The family of Domaine Louis Moreau have been producing wine in Chablis since 1814, with Louis Moreau the head of the domaine since 1994. From the five Grand Crus sites in the domaine, his wines have a unique style, combining minerality, fineness, elegance and purity. We take a look at the domaine and the man behind the label.
Louis is 6th generation of the Moreau family, he studied viticulture at Fresno State University and worked at a number of different wine estates before returning to the family domaine to succeed his father. If this story sounds familiar, it’s because it’s becoming a trend for young winemakers-in-waiting to learn their trade away from home and return with new ideas to help improve on tradition. Once reknowned for looking inwards, the current generation of French winemakers often have a refreshingly international CV; they bring new ideas, but retain respect for the land.
As you might expect, Louis is a firm believer in a hands-on approach and spends a great deal of his time in the vineyard as well as in the winery. Expressing terroir means expressing nature, so tending the vineyard with great respect for the environment and finding a natural solution is key to his approach. The right root stock, the right clones for the site, the right level of stress on the vines to control yields and maximise quality.
Chablis is technically at the Northern end of Burgundy, but it’s closer to the eastern Loire in terms of climate than the Côte de Beaune and certainly a lot cooler than the Mâcon. The best wines are grown on a tiny hill to the north of the town of Chablis, and the soil is Kimmeridgien clay – a continuation of the seam that runs through Sancerre and extends up to the South East of England. Whether or not you beleive soil minerality influences wine mineral character, the soil is very important in terms of water regulation and managing vine nutrition.
While other white varieties can be found in parts of Burdundy, Chablis is 100% Chardonnay, and where oak is used, it is far less than employed in the Côte de Beaune. The result is racy wines with purity of fruit expression, though Grand Cru sites can give power and character closer to that of the more delicate styles sometimes found in Puligny-Montrachet.
Louis uses indigenous yeast to bring as much sense of terroir as he can to his wines. While commercial yeast is more predictable, the local strains found in the winery and on the grapes give a unique character and complexity. While he uses stainless steel for his 1er Crus, the richness of the Chablis Grand Crus benefit from oak fermentation and brief maturation to allow them to show their best.
Les Clos is the richest of the three, bone dry and bursting with finesse. Blanchot benefits greatly from the morning sun thanks to its exposure, which helps ripen the grapes and brings an overt fruit character. Vaudésir tends towards austerity in youth with floral character, but becomes more rounded and textured with age. Added to that, 2010 was a superb vintage, the fruit and wines showing real class with great concentration and freshness. This trio is an amazing opportunity to explore three unique expressions of their place and would make an excellent gift for any lover of fine wine.
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