2020 Domaine Jean Collet, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, White Burgundy, France.
The Collet family, as noted here at Grapelive.com, is a long time Chablis family and have some great sites, that were accumulated over hundreds of years, to work with and that pedigree shows in the latest set of wines, witch I was thrilled to try recently and in particular this very expressive and full flavored Vaillons Premier Cru that makes for an excellent way to celebrate Bastille Day! Romain Collet, who is growing into a real star, has converted the family’s historic plots to all organic and is crafting sublime terroir driven wines that perfectly transmits their mostly Kimmerigian marls (Les Marne) or limestone and clay soils, and capturing the depth and richness of the 2020 vintage here in his Vaillons. This impressive lightly golden Chablis shows off a dense palate of steely mineral and oyster shell intensity in the glass with apple, pear, lemony citrus and golden fig fruits on its medium body, along with a creamy rounded texture, clove spice, flinty notes, white flowers and a refreshing cut of natural acidity. It’s said that Vaillons and its many lieux-dits, which are in the prime fan shell of Chablis, is a bit higher up and near the forest that caps the hill and get good ripe sun and chilly nights that provide the balancing influences here, making Vaillons a place that can sometimes rivals the Grand Crus, with this vintage proving that. The dry-farmed Vaillon plot of the Collet family was planted in 1972 and was certified organic in 2008, adding to the concentration and deep complexity found here.

The Domaine Jean Collet, also as noted in prior reviews, started Domaine Collet in 1954 and led the family business, which dates back to about 1792, before turning over to his son Gilles, who turn handed it over to current vigneron and winemaker Romain, a star in the region and has raised the game at this once little known estate. Romain changed just about everything here, he brought completely fresh ideas to this historic winery including conversion to organic and biodynamic farming and all natural fermentation(s). There has been a huge jump in quality and expression here since 2008, when Gilles let Romain loose in the vines and the cellar and these 2020s and 2021s are some of the best yet that I’ve had. Collet has some quality parcels, Valmur and Les Clos Grand Crus being the big stars obviously, but their selection of the 1er Crus, Montée de Tonnerre, Vaillons, Montmains, Butteaux and Forêts are all fabulous and Romain treats each one with its own special care and winemaking techniques. Romain fermented his Vaillon with indigenous yeasts in 95% in stainless steel and 5% in wood, all temperature controlled throughout its fermentation period in the steel vats, but, as the winery notes, not in the small lot of wood. Full malo-lactic fermentation is completed and the wine matured for 14 months in a combination of vessels, including 1/3 in 228-liter used French oak barrels, 1/3 in large old foudres and 1/3 in the stainless steel tanks. All of which has made for a gorgeous Chardonnay that highlights Romain’s talents, sense place and vintage quality, I highly recommend these Collet offerings.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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