2005 Domaine du Vieux Chateau-Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis, Les Lys, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
Daniel-Etienne Defaix, who uniquely cellar ages his wines before release, continues this long family tradition of wine growing, which has been working the vines around Chablis since the 1500s, and now he manages 26 hectares planted exclusively to Chardonnay, which most all there vines in a selection of Premier Crus. Defaix, a natural minded vigneron, who’s family is from Avallon, not far from Chablis, with his ancestor Etienne-Paul Defaix moving the family into Chablis during the eighteenth century, he uses largely self taught methods to craft his wines with ideas passed down and learned from his own experiences. His severe selections of grapes and his long fermentations highlight his deft and gentile touch in the cellar, which shows here in his latest release of Les Lys from the 2005 vintage, it is a gorgeous Chablis with incredible texture, mineral notes, remarkable lively character from this warm vintage and polished depth. This 2005 gives a subtle floral perfume, hints liquid rock, clarified cream, apple, pear and lemon preserves as well as wet stone (chalk), acacia honey, hazelnut and lingering fleshiness of form, it is a seamless Chardonnay of great class and detail.
The Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys comes from a monopole plot known as “Clos du Roi” and the average age of the vines is close to 45 years on a sloping hillsides that have a near perfect southwest exposure that allows warm ripe flavors and richness, while the Kimmeridgian (limestone) soils give fabulous structure, acidity and minerallity. Daniel Defaix ferments, 100% de-stemmed grapes, in stainless steel tank, using 100% natural yeasts, at cold temps, which takes close to three weeks and then the wine is rested almost three years on the lees, again in stainless (only) and goes through natural malos, then racked again back to stainless tanks to aged up to ten years before bottling! The results are amazing and this 2005, which shows the benefits of that regime and the age delivers a great performance in the glass with a sexy layered mouth feel and secondary elements beginning to shine through. The “Les Lys” Premier Cru vineyard, part of the Vaillons, is located on the left bank of the Serein River, overlooking the villages of Chablis and Milly, making for an intriguing terroir, one of the most rare in the series of Premier Crus from Chablis and with a stony personality, but with a softer tone than some of neighboring sites, in particularly this Defaix version, it is wonderfully elegant, especially now.
($54 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive