive fun – a great year in Preuses this is a complete wine.
2017 Chablis Les Clos
Again only 2 barrels worth – but all in stainless-steel.
Quite an undemonstrative nose for the cru. The most gas – hard to keep in the mouth – but I will persevere! Mouth-filling. A growing intensity – a light-sabre of flashing flavour. A more overt dynamic to this wine – I was sure that I would prefer the Preuses, but now I’m not sure! Also great!

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