About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Domaine Laroche - Pure Chablis

It had been well over due to make my way back to Chablis and visit Domaine Laroche. After a leisurely drive from Provins across to Chablis and along the gentle slopes that are home to the Grand Cru vineyards I found my way to the winery and offices of Laroche.
The name and the wines of Domaine Laroche are virtually synonymous with Chablis. For more than 160 years, the Laroche family has been dedicated to producing top quality wines from the Chablis region. The history of Laroche in Chablis dates back to 1850, when Jean Victor Laroche purchased his first parcel of land. In 1967, Michel Laroche the fifth generation, joined his father Henri in the family business at the age of 21. Convinced of the appellation’s potential for high-quality wines, over the next 20 years Michel expanded the companies land holdings, taking their six hectares in 1967 to nearly 100 hectares today of prime Chablis vineyards. 


Domaine Laroche vineyards are spread across the entire region, including 6 hectares of Grands crus, 29.66 hectares of Premiers crus, 63.02 hectares of Chablis, plus 2.25 hectares of Petit Chablis. Michel passionately believes that the best wine can only be made using the finest grapes. His approach to viticulture is to create optimal conditions to achieve top quality fruit - purity and typicity being the heart of the Domaine Laroche philosophy.
Grégory Viennois, the new technical director at Laroche, along with his team, shares this view, working in tune with nature, encouraging low yields and natural ecology in order to produce fruit that is true to its vineyard origins.
The gentlest methods are used in the winery to protect the fruit’s natural characters and maintain the purest expressions of each vineyard site. Fermentation is usually carried out in stainless-steel tanks at 15° to 18°C, except for the premiers and grands cru wines, which are partly fermented in 225-liter barrels in order to impart delicate oak flavour and additional oxygen. Also part of Michel’s goal to retain purity and minerality in his wines, he was the first Burgundian producer, back in 2001, to change to screw-cap closures, even for his grand cru wine.

In 1985, Michel bought L’Obédiencerie, a former monastery in the village of Chablis in which monks had made the first wines in Chablis as early as the ninth century. In this historic Chablis monument, which itself represents a part of the history of this prestigious vineyard region, he installed a series of magnificent aging cellars and his offices. At Domaine Laroche one of their main efforts concentrates on continuing to improve quality through controlled yields, the installation of modern, high-performance equipment, and the work of a skilled and dedicated team both in the vineyards and in the winery.
Chardonnay can be a vigorous variety that can require careful fruit-quantity control. Exceptional vine diversity is preserved through Domaine Laroche’s massal selection. Massal selection is the visual selection and propagation of robust vines which are believed to have a diverse genetic base.


The aromatic diversity coming from their older vines explains the wide range of aromas displayed in Domaine Laroche wines. In order to achieve this complexity, grapes are tasted before harvesting to control the level of ‘aromatic ripeness’ that appears after the physiological ripeness is measured in the laboratory.
To help better understand these subtle difference and complex characters - I had the opportunity to be guided through a range of these diverse and dynamic Chablis wines, which included the; Saint Martin 2012, Les Vaudevey 1er Cru 2009, Les Beauroys 1er Cru 2009, Fourchaumes VV 1er Cru 2009, Les Bouguerots Grand Cru 2009 (which was a rare treat) and finishing off in style with the Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2008. Just as a conductor brings out the best in a finely tuned orchestra - so does the team at Domaine Laroche achieve the same sublime sensory experience with each parcel and the finished crafted wine.
The grapes that come from their premiers and grands crus vineyards are sorted by hand at the entrance of the winery. Low-pressure pneumatic wine presses are used to respect and maintain the quality of the grapes. The juice is usually cleared between 12 and 24 hours to separate the largest particles that may compromise the wine’s purity.

Fine particles, however, are retained, as they can feed the wine during winemaking and add additional flavour complexity to the wines. Grégory believes that minerality potential relies on dry extract more than acidity, so great attention is paid to fine lees during aging. The Petit Chablis and Chablis are typically bottled in April, while the Premiers and Grands Crus are given 11 to 14 months to reach their full maturation. I have already made a promise to myself - not to leave it so long before returning to both Chablis and to this simply outstanding winery and team of people.

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