Why is this Wine so Yummy?
“This is one of Chablis’s finest estates, and the domaine deserves to be much better known.”
William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Finding a nonconformist vigneron in Chablis is harder than finding a decent coffee in the French countryside. We’ve been scouring the region for years, seeking out a vigneron who might be trying to shake things up, seeking to redefine what so much of the wine world accepts as authentic Chablis. You know the stuff: flinty, austere, crisp. This style has its place, but it has as much to do with the early harvesting, high yields and machine harvesting that today dominate the region than it does with terroir. Dauvissat and Raveneau have always shown what was possible but where were the others? This was exactly the type of authentic producer we love to drink.
The late Stéphane Moreau (no relation to the other Moreau families in Chablis), was a devotee of Vincent Dauvissat, Didier Dagueneau (who helped him design his idiosyncratic labels), and Nadi Foucault (Clos Rougeard) and offered us basically everything we searched for in quality growers of white Burgundy, starting with a remarkable patrimony of old vines (many parcels 50+ years) in superb terroirs (including Forêts!). Here was a talent that had turned his family Domaine around by reintroducing the old, pre-industrial growing methods to make something truly distinctive and extraordinary.
Don’t be surprised if you have not heard of this producer: the transformation only truly occurred in the last seven years and many writers have yet to become aware of what has occurred here. It has been Allen Meadows who was first to pick up the trail. These are not your brittle, simple ‘Chablis-by-numbers’ wines where acidity is often confused as minerality. Here, the style is borne by low yields and ripe fruit and that crunchy, citric, acid tang of generic Chablis finds itself replaced by an intense, mineral freshness interwoven through pulpy and sexy fruit. We recognise the personality of these wines. We see it in all of the finest, artisanal Burgundy. This makes sense – Moreau’s methods–which include ploughing, organic viticulture, hand harvesting, whole berry pressing, natural yeast fermentation, natural settling and long, slow élevage in large oak–sound identical to the best growers of the Côte de Beaune. Low sulphur is another key to understanding the wines. It’s all very un-Chablis.
The sum of Moreau’s learning, his technique and his vineyards, and now with Virginie’s undertaking, are a set of wines naturally very textural and full of fruit. We believe they possess a purity and intensity of flavour, seldom encountered in Chablis today. Those fruit characters are vivid – intense floral and orchard-fruited barely hiding under a pile of wet stone minerality. The palate is mouth-filling yet finely detailed and coolly refreshing. This is old school Chablis, yet conversely very contemporary. Wines full of that ‘everything old is new again’ flesh and charm. These are charismatic and thought provoking wines, yet remain deliciously drinkable. We love them and look forward to your reaction.
In the Vineyard
Ripe, balanced, fruit from hand tended vineyards is Moreau-Naudet’s mojo. It has 13.5-ha of AC Chablis including a small 1-ha of Les Pargues which has the same exposition as Vaillons and Montmains and more texture and depth than many a Premier Cru. The vines here are, on average, 50-years-old and the wine, which sees some old wood, is bottled separately as a vieilles vignes. Also on the left bank, there are premiers crus in Montmains Stéphane – all flattering fruit and textured richness, a shimmering, rock-hewn Forêts – the rare site that Dauvissat made famous and a refined and steely Vaillons that is a brilliant reflection of that vineyard. On the right bank, Virginie has almost 1-ha in the Raveneau fiefdom of Montée de Tonnerre which makes this the flintiest cuvée. Finally, there is a majestic, silky textured wine made from 0.60-ha in the sheltered Valmur Grand Cru.
Moreau’s methods– include ploughing, organic viticulture, hand harvesting.
In the Winery
Whole berry pressing, natural yeast fermentation, natural settling and long, slow élevage in large oak.
The 2018 Vintage at Moreau-Naudet
Across the board, 2018 was clearly a fleshier year than 2017, yet these wines remain true to Chablis. Unlike the big boys, Moreau didn’t have a large crop to ripen, which allowed the Domaine to hand-pick with precision. Moreau’s 2018s are deep and layered, with juicy freshness and excellent tension through the spine. Importantly—and not a given in 2018—the personality of each vineyard is finely etched throughout the wine. As an addendum to Galloni’s notes below, it might be worth noting that many top vignerons in Burgundy have reported to us that their whites have tightened up in barrel and bottle, and that is the case here. In sum, these 2018s are absolutely delicious—terrific, artisanal white Burgundy .
As we noted with our release of the entry wines earlier in the year, not only has Virginie Moreau kept up the standards set by her late husband Stéphane, she has also made plenty of progress. The vineyards are now managed strictly organically, and Virginie has surrounded herself with a skilful team who share her vision. Frustratingly, her two first vintages in charge were frost-affected, but 2018 was third time lucky—not only was the quality superb, the yields were finally reasonable. Last year also saw Moreau-Naudet promoted to two stars in La Revue du Vin de France—only Raveneau and Dauvissat rate higher in the region. This is a credit to both the legacy of Stéphane Moreau but also to the Domaine’s continued evolution under Virginie Moreau.
Where in the World is Moreau-Naudet?