Intense and tensile wines are the calling card here, pure and unadorned by style and consistently high in quality. Indeed, I sometimes think that Louis Michel is the most underrated of Chablis’s great domaines. Certainly, prices remain very reasonable. As usual, certain cuvées stand out… but the overall standard, even for the lower appellations, is regular and high. They come warmly recommended.William Kelley. Wine Advocate
THE WINES – LOUIS MICHEL
2018 Louis Michel Petit Chablis $47 screw cap
Portlandian soils on the right bank plateaux. Very stony topsoil, rich in organic matter. Fine limestone earth. Vines with an average age of 15 years.
2018 Louis Michel Chablis $64 screw cap
These vines are situated in the heart of the historic vineyard. The various soils date back to the Kimmeridgian period, with relatively deep clay loam, containing marl and marine fossils. Quite rich in limestone. The vines have an average age of more than 35 years.
Bright, fresh, peachy, flinty, and raring to go. Cool flavour, but good ripeness, brine and green olive, some savoury yoghurt sort of stuff in there too. Like this. Going glass to glass is effortless. 93 points.Gary Walsh, The Wine Front October 2019
2017 Premiers Crus
These Montmain vines were gradually replanted between 1983 and 1989. The four vineyards are spread along a clay hillside known to be sensitive to spring frosts, so they need extra attention at that time. Kimmeridgian left bank soils of hard limestone with a clay base. The soil is quite deep in some places, and the vines have an average age of 22 years.
The 2017 Chablis Montmains 1er Cru is very elegant in this vintage. Deep and powerful yet also wonderfully refined, the 2017 opens up beautifully in the glass. The stony quality that is such a signature of this site is woven into a core of expressive fruit. This is a wine of great purity; it is exquisite, understated and polished. The Montmains is the most finessed of the three wines in this sector (the other two being understated and quiet). 92 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
The 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Montmain reveals aromas of green apple, spring flowers and wet stones. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, ample and supple, with a succulent, open-knit core, juicy acids and a precise finish. It doesn’t have the tension and density of the best vintages of Montmain, but it’s a charming effort that will deliver plenty of near-term pleasure. 90 points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate May 2019
This has great, expressive peaches with yellow-citrus nuances. Very expressive and nicely ripened fruit aromas here. The palate has a very silky, gently creamy feel with attractive fresh fruit. Supple and so drinkable now. 91 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
Two parcels, planted 10 years apart. Kimmeridgian left bank soils of hard limestone in a clay base; very stony, shallow ground. Vines with an average age of 35 years.
The 2017 Chablis Forêts 1er Cru is powerful and explosive, with a captivating mélange of bright citrus fruit and stony mineral-inflected tones. Citrus peel, white flowers, crushed rocks and white pepper add aromatic explosiveness to this finely sculpted, chiseled Chablis from Louis Michel. In 2017, the Fôrets is a real stand out. 94 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
Aromas of Meyer lemon, mandarin, warm biscuits, beeswax and dried white flowers introduce the 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Forêts, a medium to full-bodied, ample and satiny wine with an enveloping attack, succulent acids and a pure, elegantly saline finish. This is a dramatic but controlled Forêts that’s textural but precise. 92 points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate May 2019
The limestone here is a guiding influence with fresh lime and green-mango aromas, as well as wet, chalky stones. The palate has a very fresh and composed feel with supple, fleshy fruit and a nicely composed finish. Good depth here. Drink now. 92 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
“The sashimi of Chablis – pure, clean, elemental. Never any oak, this is as energetic and pure as Chablis can get. The wines are steely and bright when young, but age gorgeously for years and decades. The holdings are phenomenal, from Grands Crus Grenouilles, Vaudésir and Les Clos to expressive Premiers Crus like Montée de Tonnerre, Forêt and Montmains.The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste on Louis Michel
Same soils, vine age and winemaking as Séchets, which used to be blended into Vaillons. Now, this generally features parcels from the tiny climats of Chatains, Roncières and Mélinots.
The 2017 Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru is dense and powerful in the glass. Notes of hard candy, almond and lemon confit come together in a wine of tremendous follow-through. A creamy mouthfeel leads into the rich, textured finish. All of that density builds into an effortless crescendo of aromas, flavors and textures. This is terrific. 93 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
Michel’s 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons is performing very well from bottle, offering up a classy bouquet of crisp white peach, orange zest, spring flowers, fresh pastry and oyster shells. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, ample and broad, with tangy underlying acids, good concentration and tension at the core, and a long, saline finish. This is likely to prove one of the more immediate premiers crus in the range this year, as is often the case. 92 points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate August 2019
A very flinty nose with attractive yellow and white-peach aromas and a lemon and grapefruit edge, too. The palate has a very sleek and composed feel with such seamless and focused style. Very linear, plush and smoothly ripe. Drink or hold. 93 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
This parcel is located on the top of the slopes, with clay loam on the surface and plenty of limestone. Vertical roots plunge deep into the ground. The vines have an average age of more than 50 years.
