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Domaine Bessin-Tremblay

With 2021 Cote d'Or whites non-existent because of spring frosts,
it is time to beat the rush to Chablis.


Jean-Claude and Romain Bessin-Tremblay have been lauded by the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley as an estate “that belongs among Chablis's top half-dozen domaines.” Jean-Claude originally trained as an architect. However after inheriting his father-in-law’s vines in 1989, he and his wife Evelyne have been quietly working away in the sleepy hamlet of La Chapelle Vaupelteigne. He has since been joined by his son, Romain, and together they are bringing the domaine into the limelight. Vineyards are hand-harvested while fermentation takes place in neutral wood and tank on the lees, for as many as 18 months, to ensure their Chardonnay shows off the purest precision and concentration. They make wines with great soul and character.

It is often said that a producer is best judged by their most basic, or village level, wine.  

In this case the Bessin-Trembley Chablis VV is drawn from three hectares on the steep slopes opposite Fourchaume, Bessin’s flagship cuvée is blended from six parcels of the Domaine’s oldest villages-level vines in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne. The bulk of these vines were planted between 1950 and 1974, across both Kimmeridgian marl and Portlandian soils of varying exposures.

The grapes were whole-bunch pressed, wild-fermented and aged for 18 months in a temperature-controlled tank with a small amount of neutral oak involved. It’s intense, mineral, and finely saline, with a compact, rocky structure to balance the classic old vine concentration and a twist of skin tannin on the long finish. Magic.

Chablis VV 2020 - $35
"Beautiful, perfumed aromas of stone fruit and citrus announce the wine before the crunchy palate texture and acid verve drive it to an utterly satisfying finish."

Chablis VV 2019 - $39
91 pts- RP:  Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2019 is a defined white wine. On the nose there are aromas of crisp green apple, pastry cream, white flowers and lime. The palate is medium-bodied, defined and precise, with acidic and chalky notes. Saline finish.

Chablis Montmains 2020 - $45
92 pts WA: "Exhibiting aromas of citrus zest apple blossom crisp orchard fruit almonds and freshly baked bread the 2020 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains is medium to full-bodied satiny and seamless with a racy spine of acidity fine depth at the core and a penetrating saline finish. It's one of the more demonstrative premiers crus in the range.  

Chablis Montmains 2019 - $59
93 pts BH: "A slightly riper nose displays notes of pear, apple, petrol, quinine and an interesting white pepper hint. The more elegant if a bit less concentrated flavors exude a beguiling minerality on the pure, refined and markedly dry finale that evidence some youthful austerity along with fine depth and persistence. Lovely. 2025+"

Chablis Fourchaume 2020 - $55
The Bessin-Tremblay Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume comes from one of the most well-known vineyards in Chablis, proving yet again why this patch of dirt is so lauded.

Domaine Bessin-Tremblay's portion is relatively small, at 1.15 hectares, with vines planted between 1959 and 1971 (yes, they are very old). Around 30% old oak is used for the wine, creating a pure expression of Chablis with its oyster shell, saline and white flower characters.

The structure and persistent length adds layers of enjoyment on top of this complex and captivating wine that isn't even showing its best yet, so be patient.

Chablis Fourchaume 2019 - $59
94 pts WS: "Clean, precise and expressive, this white exudes fresh lemon, apple, floral, lanolin and mineral aromas and flavors. Harmonious and leaves a mouthwatering impression, with the essence of lemon and stone. Approachable now, yet should age gracefully. "

Chablis La Foret 2020 - $55
93 pts WA: "Mingling aromas of citrus zest green apple and white peach with notions of nutmeg and white flowers Bessin's 2020 Chablis 1er Cru La Forêt is medium-bodied satiny and incisive with racy acids and a bright saline profile. Beautifully balanced it will offer a broad drinking window."

Chablis La Foret 2019 - $59
93 pts WA: "Bright and charming, Bessin's 2019 Chablis 1er Cru La Forêt mingles notions of white flowers, lemon and apple with hints of beeswax and oyster jus. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, with a tightly wound, concentrated core, bright acids and a chalky finish, it's a lovely wine. Drink: 2023-2040."

Chablis Valmur 2020 - $85
The Bessin-Tremblay Chablis Grand Cru Valmur absolutely shines, demonstrating the brilliant quality of the terroir and the considered skills of the winemakers.

Vines for the Valmur range in age from relative babies (planted in 2000) to old but sprightly (planted in 1947), which helps to aid the complexity of the wine. Stainless steel and neutral oak help to elevate the fruit, showing peach, citrus and blossom with some pleasant creaminess and minerality.

For a grand cru Chablis, this is an incredibly low price, providing immense value for money and a drinking experience that will be rewarded by some patience.

96 pts WA: "The 2020 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur is another reference point wine from Bessin, unwinding in the glass with aromas of citrus zest, fresh peach, white flowers, oyster shell, beeswax and blanched almonds. Full-bodied, satiny and layered, with racy acids and a taut, concentrated, impressively chiseled profile, it concludes with a long, iodine-inflected finish."


Chablis Valmur 2018 Magnum - $165
94 pts WA: "The 2018 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur has turned out brilliantly. Unusually demonstrative for a young Valmur chez Bessin, it bursts with aromas of citrus oil, apple blossom, crisp orchard fruit and wet stones. Medium to full-bodied, round and fleshy, it misses some of the cut and tension of a top vintage, but its charming, open-knit profile means that it will offer considerable near-term appeal."

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mark.royer@courtierwines.com
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Richmond, CA 94801
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