Tasted in Chablis with Cyril Ponelle, 12 January 2021.
Cyril on 2019:
“The wines are all bottled. It was a very dry and hot year – but we have reduced the amount of de-leafing which we do which in turn helped avoid the grilling of the grapes by the sun and contributed to volumes were very good for us, also in 2020. We love the balance in the 2019 wines. As usual, the Chablis and the 1ers see only tank elevage – the grand crus have some barrel elevage but a minimum of 2-years-old for the barrel age. Luckily, as a company we had a very good year – minus 2% in 2020 vs 2019 – in the global landscape we can only be very happy with that – it seems the base and the peak of the pyramid of wines are selling well, the middle-ground just a little slower.”
Still, all the grapes are pressed here in Chablis and then moved to Beaune for vinifying after settling. Land and plans remain in place for a facility to do everything here – but fairer trade-winds are the pre-requisite.
I’ve been fortunate to taste a number of vintages of the Drouhin wines, also in rather sought-after vintages, such as 2014; but the ensemble of wines here, in terms of being classic Chablis, of complexity, of salinity and absolute undiluted purity and drinkability, has to be one of the best!
Not the ‘reserve’ – this is the ‘contract’ wine.
Fresh, zesty nose. Here is really a lot of mouth-filling volume – great intensity and drive – leave it in the cellar for 6-12 months – or more if you like – but this has character and energetic, pure intensity in the finish. It will be delicious – bravo!
Mainly Montmains with a small part of Forêts. Vines in the mid-20s-year-old. A little more than 1.8 hectares. Risky for frost here at the bottom of the hill as there’s not much air circulation.
An extra depth to the mineral side here, the citrus is still evident, but on a lower level – a nice accent of salinity too. Saline, very silky, mineral with an intense accent of citrus acidity. Great finishing once more – great width and complexity – bravo!
Mostly from the lower levels of about 25 years old, 2.2 hectares. One part of this a contract wine.
Less depth but more width of aroma – less emphasis on the mineral, more the yellow citrus and a nice accent of florals. On the palate too, here is a width of almost electric flavour – less direct than the Montmains – but oh-so classic in shape and style but not much in the way of austerity – you could drink this now though it will be better still in a year or two. Bravo! I love the clarity of agrume – shaded towards mandarin – in the finish.
2019 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Always some of the earliest vines to grow and harvest. Two parcels, one very old that was pulled out in 2017. Also, a part that is a contract.
Take the nose of the Vaillons but add more depth – that’s what we have here – really inclined towards the agrume fruit. Very saline again, a growing volume of flavour – finely divided complexity – a little less clarity because of that – give and take – but layered and beautifully shaped. A strong finish, of concentration. Here, like the Montmains, is a wine to have a bit more ageing, drinkable as it already is. Excellent wine.
2019 Chablis Bougros
‘These are my vines’ says Frédéric Drouhin. ‘I’ve also a little Chambolle 1er though! They are steep vines, often with strength and austerity at the start.’ 0.3 ha – usually not too many maladies in this area.’
Here is just a touch more aromatic volume, but less intense versus much of what has gone before – the oak is already very discreet. A wine that starts relatively discrete in the mouth but has the facility to widen and keep widening over the palate. Mouth-watering, intense but also a little cushioned. Obviously a baby wine today but with much in reserve.
Two parcels – one at the top with very old vines, vinified separately then assembled. 1.4 ha in total. Elevage uses 300 and 500-litre barrels – none new. The soil is light and mobile but it’s steep too – so we use a horse to plough.
Some aromatic similarities to the Bougros – again a slightly compact nose – yet – that’s a very fine, cushioned, agrume-fruit and slightly floral width. Presence in the mouth – a wine with more scale, more architecture. Beautifully textured – only a millimetre of cushion. The barrel now the faintest accent – I think in 6 months it will be completely gone. I often struggle to place Vaudésir – but this is one of the best of my 2019 tour!
2019 Chablis Les Clos
Old vines no question about quality but they struggle on quantity so a small parcel has been pulled out for replanting. ‘Always a particular character – a sunny disposition – no surprise as direct south-facing.’ Two parcels in the middle of the clos but separated by other vines – 1.3 hectares.
Here the nose, in terms of its fine-grained complexity, more than resembles that of the Mont de Milieu, the accent of barrel perhaps the most visible of all these wines – but again it will soon fade to nothing. A freshness, a coolness of fruit, very mineral. It’s the energy for me that defines Les Clos and we have that here. The finish, long, with a little less definition than the previous wine today. Excellent Les Clos in an excellent vintage is not bad though – eh?