Tasted in Chablis with Samuel Billaud, 08 June 2017.
Domaine Samuel Billaud
8 Boulevard Tacussel
Tel: +33 6 37 52 50 32
Samuel Billaud’s domaine was my best discovery in my January 2017 Chablis visits – really a super set of wines. I popped in again to see how those wines are developing.
Currently about 80% of the production is exported, with the UK being the most important market.
Samuel on 2016 in January:
“2016 was complicated due to two climatic incidents; a hard frost, particularly to the east of Chablis that caused considerable damage due to a temperature of about -5°C. The second incident was the hail that hit the north, north-west, then another hail, one month after the frost that basically destroyed a lot of the south, such as Préhy. Of course there was a lot of rain in the weeks that followed which meant it was almost impossible to keep up with the mildew – but then the canicule (heat wave). Really I could call it an ‘année noir’ – a black year. You have to look almost to the 1800s for something so damaging. Pruning is very difficult, because not all baguettes are fertile – so let’s seen. For me it was probably about a half a harvest. But the quality of the grapes is great, there’s a very nice balance waiting.”
We took an early look at a couple of 2016s before the 2015s.
First up was 2016 Chablis Grand Terroirs which showed some CO2, but with a personality of freshness, citrus and lots of interest. This looks to be heading in a great direction. Next was the 2016 Chablis 1er Vaillons of which my description was quite short – a citrus fizz bomb – oof! I was equally verbose when tasting the 2016 Chablis 1er Forêts – ooh, watch out for this one!
So, to the 2015s:
Versus January, I noted just a little less flamboyance of aroma and maybe a little more oak showing in the aromas – that’s the bottling for you – but such a great set of wines, nevertheless…
2015 Chablis Grand Terroirs
Three parcels, two on the left bank. 30-year-old vines opposite Vosgros on Kimmerigian. One below Montée de Tonnerre, all three separately vinified, and normally assembled one month before bottling.
A lovely deep but fresh lemon. Hmm. Layered, but fresh flavour and showing a slowly growing complexity. Saline finishing, hmm, not the most overt energy but very yum indeed…
2015 Chablis 1er Fourneaux
Also all tank elevage.
Pretty complex nose of a nice purity and energy – faintly floral with agrume fruit here. A hint more richness of texture, cementing the flavour to the tongue – just a great wine with a modest intensity but very long…
2015 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
3 heights of vines, all harvested by hand and vinified together as they are small parcels. 20% in barrels of 400 l. 18 months elevage, bottled last month…
Ooh, cool, direct in the mouth, growing intensity, more rigour in the finish, ooh this needs time but its a super wine – drink the easier Fourneaux while you wait for this really super wine…
2015 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
2 parcels: the top of Chapelots, other at the top of the triangle. 20% in barrel same as the last – bottled in November.
Clean, fine citrus on the nose. Super silky, layered, citrus, saline and super – long, special wine for today…
More than 70 years old vines from Samuel’s great-grandmother – ‘The most mineral part of Vaillons.’ All tank elevage. Still on lees like the Mont de Milieu, bottled in January.
A vibrant lemon yellow on the nose – very fine but I slightly prefer the Tonnerre today – just! Hmm, wow intensity yet with a comforting richness too – intense citrus flavour, bravo!
All the grand crus saw 400 litre barrels for 12 months and 6 months on their lees in tank. Bottling is planned for March:
2015 Chablis Bougros
A modest toast aroma – perhaps it is a reduction. Super mineral but with a twist of fat to the texture too – a wine of line, melting flavour, a subtle but super wide finish. Oof!
At the centre of the grand crus, 65 years old, the last was 25 year-old vines…
Lots more depth of aroma, some of that is oak though. Wide, super fine texture, such super texture, layers of flavour, bravo!
Two parcels east and west, one next to Moutonne, the next close to Valmur. ‘The two sides bring a special balance.’
Width, a suggestion of caramel, a faint but nice freshness to the nose too – this is much less demonstrative than in January. Ooh, fresh, super width of fine mineral flavour, beautifully textured flavour… vibrant finish. Really bravo!
Vines older than 60 on the higher part of Preuses. 400 litre barrels and tank elevage.
Lots of depth, good volume with a nice balance of freshness and oak notes. Lots of volume, lots of complexity, very fine balance, some creamy elegance to finish, but really this is fabulous stuff. You will have to wait for the oak to fade, but bravo wait 5+ years…
A hint of reduction but freshness to go with the depth here. Width, ricness of flavour, but melting flavour, changing flavour, such a super intensity of flavours.