Tasted in Chablis with Samuel Billaud, 25 January 2019.
Domaine Samuel Billaud
8 Boulevard Tacussel
Tel: +33 6 37 52 50 32
Samuel on 2018:
2018 is evidently a great vintage for volume, a vintage that of 12° at the start of the harvest and 14° at the finish. It was an awesome year in the vines – our last treatment was 14 July – Though certainly I had some worries about the dryness, and many of us thought there would be little volume and hoped for rain! So it was a surprise! I had more volume in the Petit Chablis and the Chablis. The acidity could have been more for the spine of the wines – they are clearly sunny wines but a style of 2013 and 2015 maybe but with, perhaps, more interest.
Samuel on 2017:
“The frost was the great problem: -6°, -7°. There was enormous damage on the right bank – worse than in 2016 for the 1ers and grand crus, at least here. To ‘balance’ I have more in Chablis and Petit Chablis and the left bank was more generous. Whilst 2016 was half a harvest, in 2017 there was more – but not by much. 2017 was something of a deception as it looked like we had much more, but the grapes had less juice than we anticipated. It’s roughly one full vintage from the last 2 years and that makes the market, commercially, very complicated. The ‘missing’ volume was in the crus – so less money for the bank than in 2016! They are wines with a mineral tension, a richness of minerality and a freshness of salinity. Yes, the freshness and minerality is really a surprise in 2017 – it’s really good – like 2016, another vintage with concentration, but perhaps a little more sunny.
“The mineral density of the 2017s was a surprise but we also have an exuberant side to the wines, saline and very interesting – probably better wines than in 2016.”
Dynamic, vibrant wines at this address in 2107 – wow! But there’s very little wine…
Samuel had just been bottling his premiers from 2017 – he wont start the grand crus before Spring.
‘More character, less fruit – a reasonable yield compared to some places’ – but still grand cru côte d’or yields!
Deep yellow fruited. Lovely drive here, saline-edged, mouth-watering, complex, mineral – delicious – simply great for the label.
A little less from Chapelots this year due to the hard frost there.
Deliciously inviting citrus and mineral depth – really a beauty. Deep, mineral and saline but with a growing framework of intense citrus fruit. Ooh this is really fine. There’s a rippling of small waves of flavour in the finish – oh yes!
In the middle of Montmains from 35 yo vines, all in tank, 12 months sur lie, bottled in August. Was done in barrel before, but the volume is now more so all is done in tank.
A beautiful freshness – more agrume than directly lemon-lime. Wide, mobile energy and intensity – ooh this is a great one – complex, layered, some modest salinity. This is simply excellent wine and more perfumed in the very long finish.
70-year-old vines from the heart of Vaillons, also 100% tank elevage.
A little quieter nose but lots of width here – the fruit is warmer, sweeter but classically yellow-citrus. Ooh – that’s vibrant – I wasn’t expecting such fresh, intense, saline attack after the discretion of the nose. Vibrant, lemon and orange skin in the finish – ooh great again!
2017 Chablis 1er Fourneaux
41-year-old vines on quite a steep slope, all made in tank. Also all tank elevage.
Good freshness and weight – not so wide or deep but good presence and citrus skin aroma. Great direction, drive, intensity – a real blend of fruit – agrumes-style. Mouth-watering, limestone finish – this is excellent!
3 heights of vines, all harvested by hand and vinified together as they are small parcels. Will be bottled in 1-2 months. A portion of elevage in larger barrels before assembling for the last part of elevage in tank. Frost means 20 hl/ha here.
Fine, subtle aroma – quite wide, today less deep – but highly attractive and inviting. Ooh but here’s another wine with great drive and intensity – wow – grapefruit-led agrume – wide, vibrating with finishing intensity – another simply great wine!
2 parcels of 40 and 45 year-old vines: the top of Chapelots, other at the top of the triangle. Same 20 hl/ha – about 25% barrel elevage. Not yet bottled
A nose with some similarity to the last but with a more overt higher tone of fresh citrus fruit. A touch of gas here. Vibrant again – more transparent, plenty of volume but fine clarity too. Vibrant in the finish too juicy great wine.
More than 70 years old vines from Samuel’s great-grandmother – ‘The most mineral part of Vaillons.’ All tank elevage. Bottled one week. Like all 1ers in DIAM.
Hmm – that’s a lovely width of fresh lemon fruit. Another wine that’s direct and intense – rippling with fresh citrus energy – ooh so dynamic and delicious ooh wow!
All the grand crus in tank since the harvest:
2017 Chablis Bougros
A beautiful depth of aroma here – not super energetic or super wide – but it doesn’t need to be – a great invitation. Fuller – more weight only partially less direction – such great flavour in every single wine. Layered and vibrant at the same time in this finish…
More than 60 year-old vines, just one large barrel – a 3-year-old barrel.
Wide, saline, blended with citrus and a suggestion of barrel in this complexity. Ooh – that’s great, density and energy, a modest touch of fat to the texture – but such great and mobile minerality in the flavour – bravo!
2017 Chablis Vaudesir
Two parcels east and west, one next to Moutonne, the next close to Valmur. ‘The two sides bring a special balance.’
Considered, complex, a touch of oak spice. A core of flavour here, framed with fine but insistent acidity, great finishing width with a fine salinity, long and fine…
15 hl/ha – the same as in 2016 – two barrels from near the top of the slope.
A relatively discreet nose – but round despite its freshness. The same acid energy as the Vaudésir but a little more padding and depth to flavour that it’s currently choosing to show – a touch of barrel in the flavour but just another complexity. Super wine but one that will need more time to open and deliver on it’s promises – I think better than excellent, but for now I’ll stick with ‘just’ excellent!