The Droins have been producing wines in Chablis for 400 years (their history as vignerons goes back at least to 1620). Benoît represents the 14th generation of Droins and is one of the most dynamic winemakers in the region. His father Jean-Paul put the domaine on the map but perhaps went too far down the road of new oak barrels. The domaine owns 13 hectares of vineyards and produces 14 different wines, including Petit Chablis, Chablis, 7 Premiers Crus and 5 Grands Crus. Benoît runs a more 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.
Sourced from vineyards on the plateau above the Grands Crus. Here the soils are Portlandian (rocky limestone) rather than the classic Kimmeridgian chalk of the rest of Chablis.
Bottled two months before my visit, the 2022 Petit Chablis has a well-defined nose with touches of ye llow fruit andMirabelle. The palate is well-balanced with more substance than its peers, defined with a bit of pepperiness on the finish. Recommended. Neal Martin, Vinous