Sarah Marsh MW continues her extensive coverage of the 2022 Burgundy vintage with a detailed report on a successful year in Chablis, where “gorgeous fruit” combines beautifully with freshness in wines that have “a spring in their step.”
I arrived in Chablis to taste the 2022 vintage in June 2023, anticipating a rich and heavy style, but was very pleasantly surprised by wines that are generally lighter, fresher, and more energetic than expected. The effect of a hot and dry summer is less evident than in 2019 or 2020. The profile is deliciously ripe and fruity—from white peach, to ripe apricot—but juicy and lively as well.
The warmth of the summer shows in the texture—from silk, to satin—which is refined and not cloying. 2022 Chablis has a spring in its step. The alcohol is moderate, at around 12.5%, and consequently this is a medium-bodied vintage, lighter and more digeste than recent hot vintages. They taste fresh—crisper than the analysis would suggest. The balance and intensity are there. It was crucial to harvest early, as the acidity was not high. The style could have been rich and heavy, but harvesting from the end of August preserved the purity and expression of terroir.
Altogether, 2022 is a delightful vintage in Chablis. Moreover, it will lend it itself to early drinking or to aging. The gorgeous fruit and the freshness, which sits harmoniously on the palate, bring the wines forward, and they are astonishingly pleasing even before bottling. But the balance and intensity (notwithstanding the slightly higher pHs), together with the excellent health of the grapes, make this a vintage to cellar.
You will be tempted to tuck into 2022 Chablis early but drink the village wines first and try to be patient with the premiers crus. I would suggest waiting until 2026 for the Left-Bank premiers crus, and until 2027/28 for those from the Right Bank. Leave the grands crus until 2028/30. But of course, this would be just the beginning. The premiers crus should age 15 years happily, and best Right-Bank premiers crus, 20 years—the grands crus, longer. The drinking dates in my tasting notes are approximate and conservative. This is Chablis that will repay keeping.
I asked the producers for comparable vintages and for their opinions on how the vintage might develop. There was no consensus. Some compare it with the hot vintages of 2009 and 2015. Julien Brocard says, “During aging, it may develop like 2012, although 2012 was fresher.” Contemplating aging capacity, I wondered about the similarities with 2002, and tasted a few while I was in Chablis. 2002 was a warm and dry vintage, harvested mid-September with higher yields than 2022, but not dissimilar in its balance of ripeness and acidity. It has become deliciously honeyed but remains fresh. Maybe 2022s will not be far from this profile 20 years from now.
2022 Chablis: The growing season
At William Fèvre, Didier Séguier keeps a detailed record of the season. “Winter was very dry, with very little rain—just 130mm (5 inches) over four months, versus 300mm [12 inches] in a normal year. Budbreak started at the end of March, and just after this we had two nights of frost. There were some burned buds, especially at the top of the hills, where snow increased the problem, but we lost some buds everywhere on the hill—between 30 and 40 percent in some places. The potential volume, however, was high, so we still got good yields. The second generation of buds was productive, unlike 2021. So, the yield was good and correct, thanks to this second generation.” It’s unusual for the second set of Chardonnay to be productive (unlike Pinot Noir), and Louis Gimonnet, general manager at Domaine Long-Depaquit, thinks the vine was able to develop more buds in 2022 because of the low yields in 2021.
At Domaine Servin, they had losses in Mont de Milieu and Vaucoupin—“maybe because of the earlier pruning,” remarks Marc Cameron. At Domaine Dampt, they had a small, 45hl/ha crop in Petit Chablis, which was pruned in December. Many are now leaving pruning as late possible, in the hope of minimizing the risk from frost during the spring.
It was a very early season, beginning and finishing early, with the first flowering in mid-May, and it was completed by the end of the month. When I visited in June 2023, flowering was just finishing in mid-June, which is more typical.
“June  was hot, with 120mm [4.7 inches] rain in total,” recalls Séguier. “It was dry and hot in July, but on the 25th we had 20mm [0.7 inches] of rain. No canicule [heatwave], as we had in 2019 and 2020. August was also dry and hot, with rain twice, on the 5th and between the 15th and the19th—just 25mm [1 inch] in total, so just a touch. Maturity was early and quick, and we started the harvest on August 29, finishing on September 8.”
It was a very dry summer, but there have been even drier, and many other producers also remarked on the beneficial sprinkling of rain through July and August, which kept the plant photosynthesizing and the fruit from becoming too dehydrated. Cameron remarks, “The cooler September really saved us. Good enough rain in June and a little in September, which pulled it back.”
