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We talk a lot about organic and biodynamic agriculture on this web site. These are practices we believe in, and not just because they are less damaging to the earth and to our bodies. Growing wine is about communicating the personality of a particular place. Conventional farming does not silence a vineyard but it can certaintly muffle its voice. (Think about speaking while wearing a mask). Organic farming takes the mask off so that you can hear the vineyard clearly and biodynamics can help tune it to exist in harmony with the world surrounding it. The trade-off is that this type of farming requires more work, as one must forego the easy chemical fixes used to fight pests or disease and the tougher the climate, the harder this becomes. Nowhere has this been more historically difficult than Chablis.
The village of Chablis and its vineyards sit just below the 48th Parallel. That's just about the same as Xinjiang, Ontario or Seattle. For growing grapes, it's pretty far north. As a result, cold weather and humidity have always been problems. Historically, producers in Chablis (and Burgundy in general) have been resistant to organic farming, as disease pressure is higher in this cold and wet climate. But over the past twenty years, a few estates have really led the charge and they include many of the most sought-after names in the village - Dauvissat, De Moor, Pattes Loup, Moreau-Naudet. Count Lillian Duplessis firmly in this group.
Lillian has been in charge of his family estate since 1999, spent ten years making adjustments in the vineyards and has been certified organic since 2013. While the viticulture is progressive, the winemaking is decidedly old-school - the fruit is pressed gently, fermented in steel and aged in a combination of steel and old oak. The wine sees plenty of time on the lees without much stirring and is bottled with only a small sulfur addition.
The result is old-school Chablis, with plenty of acidity, delicate white and yellow fruit and that exposed minerality that can only come from these rocky slopes. These are firm[,] angular wines that feel as though they could cut glass, simutaneously refreshing and serious. Lillian has a tendency to hold his wines back for longer than other producers. We are fortunate enough to be presenting '17s - a vintage characterized by freshness and energy. The wines crackle and snap and excite. Sam Ehrlich
Vaugiraut is on the left bank of the Serein, south of the village of Chablis and the Grand Cru vineyards above it on the right bank of the river. The south facing amphitheater is protected from winds and exposed to the warmth of the late afternoon sun, both of which assist in ripening. This bottling from Duplessis is unique among their Premier Crus in that it sees no oak: the elevage is entirely in stainless steel. This has a beautiful, exotic nose that shows notes of white peach, dried orange peel, makrut lime, and salty limestone. The palate is structured, but with generous fruit character, displaying white peach and ripe Meyer lemon notes that lead to a very precise, long finish that emphasizes the limestone minerality of Chablis. Truly delicious. Ben Fletcher
Lillian Duplessis considers this site as having the greatest potential within his lineup of Premier Cru vineyards and tasting the 2017, one can immediately see why. This wine feels intensely serious and coiled, with very pretty white peach and lemon fruit and just a touch of floral character. It has great length and mineral intensity, and a sea character combined with a sweet richness that reminds me of cooked lobster just pulled from the shell. This is super and will age beautifully. Sam Ehrlich
Montée de Tonnerre is often considered the greatest of the Premier Crus of Chablis, situated on the same hillside as the Grand Crus, just a stone's throw from Blanchots. It has great exposure and can achieve an extra dimension of density and richness. Case in point, the Duplessis 2017. The fruit character is still very much in the stone fruit and citrus profile and the mineral component feels precise and filigreed. But there is a great sense of weight and breadth in the middle that gives this extra staying power and intensity. This is excellent and should age extremely well. Sam Ehrlich
Les Clos is the sole Grand Cru in the Duplessis lineup and produces wines that will age for many years. The parcel is less than half a hectare but well situated smack in the middle of the slope, with vines between 35 and 45 years.
With 9 hectares of vines covering 5 various premier and grand cru sites, Lillian Duplessis crafts some of the most pure and compelling Chablis we have had the pleasure of tasting. All of the vines are planted in Kimmeridgian limestone giving the wines that classic, crunchy minerality for which the region is known.This wine shows baked pear and pineapple with a touch of honeysuckle and lime zest on the nose and is deeply mineral and focused on the palate.