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September 08, 2023

Some thoughts on Chablis & the 2022 vintage

by Steven Spanbauer

A roast chicken and well-cellared Chablis is one of life’s simple pleasures

The rural and gently rolling hills of Chablis, with their open vistas, interrupted only by scattered woods, conjures up the earliest memories of my youth in Wisconsin and instantly solidified a deep connection I feel for a place I have so seldom visited. I like to think that the relatively meager amount of time I’ve spent in Chablis, just three short visits over twenty years, is made up for the fact that my first visit was at Domaine Raveneau, my second at Domaine Droin, and my third with Alice & Olivier de Moor. I also learned in Chablis that salade could encompass a remarkable amount of meat to complement some desultory frissé.

There has always been a stern and unyielding character to the Chardonnay from Chablis, which ranks it with another of my passions – the sublime Grosses Gewächs of the Saar, Mosel, and Nahe. So, I follow succeeding vintages of both for immediate pleasure and to track them as they mature. The meteoric rise of Domaine Droin under Benoît has been a pleasure to witness. Not only because this estate has been in our portfolio for over 25 years or the depth of the estate’s holdings on both sides of the Sereine, but for the consistency and authenticity that these wines have shown vintage after vintage under Benoît Droin. While Benoît’s ancestral estate, which traces back to the 17th century, has always had a solid reputation, it is now ranked among the best in Chablis alongside such luminaries as Raveneau & Dauvissat.

“People often cite Domaines Raveneau and Vincent Dauvissat as the two greatest exponents of Chablis, however, I would like to add a third – Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin.” – Neal Martin, Vinous Media

Understandably, most of Benoît’s wine is consumed shortly after purchase, which is a shame as they truly reveal their full expression after some time in the bottle. So, while people might debate what constitutes modern versus traditional Chablis by applying various rubrics, for me, the real test is how a bottle of Chablis pleases at every stage of its life. The sucker-punch of bracing minerality and citrus in its youth, the emergence of a growing monumental stoniness in adolescence, and the nougaty depths of maturity. Benoît’s wines have always passed this test for me.


2022 in Chablis

After a mild winter, the bud break was very early, beginning at the end of March.  After the experience of 2021, this was concerning, and while there were several nights of frost at the beginning of April, we only suffered scattered losses in exposed areas. We worked hard to limit the damage, and the rest of Spring progressed normally with warm temperatures but little rain. Under these conditions, the health of the vines was perfect. These conditions also allowed for successful flowering with abundant bunches that remained small due to the below-average rainfall.

In the end, we harvested on August 29, 2022. The yield was 50 hl/ha on average. This vintage is fairly fresh, with lots of bright fruit and liveliness. With the cool temperatures at harvest time, the wines kept a fresh acidity while having a good concentration due to the small bunches. This vintage is already very accessible, but naturally, it will also have the capacity to age.

For me, 2022 is reminiscent of a mixture of the 2017 and 2020 vintages.

– Benoît Droin