The 2020 Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru has a pretty bouquet with linden, orange blossom and touches of beeswax. The palate is well balanced with a fine thread of acidity; taut and poised, not a powerful Chablis yet quite long and tender in the mouth. Enjoy over the next six to eight years. Tasted blind at the BIVB tasting in Chablis.
Drink 2022 - 2030
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (June 2022)
A ripe style, evoking cantaloupe, herb and stone flavors. There's good intensity on the light-bodied frame and the finish persists with fruit and mineral.
Drink now through to 2025
Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator (April 2022)
About this WINE
The Domaine has a rich history dating back several generations, and it remains a family-owned and operated estate. This heritage has been passed down through the years, preserving time-honoured winemaking traditions while embracing modern techniques and innovations.
The estate's vineyards are meticulously tended, with a strong emphasis on sustainable viticulture practices. The region's cool climate and unique limestone-rich soils, known as Kimmeridgian soils, create the ideal conditions for growing premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Domaine Besson's portfolio includes an array of wines that demonstrate the distinct characteristics and complexity that these grapes are famous for. From vibrant and elegant whites to nuanced and expressive reds, each wine reflects the true spirit of Burgundy's winemaking heritage.
The winemaking philosophy revolves around minimal intervention, allowing the grapes to shine through and express their unique terroir. Careful hand-harvesting, gentle pressing, and controlled fermentation are integral.
Environmental stewardship is a core value, as the estate embraces sustainable viticulture practices to protect and preserve the land for future generations. By employing eco-friendly methods and promoting biodiversity, they ensure that their wines reflect the purity of nature.
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 often seen as the king 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.