Chablis’ Stealth Premier Cru

Several years after Bernard Billaud returned to his family’s domaine in 1991, he was quoted as saying: “The estate made good wine beforehand, but it lacked class, it was not sufficiently ethereal and delicate. It was also my father’s wish to improve the quality, but he did not have the technology. I finally decided to start afresh.”

After 25 years of painstaking labor, the domaine is now on the short list of Chablis’ greatest growers, including Raveneau and Dauvissat.  To be sure, the domaine’s ascension under Bernard was not limited to the domaine’s Grands Crus.

A case in point is the special villages cuvée, Tête d’Or. Like Vincent Dauvissat with his Chablis and Petit Chablis, Bernard exploited an unclassified—but special—terroir to fashion a Chablis of premier cru quality.

The Secret Sauce 

The secret to the Tête d’Or cuvée’s depth is the location of its vines: a single plot lying at the foot of the great Montée de Tonnerre premier cru. As a result, it shares the same pure Kimmeridgian soil and an almost identical exposure.

As it customarily has, the 2014 Tête d’Or reflects the richness and intensity, along with the minerality, of the domaine’s Montée de Tonnerre bottlings. The Faiveley family—which acquired the Domaine just before the 2014 harvest—told Allen Meadows that they maintained the domaine’s classic winemaking technique.

And so, the domaine’s trademark very cold fermentation continues to capture the primary aromas, and extended lees aging to express this terroir with nuance and finesse.  And it’s no surprise that the 2014 vintage—which had near-perfect weather conditions in August and September—is a knockout.  It’s just the sort of performance that has wine critics (and us) salivating at its depth, length, and classicism. 

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