2015 Jean Paul Droin Chablis Montmains 1er Cru

Year: 2015
Appellation: Chablis
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 90
Vinous Media: 91
Burghound: 90
White Wine

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DUE IN: SUMMER 2019

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"The 2015 Chablis 1Er Cru Montmains has a more expressive nose than the Vaillons: chalk, walnut and a touch of smoke with hints of fresh red cherry in the background that Benoît remarked had been closed just a month earlier. The palate is crisp and fresh on the entry with a fine bead of acidity. It is lightly spiced with that signature nutty note surfacing on the finish. This has good potential although it does not convey the nervosité of the 2016 at this stage.

At the annual “Burgfest” blind tasting, the wines of Benoît Droin consistently impress, as will be revealed when I write up the 2014s later this year. This is one of the most consistent growers in Chablis and one of the earliest converts to DIAM closures. When I broached the topic, Benoît told me that when comparing aged bottles side by side, DIAMs perform better (he uses mainly DIAM 10 these days, for those of you who like to know these details).

On this visit we tasted through the recently filtered and blended 2016s directly from stainless steel tanks in his capacious winery facility on the outskirts of the village. Back in the domain's tasting room at their maison in the heart of the village, we also tasted the range of 2015s from bottle. “The harvest in 2016 began on 22 September, although there is no Mont de Milieu or Fourchaume because of the frost. At this stage I am looking for some reduction on the samples, because this protects them and allows them to age," Benoît informed me. "2015 was a hot vintage. We started picking early because of the hail, although I had been expecting to pick on 4 September anyway. It is not a classic vintage like 2010 or 2012. In 2015 there was no Blanchot because of the hail. It was difficult to estimate the yield so sometimes you might have a little more oak and you might rack these early. But there were not too many differences [in quantity] in the end.”

These are very consistent Chablis that deliver where it matters—in the bottle. It is his enviable cluster of premier crus where things get really interesting, especially the impressive Montée de Tonnerre and Vaulorent. His four grand crus seem always to deliver, the les Clos showing the authority and completeness that you desire and the Vaudésir articulating the brightness and energy of that vineyard. I have a preference for the 2016 over the 2015 vintage at this early stage. The detail and nervosité of the 2015s seem to be abraded by the warmth of the summer, although to reiterate, the Vaulorent and Montée de Tonnerre buck that trend. Overall, Droin's 2016s appear to show more tension and vibrancy even at this early stage, although one must be cautious comparing wines at very different stages." (WA)

"The 2015 Chablis Montmains 1er Cru is showing more oakiness on the nose than its peers, though the oak is neatly entwined with the tropical-tinged fruit. The palate has the fatness and weight you anticipate from a 2015 Chablis, if perhaps a little less acidity compared to other Montmains. A touch of orange zest and mandarin furnishes the satisfying finish. Tasted blind at the annual Burgfest tasting." (VM)

"This too reflects notes of mineral reduction along with pretty pear, floral and iodine scents. There is good intensity to the more refined if less mineral-driven flavors that are rich, generous and delicious while offering fine depth and length on the balanced finale. This is another wine that should drink very well young yet repay a few years of keeping." (BH)