Tasted with Stéphanie Michelet in Lignorelles, 23 January 2019.
Domaine Jean-Claude Courtault
1 route de Montfort
Tel: +33 3 86 47 50 59
Stephanie on 2018:
“What to say – a superb year. The type of year that a vigneronne can look back on – I’ve seen volumes before but never with a maturity like in 2018. But it was needed, it would have been a catastrophe to have a third vintage of very low volumes. Everyone enjoyed and had a smile. It was so warm and so dry there were crevasses in the vineyards – the clay was like rock – it was a worry. The flowering was practically perfect and we had many grapes right from the start but nobody had the idea to do green harvest – but all ripened well – in fact if it had rained maybe we would probably have had too much dilution. The acidity isn’t the highest but the minerality is there. I’m not a big sugar fan, but the grape juice was just so aromatic and delicious this year – it’s not normally like that.”
Stephanie on 2017:
“2017 was frosted here, some of the worst frost in Chablis – together with Maligny – our vines mainly in the north-west corner of Chablis – but the wines are great! We barbecued in March as it was so warm, but at Easter the cold returned and even worse it rained just before the frost hit with -8°C – so we were much harder hit than many other sectors. This is an area that normally doesn’t frost – but it was the combination of rain followed by the cold that did the damage – some vines looked like they’d almost been killed – they took a long time to come back. We still managed roughly 50% as we had vines that compensated in other areas. So we had a more wine in 2017 than 2016. Our clients won’t suffer in 2017 though, as we only commercialise about 60% of our production, so it just meant that we had no bulk sales – something we couldn’t do without buying grapes in 2016. But I like the wines very much.”
Wines that always need a bit of working in the glass – they are not overtly reductive but there’s a suggestion of that – but give them 5 minutes of air and you will have something on another level.
The two domaines, as always presented together; the wines of the Domaine Jean-Claude Courtault usually being the more fruity, approachable wines. The last wines represent négoce purchases, and these wear, in most markets, the Jean-Claude Courtault (but a different colour) label, but sometimes, like in Harrods, UK, they wear a Michelet label.
The ‘Michelet’ wines with DIAM; 3 and 5 for the Petit Chablis and Chablis (respectively), cork for the others. Stephanie’s father remains ‘very traditional and is attached to his corks!’
2017 Jean-Claude Courtault, Petit Chablis
Mainly from Lignorelles, average 20 year-old vines.
A wine that needs a little swirling, but that liberates a lovely citrus-accented perfume. Round, saline and mineral, slowly growing citric line from the core into the finish. Wait six months for perfect balance, but this is very tasty wine.
2017 Michelet, Petit Chablis
Vinified exactly the same. Parcels from Bienes, Maligny and Fye. More like 10 year-old vines.
A nose with more depth, more lime aroma. More drive, line and mouth-watering citrus – I’d leave this 6 months too – for calming – but there’s a great citrus line in the finish. The last was rounder, this has more drive.
2017 Jean-Claude Courtault, Chablis
A blend of Lignorelles and Beines – 30-35 year-old vines. Usually more fruit from Lignorelles, structure and minerality comes more from Beines.
Hmm – fresh, directly lime-style fruit. Wide, mouth-water – quite an intensity. You have to wait for the finish for something more delicious – but here it is delicious and cajoles you to take another sip. Lovely
2017 Michelet Chablis
70% old vines, with a young vine in Bienes, the rest over 60 years old in Lignorelles – just one old barrel as part of the overall elevage – maybe 5% of the volume.
A little more aromatic width, here it’s tending more towards lemon. Ooh – a little more richness, more saline, volume, melting, with good intensity, and citrus finishing with an easy mouth-watering style.
“1ers are all bought as must – it’s hard to buy grapes… but these are quite long-term purchase from the same producers.” There will even be a little Fourchaume here in 2018.
2017 Jean-Claude Courtault, Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Bought from same producer since 2008. All tank elevage on the fine lees.
A nose that keeps adding dimension and volume, plenty of freshness – but today it’s a finesse of flowers that great the nose – little in the way of fruit. Calm, wide, great texture – cool and, like the nose, growing in volume. Showing small accents of salinity and a ripe width of fine citrus.
2017 Jean-Claude Courtault, Chablis 1er Beauroy
Troesmes and Côte de Savant. A little barrel elevage here looking for openness of aroma – nothing from the wood flavour.
This starts very tight but with a little coaxing from the glass comes a lovely perfume with a faint citrus too – becoming more and more aromatic. Round, really mineral, super mouth-watering with a forward salinity – so mouth-watering. The fruit is on a very modest level but the open, mineral and saline complexity hardly seems to miss it. A wine that’s modest in all directions, save one – how absolutely delicious it is – simply excellent – yum!
It’s the second vintage here with buying any grand crus – “They didn’t really have anything to sell!“