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.
Valmur is a wonderful Grand Cru that sits adjacent to Les Clos, wrapping around the hill and folding into a clefted valley. Valmur as ever is one of the warmer, more powerful wines of the cellar but in 2021 there’s a real tension underneath. 40% of the wine sees oak, which marries nicely with the exotic spices and stone fruit notes on the nose. The palate is generous, rounded and powerful with a remarkable density and concentration that is somehow reinforced by the acid and mineral character of the vintage. The finish is outstanding; warm stone minerals coat and dry the tongue and carry the finish on and on.
92-94pts. The 2021 Chablis Valmur Grand Cru offers more intensity and precision than the Vaudésir, the wood giving weight but beautifully assimilated, shucked oyster shells emerging. The palate is well balanced with a slightly honeyed opening, notes of lemon curd and orange pith, building nicely in the mouth towards a suave and lightly spiced finish. Superb. Drink 2025-2045, Neal Martin, Vinous