Said to be the oldest domaine in Chablis, tracing its origins back to 1610, it is now run by Daniel-Etienne Defaix. He took over from his father in 1978 and started making wine “as my grandfather had done”. This involved keeping the wine in tank for a protracted period and putting it through a monthly bâtonnage. Nowadays, this approach is unique in Chablis, and the extended ageing before release gives the wines a lovely evolved character that adds complexity to their freshness.
The domaine has 28 ha of vineyard, almost all of them around the village of Milly, on the left bank of the Serein. He has 14 ha in Chablis and another 14 in the 1er Crus. Grapes from his younger vines are sold to négociants and only grapes from old vines will become estate wines. The ‘vieilles vignes’ are planted on Kimmeridgian marl soils on south facing slopes. The vines are 45-50 years old and yield exceptionally concentrated juice. Fermentation occurs only with natural yeasts.
Most critically, the wines receive significant ageing in tank – sometimes upwards of 12 years! They are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and receive a further six months in bottle before release. The resultant wines are certainly ready to drink, but with a freshness belying vintage date and certainly built for further bottle ageing. The wines however are quite monumental in their expression, a must try for any Chablis enthusiast.