The wine expresses flint, herbal notes and citrus in the nose, classic traits of Chablis. Bright crisp acidity provides tension and backbone to the ripe flavors of melon, pear and almonds.
|Producer||Le Domaine d'Henri|
|Foreign Region||Country: France
Appellation: Petit Chablis
|Soil||Average vine age: 30+ years old. Located in the villages of Chablis, Fyé, Maligny & Beine.
Soil Type: Chalky Limestone, Clay
|Winemaking||Vinification with indigenous yeasts and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel vat.|
|Aging||Aged in stainless steel vat.|
|Volume||Alcohol by Volume: 12,5%|
|Temperature||10ºC - 12ºC|
|Harmonizations||Oysters, shellfish and grilled fish.|
Deeply rooted in the Chablisien terroir
The winemaking origins of the Laroche family can be traced back through several generations. Delving deep into the family history, we have found ancestors, born in 1695, who owned vines. The very first “vigneron” in the family was Louis Laroche, born in 1781.
Minerality is the true signature of Chablis.
The Chablis vineyards lie on the Kimmeridgian stratum of clay-limestone soils. The combination of these soils and Chablis' continental climate result in a uniquely mineral, chalky expression of the Chardonnay grape.
The continental climate of Chablis results in bitterly cold winters and summers that are generally dry and warm, but not excessively hot, which helps preserve the fresh aromas of the Chardonnay grape grown here.
Officially, Chablis is classified as part of Burgundy, despite the fact that the vineyards are 130 kms North of Beaune and only 50 kms South of Champagne. As a result of the milder climate, the grapes are harvested later which exposes them to cooler temperatures and contributes greatly to the character of the wines, often making them more champenois in style.
When one talks of Chablis, one thinks of minerality, finesse, purity, elegance, a refreshing acidity and very occasionally volume, richness and power.
The genetic heritage of the vineyards
In 2012, they started a massal selection from their oldest Fourchaume vines, planted in 1937, before the existence of clones. These vines provide them with a unique heritage that they absolutely want to preserve.
The plot contains some 4,000 vine plants and just before harvest they inspected each one to evaluate the quality of the trunk and the shoots, the number of bunches and the quality and maturity levels of the grapes. This first selection allowed them to earmark 300 vines, which were re-evaluated in 2013 in order to eliminate a further 100. They now have 200 plants, which were laboratory-tested to ensure they were free of viral illnesses such as fan-leaf (‘court-noué’), which will affect the quality of the fruit and longevity of the vines. Of the 200 cuttings tested, 195 showed no sign of the virus – remarkable!
A specialist is now propagating these cuttings and will provide them with 1200 grafted vines. These will be planted in front of their winery and will create an invaluable conservatory made from their oldest vines - the DNA of their vineyards. All new plantings will come from these vines.
In addition to the fundamental work on the vine canopy, they have joined forces with renowned soil specialist, Claude Bourguignon, and his son, Emmanuel, to gain a better understanding of their soils. The soil is a very complex, living environment that deserves to be better understood. It is, after all, the soil that will allow the vine to reach its full qualitative potential. It is important to understand the living organisms present in the soil: microbial, bacterial, vegetal and animal, such as worms that will help break up and aerate the soils.
In parcels with a strong proportion of clay, they leave the natural grass to grow between the rows of vines, mowing it from time to time. The grass will absorb the excess humidity, rather than the vine.
Different technics are adapted to each terroir in order to allow the vine roots to develop as harmoniously as possible in order to better regulate the impact of climatic incidents, and also to penetrate as deeply as possible into the different soil profiles in order to express the individuality of each parcel.
This is a long-term commitment, but it is vital to produce wines that truly express the terroir.
Only the best grapes will make great wines.
Like the previous generations, they know that quality begins in the vineyard and as a result, they treat their vineyards with the utmost respect. Each vine is treated individually. Pruning is adapted to encourage the right amount of fruit per vine. In order to allow grapes to reach full maturity in the optimum conditions they must be properly ventilated, therefore, they remove the leaves form the least exposed side, and green harvest if necessary.
Their philosophy in the vineyard is very simple – apart from tending to the vines and tilling the soils, they intervene as little as possible. They prefer to let nature take its course. Theirs is a common sense approach with organic practices. They are committed to produce healthy grapes and to preserve their vineyards for the future generations.
Parcels are vinified separately in order to allow the personality of each terroir to be fully expressed.
Their new winery, at the entrance to Chablis on the Route d’Auxerre, is equipped with the very best winemaking equipment, despite their firm belief in minimum intervention! Their Premier Cru and Chablis grapes are harvested by hand and are then sorted on a vibrating table in order to ensure that only the best quality fruit goes into pneumatic presses, which they set at less than 2kg/cm2 of pressure.
A week before harvest they created a “pied de cuve” by hand-picking enough grapes to make 1000 litres of juice, which is left to ferment naturally. This provides them with a stock of active, natural yeasts ready to use as soon as the new vintage arrives. All of their wines are made this way, from Petit Chablis to Fourchaume “Héritage”.
They firmly believe that minerality is the signature of Chablis and their winemaking is managed accordingly. Depending on the vintage, they will use between 15 - 35% of barrels, replacing a proportion each year, so that the imprint of the new oak is barely perceptible. They blend the oak-aged wines with those that have been aged in stainless steel tanks to achieve the perfect balance. They appreciate the body and complexity that is achieved from oak ageing, however, it can also lead to a more oxidative character than wines aged in stainless steel tanks. Oak should never dominate and the wines aged in stainless steel bring a freshness and vivacity to the blend.
Cold stabilisation is an option to remove the risk of tartaric precipitation, especialy for the wines bottled just before the harvest. The Premier Crus, stay in the cellar for a second winter to allow natural stabilisation and avoid fining and filtration. As a result, you may occasionally find small crystals in the bottom of their bottles if they have spent a long time in the fridge. This is 100% natural and doesn’t in any way affect the quality of the wine. Similarly, whenever possible, they prefer not to filter their wines to enhance quality. If they are required to filter, they do so very gently, just before bottling, to preserve the natural nuances of each terroir.
Purity, delicacy, precision, structure, balance, typicity and terroir expression are the characteritics they are looking for to signed the wines Le Domaine d'Henri, built to age well for years. The oldest vineyards with the best sun orientation bring them the minerality which is the true signature of Chablis.
When Henri would open a bottle of his cherished Fourchaume, he used to say “Chablis, that’s the purest expression of Chardonnay!”.
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