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There is little new that we can or need say about Domaine Moreau-Naudet at this point. Chablis is one of our soft spots and we are constantly chasing down quality wines for the shelves. This can be a challenge. First-class organic and biodynamic estates are still a relative rarity in a place where cold and humidity are a near-constant battle. The vines at Moreau-Naudet are impeccably farmed and the wines are beautifully made, from Petit Chablis all the way up to Grand Cru Valmur.
Today we are lucky enough to focus on a single site, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons, with an opportunity to study it in depth across three consecutive vintages. Vaillons is one of the best-known and truly classic sites of Chablis. It is actually an amalgam of eight lieux-dits, including Vaillons, Sechets and Les Lys. Together they total more than 300 acres, large enough that supply is comparatively high (always an issue in Burgundy). The hillside sits at the southern edge of the village of Chablis, facing due east. It is striking to look at, as it rises quite high above the valley and the plateau at the top is covered with dense woods.
This eastern exposure means plenty of morning sun, but cooler afternoons. Consequently one finds plenty of richness and power but still enough acidity to keep the wine balanced. This richness makes the wine relatively approachable in its youth. Virginie Moreau believes this is doubtless the most accessible of her Premier Crus, full of pretty floral and white fruit character. Young or old, there is no question that it is excellent - a perfect expression of Chablis.
The three vintages available today are 2016, 2017 and 2018. This is an ideal vertical, as they are all wonderful in their own way but also totally distinct from one another.
2016 is famous in recent memory as disastrous from the point of view of the farmer, when everything that could go wrong did so. There was frost, hail and mildew and losses were catastrophic in Chablis, sometimes totaling more than fifty percent of production. However, what was left for talented growers produced some lovely wines. Virginie made wines of intense concentration, with the classic lemon-y notes as well as some more exotic tropical ones. A terrific effort.
2017 was a dream by comparison. Though there were some early frost issues, rains arrived when they were needed and the temperature was warm and even. The resulting wines are juicy but full of energy and life, practically begging you to take another sip. But they are still distinct from site to site and provide a terrific lesson in the subtleties of terroir.
2018 provided its own set of difficulties. It was intensely warm and in a region that prizes delicacy and even a certain fragility in its wines, such heat is an impediment. Some producers emerged with wines that feel broad, obvious and lacking subtlety. Fortunately, Moreau-Naudet avoided this pitfall, making wines that maintained great tension and freshness and that you may drink now or stow away for five to ten years without worry.
It's a treat for us to be able to present several vintages in this manner and we want you to get the most fun out of it that you can. So today, a three-pack including a bottle each of the '16, '17 and '18 is available at ten percent off the shelf price. Just for good measure you will also find the outstanding 2018 village Chablis, which was a staff favorite this past summer, as well as a few magnums of the 2018 Vaillons, which will make an outstanding aperitif as we head into spring and begin to gather safely outdoors again. Sam Ehrlich
"Vaillons" is one of the best-known of the great Chablis sites and rightly so. The hill rises high and steep above its neighbors, looking down over "Les Pargues" and "Forets" to the east, and the wine the site produces has a similar feeling of power and presence.
This is sourced from vines between twenty and sixty years old and aged all in stainless steel. This is Chablis at its most inviting. It's full of juicy white fruit, peach and pear and feels generally supple and accessible from the moment the cork is pulled. But what is most captivating and engaging is the mineral component here. Chablis is defined by its limestone soils and at its best its character comes through as something I have always identified as "Welch's grape soda." Some people compare it to fennel or licorice, others to something else - it's somewhat nebulous, as tasting stones is not something we do in life. But whatever it is, this wine has it. The finish is stained with this unique expression of limestone, which is what we should ask of it. Outstanding for the price. Sam Ehrlich