Tasted in Chablis with Samuel Billaud, 12 January 2021.
Samuel on 2019:
“I think it’s a super year for quality, some problems as regards the volume – less-so for PC and Chablis, but the crus are down – some quite strongly in volume. Partly it was down to frost in the Spring, but July-August had no rain practically so not much volume – on the other hand, 2019 is a concentrated vintage – it was a harvest with much more concentration than 2018 – but with lovely balance. The sunny aspect of the vintage is much less than in 2018, 2015 or 2013 – there’s a nice tension – and they are still in elevage – only 2 wines have been bottled so far – the rest will be done from the start of February until April. There’s some minerlaity starting to show in the 2018s, but it’s there from the start in the 2019s. We saw lower degrees than in 2018 – the highest was 13.2°.”
Year-in, year-out – Samuel produces some of the most texturally sensuous wines of Chablis. I always look forward to my visit – even in the pouring rain, like today!
NDTEC corks from Trescases for the GCs, all the rest are DIAM. “I still have deviation with NDtec – the decision is still to be made how to seal the grand crus in the future.”
2019 Bourgogne Côte d’Or
Bought grapes in the Auxerrois and some must from northern Mâconnais – it was to save the volume in the frosted 2016 vintage but people like it – so it continues but with a bit lower volume. All tank elevage with fine lees – 12 months
A freshly mineral attack – that’s fine. Some richness but an energy in the middle too. A core of intense flavour and a little salinity in the finish. That’s a lovely finish.
Harvested mid-harvest from their parcel above Les Clos. To be bottled next week.
More airy, similarly fresh – a finer citrus fruit – yellow fruit. More incisive, more attack, a little touch of tannin. Wide and mouth-watering – that’s very delicious. Bravo PC and so long too.
2019 Chablis Grand Terroirs
Pargues, Grand Ecarts with 80-year-old vines, and Chapelots – roughly equal parts of the three parcels. This the first bottling – done in August
The nose is a little more compact, but again with yellow citrus. Great attack again, here with a little more depth to the concentration and flavour, a saline accent to this one. Really a step up a great persistence of flavour – excellent Chablis in 2019
In the middle of Montmains from 36-year-old vines, all in tank to be bottled in 2-3 weeks.
A more overt agrume fruit nose – a blend of citrus. A touch of gas but such a width of energy too. Mouth-watering, lovely energy – so good. That’s a great wine.
All barrel – 600-litres – 70-year-old vines, to be bottled in the Spring.
An easier freshness of simpler lemon citrus, though subtly accented with salinity. That’s great in the mouth though – incisive again, super attack – forward minerality but far from austere – a finish that expands further – so complex and long. Even greater than Montmains!
2019 Chablis 1er Fourneaux
Two parcels, all organic but they are contracts so it’s not noted on the label. 43-year-old vines on quite a steep slope, all made in tank.
A timid nose today but with freshness. Nice attack again, some lovely mineral, wiry-muscled, energy. The finish – like all here – is simply a great thing. As a minimum excellent wine.
2019 Chablis 1er Vaillons Vieilles-Vignes
From the heart of Vaillons, vines over 70-years-old.
The nose more open – fine and direct ripe lemon with a floral accent. Some gas here. Such energy – an obvious agrume fruit – heading in the direction of a grapefruit energy/acidity. Very moreish and mouth-watering wine. I’d keep this a while but clearly a chance of being great wine.
2019 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
A small 1,000 bottle cuvée here – to be bottled in Spring. From Vaupulent.
A salinity to this nose – as usual with the citrus but always just a little different. Plenty of gas. Mouth-filling with the intensity of citrus and tons of energy too – more overtly mineral in style versus the Vaillons – great finishing again – here with a modest accent of the barrel.
3 heights of vines, all harvested by hand and vinified together as they are small parcels. 20% 450l barrel elevage – all assembled in tank on lees. Youngest vines here are well over 60-years-old.
A timid nose – there’s minerality in the depth though. So wide, so incisive. There’s concentration without fat here. You can practically count the seconds as the finish grows – after you have swallowed. The start of the wine currently not the largest but the finish – wow!
2 parcels of 40 and 45-year-old vines: the top of Chapelots, other at the top of the triangle. Same elevage as Mont de Milieu.
Here the nose is a little more alive – certainly much wider than the MdM today. That feels fuller over the palate – but the energy here and the slight grain of tannin bring a really immersive feeling. Not a wine of simple oak complexity – here is wine complexity – and persistence of finishing flavour. Frankly great again.
More than 75 years old vines from Samuel’s great-grandmother – ‘The most mineral part of Vaillons.’ Long, 18-month, elevage but no barrels for this one
Still a slightly compact nose but with character in the width. Fuller – more mouth-filling, a little grain of tannin – there’s such a scale and purity to this wine. Fine zesty citrus-skin finishing – that’s great again and almost has a complexty of zestiness! Faintly saline too – There is no end!
2019 Chablis Bougros
Côte de Bougros approaching Preuses.
Extra high-tones here – all is citrus but with a little more welcome. A grain of tannin and a width of flavour – deliciously mineral in that width. The finish doesn’t mount like in the 1ers – but it’s already on a high level to start. Very long – more concentration though, today, less involving in the finish – comfort here rather than complexity.
Older 5-7-year-old barrels used here.
A different style – a sweetness in this aromatic width – slowly adding flowers too. More energy and more mouth-filling – quite a combination. Here it grows, beautifully saline and complex and long. That’s a great wine, a complete wine.
More than 70-year-old vines, Some two-year-old barrels as for Blanchot.
Beautiful depth of mineral aroma – suggesting a vibrancy – compelling. Lots of energy – starting a little easy but still a dynamic wine, a complex wine, some mandarin citrus fruit – always a great signal. Super-mineral finish – super-long too.
2 parcels – one near Moutonne the other near Grenouilles – vines between 30 and 40 years old.
Not a nose of density but there’s an ethereal minerality here. Wide, then mouth-filling from top to bottom too. No sense of richness, of fat, just concentration and energy. Big finishing again – I do prefer the Preuses, but not by very much – this is still a great wine.
2019 Chablis Les Clos
Top of the hill next the Billaud-Simon/Faiveley. The only wine with some new wood.
The nose has a faint barrel-padding – but faint and that will quickly fade. Not the fullest in the mouth – but still bubbling with energy – a wine of dynamism – despite the oak here’s a lovely purity of flavour, energy but less overt than the previous. A super finish but also a bit more timid. A wine that will surely add to its resumé with more elevage and cellar time.