Tasted in Chablis with Benoit Droin, 30 April, 2014.
Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoit DROIN
8 boulevard de Ferrières
Tel. +33 (0)3 86 42 16 78+33 (0)3 86 42 16 78
The Droin family is certainly amongst the oldest in Chablis; since 1620, there have been fourteen generations of vignerons. In 1965 Jean-Paul joined the business and in 1999, his youngest son Benoit also came to the domaine.
Benoit on working the vines:
“We are ‘raisonné.’ The most important part for us, is working the soil. Of-course we try to minimise the number of treatments we make, but this working of the soil nourishes it, and it is from this that we get the quality in our grapes.”
Benoit on harvesting:
Like many here in Chablis we use machines to harvest, but we use our hands too. Where I differ with some of my fellow producers is where they say ‘we use a machine for harvesting our Chablis and Petit Chablis, but only hands for our 1er and Grand Crus.’ For me, either a machine is good enough to harvest or not, and I think it is. But we have plots at all levels where I don’t use a machine, but that’s due to either the age of the vines or the specific training of those vines, nothing else.”
Benoit on his cuvées:
All but the Chablis and Petit Chablis see a little oak elevage. I’ve already 15 separate cuvées, I don’t need more. For that reason, there are lots of different parcels and vine-ages in my Chablis Villages, but rather than make individual cuvées such as Vieilles-Vignes etcetera, I prefer the ‘melting-pot’ approach. Likewise, our Vaillons contains 5 of the possible 7 ‘Vaillons vineyards’ but like the Chablis Villages, I prefer to have just one cuvée. That way my wine will be the same in San Fransisco as it is here in France.”
2012 Petit Chablis
Fresh, pretty aromas with a twist of ripeness. Starts rather mineral in the mouth, the sweetness only really showing itself in the mid-palate and into the finish. Good concentration, good Petit Chablis.
2012 Chablis 1er Vaillons
A faint herb with a modest, underlying, ripe fruit – rather a discrete aromatic. Round with a hint of fat and a growing intensity. Good density yet nice elegance. Faintly sweet finishing.
2012 Chablis 1er Montmains
A deeper style of aromatic – ‘more Burgundian’. In the mouth this is fresh, intense and wide – modestly textured and with a lovely, developing, mouth-watering sweet fruit. Beautifully mineral and finishing long, long…
From south-facing old vines.
The aromatic is more direct and fresh. Rounder, not so padded, more mineral and lithe than the Montmains – more tension. The finish slowly decaying, is a little subtle but very elegant. I like this very much.
2012 Chablis 1er Fourchame
“Our version of Fourchaume; it’s the biggest 1er with so many exposures and locations – they are all different!”
Ripe with a faint barrel creaminess and a lovely floral note. Round, rich but beautifully ‘cut’ by the acidity. This wine starts Burgundian (Côte d’Or-ian) but finishes like Chablis.
2012 Chablis 1er Monté de Tonnerre
Fumé silex says Benoit – I would have said a faint reduction, classic, this cuvée always shows it. So there! That said I find a similar note in the palate. Mineral, stony, acidity that takes control from the mid-palate onwards. Very, very long. Normally 10-15 years to peak, says Benoit.
A very pretty nose that is rounded with a few floral anecdotes. Full, cool fruit, minerals and density – all with perfect balance. Lovely finishing finesse. Simply gorgeous.
The aroma is bigger and richer, also with a few creamy barrel notes. Round, some density and richness too, yet finely balanced and packaged. Lovely and long. It’s as good as the Vaudesir, but has a completely different shape.
2012 Chablis Les Clos
Depth, aromatic freshness. Very mineral in the mouth. Round, with plenty of density but balance too. Again it’s a wide flavour and that width follows through into the finish. Lovely, lovely length.