Tasted in Maligny with Pierrick Laroche, 25 January 2021.
Domaine Des Hâtes
5 Chemin des Hâtes
Tel: +33 6 73 67 33 47
There are a number of Laroche in Chablis so I asked Pierrick the question: “Yes it’s true that Michel Laroche, of Domaine Laroche, was from Maligny, and we have vines that neighbour his but as far as I know, we are not linked. We’re also not linked to the Laroches of Fleys…”
The parents of Pierrick Laroche were contracted to the Chablisienne for wine but were also producers of cereals. They had land that was also within the AOC classification of Chablis, so gradually they planted some of those ‘fields.’ It was Pierrick’s father who planted the majority, starting in 1985 and keeping planting up to 2000.
When Pierrick joined in 2010 he decided to concentrate on the wine, growing a little each year the amount that he commercialised. He has 28 hectares, 25 of which are in Maligny – the rest are more in the direction of Courgis. The domaine is mainly Petit Chablis and Chablis – less than 2 of the domaine’s hectares are 1er cru. Pierrick also has a small négoce operation which allows him to expand the range too.
Normally it is about 100k bottles per year that are commercialised here, though Pierrick chose to do less in 2020 as the market was difficult – they still send wine to bulk buyers but not grapes – Pierrick saying ‘We vinify all that we produce‘. It’s mainly export here, their largest market is Japan – which was less affected than most in the last 12 months.
Pierrick on 2019:
“There’s usually a small catastrophe each year but really not so much in 2019 – the yields were not too bad and with a little reserve from 2018 we had almost a normal volume. It was a summer where the vines had to suffer due to the lack of water, yet the wines have a nice freshness – I don’t like my Chablis to be too round so I’m happy and prefer these wines to 2018 for example. I think we have a nice balance between roundness and concentration on one hand and freshness and tension on the other.”
I found Pierrick’s wines to be slow-burners – wines that just got better and better in the glass. All are excellent if you wait for the oak of some cuvées to fade, but the finishes were often simply great – that bodes well for the wines – they could turn out even better than I noted.
DIAM here since first trials in 2013…
2019 Petit Chablis
Bottled in November – there is normally one in May too. Only Maligny – 2 terroirs – a plateau that has a lot of clay – like Lignorelles – plus limestone slopes, south, south-east-facing – here it’s more mineral. But the parcels are quite close to each other. About 20-year-old vines
That’s a nicely vibrant nose – direct and lemon-citrus. Noce texture, plenty of concentration but still with good tension and fine length – slight agrume finish.
This the first bottling in May. Also only from Maligny here – the Courgis part has longer elevage as there is a little austerity – so this first bottling has none. Average 30-year-old vines
A bigger nose, a more floral nose too. Hmm – that’s super – mouth-filling and juicy – simply a really excellent wine. I love the tasty energy here.
2019 Chablis 1er Butteaux
First vintage – 0.25 ha – only barrel elevage and fermentation – 600-litre barrels, none new. Bottled end of November.
A deep and impressive nose clearly with plenty of oak but also a quality fruit. Cooler, less sweet than the Chablis – a fine intensity – open and with real depth of flavour. The finish is wide and really quite super – a wine for keeping – certainly for the oak to fade but also to take the edge away from a modest austerity but the finish is super – blood-orange and zesty.
2018 Petit Chablis
A deeper nose, rounder but also more saline. Wide and silky, a depth of flavour here – agrume and growing in intensity too. There’s good energy here, saline in the wide finish, agrume fruit again – it just lacks the clarity of the 2019 but is delicious all the same. “I’m pretty sure you will see the same salinity in the 19 in another 12 months – it always comes to the surface – I harvest early because I want the freshness and to keep my acidities.”
The depth of aroma of the PC but a little more airy in style. Extra impact and mineral intensity – still a small citrus-skin austerity – more visible in the intensity of the finish. That’s still a baby wine – very young but I love the line of flavour in this finish – Excellent wine – only a nose short of bravo!
Oldest vines of the domaine, planted in 71 and 71 with a massale selection in Maligny – normally 30-45 hl/ha but over 50 in this vintage – on a Kimmerigian plateau, vinified like 1er crus so with 30% wood, part of that in large-formats. Normally bottled May of the following year – so 19 not yet done.
The freshest nose of these 2018s, airy, wide, saline, the oak practically invisible. Open – clarity of flavour – here you can see some oak – vibrant energy, so mouth-watering too. That’s a great finish. Keep this for 2-3 years to lessen the oak flavour but that’s a great 2018 Chablis.
2018 Chablis 1er Beauroy
Here a contract wine, in must, 15 months elevage part in wood.
A deep nose, slightly reductive. Wide, steely, mineral palate – some oak for sure – the fruit is ripe but the wine is freshly driving. The finish is super – lip-smacking, zesty and long.
2018 Chablis 1er Fourchaume L’Homme Mort
The Same elevage as the last – 30% barrel, part larger format. Have aspersion here to protect from the spring frosts.
A more open nose, no reduction, slowly adding a little floral aspect. Here’s an extra roundness in the mouth, but the flavour is open and round but obviously mineral and wide too. Another really excellent finish, a little intensity short of great – but all the wines finish so well here.
2018 Chablis Bougros
Another small cuvée, only barrel elevage, 3-4-year-old barrels, 12 months in barrel and 2-3 more months in tank before bottling.
The oak is very modest here – the volume of aroma is impressive and with a cushioned slightly floral aspect. Vibrant in the mouth – I love the concentrated intensity here. A great finish again, one that ripples wider from the core…