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2012 Chablis, Grand Cru, Valmur, Domaine Christian Moreau
The Moreau family sold their wine négociant company, J Moreau, to Hiram Walker in 1985, along with their vineyard holdings. However in 1997 Christian Moreau triggered a clause allowing them to take their vineyards back with five years’ warning. Domaine Christian Moreau’s first vintage was thus 2002. Fabien Moreau has now taken over from his father at this excellent domaine which is moving towards organic farming, having stopped using herbicides straightaway in 2002.
Their Chablis vineyards are all hand-harvested, the grapes being sorted to eliminate rot. Since 2008 they have been using indigenous yeasts for fermentation, which is in stainless steel for Petit Chablis, Chablis and part of the crus, with 30 to 50 per cent wood, from one to four years old, for the top wines. The tiny cuvée of Blanchot is all in barrel, however, as is the Clos des Hospices. The crus are usually bottled before the next harvest. Their vineyards include plots in Grand Cru Blanchot (0.10ha), Grand Cru Les Clos (3.20ha), Grand Cru Les Clos, Clos des Hospices (0.41ha), Grand Cru Valmur (1 ha), Grand Cru Vaudésir (0.50ha), Vaillon (4.70ha), Petit Chablis (0.40ha) ,and inthe generic Chablis area 1.20ha
The Vaillon Guy Moreau bottling comes from a block of 0.90 hectares, planted in 1933 by Christian’s father, Guy Moreau. This cuvée shows all the elegance of the regular Vaillon (spelled in the singular here) bottling but with an exceptional depth of flavour behind. Impressive weight for premier cru Chablis.
The Les Clos Grand Cru bottling comes from one plot of just over three hectares, though the bottom (35+ year-old vines), middle (65+) and top (50+) parts are picked separately. In wetter years the upper part is best, whereas the lower-lying part holds up better in drought conditions. This cuvée shows exceptional weight and density, as Les Clos indeed should.
The vines for Les Clos Grand Cru Clos des Hospices lie adjacent to the road, and the wine is often more accessible in youth than the straight Les Clos, and shows even greater palate density. The oak element is buried by the weight of fruit.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
These are the biggest, richest and most complex Chablis, which cover a total of 100 hectares – just two percent of the appellation. At their best, they can match the quality of a Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte d’Or, yet often at half the price.
They may lack their southern neighbour’s opulence, but they share the latter’s intensity and have a nervy minerality that set them apart. Inexpressive in youth, they should ideally be aged for 10 years, and can mature for up to 30 years. Styles vary according to producer, with some maturing and fermenting in stainless steel while others use barrels, sometimes even new oak.
All seven Grands Crus are grouped together on a single south-west-facing hill just north of the town. La Moutonne is an unofficial eighth Grand Cru straddling Les Preuses and Vaudésir, and is allowed to use the name on its label. The rich, fine Les Clos and the intense, spicy Vaudésir are generally considered to be the best, and are certainly the most full-bodied.
The delicate Blanchots and the racy Grenouilles are the most aromatic, while Les Preuses is full, complex and the least minerally. Valmur is fragrant, rich and smooth while La Moutonne is elegant and incredibly expressive. The vibrant Bougros tends to be the junior member of the group, but in the right hands can also be very good.
Recommended producers: Billaud-Simon, Duplessis, J.-P. & Benoit Droin.