Christian Moreau’s great, great-grandfather acquired the 0.41 hectare vineyard parcel at the hôpital de Chablis (the hospice) in 1904. Since then, it has been owned exclusively by the family. The south-facing rocky vineyard slope is composed of Jurassic-era kimmeridgien limestone and dense white clay. The vines, which average 28 years old, are pruned aggressively to maintain fruit quality over quantity.
The 2016 vintage saw frost strike parts of Chablis in late April, followed by a devastating hail storm in late May. (Some vineyard parcels lost the entire crop.) June brought rain and the threat of mildew, which Moreau handled with organic measures alone – no chemical fungicides were applied. The winery protected their parcels as best they could, but yield was much lower than usual. Production hovered around half of previous vintages.
Moreau harvests fruit by hand in shallow bins to avoid crushing the grapes, then carries the bins to the winery on a small trailer. Bunches are unloaded by vibration (again, to avoid crushing the berries). After meticulous sorting and gentle pressing, the wine undergoes a cool, slow fermentation in stainless steel. Before bottling, the wine spends 12 months on fine lees in barrel: a small portion sees first or second-fill barrels, the majority goes into older, neutral oak. A rare wine, it is particularly special for its scarcity.
“The 2016 Chablis Grand Cru les Clos des Hospices, the one hectare bought from the Hospices in 1904, has a vivacious and charming bouquet with dried pineapple, nectarine, cold wet stone and a subtle sea spray aroma that is more evident here than on the regular les Clos. The palate is very well balanced with crisp acidity. This is lively and tensile with that marine influence coming to play toward the crisp and focused finish. It is a sophisticated Chablis that should give a couple of decades of drinking pleasure.”
92-94 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2017
“(100% fermented in barrel but now in tank): Pale-medium yellow. The nose offers deeper-pitched yellow peach as well as a more exotic oak sweetness than the estate’s classic Les Clos. Then surprisingly tight and backward on the palate, with the ripe yellow peach and fresh apricot flavours wearing a firm edge of oak. This wine boasts strong material but will need time to absorb its lumber.”
91-94 points, Stephen Tanzer, vinous.com, Aug 2017
“This 12.5 ha domaine is directed by Christian Moreau and his son Fabien, who described the 2016 vintage as “one that hit us with a very difficult growing season where we basically had every problem possible with the exception of oidium. The April frosts though did the most damage. It wasn’t super cold at between -2° and -3° C but it was exceptionally humid and thus when the morning sun arrived the thick ice on the shoots served as quasi-magnifying glasses that focused the sun’s rays and burned the incipient leaves. Worse, even in sectors where the morning sun was blocked, we had a type of shatter. There was a hail storm in May, and June was very wet which galvanized an attack of mildew. Conditions were much better in July through September though there was a bit of sunburn in August. We chose to pick from the 26th of September to the 2nd of October. There really wasn’t much sorting required and potential alcohols were good but not high at between 12 to 12.7% with post-malo pHs of 3.17 to 3.2. Yields though were all over the place, which is to say between 15 and 28 hl/ha though in a few we brought in absolutely nothing at all. As to the style of the 2016s, they are exceptionally rich and powerful wines, in fact they resemble the 2012s more than a little.”
91-94 points, Allen Meadows, Burghound, Oct 2017