Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin

Benoît Droin is undoubtedly one of the most consistent growers of his generation. His collection of distinctive but cohesive Chablis are a series of mini masterpieces that each add up to a remarkable body of work. And each vintage he notches up is a reminder of his unwavering consistency.

This makes his wines a seriously attractive buy. Prices have remained reasonable, and yet show a Droin against any grander (more expensive) white Burgundy from the Côte D’Or and the Droin will at the very least hold it to a draw, if not positively run circles around it.

The 2022s remind Benoît of the 2017s and 2020s - two vintages we absolutely love. They share a great fruit intensity, and, though they all have the requisite components for fantastic long ageing, will drink well from their youth.

These are the work of a winemaker at the top of his game.

 

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2022 Chablis, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Benoît’s village Chablis is one of the best (the best?) out there, and is always a fast seller. It has a strong following of fans who return to it year after year for its great value and high quality. It’s packed with fruit, and has an energy and persistence that propels it across the palate. There’s a nice chalky freshness and zingy lift.

Ready: 2024 - 2030
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

This is a blend of five terroirs across the steep Vaillons premier cru (out of a possible total of eight). Blending gives Benoît the chance to introduce freshness, with higher acid fruit running through the riper parcels. The 2022 is gorgeously floral, as great Vaillons tends to be in its youth. It’s an elegant wine with classical balance. As usual 25% was fermented and aged in old oak, and though it’s hugely appealing right from the get-go, this should age beautifully as well.

Young: 2025 - 2034
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2022 Chablis 1er Cru Vosgros, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Droin’s Vosgros is always one of the most striking and characterful wines at the domaine. It is vinified and raised exclusively in stainless steel: Benoît wants to preserve the energy and Chablisienne nature of the wine. It has a notable drive, but also an ample volume, twinned with delicious purity. It has wonderful intensity on the palate, with lemon verbena and orange pith notes.

Young: 2025 - 2034
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2022 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains,Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Montmains is on the same slope of the left bank as Vaillons, but has deeper clay soils, and typically produces a rounder wine with more weight. The clay in the soils make it a cooler site, and it often gets picked last. This makes for a really quite burgundian style of wine, as in, it wouldn’t be impossible to mistake it for something from the Côte d’Or if tasting blind. But that little kick of oyster shell which whips around the fruit gives it away as Chablis.

Young: 2025 - 2035
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2022 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Mont de Milieu, the mountain in the middle, historically marked the frontier between Burgundy and Champagne. It has a south-facing aspect - rare in Chablis - and this wine expresses the flamboyant side of Chardonnay grown in a sunny spot in a cool climate. The old vines have produced a wine bursting with apricots and peaches; it’s like the fruit has been supercharged here. On the palate there is a pronounced chalky freshness which wraps around the gourmand fruit. Intense, salty, and voluminous.

Young: 2025 - 2035
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Valmur is pressed up against Les Clos; the contour of its slope, where much faces northwest, make it slightly cooler than other parts of the grand cru. The 2022 is like a stiff sea breeze, laced with salt and an iodine freshness. The scintillating line of acidity running through its length is tied to some fascinating orange blossom notes, making it one of the most complex in the vintage’s line up.

Young: 2025 - 2038
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still | 13%

Vaudésir sits at the top of the grand cru hill, and enjoys a steep incline, making it one of the sunnier spots in the grand cru. This 2022 has so much nutty intensity and precision, giving it density and drive on the palate. It’s got a great texture, with stone fruit concentration laced with grilled hazelnuts. This will drink well from early on, though its drinking window should not be underestimated.

Young: 2025 - 2037
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Hommage à Louis (Les Clos), Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Dry | White | Still

As ever, this is the pinnacle of the Droin wines, and one of the finest grand cru cuvées in Chablis. Benoît says it needs 20 years to reach its peak. I’ll keep my drink dates a little earlier, though I’ve no doubt the wine could peak at 20 years if you have the patience. It is tight and nervous, with weighty power underneath. The special name of this cuvée is in celebration of Louis Droin, who bought this parcel in 1920. The three vintages of 2020, 2021, and 2022 all carry Hommage à Louis on their labels. The powers that be briefly redrew the boundaries, but have since admitted their error, and it’s hoped from the 2023 vintage the label Les Clos can be fully reinstated.

Young: 2026 - 2044
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Jean-Claude & Romain Bessin-Tremblay

Romain Bessin has calmly stepped into his father’s shoes at the understated but superb domaine in the sleepy hamlet of La Chapelle Vaupelteigne. Like Jean-Claude, he is self-effacing and modest in a way that belies the confidence of the winemaking going on here.

These wines remain a relative secret, though they are beginning to gain a (well-deserved) wider reputation, thanks to the praise heaped on them by critics in recent years. These are Chablis with soul, and the 2022s are a set of wines you’ll want to get acquainted with.

The domaine continues to up its organic and biodynamic game with every vintage. The 2022s are visceral and full of life.

 

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2022 Chablis Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Claude et Romain Bessin-Tremblay Dry | White | Still

This old vine cuvée takes the prize for ‘hidden gem’ of our Chablis range. It comes from 40- to almost 70-year-old vines scattered across seven parcels, with a variety of soil structures and exposures. It is mineral, zingy, citrus and intense, with great drive and depth. Plenty of dry extract gives the palate a serious weight and mineral poise. This may be a wine of humble communal classification, but it has a profound character, and deserves special attention. Under Diam closure for the first time in 2022.

