Despite losing close to half of their crop due to late frosts, the Defaix’s still count themselves lucky. Numbers are terrible for much of France; most Chablis producers being hit with losses in the vicinity of 80%.
So, volumes are down, prices are relatively stable and what wine is left is, well, excellent. Glass half full. Defaix’s 2020’s are concentrated and fleshy, with high acidities providing a taut backbone and low pHs ensuring natural stability. Certainly an accessible, if long-lived vintage, thrilling with energy, drive and balance.
A return to classicism, the 2020 Petit Chablis is absolutely delightful, and if you think you’re going to taste the difficulties of the vintage, you will be happily mistaken. Aromas of melon, grapefruit, kiwi, white peach, smoke and nettles. Lovely soft round palate, creamy, nutty and with hints of flint and yellow flowers. Washes over the palate with ease, and my first and lasting impression is that finally, finally I have a Chablis, Petit or not, to match with Sydney Rock oysters.
So often the Petit Chablis is richer and fuller than the Chablis, and more often than not better. Thankfully, this is not the case here and the wines complement each other so well. If the Petit Chablis is for oysters then the Chablis is for something richer in the main course. White peach, nectarine, lime and zest, jasmine and flint. Essence of Chablis. Much deeper and tighter than the Petit, with a scarf of savoury spice and minerals. Hinting texture, a touch of salt and tonic like herbs. Brooding and wonderful. Definitely for the main course!