About the Wine
The Moreau family has been rooted in the heart of Chablis since 1814. At that time JeanJoseph Moreau founded the wine-merchant trading firm. In 1974 Hiram Walker acquired 50% of the company and acquired the remaining shares in 1985. J. Moreau et Fils was then sold with no member of the family remaining in the company to Boisset in Nuits-Saint-Georges. The Moreau family retained ownership of their vineyard holdings throughout these transitions.
With the 2002 vintage, Christian Moreau Père & Fils regained their right to produce wines sourced from their extensive vineyard holdings and market the wines under their own name. Today, Fabien Moreau, the sixth generation of the family, is the super-star winemaker of this beautiful Domaine in Chablis. After graduating in Oenology in Dijon and earning a MBA at E.N.I.T.A in Bordeaux, he also studied in New Zealand.
The Domaine’s vines average 45 years old; at harvest, grape picking is done by hand, from their Chablis up to their Grands Crus. The Domaine’s Premier Crus and Grands Crus wines are vinified up to 30-45% in wood barrels, the balance in stainless vats. Fermentation of their other wines takes place in stainless steel vats. According to Moreau family, “Our winemaking techniques should strive to honor the high quality of our terroir, vines and grapes, bringing out the very best in every harvest.”
The Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils Grand Cru Les Clos ‘Clos des Hospice’ is produced from the domaine’s tiny one-acre monopole at the foot of the Les Clos vineyard. The vineyard was acquired by the Moreau family in 1904 and has a slightly different terroir to rest of the vineyard, with slightly heavier marl soils, old and densely planted vines.
Vinification The grapes are pruned heavily during the growing season to keep yields to a minimum. Grapes are hand harvested using small containers, and brought to the winery for further sorting. Like all Moreau wines, the selection process is strict for this cuvée with only the highest quality grapes making their way to the fermentation. The must is fermented in stainless steel followed by 12 months of aging in the cellars. A small portion on the final blend is aged in oak cask.
The 2015 Chablis Grand Cru les Clos des Hospices has a touch more vigor and detail on the nose compared to the regular les Clos this year with scents of pink grapefruit, granite and a touch of rose petal emerging with time. The palate is very well balanced with a fine thread of acidity, tensile and energetic with real precision and detail on the mineral-driven finish. This is a wonderful, sophisticated Chablis that lingers in the mouth a couple of minutes after the wine has departed. Superb.
Domaine Christian Moreau has been one of the most reliable sources of Chablis in recent years. Christian Moreau himself, always brutally candid with an impeccably wry, almost sardonic sense of humor and of course decades of experience, escorted me through the 2016 barrel samples and 2015s in bottle, plus a smattering of older vintages (see "Up From the Cellar"). To be frank, these mature bottles were interesting to taste, however, they testify to the tangible improvement under Fabien Moreau. I asked Christian why that might be the case and what factors have led to this upswing. He answered that they have paid far more attention to the vineyards in recent years, resulting in higher quality fruit. In the last four or five vintages, the wines have displayed far more precision and terroir expression and perhaps superior aging potential. With respect to the 2016 vintage, I asked about the challenges they faced. “In 2016, first we had the frost that especially affected the top of the hill," Christian explained, "though the grand crus were less damaged. Then there were the two hailstorms in May. The first hit Préhy and the second hit the vicinity of Fourchaume and the northern vineyards towards Maligny. At least the hail was early in 2016, before the flowering. In 2015 it struck one week before the harvest. We could hear it falling from around midnight. So this really hit production. For example, Les Clos was down by 20%. Then we had the frost this year in 2017 that has destroyed nearly 100 hectares. Valmur will be down by 70% but the right bank is not too bad. In 2017, even if the buds were not frozen, we found that the bunches did not form normally. The frost lasted seven nights and we only had candles for one more night. We were lucky—some people did not have any at all. The thing is that in 2017 we had frost in areas where we have never had it before.” All these meteorological disasters, or to put it more accurately, “challenges,” resulted in markedly different picking dates for the 2015 and 2016 vintages. The 2015s were picked directly after the late hailstorm on 3 September, in order to minimize damage, whereas the 2016 commenced on 26 September. Despite everything, I was deeply impressed by the quality of the 2016s, which came across as precise, poised, mineral driven and packed full of intense fruit. You would scarcely believe that on the eve of harvest the vintage had been on the precipice of disaster, testament to the efforts to get into the vineyard immediately. Their unique cuvée from Les Clos, bought from the Hospices in 1904, is outstanding and kudos must also go to Vaillons, one of their strongest cuvées. ~94WA