2016 Dom. Billaud Simon Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru

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About the Winery

Domaine Billaud-Simon in Chablis is comprised of about 42 acres, encompassing four Grands Crus vineyards, including one acre in Les Clos; one acre in Les Preuses; 1.75 acres in Vaudésir; and .44 acre in Les Blanchots. The Domaine also owns four Premiers Crus vineyards, including Montée de Tonnèrre, Mont-de-Milieu, Fourchaume and Vaillons. In addition to its crus wines, Domaine Billaud-Simon makes a Chablis Villages “Tête d’Or”, with grapes harvested exclusively from the estate.

In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, Charles Louis Noël Billaud returned home to Chablis and founded Domaine Billaud-Simon. There, thanks to his family’s holdings, he planted the first vines. Then, a little more than a century later in the 1930s, the Domaine’s vineyards were enlarged with the marriage of his descendant Jean Billaud to Renée Simon.

Located close to the Serein River, Jean Billaud’s son, Bernard, took over the estate until its acquisition by Domaine Faiveley in July 2014. Since then, Domaine Billaud-Simon is managed separately from Domaine Faiveley: It has its own vineyard, winemaking facilities and remains dedicated to uphold the same style of the wines while continually striving to improve their quality. Along with technical improvements in the modern winery, manual grape picking is increasingly being practiced for their Grands Crus and selected Premiers Crus.

The Chablis wines of Domaine Billaud-Simon exhibit elegance, balance and pure Chardonnay fruit. Delicious when young, they evolve beautifully with some ageing.

From Stephen Tanzer (Vinous Media):
“The biggest story in the sleepy town of Chablis in the past year was the purchase of this estate last summer by François Faiveley, who quickly installed Olivier Bailly as régisseur under the direction of Faiveley family advisor Bernard Hervet and technical director Jérôme Flous, who also serves as technical director at Faiveley’s base in Nuits-Saint-Georges. The transaction finally resolved a long-running family squabble as a result of which Bernard Billaud’s nephew Samuel Billaud, who had previously made the wines at Billaud-Simon, was forced out of the family domain and set up his own négociant operation. Samuel has retained some of his family estate’s original vineyards as part of the payment for his share of the domain.

The first crop of wines made by the new regime at Billaud-Simon looks extremely promising, due in in large part to the fact that Faiveley harvested the fruit earlier–with better nerve and natural acidity–than would have been the case here under Bernard Billaud. Acidity levels are in the very healthy 4.8 grams per liter range. The new team bottled the 2013s but did not vinify them. I’ve been a long-time fan of this estate previously, but quality will no doubt be more consistent under the Faiveley ownership.”

About the Wine

The Chablis wine region stretches along the Serein valley and across 19 communes. Chablis, known as the “Golden Gate of Burgundy”, is dedicated to the production of a clear, aromatic, fresh white wine whose name is synonym of “minerality”.

Terroir: Grand Cru Vaudésir covers 14.7 hectares of relatively steep hillside with an exposure south/southeast. Domaine Billaud-Simon’s plot is approximately .5 hectares. Soils here well drained and are made up primarily kimmeridgian (clay and limestone).

Vinification: Manual harvesting is carried out at optimum ripeness levels. The grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press and the musts then undergo cold maceration for a 5 to 7 day period before being settled and vinified. The alcoholic fermentation lasts between 15 to 18 days at the Domaine. The malolactic fermentation is usually initiated in December. The wine is aged for around 14 months including a period of time in French oak barrels if necessary. The wine is racked twice before being bottled in late autumn.

Reviews

2016 may have been “catastrophic” in the vineyard, according to Olivier Bailly, but in his second vintage he has more than earned his spurs. This is a comparatively restrained Vaudésir, made from two north- and one south-facing parcel. The hint of passion fruit sweetness is supported by chalky freshness and a hint of oak. 2019-23. ~94 Tim Atkin

More energy on this Vaudésir. A fresh nose of honeysuckle, stones, lemons and peaches, leading to a succulent palate that pitches bracing taut acidity against fresh peaches. Cleansing acidity to close. Drink or hold. ~93JS

(from a .71 ha parcel). Here the expressive nose is at once ripe and exotic yet quite fresh with its layered array of citrusy white and yellow orchard fruit compote laced with hints of mineral reduction and saline hints. There is exceptional richness to the notably rich and almost unctuous big-bodied flavors that possess a finer mouth feel as well as more evident minerality on the sappy, balanced and lingering finale. ~93 Allen Meadows, Burghound 

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