Chablis, Unsurprisingly, Is One of the Most Sought-After Wines in Australia
The wines are generally very fresh, featuring saline minerality and crushed oyster shell characters that we love down under. In short, Chablis wines have an unmatched purity that can only come from Chardonnays produced in the region, and yet still preserve a fantastic value proposition for drinkers and Burgundy collectors alike.
In 2014, Samuel Billaud made a welcomed entrance in the top five producers of the region. He struck out on his own, after the family business Billaud-Simon was sold to Faiveley, a large operator in the Côte-D'Or. Samuel made the wines at the family Domaine for about a decade, and though he was compelled to stick to a family style of wine, it was made with talent.
When Samuel left the family, he cherry picked Chablis' elite plots including Grand Crus "Les Clos," "Vaudésir" and "Les Preuses", and notorious Premier Crus such as "Montée de Tonnerre," "Mont de Milieu," "Séchet," and "Vaillons."
Fast track a few years ahead, and more than ever Billaud is free spirited, making remarkable wines out of his brand new winery in the centre of the village. The style is one of extremely fine-tuned balance of Chablis character and concentrated fruit complexity and texture. The use of oak is clever, only on Grand Crus and Premier Crus "Montée de Tonnerre" and "Mont de Milieu".
CRITICS PRODUCER RATING BELOW
“This was my first tasting with Samuel Billaud in his new winery. Billaud has done a tremendous job in building out his range since he struck out on his own some years ago. What I find most compelling about these wines is how they balance textural richness with energy. That is not so surprising in 2017, as the style of the year leans towards freshness, but it was much harder to achieve in 2018."
ANTONIO GALLONI - VINOUS
"It was too early to taste the full range of 2018s with Samuel Billaud, so his grands crus which were still in barrel with unfinished malolactics will have to wait for a further visit. Yields were high in the generics and alcohol levels came in between 12.5% and a little over 13.”
JASPER MORRIS - INSIDE BURGUNDY
"Samuel Billaud noted that “2018 was exceptional, atypical and a huge surprise, thankfully in the best senses because in contrast to both 2016 and 2017, it gave us generous yields along with fine quality. I chose to begin picking on the 3rd of September and happily we were able to pick quickly as the fruit was so clean. I say this because when we began the harvest the average potential alcohol was around 12% but by the time we finished it had reached 14%, a level that is rarely achieved in Chablis.
Yields were also very good without being excessive as most parcels came in between 60 and 70 hl/ha. What I find interesting about the yields isn’t that we had an excess of bunches because we didn’t. Rather the surprise that I don’t think anyone saw coming was just how much juice was in the berries. This enabled us to press quickly as well because I certainly did not want to press hard for the extra volume due to the fact that the end of the press juice tends to be full of potassium and thus much lower in acidity. As to the style of the wine and while acknowledging that it’s never exactly the same, among recent vintages I would compare 2018 to 2015 as the sunshine is definitely present."
ALLEN MEADOWS - BURGHOUND
TASTING NOTES BELOW.
- PETIT CHABLIS 2018
Billaud's 2018 Petit Chablis offers lovely depth and textural richness at this level, all while maintaining a good bit of freshness as well. Lemon confit and lifted floral notes add a good bit of energy. I very much like the wine's tension and verve, both of which are unusual in 2018. (87–89pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
This comes from the sector of Petit Chablis on top of the hill above Les Clos. Pale yellow, with a fine clean pure and balanced bouquet. The wine fattens out a touch at the finish but has not lost its Chablisian character, offering a stony finish surrounded by a wealth of fruit. Hard to do better. (88pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
- CHABLIS VILLAGE 2018
The 2018 Chablis is silky, nuanced and light on its feet, with lovely textural richness and tons of pure class. Lemon peel, white flowers, mint and crushed rocks are all finely delineated. Here, too, readers will find a wine done in a nervy style for the year. (89–90pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
Samuel Billaud’s Chablis is blended from Les Pargues, Bas de Chapelots and 80 year old vines is Les Quarts, one third of each. Pale in colour, this is impressively chiselled on both nose and palate and has a fine feeling of concentration. It boasts a steely finish, enjoying a perfect fruit and acid balance. (90pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
- CHABLIS 1ER CRU "LES VAILLONS" 2018
The 2018 Chablis Vaillons Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru is shaping up to be a real beauty. Powerful and resonant in the glass, the 2018 is racy, ample and so expressive. Orchard fruit, almond and dried flowers are some of the many aromas and flavors that develop in the glass. Readers will find a powerful, virile Chablis endowed with richness and structure to burn. I can't wait to taste it from bottle. (92–94pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
Located in the middle of Vaillons. A saline touch to the nose, verbena too, with some firm acidity behind and a touch of youthful bitterness. Holds well at the back. The old vines help produce a wine of impressive intensity. (92-94pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
- CHABLIS 1ER CRU "SÉCHETS" 2018
The 2018 Chablis Séchet 1er Cru is creamy and resonant in the glass, with striking textural richness and tons of sheer character. A whole range of mineral and soil-driven inflections give the Séchet much of its distinctive character. Graphite, smoke, and earthy notes linger on the finish. More than anything else, the Séchet is a wine of real substance. (92–94pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
This shows the sunshine somewhat, less obviously Sechets than usual on the nose, while the mouth shows excellent backbone, classic Chablis but with a fleshier, almost buttery coating, which is less typical. Salty butter that is. Good length it must be said. (90-93pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
- CHABLIS 1ER CRU "MONT DE MILIEU" 2018
The 2018 Chablis Mont de Milieu 1er Cru is one of the stand outs in this range. Ample and creamy, the 2018 is so wonderfully inviting, even in the early going. All the elements just come together effortlessly. Orchard fruit, citrus confit, spice, wild flowers and a touch of new oak all grace this super-expressive Chablis. The 2018 was done 80% in tank and 20% in a 450-liter oak barrel. (92–94pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
Clear pale lemon. There is some volume of fruit here, fully ripe and the first to be picked. The front half of the palate is generous with yellow fruit, then it is clear and pure behind, stony and chiselled. Needs more time to come together. Very intense though. Impressive and certainly doesn’t lack concentration. (91-94pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
- CHABLIS 1ER CRU "MONTÉE DE TONNERRE" 2018
In 2018, the Chablis Montée de Tonnerre 1er Cru comes across as quite airy and lifted. The tell-tale citrus peel, flora, mint and crushed rock notes are there, but the 2018 is decidedly weightless in feel. I also see a bit less energy than is the norm, but then again, this is 2018 we are talking about. The Montée de Tonnerre is a blend of fruit from two parcels measuring just 0.60 hectares in total. (91–93pts) - Antonio Galloni - Vinous
We tasted the tank component which will be blended with some barrels later. Bright pale colour, the nose is well balanced and quite discreet. Strict and stylish, with good weight behind, but very much on the mineral end rather than the sun trap style. Very long and pure, extremely successful. (92-95pts) - Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy.
(from a .45 ha holding in both Montée de Tonnerre proper and Chapelot). A softly citrus-infused nose flashes notes of white flower, mineral reduction, tidal pool and quinine hints. The finer if somewhat less concentrated flavors possess evident minerality and a lovely sense of verve while displaying excellent length and very good depth. This promising effort is a combination of finesse and punch. (90-93pts) - Allen Meadows - Burghound
(The Grand Crus will be coming later in 2020, since the bottling occurs usually in Spring, two years after harvest. We're happy to take interest from now since they'll sell very fast.)