2018 Chablis, Vaillons, 1er Cru, Domaine Gérard Duplessis, Burgundy
About this WINE
Domaine Gerard Duplessis
Production is now in the hands of Gérard Duplessis’ son Lilian. Wines are allowed to mature for as long as it takes before being put on the market.
Though the wines are bottled after a second winter, they are often not released until the Duplessis team feel that they are ready to start being drunk. Their wines do show both the hallmarks of classical Chablis and good differentiation between vineyards. They are classical, tightly knit, mineral examples of Chablis.
The domaine has vines in Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos as well as premier crus Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montée de Tonnerre and Montmains.
Chablis Premier Cru
Chablis Premiers Crus are stylish, minerally wines which, typically, are less intense than the Grand Crus but finer and longer-lasting than basic Chablis. They are highly underrated with the better examples outclassing many a good village white Burgundy.
The vineyards cover 750 hectares, scattered across 15 communes on isolated slopes with good exposure. There are 17 principal Premiers Crus but in total 79 vineyards are eligible, with most of the lesser-known ones using a more familiar umbrella name on their label. The best flank the Grands Crus on the north bank of the River Serein, like Montée de Tonnerre (probably the best of all), Fourchaume and Mont de Milieu.
Those just south of Chablis, like Vaillons, Montmains (especially Les Forêts) and Côte de Léchet are also good. With the vineyard area having doubled since the 1970s, quality varies enormously so, as ever, the producer is key.
Styles also vary, with some maturing and fermenting in stainless steel for a purer, more minerally style, while others age and sometimes even ferment their wines in oak for extra complexity. The best examples reach their apogee at eight to 10 years, but are normally enjoyed long before then.
Recommended producers: Jean-Claude Bessin, Billaud-Simon, Séguinot-Bordet, J.-P. & Benoit Droin, Duplessis, Defaix
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.
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Les Vaillons is one of the more charming of the domaine’s Premier Crus. It sees less oak than many of the other wines; the aim is to preserve the pristine fruit and floral notes. This is typically quite approachable in youth, but that is not to say it lacks complexity or ageing potential. The nose is bright and vibrant, with floral touches and fresh citrus notes. Intense, pure and focused on the palate, this is very taut and tense; it will reward cellaring. Drink now to 2030.
Adam Bruntlett, Senior Wine Buyer, Berry Bros. & Rudd (May 2021)
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