Ready: 2024 - 2032
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis 1er Cru La Forêt, Jean-Claude et Romain Bessin-Tremblay Dry | White | Still

This is back after not being made in 2021, and it’s a brilliant return to form. The parcel sits right next to their Montmains parcel, separated by just a dirt track. It is incisive and pure, with a zippy intensity. Nervous and savoury.

Ready: 2024 - 2034
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, Jean-Claude et Romain Bessin-Tremblay Dry | White | Still

Fourchaume has a little more flesh on its bones than the chiselled La Forêt. This is no surprise given Fourchaume is one of the warmer sites in Chablis, thanks to its southerly exposure. It is silky and smooth, with a long and weighty finish.

Ready: 2024 - 2035
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur, Jean-Claude et Romain Bessin-Tremblay Dry | White | Still

Bessin’s Valmur is arguably the best value grand cru in Burgundy. And in spite of its great value, the wine’s potential for ageing should not be underestimated. The 2022 is flinty, with a lacy texture. The nose is edgy, slightly reductive, and tells you it will need some time. But the promise on the palate is sure to deliver in the years to come. It’s a reserved grand cru, rather than a flamboyant one, but its still waters run deep.

Young: 2025 - 2038
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Samuel Billaud

Samuel left his family domaine to set up on his own in 2009, and over the past decade has carved out a place for himself among the top names in the appellation. Both Neal Martin and William Kelley now tip him as a topflight producer here. With a singular and energetic determination, he has accomplished this by sticking to one simple principle: making the kind of Chablis he likes to drink. This happens to be a taut, coiled style that lies at the tight, mineral end of the Chablis spectrum. He achieves this through early picking, minimal use of oak, and long ageing on lees. The wines are reductive, edgy, and piercing.

Samuel described his 2022s like a sharpened knife, and we can’t think of a better way to sum them up.

 

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2022 Bourgogne d’Or Chardonnay, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

This cuvée was new to us in 2021, although Samuel has been making it since 2016. It sees Samuel with his négociant hat on, sourcing some excellent grapes from Mâcon and making a citrus fresh and zingy Chardonnay.

Ready: 2024 - 2026
Available only in bond
2022 Petit Chablis, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Samuel jokes that this is ‘Petit Chablis deluxe’. It comes from a parcel just above Grand Cru Les Clos, and is a rare example of Petit Chablis grown on a high proportion of Kimmeridgian, rather than purely Portlandian, limestone. Although Samuel does not distinguish within his range, all the fruit here comes from his own vines, ie ‘domaine’. Indeed, it’s one of the parcels he was most determined to hang onto after splitting from his family estate in 2009. It was so badly frosted in 2021 that none was produced, so we are thrilled to have it back in 2022. It is focused and precise, with lemon zest and salty minerality running through it, and a peachy, smooth as silk length.

Ready: 2024 - 2027
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Samuel’s Chablis is an absolute go-to. It’s a blend of three parcels, picked and vinified separately. Together they contribute complexity, richness, and minerality: that’s a pretty good combination for a Chablis, with impressive depth of fruit and a satisfying, fleshy weight,and its persistent length is clean-cut and refreshing. It’s one of our fastest sellers each year, and invariably sells out en primeur, so you need to buy early (well worth having).

Ready: 2024 - 2030
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

This comes from three parcels, which are spread across the top, middle, and bottom sections of the premier cru. It is straight and incisive, with a concentrated, saline flicker on the finish. There’s a nice balance between fruit and minerality in this premier cru.

Young: 2025 - 2033
Available only in bond
2022 Chablis 1er Cru Séchet, Vieilles Vignes, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Séchet is a lieu-dit within the Vaillons premier cru, which is prized for its floral, mineral, and delicate power. These old vines had belonged to Samuel’s grandmother, and many are approaching 100 years old. He never wants to put this in oak, he likes to keep the transparency of the fruit at the fore. It is tightly coiled on the nose, a little shy at first, but slowly unfurling into one of the most complex and complete wines in Samuel’s cellar.

Young: 2025 - 2035
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2022 Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Samuel’s Montée de Tonnerre is a blend of two parcels, one of which lies alongside that of Raveneau’s. It has a wonderfully spicy scent, reminiscent of ginger. The palate is savoury and taut, with a tingling freshness on the finish. 20% is raised in oak, giving the fruit further breadth.

Young: 2025 - 2035
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Les Bougros, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

This is the most forward and flattering of Samuel’s grands crus in its youth. It has a gourmand volume on the palate, with tangy pineapple fruit on the length. It will happily go on for many years in the cellar, but it’s the easiest of his grands crus to approach in youth.

Young: 2025 - 2035
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Preuses is famous for its minerality, derived from its chalky soils. In Samuel’s hands it delivers this typicity in spades. It is tense and refined, with a razor-like edge to the acidity.

Young: 2026 - 2036
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

Vaudésir sits high up on the grand cru hill, and is an east-facing sunny site whose steep incline catches the sun’s rays. The wine is deceptively full bodied, with power and precision driving through the finish. Oak ageing gives depth, and this wine will benefit from a few years in the cellar before approaching.

Young: 2026 - 2036
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2022 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, Samuel Billaud Dry | White | Still

This is the most prized vineyard in Chablis, and with good reason. The wine has a level of intensity and precision that is only possible with fruit of impeccable quality. It has a whisper of smoke on the nose, and the promise of complex evolution as this ages. It carries its oak with effortless grace.

Young: 2027 - 2040
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