Domaine Daneil-Etienne Defaix / Champagne
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.