First impressions of the 2011 vintage
The 2011 vintage began worryingly with a period of drought; in fact as we left winter, the water reserves were already quite low. Spring then surprised us with temperatures that are normally associated with summer. Naturally the vines took this as the green light for some accelerated growth, the future vintage was thus stamped with a hallmark of early development - it was three weeks ahead compared to the preceding year. Flowering ensued under good auspices and pointed to both quality and quantity.
Despite a brief episode of hot conditions in late June, the summer was generally gloomy with quite heavy rain. On the right bank of the Serein (where we find the Grand Crus) there was even some hail at the end of June, fortunately this had no effect on the quality.
Once again, it was at the start of the harvest, in late August, that Nature bestowed her favour on the wine growers. A period of sunny calm allowed the grapes to reach good ripeness and consequently the establishment of good proportions of sugar and acidity.
Starting on September 1st, the most advanced plots were harvested and we were quickly reassured by the frankness and balance of the juice from the first pressings – a good indication as to the potential of the vintage.
The harvest finally took twenty days to complete, in excellent weather conditions - memorable for some quite hot periods (reaching 30°C on the 10th and 17th of September). This allowed a successful test of our ability to react to different criteria and of our capacity to adapt the crop reception system.
The alcoholic fermentations were also accomplished in good conditions and allowed the first wines to reveal aromas of white-fleshed fruits (especially pear) uplifted by refreshing citrus notes. They also have a lot of promise in the mouth, combining both volume and rectitude.
The earliness of the vintage was demonstrated in the next steps of the winemaking as a large majority of the wines had finished their malolactic fermentation before Christmas.
Following the first racking, the wines began the long maturing process on the lees. The exact methods applied and the duration of this procedure will vary from wine to wine; it may last a few months for a Petit Chablis - with early bottling in order to capture the freshness and fruity character -to 18 months or more for the Grand Crus. These great wines will patiently repose on their lees allowing them to reveal all the depth and complexity of their exceptional terroirs.
The numerous tastings we have made in order to follow and oversee the 2011 vintage allow us to confirm all the positive impressions we had, starting with the harvest. The wines are balanced, expressive (with notes of ripe white-fleshed fruit, citrus and spice) and should be ready to drink soon - thanks to discrete level of acidity. Despite all of this, the famed and characteristic minerality of our Chablis is very much present, thus supporting the soundness of our policy of long maturation; one of the keys to revealing balance and unlocking the tension which is a distinctive quality of our style.