There was very little disease pressure, which favored organic production. More producers are becoming certified organic in Chablis—from large producers, including Brocard, to much smaller domaines, such as Duplessis. Several, including Long-Depaquit (no mean feat, with 128 acres [52ha]) and Louis Michel, will be certified next year. Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel at Domaine Louis Michel sprayed only six or seven times in total, finishing by the end of June. In 2021, organic producers, who must rely on copper and sulfur, would have sprayed twice as often—not least because the treatments were constantly washed off. Those who use systemic sprays point out that copper washes into the soil, making an organic approach less benign than it might appear. Domaine des Malandes will be certified for the 2022 vintage, and sprayed six times in 2022, but twice as often in the challenging conditions of 2021.
At Long-Depaquit, Gimonnet would like to work their steep Vaudésir slope with an electric tractor. The tractors he has experimented with to date can’t manage the 55 percent slope, but he hasn’t given up: “We want to decrease our use of diesel in the vineyard.”
Some producers take a more holistic approach, in the hope of being “a good father to the vines,” as Benoît Droin puts it. Isabelle Raveneau argues that in a year like 2021, when disease pressure was very high, it is preferable, “to minimize the impact on the environment,” to use two systemic sprays than to drive the tractor in the vineyard frequently spraying copper and sulfur, which compacts the soil.
Combating climate change in Chablis
There is a general feeling in Chablis that the vines are adapting to the warmer and drier summers. The vines are older than in the severe drought of 2003. There was a good deal of planting in the 1970s, and these plants are now 40 years old, with deep roots to withstand drought more readily.
Producers are exploring their options for managing the canopy, and deciding whether to use ground cover or not. Plowing is good for aerating the soil, but where the topsoil is thin, it can dry out more as a result of plowing. Cover crops, however, can create too much competition. Some growers, including Raveneau, always plow, while others, among them Julien Brocard, prefer cover crops.
Brocard seeds grasses during the fall, rolling them flat so as not to compete during the growing season. Walking through the grands crus one evening, I saw a parcel where this approach was being used. The flattened cover crop was dead, so was not competing with the vine for nutrients or water, but it created quite a thick mat over the soil, preventing moisture from evaporating. Other growers seed grasses, or don’t discourage weeds, which they mulch into the topsoil early in the season. This nourishes the topsoil and helps it retain moisture, without encouraging humidity or increasing the risk from frost in spring or from mildew in summer.
Julien Brocard is planting trees in his biodynamically certified vineyards to increase biodiversity. He expects the root systems to hold more moisture in the soil and is not concerned that the trees will compete with his vines.
Many producers spoke of leaving higher canopies to increase the shade between rows. The Dampt brothers trimmed for the last time in July. On returning from a holiday at the end of August, Sebastien recalls the vineyards looked overgrown, but when they pulled the leaves off in preparation for harvest, the fruit was not burned. Burned grapes were a problem for many in 2019 and 2020.
At Long-Depaquit, Gimonnet has adapted the trimming to increase the canopy by 4 inches (10cm), from 51 inches, to 55 inches (130–40mm). “Where we trim by hand on the steeper slopes, we can even go a bit higher.”
And leaf-plucking is a simple way to adapt to a hotter, or to a cooler and wetter, summer. In 2021, pulling the leaves certainly helped. Gimonnet explains, “We remove some leaves just after flowering, for treatments and aeration. We want gentle sunlight at the beginning of the season, so the berries adapt and develop thicker and stronger skins. If we pull them off later, the fruit will burn. We take them off only on the cool side, though. We keep leaves on the hot side, for protection from the sun.”
The most effective way of all, however, to manage the seasonal changes and vintage variation, is of course the date of the harvest.
The growing season, which started early, raced through a warm summer to an early harvest. While there was no disease pressure in 2022, acidity levels fell quickly toward the end of August. Many began harvesting on August 31 and were finished by September 8–10. This early start was key to the balance, elegance, freshness, and levity of this ripe vintage.
