Billaud-Simon – 2017

Update 10.9.2019(9.9.2019)billn

Tasted in Chablis with Olivier Bailly, 26 July, 2019.

Domaine Billaud-Simon
1 quai de Reugny
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 42 10 33

The chance to take a look at Olivier’s 2017 cuvées since they had been bottled, but first a few words on 2019, so far…

Olivier on 2019:
We started with a dry winter, also it was not so cold. We had some frost but, fortunately, not the same level of damage seen in either 2016 or 2017. May was also a cold month, but since June we have had warm and sunny weather, latterly really very warm! I’m expecting lower yields though and that’s because the flowering wasn’t consistent – the amount of grapes is very heterogeneous. The weather of August will decide the character of the vintage – we still have the possibility of a fine fresh vintage – let’s see.

Olivier on 2017:
2017 is a vintage of concentration and tension, the concentration comes from lower yields, mainly due to frost.

The wines…

When tasted back in January, half of the wines here were great – less today as they have, in some case, tightened in their bottles. But they remain excellent as a bare minimum!

DIAM5 is used for the Petit Chablis, Chablis and the Tête d’Or, but Olivier is considering moving the Tête d’Or back to cork – “For me its a more harmonious evolution,” he says.

2017 Chablis
An assembly of many parcels including some purchased must but a little over 4 hectares worth. Elevage mainly tank but one or two barrels. Reaches the market relatively early compared to the crus – also bottled in July.
Aromatic, weight, fresh but ripe yellow citrus. Hmm, this has a lovely volume, open, layered, not full impact but accessible with its open, easy style. A lovely push of tasty flavour on the finish – really quite long for the label.

2017 Chablis Tête d’Or
A parcel selection ‘the best parcels of the domaine,’ from under Montée de Tonnerre. Longer ageing with some barrel elevage, larger barrels included.
Higher tones, saline, more seashore than fruit. Mineral, classic, driving, mildly citrus but more about minerality – cushioned. Persistent finishing too – super wine and that’s before you see that it’s ‘only’ a village wine!

The following were not yet bottled when I tasted in January:

2017 Chablis 1er Les Vaillons
Two parcels in Chatains, 2 in Sechets and one each in Minot and Roncières – 3 hectares. Each parcel typically vinified separately before blending. In 2017 less than 5% in barrel – but it makes a big difference says Olivier.
A nose with more in common to the first Chablis than the second but fuller with lots of fine, ripe lemon – it’s a fine invitation. Ooh, that’s such a lovely texture, wide, layered, modestly saline, bubbling with good energy. Simply delicious with a little extra dimension of pure mineral notes in the finish. Simply excellent!

2017 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Four parcels that practically cover the top to bottom of the hill; 0.35 ha at the top pulled out after the 2015 harvest as there was virus and too low yields. 2.74 ha in total. About the same yield as 2017 – ‘a small’ 30 hl/ha after losing some at the bottom of the hill to frost. This was cold filtered two days before.
A nose that is a little tighter than the Vaillons, but with a fine almost granular complexity. Great, fresh, drive, more structural wine though of course with no hard edges. Flowing beautifully over the palate. Subtly, deliciously long. A keeper, drink the Vaillons before this – excellent again.

2017 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
2.15 ha in three parcels, Largely from top to bottom of the hill again. The oldest vines of the domaine are here with 80-83 years of age. An important part to the domaine – the average age of vines here is at least 40 years of age. 40% oak elevage but this part only in old inert larger barrels.
Not a big nose like Vaillons but one of the sea-shore, accented with salt. Wow – that’s got such great energy – dynamic flavour and energy in a bouncing ball of flavour. I could drink this already with absolute joy – it’s a structural wine though that will still grow and grow with the patience that I probably lack! Bravo!

2017 Chablis Vaudesir
Three parcels here that come to 0.49 ha – two in the colder, northern, part – that brings freshness in warm years.
Hmm, that’s a beautiful ripe fresh, fineness of fruit aroma – such a beautiful invitation from this a sorbet-style nose. Mouth-filling, energy but less overt than Tonnerre, complex yellow fruit maybe even faint banana. A beauty – excellent…

2017 Chablis Les Preuses
70-year-old vines this year, 0.4 ha but only 3 barrels
A smaller but very fine nose – the most floral of all these. Ooh, this is vibrant, mineral, melting juicily with the citrus extract. A finish with long, slow, ripples of flavour. Ooh simply excellent – not completely open or forthright but so, so delicious – I would have said great if it had shown more…

And for the joy, tasted blind:

The colour is young. Vibrant, leafy complexity, some fine herb, concentrated ripe lemon. Round, ripe – full flavoured – complex, some mature notes followed by a big finishing wave of flavour. It’s 2002 Mont de Milieu – what a surprise – the colour is so young. Great, still young, wine.

Deeper colour. White chocolate, lanolin, silky smooth aromatics. Full, round with a touch of fat, less overtly complex, richer wine than the last, very faint tannin. And here with a little salinity in the finishing flavour. I guess 20 years to be needed for the lanolin, and the extra richness means probably a grand cru. It’s less overtly complex on the nose and palate than the last. I say a grand cru from 2000 – and it’s 2000 Les Clos – I pat myself on the back after being so clueless on the last!

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