2014 Domaine Jean-Paul et Beniot Droin, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, White Burgundy, France.
The brilliant, invigorating and brisk 2014 Vaillons by Droin is just starting to enter full maturity and has tons of personality with mineral intensity to go with its racy acidity, which is driving this wine even with the almost 8 years of age, making for a wine that delivers complexity and sharp detail. The beginnings of this steely wine’s potential are ever present, but truly come more into focus with food, transforming its electric vigor into a more rounded and pleasing Chardonnay that shows lime, green apple, peach and quince fruits, plus classic wet stone, a touch of reduction, oyster shell, hazelnut and clove spice. A big thank you to my friends Marc and John for stopping by and sharing this fabulous Premier Cru Chablis, which was a nice Thursday treat, especially with some soft farm cheeses from France that really brought out the best in this wine. After the wine opened up it added some citrus blossom and filled out more, revealing some depth and dimension, all the while staying laser focused and crisp, it is a very impressive effort and should continue to age gracefully for another 5 y3ears with ease. The Droin Vaillons and Monte de Tonnerre Premier Crus are top class and elegant examples which are really worth searching out, and their basic AC Chablis is a killer bargain to enjoy often and guilt free, without pretense.

The Droin wines, which are incredibly well made and terroir driven, still fly under the radar when compared to the super stars of this region, like Raveneau and Dauvissat, which allows them to be more accessible and are extremely well priced for the quality, especially their awesome collection of Premier Crus, like this Vaillons. Winemaker Benoit Droin employs natural yeast fermentation(s) in tank and some used French oak barrels, with gentle pneumatic pressing and lees aged in a combination of stainless steel tank and neutral wood depending on site. The Vaillons saw 10 months of elevage, with no batonage (stirring of the lees) and was 80% in tank and 20% old oak, which highlights the purity and the chalky Kimmeridgean clay and limestone soils on which the vines are set. The Droin Vaillons plot is at least 45 years old and is farmed using sustainable methods with mainly organic growing practices used here and the grapes really show the power of place, this exciting and distinct 2014 Droin version couldn’t be from anywhere else. Benoit sources his Vaillons grapes from the climats of Les Épinottes, Séchet, Roncières, Beugnons and Chatains, which are picked a bit earlier to preserve a dynamic freshness in his Chablis. Domaine Droin’s Jean–Paul and son Benoît can trace their family roots as vineyard owners here back to 1620 and are one of the region’s most historical producers with some fine parcels in top sites, and these are wines I highly recommend.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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