Domaine William Fèvre has 130 parcels across 178 acres (72ha), for which Séguier made a minimum of three maturity controls per parcel—a total of 400 measurements to assess the best moment to harvest. Long-Depaquit started the harvest with Les Clos (a sunny, exposed slope) and finished with Blanchot (east-facing and cold). But for many, the earliest ripening terroirs are Vaillons and Beauroy. Vaudésir can also be early, depending on the aspect. The Vaudésir appellation forms a hot and narrow valley, where the slopes are steep, particularly those facing east-southeast, where the soil is thin and stony, reflecting the heat during the day and radiating it at night. Walk in the valley in summer and you will feel the concentration of heat by comparison with the broader and cooler Valmur valley.
Machine- or hand-harvest? With more than 16,000 acres (6,500ha) under vine in Chablis, at least 80 percent is now harvested by machine (the BIVB has no exact figures), and many producers were glad to have machine-harvesters in 2022.
Vincent Dampt points out that on August 31 it was 88ºF (31ºC) and the fruit was consequently also very warm. “We have two machines. The new machines are very efficient and clean. We can start between five and six in the morning and stop in the afternoon.”
Most domaines machine-harvest their Petit Chablis and Chablis, but hand-harvest their grands and premier crus. Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel says, “I have to go fast when I start, as I like to wait for full maturity. The setting of the machine and the driver are very important. A well-set machine does a better job than the drunk or tired hand-harvester, as the unripe grapes stay on the vine.” He has two harvesting machines and 30 pickers for 50 acres (20ha). “You could do 25 hectares [62 acres] with one machine, but it is a comfort to have two, and if the forecast is not good (hot weather or rain), we can start at 4am and stop at noon. We tend to stop at 2pm anyway.”
At Domaine des Malandes, Amandine Marchive harvests her Petit Chablis and Chablis by machine. “The machine is better. It will only take the perfectly ripe berries. If they are green, they stay on the vines, and if they are too ripe, they fall down first. So, maturity selection is good, and the machine doesn’t take leaves. For us, what is important is to harvest very quickly, because we can get rain or it’s very hot and the acidity will drop. We have 30 hectares [75 acres] to pick. We can go out at 5am with the machine, but have to wait until 6.30 or 7am with the pickers, as they need light.”
With 500 acres (200ha) to harvest, Brocard assembles 100 pickers from all over Europe—double the usual number for the 2022 vintage. Some picked in the dark using head torches. All the organic and biodynamic fruit is harvested by hand, but Bourgogne and some Chablis is picked by machine.
It seems to me that machine-harvesters are a necessity, and not an evil one either. In a vintage like 2022, they had distinct advantages in getting the fruit into the winery quickly with the desired analysis. In a moldy vintage, there is some risk from contamination, as juice seeps from the destalked berries, but this was not a problem in the lovely, clean 2022 vintage. And there are advantages to oxidizing some of the juice. Vintages made with the rough, more oxidative handling that was typical before the 1980s, have proven less sensitive to oxygen during bottle-age.
Marc Cameron at Servin is pragmatic: “Machine-harvesting gives much better quality. And anyway, we cannot get the pickers for our size of domaine, so that’s not possible logistically. The Côte d’Or and Champagne take them. It’s okay for whites, as they are pressed straight away, but not the same for reds. The destemming can be a good thing for white, because we get some oxidation.”
At Laroche, Stéphane Barras finds there is a difference in the quality of must pressed from the machine-harvested fruit. It’s more turbid than that from hand-harvested fruit, so they use enzymes to help the bourbes settle. Julien Brocard, however, tells me he can rely solely on temperature to do the job.
But when all is said and done, most prefer to hand-harvest their best vineyards, and some of the top domaines still hand-harvest everything. It’s no surprise that Domaine Raveneau is among them, hiring 30 pickers in addition to the permanent staff. “Half of them are regulars,” says Isabelle Raveneau. “It’s becoming more challenging to find them, but we are one of the few domaines that still feed our pickers, so we are more popular and they come back. We try to look after them!”
Fruit prices went up in 2021 and have not come down, so expect 2022 Chablis to be at least the same price as 2021. The yields were not sufficiently generous to encourage any price reduction.
Many producers are gradually ripping out vines from the 1970s and ’80s and replanting. That was a period of rapid expansion in Chablis, during which plant material and grafting was not of the best quality. Nurseries were under pressure to keep up with demand, and these vines are now suffering. In Côte de Léchet and Vau de Vey, many vines have court noué. At Domaine des Malandes, Marchive is nursing her Côte de Léchet and Vau de Vey vines, fertilizing them with manure and mulching with grasses she seeds in the autumn. But she is also replanting.
