2021 Moreau-Naudet Chablis14277
WINEMAKER: Virginie Moreau-Naudet
REGION: Burgundy, FR
Moreau’s village Chablis is drawn chiefly from 20- to 30-year-old vineyards in Préhy and Courgis, both south of Chablis. Then, there are parcels in Chablis and Chichée (under the Premier Cru vines of Vaugiraut/Vosgros). All up, the domaine works with 30 parcels scattered across the appellation, representing a variety of soil structures and exposures. All the fruit from the younger vines is sold off in bulk, lifting the standard in general. The 2021 Chablis was picked over various dates, depending on the ripeness of the plot. The fruit was subject to a very gentle four-hour press, and the juice was fermented with natural yeasts (still a rarity in Chablis). It was primarily matured in a tank, yet the aging is unhurried, and the wine spends 20 months on lees—considerably longer than most Chablis of this level. These traditional methods—along with hand-harvesting, the quality of the terroir, the low yields and the ripeness levels at which the fruit is harvested—help explain the mouthcoating texture, salty depths and, in general, the quality on offer.
This is more compact and intense than the Petit Chablis. An assemblage of two small tanks and two barriques expect lifted aromas of mixed citrus, wet stone and tangy sherbet, leading to a multi-layered, textural palate. Real flesh and roll on the tongue are backed up by plenty of salivating sea spray and iodine sappiness. Plenty of complexity, too, perhaps not surprising given this grower’s credentials, but the bigger picture is all about texture and tangy freshness. Look out for waves of racy stony fruit and briny depths tapering to a finish built on crunchy tension.
The late Stéphane Moreau was a devotee of Vincent Dauvissat, Didier Dagueneau (who helped him design his idiosyncratic labels), and Nadi Foucault (Clos Rougeard) and offered us basically everything we searched for in quality growers of white Burgundy, starting with a remarkable patrimony of old vines (many parcels 50+ years) in superb terroirs (including Forêts!). Here was a talent that had turned his family Domaine around by reintroducing the old, pre-industrial growing methods to make something truly distinctive and extraordinary.
These are not your brittle, simple ‘Chablis-by-numbers’ wines where acidity is often confused as minerality. Here, the style is borne by low yields and ripe fruit and that crunchy, citric, acid tang of generic Chablis finds itself replaced by an intense, mineral freshness interwoven through pulpy and sexy fruit. We recognise the personality of these wines. We see it in all of the finest, artisanal Burgundy. This makes sense – Moreau’s methods–which include ploughing, organic viticulture, hand harvesting, whole berry pressing, natural yeast fermentation, natural settling and long, slow élevage in large oak–sound identical to the best growers of the Côte de Beaune. Low sulphur is another key to understanding the wines. It’s all very un-Chablis.