Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin | Chablis, France
The Droins' have been producing wines in Chablis for nearly 400 years (their history as vignerons goes back at least to 1620). Today, Benoît represents the 14th generation of Droins' to run the domaine and is considered one of the most dynamic winemakers in the region. His father Jean-Paul put the domaine on the map but placed more emphasis on oak than his son. They own 13 hectares of vineyards and produce 14 different wines, including Petit Chablis, Chablis, seven Premier Crus and five Grands Crus.
Benoît runs a very sophisticated operation from a large modern winery almost in the shadow of the grands crus. He has revised his pruning system and significantly reduced yields. In the cellar the principal change has been away from new oak.
Each wine now gets the treatment which Benoît thinks is suited to its terroir. Thus Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premiers Crus Vaucoupin and Côte de Lechet, and Grand Cru Blanchots are all fermented and matured in tank. Vaillons, Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre receive 25 per cent of barrel fermentation and maturation, 35 per cent for Vosgros and Vaudésir, 40 per cent for Montmains and Valmur, peaking at 50 per cent for Fourchaume, Grenouilles and Les Clos. However, the age of the oak and the choice of tonnelier may vary according to the cuvée. The maximum new oak is ten per cent in the grands crus.
Droin says "I use less new oak now than I did 10 years ago; my feeling is that you don`t make your best wines in new oak barrels." Although these are rich, full-bodied, buttery wines, they still manage to retain a steeliness, raciness and purity of fruit which are the hallmarks of classic Chablis.