Rootstocks are another problem. SO4 has been widely used. It’s very productive, which is no longer a problem with older vines, but as Vincent Dampt observes, it starts its vegetative cycle early and is therefore vulnerable to spring frost. It finishes early, too. The Dampt brothers have to keep a careful eye on their vines on SO4. The vines have millerandage and thus low yields. “They can ripen quickly and early, and we take care to catch them in Côte de Léchet, which is a warm slope.”
The Dampts are replanting 1.2 acres (0.5ha) annually with a massal selection from vines planted by their grandfather. These are grafted onto 41-B. Vincent says, “This always has good acidity. It’s not highly productive and starts later than SO4, which for spring frost is very important.”
The flowering went well but yields in Chablis were fair rather than generous—higher than the small 2019 or minuscule 2021, but without the abundance of 2018. Marc Cameron at Domaine Servin was among the many growers who commented that the skins were thick and there was not much juice—and there were the losses to frost.
Cooling down the juice is another tool to combat these warmer vintages. Servin, which produces 250,000 bottles a year on average, has invested in more and better tanks for the débourbage. “For Chablis and Vaillons, where we have a 2.5 hectare [6-acre] parcel, which is too large to pick by hand, it’s important to have the capacity to cool down the juice quickly in a warm vintage,” says Cameron. At Domaine Louis Michel, Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel remarks, “It’s so important now to cool the must to 14ºC [57ºF].”
At Fèvre, they may cool the grapes first. “If the ambient temperature is high, we hold the grapes in a cooling room at between 15º and 20ºC [59–68ºF] max. Some grapes picked in the afternoon come in at 35ºC [95ºF]. Cooling the grapes gives us more freshness and elegance, and we don’t extract too much matter. The must is purer and more precise this way,” observes Séguier.
The early harvest resulted in alcohol levels that are just right for Chablis: 12.5%, touching 13% for some grands crus.
Malolactic was easy and rapid, as the malic acid was largely burned away by the sunny summer.
The pH levels after malolactic fermentation were quite high for Chablis, between 3.25 and 3.37. Benoît Droin remarks, “We have to accept that the pH is high these days—except in 2021.”
Some examples: At Dampt, the lowest pH was Petit Chablis at 3.2; the highest, Beauroy at 3.39. J Moreau: 3.24–3.4. Domaine Servin: 3.23–3.36, while in 2021 the highest pH was 3.3. Even with biodynamic farming in the cool Vau de Vey, at Broucard the pH was 3.25 after MLF.
Indigenous or cultured yeast
Many producers in Chablis prefer to play it safe and crack on with the fermentation using cultured yeast. J Moreau winemaker Lucie Depuydt has made many experiments, and as a result prefers a neutral, cultured yeast, so there are no unwanted deviations. At Dampt, they also inoculate, since they are afraid of residual sugar.
Séguier comments: “One third in 2022 was fermented with indigenous yeast. If we have perfect grapes, we try with natural yeast, but sometimes we prefer to use cultured yeast, to keep purity and freshness. In 2022, we had more natural ferments, as the must quickly started on its own. There are no rules, but I think that if you use a neutral yeast, you get a better and purer expression of terroir.”
At Brocard, they use indigenous yeast, although I do wonder if this holds true for the entire 2.5-million bottle production. Benoît Droin also prefers indigenous yeast, as “the MLF goes through more easily after using indigenous yeast and the wine is better protected.” (MLF generates CO2).
Aging and bottling
Those using both tank and barrels for their aging process, seem to favor a higher proportion of tank in 2022. Séguier explains, “In a warmer vintage, we may decide to decrease the barrels, which are never new, but in 2022 there is a little less oak. Usually, between 30 and 40 percent of premiers and grands crus are aged in barrel, but this year it’s more like 20 and 30 percent. Keeping the wine in tank on lees retains more freshness and elegance.”
The general sentiment is for earlier bottling in 2022, and in June when I visited, many village-level wines were already bottled or in preparation. Some producers with their own bottling line make several bottlings of the same cuvée and began as early as January. They are under pressure from the market, since there is no remaining stock of 2021. By the end of the summer, much of the premiers crus and some of the grands crus will be in bottle.
Not many producers I spoke with are planning to keep their wines over a second winter, a practice less common in Chablis than in the Côte d’Or. Chablis producers feel that their ’22s—unlike their ’21s—don’t require beefing up with extensive lees contact; moreover, there is some danger of losing freshness, as the pHs are quite high. Vincent Dampt remarks, “As the acidity is lower in 2021, we will do an earlier bottling or we risk wines with too much body and less tension.”
