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Domaine Bernard Defaix

“Buy this without question.” [Morris]—Fine Value Organic Chablis from an Outstanding Vintage
Domaine Bernard Defaix
Chablis is in a good place. Like the rest of Burgundy, the cellars are full after good yields in ’22 and better than good yields in ’23. From this latter harvest just passed, people are telling stories of fruit falling off the back of trucks as they made their way to the winery and the streets of Chablis being covered in grapes and juice! Some have even suggested that this was done intentionally, as the vines carried yields well above the legal limits!

To get back to the current releases, the quality of this grower’s 2022 wines is seriously impressive. We loved the delicacy of Defaix’s 2021s, but the new wines are next level. Sometimes, you’ve got to pick a favourite. Sure, it was another warm and sunny year, but unlike 2020, it wasn’t dry, which has made a staggering difference. Tasting the wines from the top growers, you would be hard-pressed to guess that it was a sunny vintage. Even if the wines are generous and intense, they have great brightness, terroir expression and infectious energy. In short, Didier and Sylvain Defaix’s ’22 Chablis are slap-bang in the classic, mineral-laden house style but with an extra degree of fruit generosity.

We are sometimes lucky enough to taste some older Defaix vintages when we visit, and this year, we drank a Vaillons 1995 and a Côte de Léchet 1989. Both were superb. Given how delicious and approachable this grower’s wines are on release, it may surprise people that it’s only with 10 years or more bottle age that the wines of Domaine Bernard Defaix start to peak. If you can hold some bottles in good condition (even the basic Chablis for 5 to 10 years), you will be amply rewarded!

The Wines

Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis 2022

Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis 2022

Screwcap. Certified organic. The lion’s share of Defaix’s Petit Chablis is drawn from a parcel of Kimmeridgian-based soil, unlike most Petit, which generally comes from the lower-lying sites on Portlandian limestone. But, it’s not necessarily the type of limestone, but more the location, that makes the difference. This small parcel is very well situated on the slopes above Milly and Vaillons; in recent years, two small parcels in Poinchy and Beines have been added to the roster to flesh out some volume.

“Grown on kimmeridgian soil above Vaillons. Pretty pale yellow. The fruit has a slight yellow character as well, a ripe Petit Chablis but not one of the over opulent ones we saw in 2018 and 2019. A little bit of almond paste behind, very good acidity, another smart wine from Didier Defaix. Sun on the stones at the back. Good length.”
88 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“Less impact, more airy but rather complex too – it’s a nice aromatic invitation. Direct, mineral, growing in intensity – hmm, there’s salinity and even a little licorice too. Excellent, possibly great PC!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis 2022
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 2022

Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 2022

Screwcap. Defaix’s village Chablis is drawn from four parcels of mature, 30-plus-year-old vines situated around Milly and Poinchy on the left bank of the Serein River. The wine ferments spontaneously and ages on fine lees for 10 months in glass-lined tanks. Compared to the wine above, the older vines translate to more character, depth and classical restraint—not to mention supersized minerality and ozone salinity. It’s a ripe, poised and vibrantly fresh Chablis with juicy nectarine, mixed citrus fruit and stony, pithy freshness running the length of the palate. A terrific, super seductive Chablis and another outstanding-value wine from Domaine Bernard Defaix. We encourage you to take Jasper’s advice! 

“Complete harmony, a certain amount of nuance, lifted finish thanks to acceptable acidity. Bottled July. Pale lemon colour, a little more flesh on the nose, pleasingly rounded, very stylish. Buy this without question. With time in the glass the Chablis minerality shows as well as the pleasing flesh.”
89 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“More open again, clean and mineral with a little inviting energy too. Larger scale, certainly not a direct wine to start, but one with a lot of minerality. Lovely texture and volume here – again with a peak of finishing flavour that’s full of salinity – simply excellent Chablis too!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 2022
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022

Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022

Screwcap. Much like the rest of Burgundy, Chablis’ finest vineyards have (for better or worse) become synonymous with a symbolic grower. This is the case with the Côte de Léchet and Domaine Bernard Defaix. With eight hectares of vines, the domaine is the largest holder within this 1er Cru, and its cellars sit at the base of the Léchet hill. Didier Defaix is, therefore, the vineyard’s emblematic vigneron (and the site’s only certified-organic grower). A quarter of the fruit fermented and matured in old, neutral barrels (which previously housed Defaix’s old-vine Reserve Léchet bottling).

“Five star wine. Mid lemon colour, the bouquet has fineness here. Wonderful vibrations, mostly white fruit, a sensation of white pebbles in a white soil. Delicate but with a fine backbone and excellent length. Iodine finish. Not a wine to gulp but to take time over. Drink over 2027-2035.”
92-94 points Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022 (1500ml)

Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022 (1500ml)

Screwcap. Much like the rest of Burgundy, Chablis’ finest vineyards have (for better or worse) become synonymous with a symbolic grower. This is the case with the Côte de Léchet and Domaine Bernard Defaix. With eight hectares of vines, the domaine is the largest holder within this 1er Cru, and its cellars sit at the base of the Léchet hill. Didier Defaix is, therefore, the vineyard’s emblematic vigneron (and the site’s only certified-organic grower). A quarter of the fruit fermented and matured in old, neutral barrels (which previously housed Defaix’s old-vine Reserve Léchet bottling).

“Five star wine. Mid lemon colour, the bouquet has fineness here. Wonderful vibrations, mostly white fruit, a sensation of white pebbles in a white soil. Delicate but with a fine backbone and excellent length. Iodine finish. Not a wine to gulp but to take time over. Drink over 2027-2035.”
92-94 points Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2022 (1500ml)

“A delicious range of wines from Didier in 2022 – and some of the entry wines are completely delicious!” Bill Nanson, The Burgundy Report

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Read more about this producer The 2022s of Domaine Jaeger Defaix Wine Traveller Diaries: Chablis