Profile: Domaine Roy


Tasted with Karine Roy (pictured with father, Claude) in Fontenay-Près-Chablis, 15 January 2019.

Domaine Roy
71 Grand Rue
89800 Fontenay-près-Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 10 36

The Roy family name must be one of the oldest in the village given that they have been vignerons in Fontenay-Près-Chablis, for nearly 300 years – probably longer. Karine Roy has searched the local archives as far back as 1730 and the family were always present. “Well the men were in the archives,” she laughs!

Today, as you can see from the image (right) Claude Roy is still hard at work, aided by his two children, Karine and David. Together they farm 18 hectares of vines – except for a small parcel in Maligny, all the domaine’s vines are in the valley of Fontenay – on the right bank of the Serein. ‘Only 18 hectares, but what hectares! 4.5 in 2 grand crus – almost contiguous plots, 3 hectares in the 1er crus and 9 hectares of Chablis plus two more 2 in Petit Chablis. Many of the current hectares were relatively recent acquisitions – in the 1950s and 1960s – during that period the vines were practically the third leg of what sustained the family – the 1970s was when things started to grow, as the region found methods to counter the regularity of spring frosts. “Our Bougros was planted in 1963 – 3.60 hectares – there were plenty of cows there at that time – not so much was planted. All the surface was bought by my grandfather and great-grandfather – large parts of which were bought in the 1950s when a lot of grand cru wasn’t planted.

The main market for an old domaine like this is, of-course, France – but small quantities reach other countries. Only about 35,000 bottles are commercialized each year, the rest, plus or minus depending on the vintage is sold in bulk.

This is a domaine with all in tank elevage – “it’s our taste” the tanks all of different sizes to suit the individual plots they have in the vines. Bottling is typically after 12 months, but ‘without rules.’

Karine on 2018:
A lovely harvest of good quality – lovely juice – perhaps not typical of Chablis as it was concentrated and aromatic with lots of sugar – the quality was a surprise too. The worst part was finding places for all the grapes – but we always found a place! – the grapes were clean so we could be patient. It was good feeling after some difficult years.

Karine on 2017:
2017 – there wasn’t a lot in 2016 but for us 2017 was the worst. All the sector here was frosted – we had about one-third of a harvest – some appellations practically zero – like Vaulorent. The harvest was just a little later than in 2018, but we never rush to harvest – were not the last but we like to wait – for nice weather or whatever. For us it’s important to be patient – we don’t have the stress of harvesters – except in Vaulorent and Preuses where the grapes are very small and many would be lost – otherwise we use a machine and if it’s too hot we wait!

The wines…

Another old domaine that’s new to Burgundy Report this year – and what great wines – classic, no oak, energy and texture plus great dimension of flavour. Bravo!

Bottled after 12 months – the Fourchaume not yet bottled for instance, so it can be longer if needed – the GCs were bottled Nov-Dec, all with natural cork – “We accept the risk!

2017 Chablis
A freshness of subtle notes – the nose is relatively tight. Hmm – round, framed with a joyful acid-mineral light – supple but delicate, yet there’s depth and length here too. A contemplative wine but with plenty of everything for joy – delicious – long too!

No Vaulorent due to the frost, unfortunately.

2017 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
Côte de Fontenay. It’s ready and will be bottled in the next month
Hmm – a more open nose – wide, great but not austere minerality. It’s like that in the mouth too – a wine of very fine direction – I love this – vibrations of flavour long, long, long – bravo!

2017 Chablis Bougros
Saline and sweet together. Ooh – transparent – a wine of enviable clarity – width but a direction of line too. The finish compacts but is such a wide and long-lasting wine – this is seriously excellent wine, close to great!

2017 Chablis Preuses
Replanted 15 years ago. Just one owner’s vines separates the domaine’s two grand cru parcels – indeed also the domaine’s Vaulorent and a small parcel of Petit Chablis too.
Freshness and a certain elegance but more-so, it’s tight! More supple on the palate, ooh – here’s a luminosity here – cool fruit too, layered over the palate – just a little extra touch of cushioning making this very easy to enjoy today – very long and a baby – another simply top wine.

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