Not all producers agree, however. Raveneau is well-known for keeping its wines for a second winter, but Servin also likes a longer aging in 450-liter barrels until spring, as does Louis Michel, where the wine is aged only in stainless steel. At J Moreau, Lucie Depuydt ages the premiers and grands crus for two winters.
It seems that producers are bottling with a slightly higher level of CO2 in 2022: 1,000mg/l will boost the impression of freshness without being noticeable. In 2021, 800mg/l was sufficient. Given that most producers in Chablis have at least a part of every cuvée on lees in stainless steel, it’s easy to maintain a high level of natural CO2, which doesn’t need adjusting upward at bottling.
For the fining, most use bentonite but not casein, the latter agent being commonplace in the Côte d’Or. Everyone filters, sensibly.
Increasingly, Chablis producers are moving to bottle under Diam closures. Long-Depaquit uses Diam 10 for all its premiers crus and is currently experimenting with a new “medium permeability” Diam 10, which will permit the wine to evolve a little more swiftly over about six years.
By using Diam, it’s possible to have less free SO2 at bottling than with cork. Most producers bottle with 25–30ppm free SO2, which is lower than in the past. Striking a good balance between the level of SO2 and the type of closure is important. At Dampt, where the wines are made very reductively in stainless steel, they use a Diam 5 closure. Anything less permeable would close the wine too much.
Isabelle Raveneau prefers natural cork. “It’s more natural and respectful for what we do, and the exchange with the cork is more interesting. I am doing trials, as I am not against Diam, but I am not sure about Diam being in contact with my wine for so many years.”
The Left-Bank vineyards of the River Serein benefit in hot vintages from their easterly exposure, but those slopes are still very warm and some of the vineyards are bathed in sunlight for much of the day. Toward the inner end of these valleys, it may be a little cooler, but not necessarily. At the inner end of the Montmains appellation, within the lieu-dit Forêt at the bottom of the slope, there is a small amphitheater that holds onto the heat until evening. I “scooted” around Montains on a June evening with Isabelle Raveneau. It was hot at the bottom of Forêt, while it was cooler at the top of Butteaux.
It’s so important to hang onto the lightness, crispness, and vivacity of the Left-Bank premiers crus. They don’t have the dimension and structure of Right-Bank premiers crus to handle much alcohol or rich fruit.
Village parcels are found on the cooler flanks of the Left-Bank valleys. They can be lean in a cold vintage, but in a warm one, do rather well.
Look out for Vieille Voye. Laroche bottles it separately and it represents 70 percent of Sébastien Dampt’s village blend. This lieu-dit lies below the premier cru Les Lys and, like its big brother, it has a more northerly exposure. The expression of this village wine is not especially fruity. Rather, it has an aniseed character; fresh/bitter, with bite and tension. In these warmer summers, it’s a top spot for village wine.
So much better than in 2020. Easy-going, but not heavy. Charming.
Vau de Vey
This lesser-known premier cru may fast become a favorite in warm vintages. It’s a cooler, less well-exposed valley—an outlier—but the wines show very well. Sadly, many of the vines are suffering from court noué, so many of older vines will have to be replaced.
Côte de Léchet
This premier cru, with its east/southeast-facing slope, typically produces wines with a fresh and citrusy profile. This year, many have a riper, lemon-curd character; fresh and sharp with acidity, together with appealing creaminess: a delicious combination. There is more richness and texture, but I’m quite happy with that.
Although Léchet is the most east-facing of the three principal Left-Bank premier cru slopes, it’s sunny for a good part of the day, making it difficult to catch an edgy style in 2022. If anyone can, it’s the Dampt family in Milly. They’ve recently built a tasting room in a lookout tower, so they can point out their parcels on the slope as you taste the wine. Sébastien Dampt captures the best of Léchet with his floral wine, which is straight, clipped, and oyster-shell, but has no lack of concentration.
Quite a few producers start their harvest here, in order to catch the charming, rounded profile of Vaillons, which should be balletic, but can quickly become flat-footed. If you stand at a high point on the grands crus, it’s possible to see that the Vaillons slope is less east-facing than Léchet, turning more southerly, explaining why many start their harvest here. In 2022, Vaillons is generally more fruity than floral, with plenty of scented white peach, sometimes apricot and spices, with occasional notes of white rose petal. There is a light sheen to the texture. Delicate, pure, and threaded with a glistening line of salinity. Ocean-breezy. As you can tell, it’s quite possible to make a delightful Vaillons in 2022.
