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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
The Droin 2011 Chablis Montmains highlights pear and lime with their skins and pips prominent. It saturates the palate with an almost delicate infusion of chalk allied to ripe fruit, and finishes with energy, cyanic piquancy, radish-like sizzle, and refreshing primary juiciness. This is likely to perform impressively through 2020 and along the way to pick up additional complexity. ||I have tasted in the small old barrel and storage cellar under Benoit Droin’s family home so often that I was almost taken aback this year to find nobody there and to instead, for the first time, taste from the tanks inside his huge, warehouse-like production facilities immediately across the highway from the grand cru slopes. I wasn’t surprised, though, to find signs of his meticulousness evident even there. And don’t be misled by the dominance of shiny stainless steel (supplemented in any case at all levels by barrels) or the fact that Droin harvests much of his acreage by machine. Taste the wines, and you discover a consummate practitioner who never stops honing his skills. Incidentally, the size of Droin’s facility largely explains why it stays very cold well into the spring and malo-lactic transformation is often delayed, especially in a low-pH, high-malic year like 2012, a few of the young wines from which were therefore still in malo or gaseous and not amenable to assessment on the occasion of my recent visit. Apropos 2012, Droin’s view of this vintage is contrarian. He opines that the September rain came too late to significantly influence (much less kick-start) a last spurt of ripening, believing that after the heat shock of August phenolic maturation and active metabolism never really recovered. “In the final analysis,” he says, “they concentrated from lack of water.” Consistent with that view, he picked his small crop of 2012s a bit earlier than most of the other top growers I visited, to be exact from September 19-30, and nobody could reasonably call any of those wines I tasted the least bit under-ripe. All of the Droin 2012s will, as usual, have been bottled by the end of summer: he is of the opinion that this is how, as he puts it, “to lock in the freshness, fruit and energy” of Chablis, traits that 2012s – and his in particular – certainly possess in spades. Droin began picking on August 30 in 2011 – taking advantage, as he put it, of full ripeness while there was still ample freshness and potential alcohol was still unusually low – and all of the wines were in bottle within a year. Incidentally, Droin is joining the small group of prestigious growers – three of whom, as it happens, are Chablisienne – that are bottling all of their wines using DIAM’s treated re-composite corks (with which he says he began experimenting in 2007 with 375s that now taste significantly fresher than the corresponding, regular cork-closed 750s). “I just wish now that I had started sooner,” he concludes. Wine Advocate.August, 2013
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