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Domaine Samuel Billaud is located in the well-established Chablis region in the far north of Burgundy and, since its foundation in 2009, has been on the watch list of every serious Chablis fan. Why? Because Samuel is producing wine of extreme finesse, showcasing the best of what Chablis has to offer. He knows the region inside out and has an intimate understanding of its signature style.
What the critics say:
“We should see him…at the top of Chablis producers alongside…Raveneau and Vincent Dauvissat.” – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, 08/16
“This was a fantastic set of wines from Billaud that mostly triumphed over the numerous obstacles Mother Nature threw in the way. One can speculate whether he would have been able to achieve such quality had he still vinified the wines in the temporary facility he occupied beforehand—I think not. That should take nothing away from a skilled and experienced winemaker whose approach I think is spot on, in particular his assiduous use of used barrels that do not impede upon the terroir expression and a judicious use of reduction that lends complexity without dictating the taste. The 2015s and 2016s might have been born under trying circumstances, but with the new winery up and running, who knows what brilliant wines lie around the corner.” – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, August 2017.
“Samuel Billaud noted that 2016 “gave us very tiny quantities but much better quality than I imagined. After an up and down growing season where we were seriously hammered by frost that cost us, at least in certain sectors, the totality of the crop. Seriously, I had a few parcels where I didn’t even bother to send a picking team. I chose to begin the harvest on the 27th of September and picked as fast as we could as the acidities were declining rapidly. Happily the fruit was relatively clean though there was some sorting required. Yields varied between zero and 40 hl/ha, which is quite a difference! On average the potential alcohols were around 12.5% though I did chaptalize a few cuvées. As to the style of the 2016s, they are less obviously marked by the elevated heat compared to say that 2015s. I would liken them to 2012 or a less concentrated version of 2014.” Billaud remarked that all of the 2016 grands crus were still completing their malos and thus were not presented.” – Allen Meadows, Burghound. Sept 2017.
An overtly fruity, fresh and ripe nose reflects moderate amounts of typical Chablis character. The round, rich and generously proportioned flavors possess better depth and length on the reasonably precise and saline-inflected finale. This too should drink well young. 87-89 pts – Allen Meadows, Burghound.
The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons Vieilles Vignes comes from 70-year-old vines raised only in stainless steel. I like the aromatics here…this has a sense of purpose with vivid scents of orange zest and a touch of lychee. The palate is tensile right from the start thanks to that killer line of acidity. There is great depth here and the harmonious finish feels assured and elegant. Great potential and for me this is a serious step up from the Chablis Village and certainly worth the few extra dollars. 91-93 pts – Neil Martin, Wine Advocate.
The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu comes from three different types of vineyards at different altitudes and vine age that are blended together in the vineyard. It has a slightly austere bouquet with fine delineation: granite and flint scents. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity and is very precise and harmonious, with hints of quince and apricot toward the pretty finish. This is another very elegant wine from Samuel Billaud. 91-93 pts – Neil Martin, Wine Advocate.
(from a .58 ha holding). Here too there is a whiff of mineral reduction sitting atop the ever-so-mildly exotic aromas of white peach, citrus rind, spice and enough classic Chablis character to be persuasive. There is notably better energy to the bigger, richer and more concentrated flavors that coat the palate with dry extract while also delivering superior depth and persistence. This is lovely stuff and worth checking out. Sweet Spot, 90-92 pts – Allen Meadows, Burghound.
The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Sechet comes from 65-year-old vines and, like the other crus, was only matured in tank. It has a steely bouquet with cold wet limestone and light sea spray scents that are very well defined. The palate is precise and focused, quite elegant and feminine with orange zest, mango and hints of dried pineapple toward the saline finish. On the aftertaste there is a touch of stem ginger that lingers long in the mouth. Superb—one of the best Séchets that I have tasted from barrel. 92-94 pts – Neil Martin, Wine Advocate.
A ripe but cooler and more restrained nose is comprised by the pure essence of pear, apple, iodine and lemon rind. The supple but highly energetic flavors possess a sleek mouth feel and ample minerality that really emerges on the clean, focused and attractively dry finish. Good stuff and worth a look. Sweet Spot , 90-92 pts – Allen Meadows, Burghound.
The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre comes from two parcels, one in the titular vineyard and the other in Chapelot, not far from Raveneau. It has quite a stern, focused, flinty bouquet that needs coaxing from the glass. The palate is (again) well balanced with a fine line of acidity. There are subtle notes of white peach and orange zest in situ, although perhaps not quite exuding the persistence of the Mont de Milieu on the finish. Still, this will merit three or four years in bottle. 90-93 pts – Neil Martin, Wine Advocate.
(from a .45 ha holding in both Montée de Tonnerre proper and Chapelot). There is a bit more classic Chablis character present on the lemon zest, white fruit and sea breeze aromas. The attractively textured medium-bodied flavors are more refined but not quite as intense on the less powerful if equally persistent finish. It will be interesting to compare the Mont de Milieu and this once they are in bottle though at present I give a slender edge to the Mont de Milieu as the underlying material seems to be slightly better. 89-92 pts – Allen Meadows, Burghound.