There are nine lieux-dits in Vaillons, but my top tip here this vintage is Les Lys, where the land slopes toward the north/northeast, as the climat drapes over the hill. There is more white clay here, and it’s quite windy at the entry of two valleys. This is cooling and can also be dehydrating, which will concentrate the grapes. Vincent Dampt says, “The wind is impressive against disease, and we can get more concentration—it was 14% [ABV] in 2010.” Clearly, the harvest date is key. “It’s a deep soil, and at depth you see the Kimmeridgian, like fossil powder, so the minerality in the wine is very strong.”
All this combines to produce a well-structured wine; firm from the marl, but with cutting, fresh acidity. Only five or six producers make a separate wine from Les Lys. Long-Depaquit is one. As we tasted the 2022, winemaker Louis Gimonnet commented, “This will develop more of the gunflint from the white clay.” So, we tried Les Lys from 2019, another ripe vintage. This has an aroma of pencil-lead shavings, graphite, and parmesan cheese. It is still straight and clipped, but with a rich saltiness.
You can see the difference between this and Beugnons (a lieu-dit that has a more typically Vaillons profile) at Long-Depaquit, where both are made in stainless steel. Beugnons comes from the east-facing slope. We tried the 2022 and the 2019. Gimonnet comments, “We like to keep it quite reduced, as it can be a bit exotic. If you harvest one day earlier, it’s underripe… and a day later, it’s too exotic.” The 2019 was much more nutty, open, and generous than Les Lys, with an almond-kernel bitterness to finish. “This nuttiness is part of the development of this cru.” I have included both cuvées in my tasting notes.
I generally find Montmains more rustic and robust than the other premiers crus on the Left Bank. Within this, lieu-dit Forêt is the lightest, most aromatic and upright; lieu-dit Montmains is the most fruity, robust, and earthy; while Butteaux is more sappy, grippy, and structured. All can have notes of fresh earth, and Montmains and Butteaux can be a touch muscular.
In 2022 certainly, Montmains is generously rounded and fruity, but there is also plenty of freshness and energy. It can be quite punchy in 2022. Forêt has more graphite, with gunflint notes. Some winemakers found floral notes: I didn’t. It’s ripe but elegant for a hot vintage. Butteaux was the pick of the bunch for me. There is density, but with really good sapidity. This lieu-dit probably has the greatest variety of aspects and soils of the three. It undulates, giving different exposures, and the rows are planted across as well as up and down the slopes.
A quick shout out for Petit Chablis from Sur Les Clos, located on the plateau behind the wood: a hot, windy, and very stony place. Next time you’re in Chablis, go for a walk round the top of the grand cru hill and you’ll see for yourself. Raveneau planted here ten years ago, and its salty Petit Chablis is one of the best, but other Petit Chablis from this plateau are also trim, with notable salinity. Servin has a nice one, and Vincent Dauvissat’s is a delight. Generally, Petit Chablis tends to be fruity, but these aren’t.
I particularly liked Vaucoupin in 2022. It has a thin, rocky topsoil and, with a slope of 35–50 percent, can be steep in places. Servin and Long-Depaquit have massal selections planted in the 1950s and ’60s. Vaucoupin is concentrated and intense in 2022, sometimes with a whiff of exotic fruit on the nose, but the palate is stony, savory, and edgy. In 2022, the Kimmeridgian oyster-shell, graphite note is pronounced. It’s slimmer and nervier than other Right-Bank premiers crus, but in the 2022 it has really good intensity. Droin used to put his in oak, but it’s much better now in stainless steel. Vaucoupin makes the style of Chablis I really enjoy drinking.
Mont de Milieu
This is luscious and indulgent and has ripe, apricot fruit in 2022. Showy and very attractive from the more south-facing slope, where it gets maximum exposure, becoming a bit tropical at Droin. Servin has a good example, fresher and a little more restrained as the hill turns into the valley. J Moreau has a sumptuous, fresh example. Even the richer versions hold on to their freshness and are opulently fruity, but not at all heavy.
Montée de Tonnerre
Well, this is on fire in 2022. Super-savory, compact, and tense. Intense and powerful. Sapid freshness. It compresses the vintage into a long, channeled palate. A Montée-de-Tonnerre vintage to age. You get the picture. It’s good.
