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.
A superb contrast to the other Grand Crus, Vaudésir is the most delicate, perfumed and precise of the trio we are offering and a counterpart to the power and fleshiness of Valmur which it neighbours. It faces both south and southwest in an amphitheatre and is protected from the cold, northern winds. The soils are also richer in clay with less limestone, keep soil temperatures cooler and giving the wine more bracing acidity. Droin’s parcels are in both sections, a warmer and sunnier plot facing south and a cooler section higher up, and together they bring great complexity to the wine – a perfume and succulence that pushes the Chablis minerality to the back seat, appearing as a fine, salty flick on the finish.
From just over a hectare of vines in a steeply sloping amphitheatre which gives the vines a variety of expositions. Typically, the most elegant and delicate of the Grand Crus, with a supple and opulent character underpinned by a gentle, saline acidity which transforms into chalk and iodine with maturity. Arguably the most approachable of the Grands Crus.