n and around Chablis there are three Domaine Dauvissat. The most recent was created by Agnès and Didier Dauvissat in 1987.
– My parents were vineyard workers, explains Florent Dauvissat, the son of Agnès and Didier. There were not any vines in the family, so they had to start from scratch. They had to find vines to buy, a house, equipment, clients etc. Their first harvest was in 1989. In 1987 they had planted their first parcel of Chablis premier cru in Beauroy.
You’ll find Domaine Agnès et Didier Dauvissat in Beine, a village with some 500 inhabitants about ten minutes west of Chablis. The domaine covers ten hectares – three and a half hectares of Petit Chablis, four and a half hectares of Chablis and two hectares of Chablis premier cru Beauroy.
– Vincent Dauvissat of Domaine Vincent Dauvissat is a distant cousin of my father’s, continues Florent Dauvissat, that’s why he did his apprenticeship there. My father is originally from Fyé, on the other side of Chablis. That’s why you’ll find some of our vines there.
The Petit Chablis of Domaine Agnès et Didier Dauvissat comes from several parcels on Portlandian limestone terroir in Beine and the eastern side of the plateau above the grand cru slope. The vines were planted in the mid-1990s.
– We plough the vineyards. We are close to lutte raisonnée. We try to limit our use of phytosanitary treatments. We use organic fertilizers instead of chemical ones. I’m not quite sure about the organic approach. It is difficult to be organic when you are as far north as Chablis. Instead, our goal is 100 per cent lutte raisonnée. We spray seven or eight times a year. We treat against mildew and oïdium, but not against rot.
90 per cent of the domaine is machine harvested, the remaining ten per cent by hand. During the early years of the domaine everything was sold to négociants, which meant they were the ones who came and picked the grapes. Today half of the wine is bottled and sold under the Domaine Agnès et Didier Dauvissat label.
– The grapes are sorted when they arrive at the domaine, says Florent Dauvissat. Much is sorted already in the vineyards by the harvesting machine. Rotten or dried grapes are left there. There is a short maceration before we press. Vinification at the domaine is very traditional.
With a small exception, the oaked mini-cuvée of Beauroy, all wines are vinified in the same way. No oak, just stainless steel tanks. For a small part, just two to four barrels each year, of the Beauroy old barrels are used.
– For this cuvée everything is done in barrels, explains Florent Dauvissat. But the barrels are old. The average age is seven years. The barrels are used to gain some weight and aromas. We are also experimenting with a new village Chablis cuvée where we use both stainless steel tanks and old barrels.
– Today it is very difficult to find vineyards to buy. Petit Chablis and Chablis vineyards are still possible to find, but they don’t come cheap. One hectare of village Chablis will cost you 100 000 euros. For me, who arrived at the domaine five years ago, it is impossible to find any premier or grand cru. If you know the right people you might be able to find some premier cru, but the price for a hectare would be around 400 000 euros.
Most of the village Chablis vines are located in Fyé. There is also a small parcel – half a hectare – in Courgis, about ten minutes southwest of Chablis. The vines, facing south on clay and limestone soil, were planted in 1987. With an annual production of 11 000 bottles this is the main cuvée of Domaine Agnès et Didier Dauvissat. The premier cru accounts for 6000 bottles annually and the Petit Chablis only for 5000 bottles.
The premier cru Beauroy is located to the immediate northeast of Beine. Next to the D965 road there is a pond, Étang de Beine. On the opposite side of the pond there is a slope where you’ll find the three premier crus that may be bottled as Beauroy – Côte de Savant, Troesmes and Beauroy itself. All three sub-climats may me labelled as Beauroy, but only wines entirely from Côte de Savant or Troesmes may be labelled as such.
– All three climats are different, says Florent Dauvissat. Still, you have to be very experienced at tasting in order to tell the difference. The terroir is slightly different, but they are all three on the same slope. But they do not cover the whole slope. There are some parcels between the sub-climats which are classified as village Chablis. I am not sure why, but it was done by the INAO a long time ago.
All of the Beauroy at Domaine Agnès et Didier Dauvissat comes from Côte de Savant. This is the part of the slope which is right in front of the pond.
– The pond definitely has an impact on the microclimate, says Florent Dauvissat. The slope gets a lot of sun, but the pond has a slightly cooling effect, which means the ripening is a bit slower.
© 2016 Ola Bergman