Profile: Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin (Chablis)

Update 28.4.2010(1.12.2008)billn

jean-claude bessin chablis

Not really a true profile as I don’t visit Chablis so haven’t met Jean-Claude. However, I’ve tasted a few wines and very-much like the Raveneau style that I find and at such a discount to that estate that I decided to make the notes available here.

Jean-Claude’s family have been producing wine since the 1800’s. He and his wife Evelyne began in 1989; they first reworked the vineyards and made renovations to the estate. Based in La Chapelle Vaupelteigne, north of Chablis town, Jean-Claude’s first vintage was the 1992.

Having tasted one example with a wine-maker in burgundy I set out to find some bottles – it wasn’t easy – but I alighted on Berry Bros & Rudd where Jasper Morris kindly arranged for me to taste the following wines. Given that I find 2006 generally a little ‘rich’ in Chablis I was really impressed by these, though clearly there is some sulfur so you’d best decant for now. I can’t wait to see the potentially even more mineral 2007’s.

2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Chablistry to find this wine...
Medium-pale yellow. Hints of lime hover over a sweeter but denser base with an almost marshmallow edge. Some richness, understated acidity yet it manages to underpin everything. You have to wait quite some seconds for a more mineral and savoury flavour to appear in the finish.
2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Chablis 1er Montmainstry to find this wine...
“The Montmains and Fôret used to be sold as a combined 1er cru, this is the first vintage that they are separated.” – Jasper Morris. Slightly paler colour. The nose is wider, but less obviously dense, showing higher, slightly floral elements. Good acidity, more minerality and slowly sneaks into the stony finish. This is tightly wound but super. It’s a shame to drink it now, but if I must…
2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Chablis 1er La Fôrettry to find this wine...
Medium-pale yellow. The nose is like a deeper, slightly more comfortable ‘Montmains’ with higher tones over nicely integrated sweeter and denser notes. Just a faint whiff of SO2 now and then. Again a really impressive minerality, but this time with a little extra softness from ripe but understated fruit. Again there’s good acid balance and a super diminuendo length.
2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Chablis 1er La Fourchaumetry to find this wine...
Pale yellow. Higher toned, again a whiff of SO2 and a dense undertow. Lovely, lovely minerality – so pronounced. Super acidity – this is very Ravaneau in style. Really super – the nose is eventually taking on a little sea-shell. Beware, you could cut yourself with this wine! (I bought a case)
2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Chablis 1er La Fourchaume La Pièce au Comte try to find this wine...
” Since 2004 Jean-Claude Bessin has separated out his best parcel of the older vines of the Fourchaume vineyard, a section of vines which used to belong to the local landlord, “le comte” – Jasper Morris. Pale yellow. High-toned. Mineral and citrus hints mix with SO2. Fuller with more padding around the mineral core, but more concentration too. The minerality builds through the mid-palate giving a ‘stronger’ finish. Good acidity again. The nose remains rather ephemeral throughout.
2006 Jean-Claude Bessin, Valmurtry to find this wine...
Hints of sulfur again and also hints of oak (20% barrel fermentation) provide depth. The first impression is depth and then concentration. Real density but very linear with a salty tang on the finish. It’s ripe but very tight – 25 minutes of cajoling coaxed nothing more from the glass. I would have bought some of this too, but it wasn’t on the website at the time – now I spent the cash on something else…

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

There are 3 responses to “Profile: Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin (Chablis)”

  1. Ian Fitzsimmons29th September 2009 at 11:31 pmPermalinkReply

    You liked the regular Fourchaume better than the Comte?

    • billn30th September 2009 at 6:45 amPermalinkReply

      Hi Ian, I slightly preferred the more laser-like approach of the ‘basic’ Fourchaume – on that occasion/vintage anyway. The two bottles from case so far have left no regrets…

  2. Ian30th September 2009 at 2:20 pmPermalinkReply

    I’m pretty wild about his 05 AOC right now – you may have seen my recent notes on Wine Disorder and Squires. I’m ready to turn to him as a regular source, but what’s available in the U.S. is limited. Distribution is growing, though, and a good Meadows review may put these wines out of reach this year or next.

    • billn2nd October 2009 at 5:06 amPermalinkReply

      Hi Ian,
      I did see your comments on the 05. Clearly a producer of considerable value right now – perhaps only 60% the price of Fevre and a very worth style.

  3. Richard26th October 2009 at 8:44 pmPermalinkReply


    Nice review, fills me with even more confidence at stocking this producer. I’ve only really got stuck into the VV Chablis which had a lot of minerality and body but will certainly get more into the 1er and GC. On the value tip I also find G.Tremblay to be similarly well priced. I like some of the top producers such as Billaud Simon but just not sure I can bring myself to drink 1er cru from him, Ravaneau or Fevre for what i pay for GC from these guys.

    (Disclaimer I’m ITB and sell these wines, even the over-priced elitest producers! ;o) )

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