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Chablis seeks solace in 2014

Chablis producers contrasted the “round and easy” wines on show at this week’s 2013 primeurs tastings in London with the “great” 2014 vintage ahead, which promises welcome relief for the region.

 Photo credit: BIVB/GADENNE D
Photo credit: BIVB/GADENNE D

Despite the challenges posed by poor fruit set and rot in 2013, producers expressed pleasure at the end result, even if another year of small quantities is a pressing concern.

“We are quite relieved,” said Sandrine Audegond of Domaine Laroche as she presented the 2013 vintage. “What was very encouraging was that it has been aging much longer than we expected,” she remarked. “We were going to bottle in September but in fact it was November for the premier cru and December for the grand cru, which is similar to other vintages.”

Nevertheless, Audegond described 2013 as “the lowest harvest on record” for the producer, which owns 90 hectares in the region. Having highlighted the additional need for rigorous grape sorting, she reported: “In the end it was maybe 70% less than the average and 35-40% less than 2012. The price has increased a little but we can’t go up that much.”

Vincent Dampt, owner and winemaker at Domaine Vincent Dampt, was similarly upbeat about the end result after such difficulties during the growing season. “Luckily the quality was there, even if we don’t have much wine,” he told the drinks business. “They don’t have the balance of 2012, but the concentration is there.”

Suggesting that 2013 is not an especially age-worthy year, Dampt explained: “We’ve tried to make the wines ready to drink quite young, so less stirring of the lees and a bit more CO2 to make you feel the acidity, then a very gentle filtration to avoid the risk of losing fruit crispness. It’s better to drink this before 2012.”

Lyne Marchive, owner of Domaine des Malandes, which encompasses 28 hectares in Chablis, echoed this comment about the early drinking appeal of 2013s, while defending its quality. “2013 was a complicated vintage, but it was not a bad vintage,” she maintained, describing the wines as “round and easy to drink” with most examples at their best “in the next five years.”

By contrast, Marchive hailed Chablis 2014 as “much better, a very typical year. It was a real vintage of Chablis, which will be very good for keeping.”

With the 2014 vintage bringing producers an urgently needed bounce back in volume, Marchive revealed that current pressure on supply meant that she would be forced to bottle some wines from 2014 earlier than planned.

“Our Petit Chablis will be bottled this month,” she confirmed, noting that these wines were not usually removed from tank until April or May. However, Marchive assured, “it will be just a small tank for people who need it now. We will keep most of the wine to bottle later because really it is too early.”

Audegond also emphasised the importance of the quality and quantity on the horizon for next year’s release. “2014 was definitely a great vintage,” she reported.

In common with overall reports from the Burgundy region on 2014, Audegond described volumes as “close to average,” noting: “it’s a little less for us because we’re organic.” However, she concluded: “We need at least two vintages like this to recover from 2012 and 2013.”


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