For a winemaker dedicated to slow growth, recognition came quickly to Pierrick Laroche. His first vintage was awarded a top-rating of three stars by his homeland’s Guide Hachette, and the following releases were lauded by British MW Rosemary George when she “stumbled” upon them in 2012 at Chablis’ annual post-harvest wine fair.
Pierrick may be something of a “new kid on the block”, but he has a long-term plan for the land under his care. This is Chablis, where terroir is king, and Pierrick knows terroir: he manages vineyard holdings in Petit Chablis, Chablis, and the heart of Maligny’s Premier Cru Homme Mort with incredible care, and has an uncanny understanding of the land’s influence on his wines. His Chablis-classified vines grow in eight parcels covering 30 acres in the Maligny commune, with a few acres planted in the valley of Fontenay. The soils of Maligny are dense and clay-rich, lending a smoky, flinty character the the wines produced there. The vineyards are given every possible advantage, as Pierrick has eliminated the use of chemical applications, ploughs the rows by horse, and tends the vines by hand.
Pierrick bottles only the best of each vintage – year after year, the quality is superb. Fruit is harvested by hand from vines that average 25 years old. Juice was fermented in stainless steel and completed malolactic fermentation before resting sur lie. The distinct minerality of top-tier Chablis is present, along with a rich profile of orchard fruit and tense, crystalline structure. Assertive acidity balances beautifully with a smoky-flint quality from the clay-rich soil.
Almost all of his villages parcels are in the commune of Maligny, averaging thirty years of age and this cuvée is raised in stainless steel. The 2018 AC offers up a pretty bouquet of lemon, apple, flinty minerality, dried flowers and a bit of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and nicely tensile for a 2018, with a good core, fine flinty soil signature, lovely focus and grip and a long, complex and zesty finish. This is very good villages. Drink 2020-2035.
90 points, John Gilman, View from the Cellar, August 2020