Better than I expected. The 2019s and 2020s were broad and rather leaden. Fourchaume is just never my favorite. But even from the warm face, the heartland of Fourchaume, the 2022s were not overblown or flat-footed. Actually, they showed surprising restraint, with a good balance of freshness and concentration. They illustrate how producers are revising their approach to rein in the expression of hotter vintages. Not bad at all.
Les Clos stands out. As it should. Gorgeous and effortless. Full and rich, but fresh and energetic. No mistaking the fabulous finish. It’s very happy to show itself at this early stage. There is a brightness and intensity to the 2022s, rather than massive concentration. They are sophisticated. Very complete wines.
Valmur comes in next. Quite closely in some cases. Austere, grippy, and powerful. It has sapidity and vigor. It’s cold by comparison with the glowing warmth of Les Clos. It hoovers up the heat of the vintage and remains firm and stern. Valmur is in a valley, in contrast to the sunny, convex slope of Clos. It’s a much broader valley than Vaudésir, and while the more south-facing slope is stony and quite steep (this is where Raveneau has its vines), it doesn’t get as hot as Vaudésir. There is freshness. Actually, if you walk in both valleys, which I did most days for a week, there is never a breeze in Vaudésir, but there is in Valmur. The wines will take time to come around, but should age a treat.
The other grands crus are a step down from the front-runners.
Vaudésir in 2022 can be very concentrated and glossy but it has a straight line and the balance is made by minerality. The hot and narrow valley snakes, which creates different exposures even on the same side. The southeast-facing slope is baking and seems to get the sun most of the day. There is one section that is particularly steep and stony, and the rich but channeled, stony-strict wines of 2022 reflect this. Long-Depaquit has one. It will take time to find itself. Harvesting early was key to the balance and potential elegance of this terroir. Louis Michel has an elegant example from the other side of the valley, which is not as steep and in shade for part of the day.
I often found myself preferring Preuses to Vaudésir, but it really depends on the producer and where the parcels are located for either grand cru.
The best Preuses in show was Vincent Dauvissat. Possibly his Clos will pull away in time, but in the cellar in June, I could not make the call. The part where his vines are located is south/east-facing; a very warm slope. William Fèvre and Vincent Dauvissat share this section, which really seems part of the Vaudésir valley. But it’s not as steep or as stony and has a slightly a cooler exposition than the adjoining section of Vaudésir. Dauvissat’s Preuses is concentrated but has finesses and vibrant freshness. Superb wine. Simonnet-Febvre has a slice of this section, which was previously farmed by Dauvissat in a crop-share agreement. Long-Depaquit has a pocket-handkerchief parcel here, which it adds to the neighboring Vaudésir parcel to make its Moutonne. This is quite refined in 2022, and I prefer it to other recent vintages. Fèvre is the largest landholder in Preuses. It blends this parcel with west- to north-facing vineyards. The result a very rich wine, despite the cooler exposition of the latter.
Preuses from the plateau is less concentrated and intense (Long-Depaquit has one). It may be less powerful, but it’s lovely and silky in 2022.
East-facing and the coolest of the grand cru climats, Blanchot should always be light and airy, but can lack a little grand cru substance and ripeness in marginal vintages. It becomes more charming and intense in a warm one, while retaining its freshness. At one extreme, Long-Depaquit’s is the last parcel round the hill, so it’s east-facing. It has a slice from the top to the bottom of the slope, where there are some very high trees. The bottom third is always in shadow and therefore less ripe (as it is all harvested together), and the entire parcel loses the sun by 2pm. This Blanchot sparkles and is silvery.
On the other side of the vineyard, Raveneau’s Blanchot is next to Les Clos. It’s also east-facing but well-exposed at the top of the slope, so it gets plenty of sunshine. Its steelier and more structured, but nevertheless has filigree finesse. Blanchot will never have the dimension or power of the other grand cru climats, but in a hotter vintage its fresher and more elegant profile is delightful.
Rich and broad, some of these wines have candied fruit. The lieu-dit Côte de Bouguerots is south-facing on a 45 degree slope right by the river, where there is very little topsoil, so it matures early. William Fèvre and Laroche bottle a wine from this special spot, and Long-Depaquit has some vines here, too. These are more concentrated, and have greater tension and vigor, than the fuller and softer Bougros.