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Chablis: Tasting the Wines of J-P and Benoit Droin

by Daniel Rogov » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:25 am

Yesterday (Monday, 9 November 2009), I attended a tasting of the Chablis wines of Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin. Not a blind tasting but believe me, had I been deaf, dumb and blind, these could be nothing but Chablis and nothing but from the 2007 vintage. True, I am somewhat of a nut for Chablis but these made up an especially lovely collection indeed. The wines are available from the boutique importer Giaconda and orders can be placed by telephoning (03) 6022746. See also their full catalogue and other information at their web site at http://www.giaconda.co.il

My thanks to the "Giaconda women" for their courtesies and good company during my tasting.

Best
Rogov


Located in the northern most part of Burgundy, the wines of Chablis may well be the purest reflection of the personality of the Chardonnay grape. With the vineyards containing more than 95% of Chardonnay those producing only dry white wines, the region divides its wines into several categories – Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand cru. Depending on the quality of the vintage year and the producer, Petit Chablis is meant to be consumed within a year or two of the vintage and a fine Chablis from its release until anywhere between 3 and 10 years. Premier Cru Chablis is often at its best from three and up to 13 years after release and Grand Cru wines attain their very best only five or more years after the harvest and then can cellar for up to 18- 20 years.

Nearly all Chablis wines have certain things in common. Many, for example, show distinct mineral notes, those being of flint, gun-metal or wet stones. As they age, even though they remain completely dry, some develop the hint of a honeyed note. Despite their similarities, wines from different producers have different personalities and even wines from the same producer can be very different one from the other depending partly on the sub-region or vineyard from which the grapes come and the winemakers decisions as to how long to age the wines in oak before bottling.

New to Israel are the Chablis wines of father and son Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin whose plantings are to be found in each of the sub-regions of Chablis. Although the family has been involved with winemaking since 1620, until the turn of the century the Droin wines were somewhat too oaky for the palates of many but with the son, Benoit, now firmly in charge of the winery the use of oak has been curtailed and the wines are showing more elegantly than ever.

My suggestion: It might be absolutely fascinating to do a tasting of each of the 2007 wines reviewed below. Not all that difficult – simply arrange a group of ten friends, order one bottle of each and do an organized at-home tasting during which each person will be able to study the differences between the wines and to decide on their own favourites. By purchasing this way the cost will be a reasonable NIS 180 per person. What the heck – at least that's my idea of a great evening.

And, on a fully personal note – although Chablis will match and complement many dishes – e.g. grilled or fried fish or seafood, dishes based on ris de veau (sweetbreads) or light veal dishes – it remains my firm belief that the best marriage ever created in heaven was that between Chablis and raw oysters.


Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Fourchaume, 1er Cru, 2006: Light gold in color, with generous citrus fruits and flowers and a light oak influence, showing fresh and refreshing with complexity added by notes of vanilla and spices. Drinking nicely and will show increasing minerality as it continues to develop in the bottle. Drink now-2012. NIS 171. Score 91. (Re-tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, 2007: Light gold with an orange tint, showing fine metallic minerals and on the nose and palate grapefruit and grapefruit peel along with spring flowers. A lovely and lovely if not overly compelx wine. Drink now-2011. NIS 126. Score 88. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, 1er Cru, Cote de Lechet, 2007: Unoaked and thus showing the full traditional Chablis charm of flinty minerals on a background of citrus and white pepper. Rich, crisply dry and long. Drink now-2013. NIS 171. Score 91. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre, 2007: Intense, and crisply dry, closed at first but then blossoms forth in the glass at first revealing a flinty and peppery persona and then showing red grapefruit, lime and a tantalizing hint of spicy wood. Mineral-rich from first sip to the long finish. Drink now-2016. NIS 171. Score 92 (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Grand Cru, Blanchot, 2007: Full-bodied, deep gold with orange tints, almost creamy on the palate, and opening to show a complex array of apples, peaches, citrus peel and vanilla, those supported by stony minerals. With finely tuned balance between fruits, minerality and acidity a wine that will cellar beautifully. Enjoyable now but best 2011-2022. NIS 320. Score 94. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007: Deep, almost burnished gold, crisply dry but with a creamy and honey sensation imparted to the palate. Near muscular but opening to reveal generous citrus fruits on a background of flinty minerals. Long and remarkably generous. As this one develops look for notes of peach pits and a hint of wet stones. Approachable now but best 2011-2018. NIS 320. Score 93. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Grand Cru, Vaudesir, 2007: Fabulous. On the opening nose generous lemon and floral aromas, and on the palate citrus and honeydew melon along with stony and metallic minerals. Elegance on the grand scale. Drink now-2020, perhaps longer. NIS 320. Score 94. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Grand Cru, Grenouille, 2007: A somewhat more austere Chablis, medium- to full-bodied, with generous but not imposing oak parting slowly in the glass to reveal citrus, melon and summer fruits. A hint of flinty minerals leads to a long finish. Drink now-2015. NIS 350. Score 90. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Chablis, Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2007: Lightly burnished gold in color, an unoaked but full-bodied Chablis almost calling out how delicious it is. On the nose peaches and green-gage plums, opening slowly on the palate to show a complex array of grapefruits, oranges and lemons along with their rinds, and those parting to reveal stony and flinty minerals. Finishes remarkably long with almost intense minerality. Drink this one now only if forced to do so as the wine will start showing its best only from 2012 and will then cellar comfortably until 2028. NIS 350. Score 95. (Tasted 9 Nov 2009)

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