Tasted in Chablis with Lilian Duplessis, 16 January 2019.
Earl Caves Duplessis
5 Quai de Reugny
Tel: +33 3 86 42 10 35
Here is a small family domain in a quiet corner of downtown Chablis next to the river Serein – in fact they are the neighbours of Billaud-Simon. Lilian Duplessis is the 5th generation of the family at the domaine after succeeding his father and his grandfather before him.
In Chablis terms, this is indeed a small domaine – just 10 hectares – but with some great parcels in the heart of a number of important vineyards. The domaine produces all four levels of Chablis with Petit Chablis, six different 1er crus plus Le Clos grand cru. There are 3 premier crus on each side of the river, but majority in terms of surface is Les Montmains – so left bank. The oldest vines of the domaine were usually planted by Lilian’s grandfather, another layer planted by his father in the late 1960s, before that it was polyculture – but the vines are mainly about 50 years old now. The third wave of plantings was largely done by Lilian and his father together – these have about 15 years of age now.
Lilian’s first vinification here was with his father Gérard in 2000. Gérard Duplessis retired in 2007, and Lilian started straight away on organic viticulture – he asked for certification in 2010 and got in 2013 – ‘AB.’
The domaine has a little more export than sales to the home market. Northern Europe, Uk, US are some of the important export markets.
Lilian on 2018:
“2018, not all fermentations are finished yet, but it was a mad vintage, though one that brings contentment back to the faces of the wine-producers – it’s been such a long time that nobody actually remembers the last time that we had such a volume with such a level of ripeness – and as an organic producer never seen a full rendement before! The vines were always looking good in 2018 – grace of no frost, hail or mildew!”
Lilian on 2017:
“I like to do a long elevage – for instance only the villages is in bottle at the moment – and there’s no Petit Chablis as it was frosted in 2017. In 2016 I was rewarded with 15 hl/ha and in 2017 it was more like 20 hl/ha – so not a full harvest in 2 vintages. The Fourchaume was lost all in one night! For me it’s a nicely balanced vintage with proper maturity and a good acidity. I like the structure in this vintage.”
A relatively modest range of wines here for my first tasting – except the domaine’s Montmains – that’s an excellent wine!
The only that has been bottled. All tank, usually 12 months of elevage.
Hmm – wide, open, a very forward aroma of sweetness of fruit. Round, supple, good concentration – ripe fruit and roundness together make this delicious – the end of the palate a nice touch of salinity – it seems from this wine a warm vintage but behind there’s plenty of fine freshness.
2017 Chablis 1er Vaugirots
An exception in the range, the only one of the 1ers that has only a stainless-steel elevage – ‘They are young vines, about 15 years-old, so I currently thing better to do elevage like that – but with a longer elevage than the Chablis.’ Close to Vosgros.
Hmm – open, wide, green notes – herbed but not strident. Round, supple, layered, ripeness of fruit, certainly a green fruit that resembles the nose a little. Modest energy but a very nice depth of flavour. I like the persistence very much here – a very tasty finish!
All the rest of the premiers and the grand cru have the same vinification – 18 months elevage, all the fermentations are in tank but then spend 6 months in barrel – 10% new, barrels kept up to 10 years. “I’m really looking for discretion, to see the terroirs of Chablis speak, that means natural yeasts, not much sulfur in the vinification – so far none for the super-clean 2018s – the malos come naturally.”
2017 Chablis 1er Vaillons
Three different parcels in epinottes, chatains and sechets
A width of freshness, faintly herbed again – nothing suggesting barrel in the aromas. Hmm, this has a lovely and direct minerality, round but chiseled style. Hmm a fine intensity of finishing flavor, long too.
2017 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Lost all in 2016 due to frost once more. A small parcel of 0.30 ha – mid-slope in both directions, a parcel in fermage, first vintage 2014
Hmm – a fine nose, no herb, a complex if understated width – lovely. Supple, lovely shape – a wine of concentration but not heaviness – there are enough like that in 2017. A melting finish, very fine texture too – simply an excellent wine.
2017 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
Pied d’Aloup – one of the historic parcels of the domaine with some vines of 80 years old – the assembly is a little younger though.
The first whiff seems a little herbed again but then there’s a nice line, a width of composed and attractive notes. Less full than the Mont de Milieu, but with fine texture and a certain roundness at the core – far from mouth-filling, another composed wine, one that sits in fine fashion on the palate – very slowly melting its flavour. Not a big finish, but a long finish.
2017 Chablis 1er Montmains
Largest appellation of the domaine in two parcels – the last part of Montmains and the first part of Forêts assembled.
Ooh – now that’s a super nose – highly attractive minerality – a vibration of aroma. Drive, purity, intensity, a vibration that accompanies the minerality – this is absolutely excellent wine – complex and delicious.
2017 Chablis Les Clos
Right in the middle of the vineyard – Was a very small harvest so the fermentation was also in wood
This also a nose of vibration with a very modest spice from the wood – attractive. Fuller, rounder, concentrated, today not the energy I would expect from a Clos – there are layers of mineral flavour framed with wood though – maybe time will improve that – but after the greatness of the Montmains I’m left wanting much more here – despite enviable length.