Tasted in Chablis with Benoit Droin, 22 January 2019.
Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin
8 Boulevard de Ferrières
Tel: +33 3 86 42 16 78
Benoit on 2018:
“2018 – the winter and spring probably saved us – recharging the reserve of water, because it was a lot of water. Summer was super hot, but not just hot, it was also very dry – only 23 mm of water between 1st July and the harvest. All of us expected 30-40 hl/ha of rendement – in the end it could have been the double. 1999, 2004, both had lots of volume, but here in 2018 there is ripeness and richness too – almost certainly not ‘classic’ – maybe a 1989 or 1990 type of richness? Let’s see, I wont start tasting before March. But enfin – happy!”
Benoit on 2017:
“Globally a good year excepting the frost of course. So it started not great – the push of growth was early and rapid – but the cold was a little more problematic than the frost as there were two weeks of this after the frosty days – so not frosted but we were still penalized a little. But otherwise it was a vintage which I would describe as warm but not too much, we had rain but not too much – so it was fine all the way up to the harvest where we had a good ripeness. Here it’s a little more than half a harvest in terms of yield, and it was the reverse of 2016 where the Chablis and Petit Chablis was badly affected but the crus less-so. We had over a week of frost on the right bank and in the grand crus – we lit candles at least 10 nights which reminds me of 2003 and 2007 for the amount of nights. The acidity, the pH, is in the order of that of great vintages, but right from the start the juice was very aromatic and tasty – normally there’s nothing of this to start.
“Perhaps the wines are more in the style of 2012 than 2014, at first I though a blend of 14 and 10, now I’m persuaded somewhere between 14 and 12.”
Simply a treasure-trove of great wines in 2017 – bravo to the team here.
Everything was bottled at the end of August – a couple of earlier bottlings done in April. The domaine is all DIAM now. Their first DIAM tests were in 2008 “And they are still great, in fact I’d say that they are virtually always tasting better than those in cork – wines in half bottles, sealed with DIAM always seem to taste better than those of full bottles with cork of ‘haute gamme!’“.
2017 Petit Chablis
One parcel above Les Clos on Portlandian, not much soil, mainly limestone. A decent harvest – nearly the rendement.
Fresh, citrus-skin nose. Lovely open volume but incisive in the mouth. Layered, once more a fine citrus, nothing hard or jagged. Super wine – delicious, excellent PC!
Normally, about 40 parcels assembled – About 12 hectares worth – and like the Petit Chablis, harvested by machine.
A little narrower nose but with drive. Supple, more concentration and depth of flavour, but fresh waves of faintly saline flavour. Ooh this is great for the label – great finishing too – bravo!
2017 Chablis 1er Vosgros
A flightier freshness to this nose. More direct and incisive – a wine with drive – less accommodation to the early drinker – but reserves of energy and flavour. This is really great, but pair well or wait a year or two… Delicious finishing flavour, finely mineral. Excellent 2017.
Assembly of 5 terroirs from Vaillons
Ooh that’s a beautiful nose – fresh clarity, a ripeness of pure fruit. Hmm, line, salinity, drive, all with the cushion of ripe lemon fruit – complex, playful, elegant wine of distinction – bravo!
Much deeper soil here. “I sometimes find this wine a little Burgundian but this year its more Chablisien!” says Benoit.
A wider nose, more guarded, more a fumé minerality. But drive and freshness again, melting with sweetness of bright fruit – layered, a suggestion of of a reductiveness to the minerality, but deeply and gorgeously flavoured – different but bravo again!
2017 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
A wide, nose, mineral but the aromatic is tighter than those before. Fresh, direct, tighter in the mouth too – harder to judge but the melting flavour slowly expands, becoming more complex – but this elegant wine is certainly one of more discretion than the previous two. Tasty, beautifully tasty, discreet, but also very long. Have patience.
‘This is always a complicated wine when young but after 5 years it really seems to take off! And be happy if you can find one that’s 10-15 years old!’
A modest nose, one with a little perfume though. So wide, chiseled, layered, freshly and silkily mineral – impressive for its panorama – not the most delicious wine for today, but great wine in preparation – wait a year or two, but bravo!
2017 Chablis Vaudésir
A depth of aroma with a modest but inviting floral perfume above – not overtly wide today. Ooh a ‘too young’ minerality that recalls the Tonnerre – but much more open and accessible at the same time. Supple and impressive in the finish – excellent wine!
2017 Chablis Valmur
A nose that’s less overtly deep but with a super width of perfume – so inviting. The palate likewise is ultra-wide, overtly mineral but cushioned by the a perfumed flavour of fruit and flowers. Never ending waves of finishing flavour – an open-ended wine that I whould very happily already drink.
2016 Chablis Grenouilles
From top part of Grenouilles.
A lovely, almost spiced perfume to the nose – “cold vintages bring out the sublime in this grand cru, 10, 8, 7, 14 are ‘cold’ vintages for me as the have kept the freshness and acidity.” Hmm, a little more direction, there’s still width here, but this has places to go. A suggestion of oak – but only that. Round and sweet with time in the mouth, but always incisive – excellent wine with a mini-waterfall of a mouth-watering finish. Excellent again.
A little more depth and a nice perfume – so far nothing outstanding versus the other gcs. But here is an innate density, with more depth and richness plus volume too but still with freshness and energy – like there’s another level in the hierarchy – supple, concentrated but alive. – ooh – wow! The nose needs time, but only that
Only tank elevage, from bought grapes.
A tighter, more overt mineral and reductive nose – air brings a great perfume to the fore – yes. Supple, deep, layered and freshness, a lovely purity and salinity that accents. Great finish of the vintage – bravo!
A nose that starts very calm, almost tight. Ooh, depth, energy – electric – starting to add layers of flavour. Richness to the layers – each follows the last – a slowly insinuating intensity. Great finishing again – it just keeps going “For me it’s Vaudesir with more finesse.” I didn’t have the time to wait for the nose to open, but clearly great wine here.
Good weight and width – a suggestion of reduction too. Ooh but here is energy, complexity and a little cushion of richness with perfect balance the finish is great a growing creamy depth. Super!
Diam. Hmm, this is starting to evolve, complex, almost some spice – über-attractive aromas. Hmm, deep, layered but fresh and with direction – the fruit has a truffle dimension but remains relatively young – but it’s becoming very accommodating. One of the best 08s I ever had – it was only a question of time! A great finish that reminds of the 17s!