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Deep gold in colour with a beautifully evolved and earthy character on the nose, waxy with a hint of butter. Good depth and texture on the palate with great acid that gives the wine superb length.
Les Lys is a 'climat' at the top of the Vaillons 1er Cru plot and takes its name from the fact it used to be owned by the French crown. The vineyards are on Kimmeridgian marl soils and are north facing so the grapes undergo a slow ripening process accumulating delicate aromatic flavours.
2003 was a vintage of extremes in Chablis, with frosts in April followed by an exceptionally hot summer with temperatures up to 41.7°C. Luckily, good water reserves from a wet winter enabled the vines to endure the heat. The grapes were harvested earlier than usual to ensure that there was the correct balance between sugar and acidity.
The grapes were pressed very gently and then underwent a cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks with only natural yeasts. Malolactic fermentation took place then the wine was left to age on its fine lees for four years in tank. During this period there was a monthly bâtonnage (lees stirring). The bâtonnage breaks up the fine lees and releases glycerine which acts as an antioxidant, this is part of what makes the wine age so well. After bottling, the wine was aged for a further six months before release.
Said to be the oldest domaine in Chablis, tracing its origins back to 1610, it is now run by Daniel-Etienne Defaix, 14th generation of the Defaix family. He took over from his father in 1978 and started making wine “as my grandfather had done”. This involved keeping the wine in tank for a protracted period and putting it through a monthly bâtonnage, a practice he retains to this day. “My grandfather’s generation used to keep the wine for so long in order to protect themselves against frost, to ensure they would always have wine to sell,” he explains. Nowadays, this approach is unique in Chablis, and the extended ageing before release gives the wines a lovely evolved character that adds complexity to their freshness.