Bernard Defaix Chablis 2019
I’ve noted this before, it bears repeating: The quality of the Defaix wines now puts the domaine among the top 10 in Chablis. ALLEN MEADOWS, Burghound
“Brilliant winemaking, brilliant wines.” 3 Star Rating (the highest rating awarded to only 9 Chablis producers) A Guide To The Wines of Chablis, Austen Biss (UK)
Chablis is experiencing a renaissance of sorts at present and one could quite confidently argue there hasn’t been a better time in recent memory to be buying and drinking wines from the region. The high quality and array of expressions available, both from older more traditional producers and younger, fresher faced concerns, has breathed new life into a region which at times in the past had seemed quite homogeneous and beige, with exception of a few outliers of course. The pricing too has remained remarkably reasonable, especially when you look at their close cousins in Burgundy, with only a handful of the top estates asking for serious investment.
It seems this is all no great secret either with buyers like yourselves jumping on our Chablis offers with great enthusiasm. I myself missed the boat on some of these they were that popular. It seems Australian’s have now well and truly accepted that the crystalline, chalky and mineral flecked wines that hail from the banks of the Serein are the perfect match for our food and climate, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
So today it is with great enthusiasm that I can bring you our second Chablis offer for the year on the sensational 2019 Chablis from Domaine Bernard Defaix. An estate which Allen Meadows, aka Burghound, rates among his Top 10 in Chablis. Run by husband-and-wife Didier and Helene Defaix, this family-owned organic estate, a rarity in Chablis, has built a reputation for producing wonderfully pure and precise Chablis which has seen them rise up steeply up the ranks in recent years.
When I tasted these wines recently two things were made abundantly clear. The 2019 vintage has seen a return to more traditionally styled Chablis wines. Marc Cameron, winemaker at Domaine Servin, summed it up best when he said “2018 is rich and 2019 is concentrated”. This is not so much a statement on quality, as many of the best 2018s were oh so easy to love with their rich and unctuous nature, as is the case with the wonderful Clos Lechet on offer here today. Instead, it alludes to the fresher acidities and classic flinty nature of the 2019s which traditionalists seek out.
The second thing that stood out for me was just how good the Petit Chablis is from Bernard Defaix. These are usually wines that are sourced from vineyards low in the valley, or high up on the hill, and can often lack the dimension I seek in Chablis. Not so with this wine, which comes from a prime plot on Kimmeridgian soils situated on the slopes above Milly and Vaillons. It is fresh, citrus-fuelled and full of nervous tension and leaves you with with a superb powdery finish. A brilliant wine for this level.
The AC Chablis takes things up a notch both in complexity and power delivering a nose filled with ripe white peach, grapefruit zest and a puff of white flowers. There is a wonderful intensity and energy on the palate, although the overall impression is still one of freshness, with a lovely line of acidity driving the wine long to a stony finish. The 2018 Cote de Lechet, which Defaix are the largest owners, is wonderfully rich and generous but there is power and drive here too with enough acidity to knot everything together and bring Chablis’ trademark terroir though to the surface.