Meet the Domaine de L'Enclos brothers
With the imminent arrival of the 2018s from Domaine de L’Enclos, their first organically certified vintage, we shine the spotlight on one of Chablis’ most exciting, up-and-coming producers…
The Bouchard family have been in Chablis for generations. Following the sale of their father’s négociant business to Maison Albert Bichot in 2015, Romain and Damien Bouchard set out on their own and created Domaine de L’Enclos. The brothers retained 39 hectares of vineyard that their mother's family had owned, ranging from Petit Chablis through to Grand Cru, an impressive stronghold for two young, relative newcomers. Despite only bottling their first harvest in 2016, the Bouchard brothers are already turning heads with their rich and generous style of Chablis.
Romain and Damien have always cultivated their vineyards organically, an impressive feat in a region which has endured many viticultural challenges in recent years. All of the wines from Domaine de L’Enclos are organically certified from the 2018 vintage, except for their Petit Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru ‘Beauroy’, which will be certified from 2019. Unusually in Chablis, they don't chaptalise. Their organic certification would require organic sugar to be shipped halfway around the world. Instead, “we work hard in the vineyards to achieve low yields in order to ensure we have full ripeness, so no chaptalisation is required", says Romain.
In addition to managing their 39 hectares, Romain and Damien have built an impressive vinification cellar, located in a beautiful old house right in the heart of Chablis. It is five metres underground, spotlessly clean and modern, with many small, stainless steel tanks, meaning all of the various parcels from the vineyards can be vinified separately. All of the grapes are harvested by hand and fermentation takes place using only indigenous yeast. They use only a small amount of sulphur during vinification, just after pressing and when the wines are bottled.
The fruit for the Chablis comes from three areas: Chablis, La Chapelle and Beines, with the vines planted on clay and limestone soils. Following fermentation in stainless steel, the wine is aged on lees for 10 months before bottling. The resulting wine has bright, lifted fruit, waxy with a touch of lemon zest on the nose and creaminess on the palate.
The Premier Cru ‘Beauroy’ is from a single vineyard of 2.4 hectares, called "Côte de Savant”. Planted in 1980, the plot faces south/south-east and lies perpendicular to the Serein valley near Lake Beine, which protects the vines against spring frost. Fermented and aged for 12 months on lees in stainless steel, it has a classic mineral and gunflint profile. Their plot of Premier Cru ‘Montmains’ measures 0.56 hectares. The vines were planted by Romain and Damien’s grandfather in 1971. The soil here is deep and consists of a clay-limestone marl topsoil and Kimmeridgian sub-soil, resulting in powerful and textured wines. Unlike the Premier Cru ‘Beauroy’ which is unoaked, the Premier Cru ‘Montmains’ is aged for 12 months on lees in 1-5 year old oak barrels. It has notes of concentrated ripe yellow fruits and smoke, which are lifted with bright acidity.
The grapes for Grand Cru `Vaudésir` are sourced from a 0.56-hectare single vineyard, which was re-planted in 1991 around a hill, providing the vineyard both north and south exposure. The 0.67 hectares of Grand Cru `Les Clos` were planted in 1964 on classic Kimmeridgian and clay soils. Both Grand Crus are fermented in stainless steel and aged for 12 months in 1-5 year old oak barrels. While young, the Grand Cru ‘Vaudesir’ is layered and intense yet beautifully defined. The Grand Cru ‘Les Clos’ has superb balance and concentration with an elegant purity of fruit.