Chablis Laroche – worth another look…


DSC03466All these wines tasted in Chablis, 16 March, 2014. (Right, Technical Director, Grégory Viennois)

Laroche, given its size, is an easy target for criticism, but a new(ish) winemaker who gets the nod from colleagues in the Côte d’Or got me interested enough to take the plunge. Good call; this is best ‘big-range’ I tasted from the 2012 vintage.

All these 2012s were bottled in January and February 2014. There followed a vertical of Blanchots plus a couple of older wines as reference points.

2102 Chablis Saint Martin
Domaine. Laroche has many contracts with vignerons, but this is made from lot selections of only estate fruit. Those wines from contracts or a blend of sources sports only a ‘Laroche’ label, not ‘Domaine Laroche.’
Pale lemon yellow. There’s a little pepper on the nose, perhaps some salt to match too and a faint yellow citrus. Lovely, crisp, intense, brightly sweet acidity – very refreshing and very lovely. It’s perhaps a little cold but that certainly adds to the freshness. Then there an extra ‘pop’ of flavour in the finish too. This is very yum!

2012 Chablis 1er Vaucopin
Laroche. Mainly raised in tank but there also some time in foudre – post-malo.
Quite some depth on this nose – a faint ripeness at the core. Here is a bigger wine with more mid-palate concentration and intensity – actually, very intense. A little more savoury and ripe. A wine with impressive delivery – can’t wait to see what the Grand Crus can deliver!

2012 Chablis 1er Vaillons
Wide, fresher than Vaucopins. There are faint herbs and maybe a trace of SO2 too – but I would say beautifully classic. Silky texture. It’s a hint softer than Vaucopins but still with great concentration, a fine attack and a really nice line of flavour.

2012 Chablis 1er Montmains
A ripe core to this nose – more aromatic density too – but the character is similar to Vaucopins. Lovely, lovely width; lithe and intense with a core that’s faintly padded. There’s a super growth of flavour and real dry extract in the finish. Brilliant!

2012 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
There’s a faint citrus-skin note. Starts fresh and then grows wider and wider and more concentrated. Super intensity. There’s even more dry extract here. Just brilliant concentration and no lack of balancing acidity. Super-impressive.

2012 Chablis 1er Côte de Lechet
Domaine. From a small block, only about 1-1.2k bottles.
Really the first wine that smells like a plate of oysters, slowly, slowly augmented with a little ripe lemon. No extra padding, growing concentration and extra-long finishing. Brilliant, and Grand Cru standard!

2012 Chablis 1er Fourneaux
I find a little reduction that pretends to be oak. A classic line that’s lithe, direct, very intense and less padded than the Lechet – it’s very silky though. Again, I like the dry extract at the back of the palate. This has a more classic line, but I have to say I prefer the Lechet.

2012 Chablis 1er Les Beauroys
A fresh and flinty nose. There seems even more transparency and fineness of line here – an almost electric energy. An extra length of dry extract once more. I like this almost as much as the Lechet, though the personality is vastly different.

2012 Chablis 1er Vaudevey
Domaine. They actually have 10 hectares of this; 5 are selected for this wine, the other 5 go into the ‘villages’ Saint Martin cuvée.
The nose is fresh and ripe. Big, round, lovely fresh flavours. This is less direct than the Beauroy but has a lovely citrus aspect to the acidity. The flavour sticks to your watering gums. Lovely!

2012 Chablis 1er Montmains
Green-skinned fruit and a faint SO2. Here is a little extra plushness and a beautiful citrus acidity to cut it. Super concentrated – it’s hard to believe that we are still ‘only’ drinking 1er Crus. Lovely extract in the finish. Just really super!

2012 Chablis 1er Vaillons Vieilles-Vignes
Fresh, with a ripeness to the aroma, slowly growing from the core. Full, but lovely energetic acidity. Not a bit fat, but great dry extract in the mid-palate. I am liking this very much.

2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Bouguerots
High tones and freshness but with a clear density of ripeness below – a slowly growing sea-shore too. There is a little more width versus the 1ers, but I would rather describe it as ‘confidence’ of delivery, rather than concentration. Super finishing extract again. Superb.

2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots
Domaine – made from 7 different blocks of vines.
A little reduction here that gives an oak-toast impression. Wow! This is round and full – you really have to wait until the mid-palate, and towards the finish before you get a lovely burst of energy and acidity. I really thought it too full to start…

2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
The nose is rather tight – giving virtually nothing away. Power and lovely acidity. The intensity seems ever-growing. Brilliant but a little tight – I think it can be great, but it’s really hiding too much to get a special citation.

2012 Chablis Grand Cru, Reserve de l’Obedience
Domaine. A special selection of about 10 barrels of GC Blanchots.
There’s a wide palate of aroma that mixes plenty of high-tones – rather complex. Wide again – indeed, very wide! Growing intensity and brilliant dry extract from the mid-palate onwards. Simply brilliant.
Blanchots Grand Cru

2012 Blanchots
There’s a faint nutty reduction. Full, concentrated but with lovely finishing acidity and concentrated dry extract.

2011 Blanchots
Here the nose is fresher and more flighty – below a suggestion of weighty extract and a faint savoury note. A little more CO2, more obvious acid intensity and less obvious concentrated heft. Just a super, long-finishing wine.

2010 Blanchots
There’s higher-toned fruit here, green-skinned fruit too. This seems a little softer but with ebullient acidity. Long, lingering flavours…

2009 Blanchots
High-toned again, with some herbs. Full, concentrated – super-concentrated – really intense and long. Balanced and powerful, it’s also drinking very nicely already.

2008 Blanchots
Here is the most complex nose; a little exotic, indeed blind, you could make a case for it being a red! Like the 08s of the Côte d’Or, here is a sweet-sour impression and a lovely, lovely, complete mid-palate. This wine is drinking absolutely brilliantly today…

2007 Blanchots
The nose is rather shy, but allows a few pretty, high-tones to escape the glass. Hmm, very nice. There’s something a little harder and phenolic right in the middle. LOvely lingering acidity. This is lovely, perhaps still a little young and today missing the bravado of the 2008, but definitely one to wait for.

2005 Blanchots
A wide, almost textured nose. Slowly some complexity begins to show. Riper and sweeter and with a great wall of concentration and intensity. Certainly a wine of considerable bravado, but I’ve other favourites!

2002 Blanchots
The nose has more complexity, is fresh and open, and is finally beginning to show a little age. Here is a different flavour profile; slightly nutty and lots of complexity. I’m very, very impressed. Yum!

2001 Blanchots
The nose is so complex and more mature than the others. A ripe sweetness pervades the palate, again with a nutty impression. Quite rich for a Chablis but has plenty of balance. You’d be happy to drink this any and every day…

And for a little fun, two wines that show the value of patience:

2003 Chablis Saint Martin (Mag)
The nose is round and concentrated and offers a lovely depth of fruit with a twist od more mature notes. Good concentration and a nice energy despite the vintage. This is super-tasty. It’s still, possibly, more a wine of the vintage than of Chablis, but it is a lovely glass – or indeed two!

1996 Grand Cru Reserve l’Obedience
Aromatically this begins in rather modest fashion, indeed, faintly rustic but fresh. To taste, this is clearly the best (wine-related!) thing I’ve put in my mouth for some time. Lithe, concentrated, just a hint of textural padding and brilliant dimensions of flavour. Simply, simply gorgeous. Then, in the finish, comes a seemingly impossible third dimension of flavour with a faint cream. Just so changing and moreish.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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