2007 Domaine du Vieux Chateau-Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis, Vaillon Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
The extended aged 2007 Vaillon Premier Cru Chablis by Daniel-Etienne Defaix is an intriguing example or expression of terroir driven Chardonnay that is wonderfully mature and a lovely wine with a delicious subtle sense of fruit and a stony presence in the glass, where it shows a golden color and a slight reductive or flinty note that blows off to reveal pear, racy citrus and tart stone fruits. This dry and crisply focused Vaillon opens up with air, adding a rounded texture, delicate tertiary elements, oyster shells and saline, making it perfect with soft cow’s milk cheeses and or lighter cuisine choices. The lees aging here comes through with a bread note and a hint of creaminess on the mostly energetic filled medium bodied palate that leans toward a bit of earth, spice and mineral tones in a very finely detailed and elegant wine. Vaillon or Vaillons, along with Montee de Tonnerre are two of my favorite Premier Cru sites in Chablis, both of which are heavily influenced by the famous Kimmeridgian (limestone) soils, that gives these wines, like Defaix’s, their fabulous structure, bracing acidity and the legendary steely minerallity. With the great Chablis makers, like Dauvissat and Raveneau getting fantastic prices these days, Defaix offers a tremendous value for the quality found here and I highly recommend searching out this domaine’s wines out, especially these outstanding Premier Crus.

Uniquely, and as mentioned when I reviewed his 2005 Les Lys, Daniel Defaix ferments his Chablis, using 100% de-stemmed Chardonnay grapes, in stainless steel tank, using 100% natural yeasts, at cold temps, which takes close to three weeks or so. Everything is done to promote purity, clarity and build natural richness without using any oak in the winemaking and aging process. After fermenting dry, Defaix then allows his Chablis to rest almost three years on the lees, again exclusively in stainless vats, and letting it go through natural (malolactic) secondary fermentation, then the wine is racked again back to stainless tanks again, where it is aged (to) up to ten years before being bottled! With food, this Vaillon really comes into its own with more dimension coming to light along with unsweetened acacia honey, hazelnut, and very much in Defaix’s style, it has a lingering fleshiness of form, it is a seamless and rewarding, almost 15 year old Chardonnay that is full of old world charm. Again, as observed before, Defaix, who is a natural minded vigneron, who’s family is from Avallon, not far from Chablis itself, is a proud regional producer who’s ancestor Etienne-Paul Defaix moving the family into Chablis proper during the eighteenth century. Daniel uses largely self taught methods to craft his wines with ideas passed down through generations and methods learned from his own experiences. His severe selections of grapes and his long fermentations, make these wines standouts and highlight his deft touch in the cellar, as this Vaillon shows.
($55 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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