2018 Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons*


lockdown-april-2020*Plus some sub-climats of Vaillons.

The 2018 vintage across greater Burgundy has provided us with some lovely chardonnay – and in some places, the balance is far more interesting than what was achieved in certain villages for pinot noir. Not all Chablis from the 2018 vintage is classically steely and saline, at least not in its youth, but it has good balance and delivers delicious flavours.

From an economic standpoint, the pricing of 1er Cru Chablis is rather interesting when compared to Bourgogne Blanc – Chablis is often the cheaper and more exciting wine in warmer vintages. Then, I hear you ask, ‘why Vaillons?

For many years you would have been forgiven for considering ‘Vaillons’ to be the ‘entry‘ premier cru, the wine that was always served first in a tasting with its peers. This seems to be changing; at more and more domaines the Vaillons is beginning to pop up later in tastings. Is it better in the warmth of more recent vintages (ignoring frost!) or are producers more attuned to its production?

Either way, a few good data-points never go amiss!

Annual production in hectolitres
Chablis 1er Cru33,07143,83134,782
The wines…

A lot of wine was made in Chablis in 2018, but wine that was made from clean, perfectly ripe grapes. All of these wines are useful drinkers and a few are genuinely excellent Chablis – and Chablis, despite the marketing machine working behind aligoté, remains Burgundy’s ‘value’ white wine…

Only 4 wines were sealed with cork – these I tasted first. It is interesting to see that at these, generally, lower price-points (for the whites tasted in this month’s report), that there is much less penetration by DIAM in both Hautes Côtes whites and the Pouilly-Fuissé that I tasted.

2018 Simonnet-Febvre, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Good quality domaine-branded cork.
An aromatic that’s just a little subdued, but there’s still an obviously quite fresh yellow citrus at the core. Mouth-filling with good energy – a little soft with lots of sweetness to start, though this buffers the structure well. Persistent, almost intensely finishing. Quite sweet but with a structural and a very impressive finish.

2018 J Moreau et Fils, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Not domaine-branded cork.
A little extra colour for this wine. More open, deeper aroma – faintly reductive and with some wood – or the reduction is playing tricks. A little more incisive than the Simonnet – an oilier, silkier texture too – on the other hand just a little less energy here. Again finely persistent and concentrated finishing. Fine, but I have a preference for the Simonnet.

2018 Jean Dauvissat, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Domaine-branded cork.
Hmm, that’s nice – almost a modern Côte de Beaune reduction to the aromatics – though to start it doesn’t really speak of Chablis. Incisive, fresh, concentrated – yes some reduction here too. Lovely energy and finishing complexity – persistent again – the hallmark of 2018. I love this, but the reduction needs to fade so that the wine becomes a little more ‘Chablis’ – decant!

2018 Domaine Laroche, Chablis 1er Les Vaillons Vieilles-Vignes
Domaine-branded cork.
A relatively pale colour for a 2018. An impressive width of complex aroma – not so high or deeply toned but it’s a fine invitation. Hmm – mouth-filling, vibrantly flavoured – quite floral too. Properly structural, intense finishing and completely delicious. Bravo!


2018 Bernard Defaix, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Unbranded DIAM10.
A typical diam-style aromatic reduction – the wine has been open about 20 minutes. Open, melting with flavour over the palate, here also a little reductive. Not the most concentrated here, but still with a great finishing flavour and length. A wine for the decanter and it’s delicious too.

2018 Vincent Dampt, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Domaine-branded DIAM5 Origine – the only Origine in the tasting.
Just a touch more colour. Ooh – a big waft of fresh, faintly citrus and equally faintly saline aroma – yes! Bright, energetic – perhaps a little co2 helping here. The middle and finish being more stony-mineral and structural. Another palate-staining finish. Bravo – drink the Laroche whilst waiting a little for this.

2018 Bernard Defaix, Chablis 1er Les Lys
Unbranded DIAM10.
A nose that’s tighter – almost tending to reduction but on a subtle level. Mouth-filling, mouth-watering, just a little soft but delicious all the while. Holds a good, persistent finish. Very good…

2018 Daniel Dampt, Chablis 1er Les Lys
Domaine-branded DIAM5.
There’s a little diam-reduction but also quite a forward and floral citrus aroma too – a nose that gets better and better with air. Quite a lot of dissolved CO2 in this one. More steely and mineral than most but with the typical 2018 ‘big finish.’ Excellent but decant to get rid of some the gas.

2018 Jean Collet, Chablis 1er Sécher
Domaine-branded DIAM10 – the only wine in this tasting wearing the lengthy 54mm seal.
A full nose but softer and rounder – the only wine (so far) showing some clear oaky aromatics. Mouth-filling, silky, concentrated – showing a fine minerality too. Plenty of oak in the flavour but a great finish. A wine to wait 3-5 years for – but sealed like this, you can wait with absolute confidence. Really excellent in the oaky style…

2018 Jean Collet, Chablis 1er Vaillons
Unbranded DIAM5.
A compact nose, with little reductive impression – more agrume-reductive than diam-style. Plenty of mouth-filling volume – clarity, a little structural, modestly mineral. It’s a long finish. Very good!

2018 Sébastien Dampt, Chablis 1er Les Beugnons
Domaine-branded DIAM5.
Not so wide but here is a depth of attractive aroma. Deep-flavoured too but not overtly reductive. Plenty of mouth-filling volume from this wine with a good base of minerality. One of only 3 or 4 here that I’d leave in the cellar so that the structure can become friendlier. Another great finish. Super – but give it 2-3 years…

2018 Moreau-Naudet, Chablis 1er Vaillons
An unbranded DIAM5 – but the first I’ve ever seen that’s practically defective – a ridge running up the side of the seal so only a few millimetres at the top protecting the wine. Seemingly, the timing was okay for this wine, but possibly by the skin of its teeth!
Hmm – one of the most open noses – wide, attractively citrus – almost agrume but not in a reductive style. Some gas. Hmm, there’s definitely a little extra flavour complexity to this wine, a nice energy and texture too. Practically a little grapefruit in a great finish. Bravo!
2018 Gautheron, Chablis 1er Vaillons
An unbranded DIAM5.
Pale coloured. Hmm, a great wine to follow the Moreau-Naudet as it’s also so open and effusive with a floral-citrus style to the aromatic – super! A little less gas than the Moreau-Naudet – but still a little. Supple yet steely then a burst of flavour as you hit the finish – here with just a suggestion of salinity. Bravo!

2018 Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis 1er Vaillons
An unbranded DIAM5.
A modest reductive quality to this nose – a little tighter than the previous bottles. A fine and incisive first impression – lots of mouth-watering citrus energy here. That’s a super finish too – excellent wine, maybe even better with a little cellar time!

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

There is one response to “2018 Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons*”

  1. david@shiverick.com5th June 2020 at 8:04 pmPermalinkReply

    did you taste Samuel Billaud vaillons or sechet?

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