The Droins have been producing wines in Chablis for nearly 400 years (their history as vignerons goes back at least to 1620). Benoît represents the14th 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.
'Undoubtedly one of, if not, the most sought-after Premier Cru in Chablis, a large, curved hill facing southwest and rich in Kimmeridgian chalk it shares many of the same traits as the Grand Cru sites and is sometimes compared with them in terms of quality. Droin’s parcel comes from the sub-climat of Côte de Bréchain which is in the middle of the vineyard on the steepest slopes. Uniquely, there is a high proportion of blue clay which is dense and makes vine growth challenging. Droin’s vines for this wine are actually quite old and almost muscular from effort. The wine shows this intensity with concentrated lemon oil, a smoky intensity and enormous concentration and extract on the palate. Montee de Tonnerre is sometimes compared to Les Clos, the Grand Cru with the most concentration and youthful introspection. It is definitely a wine for ageing and will be better in five years, and great to drink over the next fifteen.' Justin Knock MW