Vinous and the 2016 vintage
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis
(just finished its malolactic fermentation a couple weeks before my visit): Full yellow. Intriguing scents of musky yellow peach and honey. Full of gas but obviously fresh, with a gingery spice character intensifying the stone fruit flavors. This is carrying a healthy 4.6 grams per liter of acidity, according to winemaker Olivier Bailly.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis
(done entirely in cuve): Medium yellow. Apricot, yellow peach and a touch of banana on the nose. Fat, spicy and lightly saline, conveying musky lime oil and ginger flavors. Less reduced than the Petit Chablis, which needs a racking. Good material here, if a bit lower in acidity than the Petit Chablis at 4.3 grams per liter. Finishes nicely dusty and dry.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Tête d’Or
(this got a small percentage of neutral oak): Medium yellow; these 2016 colors are fairly deep. Ripe, fruit-driven scents of yellow stone fruits and orange zest. A step up in sweetness and texture over the basic village wine, showing a gingery oak quality that’s neither dominant nor drying. Good energy and underlying minerality here. Finishes spicy and persistent.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume
(aging in small cuves; from Vaupulent): Bright light-medium yellow. Aromas of fresh apricot and smoke show a candied aspect and good lift. Suave, intense and saline on the palate, displaying very ripe yellow fruit flavors and more obvious earth tones than the village wines. Conveys a creamy texture that belies its 4.83 g/l acidity–not to mention its currently high level of CO2. Finishes spicy, saline and quite persistent. This wine is close to 13% alcohol with some chaptalization.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons
(80% cuve but there are also a few fûts and two demi-muids): Light-medium yellow. Fresh apricot and yellow peach aromasare accented by ginger, white pepper and herbs. Suave, brisk and minerally, showing lovely inner-mouth floral lift, not to mention a complementary touch of oak. Nicely dry and spicy, and well-delineated, but in an essentially round, easygoinstyle and a bit less saline than the Fourchaume. These old vines produced a healthy crop of 50 hectoliters per hectare in 2016, according to Bailly.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu
(one fût, the rest in cuve): Full medium yellow. Higher-pitched on the nose than the foregoing samples, offering scents of peach, pear, ginger and minerals. Then richer and more opulent than the Vaillons in the mouth, but conveying a light touch in spite of its volume thanks to its mineral and white pepper lift (the soil here is shallower). A bit less saline than the Fourchaume and Vaillons.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaulorent
(done entirely in cuve; this was the second year in which Billaud-Simon purchased grapes for this bottling; the crop level here was barely 25 hectoliters per hectare owing to millerandage): Bright medium yellow. Pungent, almost Riesling-like nose shows brisk limey lift along with hints of ginger, mint and banana; Olivier Bailly says this is in a reductive phase. Offers good texture but comes across as tighter today than the other premier crus at this address, even a bit youthfully edgy, showing herbal, saline and gingery qualities. This wine is a bit riper and lower in acidity than the estate Fourchaume but will nonetheless need time to knit.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre
(Billaud-Simon produced 48 hectoliters per hectare as this sector was spared by frost and hail): Orange and lime zest aromas are complicated by musky apple, mint, crushed stone and ginger. Silky, suave and classic; quite dry but not edgy, offering alluring flavors of peach, minerals and ginger. A rather feminine, fine-grained style but still with a serious structure. Spicy and reverberating on the classic finish. This wine only finished its malo a month before my visit; one of the three cuves had been racked but the other two were still on their lees. Superb potential.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Bougros
(from purchased grapes; done entirely in cuve): Medium yellow with a faint green tinge. Aromas of white peach, white pepper, herbs and spices. Not more intense than the Montée de Tonnerre but in a fruitier, less saline style, conveying lovely sucrosité and an impression of honeyed ripeness. This very rich wine finishes slightly dusty and unrefined, still a bit youthfully disjointed owing in part to the high level of CO2. Plenty of material here but a bit sweet for my taste.
2016 Domaine Chabis Grand Cru Valmur
(entirely in cuve; from purchased fruit): Light-medium yellow with green reflections. A bit more exotic on the nose than the Bougros, offering scents of blood orange, flint and pepper. Silky, juicy and dry; more saline, chiseled and alive than the Bougros, which is a bit too fruity and opulent today. Perhaps an oddball in the context of this line-up, and a bit disjointed and tricky to taste right now, but complex and saline on the aftertaste.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cur Blanchots
(just a single barrel produced from a very small crop with a yield of around 15 hectoliters per hectare): Bright, light yellow. Sexy, sappy aromas of lime, white peach and spices. Suave, silky and delicate, offering both good volume and noteworthy delineation; nicely filled in and balanced from the start. Fresh yellow fruit flavors display serious concentration and subtle sweetness. Finishes lively, spicy and long, and not edgy like the Valmur and Bougros.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir
(assembled in cuve): Light-medium yellow. Aromas of slightly exotic yellow fruits, spices and hazelnut, plus a whi? of banana and a toasty note. Silky-sweet and quite spicy in the mouth, with the exotic fruit flavors given a light touch by harmonious framing acidity. Most of these 2016s show excellent chewy concentration as well as a touch of salinity.
2016 Domaine Chabis Grand Cru Les Clos
(aging in what Olivier Bailly described as 15-hectoliter stainless steel barrels; he noted that he was lucky to have purchased some small cuves for the 2016 harvest): Bright light-medium yellow. Knockout nose combines aromas of fresh apricot, musky ginger, crushed rock and scallop shell; no shortage of it here! Very concentrated, dense, masculine wine with a touch of sweetness swallowed up by saline minerality (the acidity here is 4.4 grams per liter). Finishes powerful, tactile and very long, almost austere in spite of its hint of sweetness but not particularly phenolic. This is much less delicate than the Valmur and Vaudésir yet still wonderfully fine-grained and silky. The yield here was just 10 hectoliters per hectare due to frost, said Bailly, adding that this site hadn’t frosted for decades.
2016 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Les Preuses
Medium yellow. In a rather virile style for Les Preuses, offering scents of spices, herbs and caraway seed. Seriously concentrated and saline but quite tight in the early going, with notes of spices and flowers providing inner-mouth lift. The acidity here is only 3.88 grams per liter but this very dry, imploded, low-fat wine has no shortage of tension. The firmedged finish displays excellent dusty persistence. This will need aging.