Jean-Claude Boisset was radically transformed with the arrival in 2002 of viniculteur Grégory Patriat, one of the best viticulturalists/winemakers of his generation in Burgundy. Grégory had spent the previous three years working in the vineyards at Domaine Leroy and still spends a great deal of his time in the vineyards, paying his growers by the hectare in order to ensure low yields. He also prefers to work with organic growers, as he finds they produce better fruit. Unlike other Burgundian négociants, Grégory specialises in making wines from lieux-dits (or tiny plots of vines), something which accounts for the limited production of most of his wines.
This wine is from Igé, one of the Mâconnais' top villages. Château London is the specific vineyard or lieu-dit of the grapes. Vine age is approximately 20 years and the yield is 7,000 vines per hectare. The vines are Guyot trained to a height of 1.3 metres, to ensure enough light exposure for photosynthesis. Soils are stony and clay, with a high proportion of chalk. The grape is a clone of Chardonnay, Chardonnay-Muscaté, which gives the typical structure, poise and freshness of Chardonnay together the aromatic expression of Muscat.
In 2017, Burgundy enjoyed a return to average yields. Some areas were impacted by spring frosts which reduced yields slightly. Generally the vines’ growth cycle benefitted from an early budburst at the beginning of April, followed by a very warm summer. Ripening progressed at a good pace with the first grapes being harvested across the region two weeks ahead of average.
The grapes were harvested manually into 20kg crates, then whole bunch pressed for 2.5 hours, before the juice was transferred to oak vats. Indigenous yeasts were used for a long fermentation without racking or lees stirring. The wine was then aged in 30% new French oak barrels for eight months without being racked. The barrels used are toasted at low temperatures to impart a subtle, delicate flavour to the wine. The wine was bottled by gravity in August 2017, fined with bentonite and very lightly filtered.
This 100% Chardonnay has golden nuances in the glass. There is a nice complexity on the nose with aromas of ripe yellow fruits, citrus and white rose. This wine is clean and fresh on the palate with good acidity. The finish is long and lively.
ABV = 13.0%.
Domaine Laroche epitomises Chablis, with impeccable quality and remarkable ownership of 100 hectares of vineyards, including 30 hectares of Premier Cru and 6 hectares of Grand Cru sites. Founded in 1850, there is still a dynamism which permeates everything they do. Michel Laroche, the driving force since he took over the domaine in 1967 has now retired, but his legacy is very much alive with a young team full of energy and ideas. As part of their aim to retain purity and minerality in the finished wine, Laroche were the first Burgundian producer to move to screwcap in 2002. In addition to their own vineyards, the domaine has developed long standing purchasing partnerships with 40 small growers. The range is divided into 'Laroche', for the wines made from these partnerships and 'Domaine Laroche', for those from their own holdings. The Laroche Petit Chablis and Chablis represent excellent value and are made in exactly the same way as the Domaine wines, with utmost care to maintain the lively, pure and minerally character that typifies good AC Chablis.
The vines are cared for in the same way as the domaine's own, maintaining the lively, mineral fruit character typical of good Chablis. The Chardonnay grapes are harvested according to the ripeness of each plot; once each parcel has ripened, harvest is carried out over two days to ensure the correct levels of ripeness are maintained.
2018 was one of the best vintages for Chablis in the last 20 years. An unusually warm, dry summer encouraged optimal ripeness while warding off diseases, resulting in plentiful yields. This is welcome news after two years racked by frost.
The grapes were pressed immediately on arrival at the winery. The must was fermented in stainless steel tanks for two weeks at 16°C to retain freshness and purity. All of the wine went through malolactic fermentation and spent nearly six months on lees to give extra complexity and a smoother mouthfeel. Filtration was light to retain the natural body and fruit character.
The nose is fresh and youthful with complex mineral notes. The lifted, harmonious palate has flavours of white fruit and perfumes of spring blossom before a long finish.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
ABV = 12.5%.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below).
Domaine Saumaize-Michelin produces wonderful white Burgundies from the best terrains of both Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran. It comprises 9 hectares and is a family-run domaine, managed by Christine (née Michelin) and Roger Saumaize. The domaine is centred in Vergisson, generally famed for its lighter style of Pouilly-Fuissé (although those of Saumaize Michelin tend to buck this trend).
In the vineyard, there is a focus on maintaining the special characteristics and the soil microbes of the particular terroir. Yields are controlled through winter pruning and debudding in spring. Maturity is optimized by manual intervention in the summer (stripping) to improve sunlight and the strength of the grapes
The harvest is undertaken totally by hand and the grapes were harvested in excellent condition. After a gentle pressing in a pneumatic press, the wines are left to settle before both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The lees are stirred regularly (bâtonnage), which adds to the overall complexity of the finished wine.
Succulent, ripe nose of creamy vanilla and pineapples. Rounded and generous palate, offering ripe grapefruits and lemon rind. A judicious use of oak brings depth, texture and nutty characters and helps with the soft finish.
The wine is produced organically and biodynamically, but these are not (yet) certified.
ABV = 13.0%.