Bernard Defaix – 2020


Didier Defaix 2022 Domaine Bernard DefaixTatsed in Chablis (Milly) with Didier Defaix, 24 January 2022.

Domaine Bernard Defaix
17 Rue du Château, Milly
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 40 75
More reports with Domaine Bernard Defaix

Didier on 2021:
We had worse in 2016 and in 2017 with very small volumes. I would say not too bad – we protected with candles and water-sprays – some later pruning maybe helped too – 10-12 hectares of our 50 produced well – 6 hectares almost nothing – less than 5 hl/ha. In the end, I would say a bit more than half a harvest – but our target is 50, not 60 so yes, it’s less than half the authorized amount. We weren’t sure what we had until after the malo when the wines gained eight and really surprised me…

Didier on 2020:
Really good quality – 40-45 hl/ha in the crus and about 50 in the Chablis. An easy vintage to follow the organic rules – no mildew, oïdium or botrytis. A year that we can say was easy, except that because the growing cycle was very early it was not always clear that the physiological maturity was in line with the phenolic maturity. We waited a little to pick – which we didn’t do in 2021 – but the cleanliness in the vines allowed us to take our time.

The wines…

Excellent wines – and when their elevage is finished, a couple of them could be worth a special search!

All DIAM here – some different densities are used “But we are happy with them they really keep the style of wine which we want to produce.” Some markets have some screw-cap possibilities here too – but only 10-15% of the production – it’s the customer who decides. Only the first wine is bottled as longer elevage is done here. Normally there’s also a Petit Chablis too but it is sold-out:

2020 Chablis
Only tank elevage – temperature-controlled. This was bottled in July.
Concentrated, good clarity – faintly accented with greens. Supple – again concentrated – great freshness and shape in the mouth – yes a little pyrazine but here is super mouth-feel and a delicious complexity of flavour. Very long too…

None of the following are bottled:

2020 Chablis Vieilles-Vignes
A parcel just under Les Lys 1er cru – about 50-year-old vines of around 1 ha. There’s about 25% barrel used here – ‘228s but hardly anything new’ – for the other cuvées of 1ers they are 500-litre barrels.
Wider, silky, more yellow citrus and flowers. Supple, cool fruit – juicily mineral – zesty in the middle. Holding a great finish – like the Chablis…

2020 Chablis 1er Les Lys
Similar to last but with a honied extra sweetness – almost acacia too. Bubbling with fine energy despite a round shape – really a lovely mobile and quite mineral energy. A properly mineral finish is a nice counterpoint to the rounder sweetness of the first flavours.

2020 Chablis 1er Vaillons
A calmer and much more airy and floral nose. Extra freshness, similar energy – but it’s the clarity and sherbet energy that sets this apart from the last. Calmer, some citrus skin bitters, in this finish. Lovely. Probably the combination of this and the last would be my ideal wine…

2020 Chablis 1er Côte de Lechet
Same vinification again.
Not full power but there’s a mineral width that’s really speaking to me, inviting me. Fresh, cool, quite vibrant – perhaps helped by some CO2 – but lime-citrus energy and a faintly attractive chalky austerity. That’s excellent…

2020 Chablis 1er Côte de Lechet Reserve
From a single parcel, just over 1 ha of vines. This the VV cuvée – on fining right now… This with about 50% barrel-elevage – like the Fourchaume – all the rest are less. Each year more and more 500-litre barrels from a base of 228s…
A little rounder but pure, slightly golden citrus. Gorgeous in the mouth – really filling with energy but never excessive. Cool fruit, modestly saline. Properly mineral finish. This has the potential to be great – it’s already excellent. I expect extra clarity when the fining is done – only a suggestion of oak in the finish… Wait 2-3 years and enjoy…

2020 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
Here the nose has some volume but the individual notes are more hidden. I little gas. Cool and mouth-filling with a zesty citrus energy – another wine that’s almost juicy. Love the finishing citrus bitters…

2020 Chablis Vaudesir
All barrel – none new.
That’s really lovely – there’s depth and lovely floral quality – a beautiful perfume. Energy – nicely shaped this direct and wants to go somewhere – it’s concentrated and saline – really a good finishing width too. A wine with personality and I don’t always say that about this cru which typically tends towards richness! That’s an excellent grand cru…

2020 Chablis Bougros
A fuller nose but with a good airy side to it – it’s not dense – it’s also not so beautifully floral perfumed as the Vaudésir. Nicely mouth-filling. Mineral, calmly mouth-watering. The finish is engrossing and contemplative. For its perfume, I’d take the Vaudésir in preference but this finish is also nicely zesty and agrume in style. Very tasty!

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