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Chablis is in the northern part of Burgundy, half way between Dijon and Paris.
The continental climate (very cold in winter and hot in the summer with frosts in spring) and the marly limestone soils combine to mould the unique character of Chablis wines.
About 3 500 hectares are planted (including 856 ha of Premiers and Grands crus) with Chardonnay.
Grapes are harvested by hand and put in small cases in order not to damage the fruits. They are then softly pressed. Fermentation takes place in oak barrels from our cooperage (1/3 are new). Aging usually lasts 15 months on fine lies before bottling.
“2019 is ‘the perfect storm’ of a vintage,” said Laurent Drouhin of top negociant house Drouhin, which owns vineyards in many parts of Burgundy. “We keep smiling because some wines will be great.” The mix included the hottest temperatures since the time of the Black Death 700 years ago (!), frost in April, rain in June, and no rain for nearly four months.
Drouhin’s harvest started on time on Sept. 13, and Laurent’s winemaking brother Frederic reports, “The first reds show an intense and beautiful color, good concentration, great balance and acidity and depth. The whites also show good richness with balance.” It’s a great year for reds, with slightly higher alcohol than usual.
The downside is very low yields. In just one April night, frost destroyed about 30% of the crop in Macon, though what’s left is making wines with good acidity and aromas.
Export company Le Serbet gathered reports from 65 producers in its portfolio, and head of marketing Peter Wasserman says the loss of grapes varies from vineyard to vineyard; in some places it may be as much as 50% to 60% lower than normal. Northern appellations such as Gevrey-Chambertin seem to have done best, down only 10%.
With less wine, you might predict even higher prices, but producers worry that this would drive away consumers.