Late bottled vintage Chablis from a no compromise operation
One of the oldest properties in Chablis and with family winemaking ancestry stretching back some 400 years, this is a domaine with important historical presence. This producer pretty much rips up the rule book, with their ethos and approach unmatched in Chablis, or pretty much anywhere for that matter.
The 30 hectare estate has significant Premier Cru plantings, though only material from the oldest 20 ha of vines makes it into the estate wines, the rest sold to the local co-op. Juice is given an oxidative splash out of the press, with inoxidative handling thereafter. No oak is used in the élevage, with weight and texture brought about through extended skin contact, long and slow wild ferments, no artificial rushing of malolactic fermentation which can take months, and an inoxidative bâtonnage technique of drawing fine lees from the bottom of tanks to the top, typically for two years for Premier Crus and up to three years for the Grand Cru wines.
Most critically, the wines receive significant ageing in tank - sometimes upwards of 12 years! They are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and receive a further six months in bottle before release. The resultant wines are certainly ready to drink, but with a freshness belying vintage date and certainly built for further bottle ageing. To call this approach unique is an understatement, perhaps only similarly seen in late bottled vintage Port. The resultant wines however are quite monumental expressions, a must try for any Chablis enthusiast.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis 2013
Intense and pure, even for an entry wine. This is an old vine cuvée with vine age averaging 45 years, the oldest plantings dating back to 1905. Fine lees are stirred monthly for one year before bottling without fining or filtration. Fresh and powerful, pretty classic Chablis, overall impressions of brine and oyster shells with lemon, peach, pear and green fruits. Whilst tense it has some richness and power, definitely a step up from many AC Chablis.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis premier Cru Vaillons 2005
Vines are planted on a steep 28 degree hill in the original parcel of the cru with a southeast exposure. The vineyard soils here are differentiated by iron deposits, which raise wines of greater spice and density. There’s power to burn here, with this the most obvious, concentrated and long of the three Premiers.
Green fruit, flowers, beeswax, flint and ferrous notes run through a column of classic Chablis mineral, the finish giving way to green tea umami, maintaining power and concentration right through.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Premier Cru Côte de Lechet 2005
Grown in the poor stony soils of the Côte de Lechet vineyard on a very steep slope at some 38% incline facing south east. 18 months lees stirring as for the Vaillons.
A prime vineyard site of a steep 38 degree gradient, southeast facing which takes advantage of morning sun, a slow ripening site. Has a sense of compression to the nose, suggesting plenty of time ahead of it in bottle yet, with an earthen reduction and green fruits. Vibrant on the palate it’s complex with characters of citrus, hay and rye cereal and butter, with a slightly earthy edge before a long, fanning oyster shell and brine close.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis premier cru les lys 2005
Les Lys is a lieu dit at the top of the Vaillons 1er Cru plot. The slope is north facing (opposite to the rest of the vineyard, looking toward the Grand Cru sites) and provides slower ripening, with the site renowned for greater aromatic intensity.
Pale gold with higher toned aromatics of wax, honey and gun flint, it’s texturally broader and gentler than the Lechet, with white flowers, pear and delicate honey flavours, finishing with a pleasing dry saline lick.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2007
One of Chablis' most sought after crus, simply magnificent. A dense nose of white flowers and hay, giving way to a long and tightly packed palate of leatherwood honey, butter, crushed flower petals, digestive biscuit, liquorice root and white peach. Most attractive is an intense flint and gunsmoke character which buzzes throughout the wine's epic finish.