Domaine du Chardonnay – 2018

Update 18.2.2020(17.2.2020)billn

Axelle and Thomas Labille, 2020Tasted in Chablis with Axelle Franchini and Thomas Labille, 23 January 2020.

Domaine du Chardonnay
Moulin du Pâtis
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 48 03

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All-change! Etienne Boileau and William Nahan have taken their retirement so its William’s son – Arnaud – who has taken over, but he was on a course (Haute Valeur Environmental) when I visited. Thomas Labille, who previously worked with Domaine Laroche and is responsible for the vinifications, was my host with Axelle Franchini.

They have already been busy – they have new labels for the domaine, the first in 25 years – I’m positive, they are a little less ‘supermarket-style.’ The elevage is longer and they’ve changed their seals too, moving to DIAM5. It seems that only the vines remain the same – though there are changes there too, after the 2019 vintage!

The wines…

In the context of a particular vintage, I think these are the best wines I’ve ever tasted here – the is vibrancy, minerality and that all-too-rare commodity in 2018 – salinity. Well-done!

For the first time in my years of visiting, not all the wines were already bottled:

2018 Petit Chablis
Vines in Beines, Prehy and the plateau behind the Grand Crus – 8 months, stainless-steel and a little enamel for elevage – ‘We have a big 9-hectare parcel, so we are looking for something easy to drink.’
A little touch of greenery – more fruit than herb. Easy, nice acidity, some layers of flavour very faintly saline. Easy and quite delicious and with a very tasty length!

2018 Chablis
Vines on both sides of Chichée, with separate vinifications for the 17 hectares. About 10 months of elevage with generally smaller tank elevage and a little (5%) barrel elevage.
A little more mineral complexity here. Fresher, wider, more mineral, slowly growing with intensity – fresh layers of flavour – nicely steely – this is really excellent!

2018 Chablis 1er Vaillons
From Epinottes and Roncières and a tiny part of Lys – the latter a relatively small 0.16 ha from a total of 1 ha. Here a little longer elevage again – 12 months – normally bottled about the time of the harvest. The rest of the 1ers are usually bottled from December.
A little more impact, perhaps a faint reduction from the bottling. Nice scale here – really mouth-filling, fine energy – there is lovely freshness and juicy aspect to the finish of this wine.

All the following wines tasted from tank as they will have at least 18 months of elevage:

2018 Chablis 1er Vosgros
Just under 1 ha a mix of 2 parcels, one steep and south-facing, plus another small parcel in Vaugiraud. Vine ages between 5-30. Like a Roman amphitheatre. Like the others all stainless-steel elevage, but here also with about 10% barrel.
Ooh, thats a great nose – exciting, fresh agrumes. Saline, mineral, nice drive – the merest touch of richness – lots of agrume fruit and a saline finish. Great 1er – so refreshing and delicious.
2018 Chablis 1er Montmains
3 sectors, but all Montmains, 3.85 hectares.
A little sweeter, a little more mineral, less agrume fruit. Fresh, like the nose, mineral, even more saline than Vosgros, less about fruit. Great again – showing a lot of quality this year here!

2018 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
0.69 hectares. Small parcels so one of the smallest cuvées here.
Here’s a nice width of aroma, fuller, warmer, and modestly spiced with complexity. Round, less volume, but a fine depth, more agrume again, a good base of minerality followed by rolling waves of finishing flavour – the merest hint of oak here. Excellent, faintly saline in the finish.

2018 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
These vines, plus a little Montmains will leave the domaine after 2019, as one of the original partners, has reclaimed these vines. All barrel elevage, but some of the barrels were stainless!
A lot of oak on this nose but round an sweet. I like the shape in the mouth, plenty of volume and a very mineral width – complex but a lot of that is from oak. Wait two years and maybe it has gone!

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