The 2017 Chablis Butteaux Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru is truly fascinating. In this vintage, the Vieilles Vignes is airy and lifted, with its weight and power more implied than overtly stated. Citrus peel, white flowers, mint, crushed rocks and white pepper give the 2017 a striking aromatic top register. This is such a gorgeous wine. 94 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
A formidable rendition of this reliably superb cuvée, Michel’s 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux Vieilles Vignes wafts from the glass with a complex but reserved bouquet of fresh peach, crisp yellow apple, iodine, mandarin oil and paraffin wax. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep, dense and concentrated, with a racy spine of acidity cloaked in vibrant fruit, concluding with a long, searingly saline finish. This is well worth seeking out. 94 points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate August 2019
Located on the right bank of the river Serein – as with the grands crus – the Montée de Tonnerre is the most prestigious of all the Chablis premiers crus. The domaine grows fruit on a total of four hectares which were planted in 1974. The soil is Kimmeridgian from the right bank; it’s sticky and features marl with marine fossils, rich in limestone pebbles. Vines with an average age of more than 40 years.
Lemon butter and preserved lemon tang and bite, peppermint and white flowers. It’s got river pebble grip and smooth glide of fruit and leesy richness, but keeps itself trim while delivering length and flavour. It tasted better after leaving it open to settle for a day, which is a good sign. 94 points.Gary Walsh, The Wine Front May 2020
The 2017 Chablis Montée de Tonnerre 1er Cru is gorgeous. Sweet, perfumed and light on its feet, the 2017 possesses striking aromatic intensity and nuance. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint, white pepper and chamomile add layers of nuance to a super-refined Chablis that conveys energy and finesse – the two key signatures of this great premier cru site. 94 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
This has such intense wet-chalky aromas with lemon curd and white nectarines. The nose is quite tightly wound for now. The palate has a smooth, sleek and very dense feel. Compact, with great weight and refined power. Plenty of potential here. Try from 2022. 93 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
Chablis’ Fourchaume vineyard is spread over 3km, with another small area in the valley where the grands crus are found. It is here, in the small enclave of Vaulorent, that Louis Michel has just under one acre of vines which the family planted in 1963. Relatively deep Kimmeridgian soils with limestone pebbles enclosed in clay-textured marl with marine fossils. Relatively deep soil.
The 2017 Chablis Vaulorent 1er Cru is dense, rich and ample in feel. Chamomile, dried herbs, earthy notes and orchard fruit come together in a muscular, powerful Chablis built on textural breadth. Powerful and resonant in the glass, the 2017 shows superb depth. The 2017 is a Chablis of effortless intensity. 93 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
The 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume—which hails, as usual, from the lieu-dit Vaulorent that neighbors Les Preuses—is lovely, wafting from the glass with notes of white peach, dried flowers, Meyer lemon and honeycomb that, of all the Michel premiers crus, approaches the closest to grand cru range. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, ample and multidimensional, with good depth and density and a pure, stony finish. 92-94+ points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate September 2018
This is a very rich and ripe nose with abundant yellow-fruit aromas; mangoes and peaches take center stage. The palate has a very supple, succulent and fresh feel with round and fleshy peaches and glossy smoothness, ahead of some chalky resolve. Drink or hold. 92 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
2017 Grands Crus
Situated at the far end of the valley, Louis Michel’s parcel of Vaudésir was planted between 1955 and 1968, over five stages. Kimmeridgian soil of limestone pebbles embedded in clay-textured marl with marine fossils. Vines with an average age of 45 years.
The 2017 Chablis Vaudésir Grand Cru is soft, open and quite inviting. This is an especially open-knit, silky grand cru that will drink well essentially upon release. There is lovely palate weight and density, as well as quite a bit more richness that will develop over time – but it would not be a crime to open a bottle young. Dried flowers, orchard fruit and spice come together in this harmonious, approachable Chablis. 94 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
Bursting with aromas of white flowers, lilac, fresh peach and orange, the 2017 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir is full-bodied, satiny and caressing, with an elegantly fleshy but precise palate and a fragrant, saline finish. This is also showing well and is well worth seeking out. 93 points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate August 2019
This parcel is on the north-facing section of the valley and is a truly stunning wine in 2017. Such fine and fresh, white-peach and lemon-curd aromas with a gently spicy edge. The palate has such purity and weight and beautifully composed and pristine, fleshy fruit, in the white-nectarine spectrum. Exceptional wine. Drink or hold. 96 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
Located halfway up the hillside, in the heart of the vineyard, Louis Michel’s 1.2-acre parcel is split into two: one half was planted in 1967 and the other half was replanted in 2000. Kimmeridgian soil of limestone pebbles encased in a clay texture, marl with oyster fossils. Relatively deep soil with plenty of limestone on a very steep slope. Vines with an average age of 40 years.
The 2017 Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru is quite powerful and dense in 2017. Accordingly, this uncharacteristically rich and deep wine is going to need at least a few years to truly come into its own. 95+ points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media January 2020
The 2017 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is the most reserved wine in the range, but its quality is already more than apparent. Unfurling in the glass with scents of citrus oil, green apple and iodine and framed by a deft touch of smoky reduction, it’s full-bodied, deep and broad-shouldered, with immense concentration, a multidimensional but tight-knit core, racy underlying acids and a long, searingly mineral finish. This will demand some patience, but it will be worth it. 95+ points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate August 2019
This nails the sort of prowess and showy style that defines this cru. The nose is so glossy and ripe with peach and lemon brulée. Such fleshy texture on the palate with underlying minerality that holds the finish so long and deep. Superb balance, depth and concentration. Mouth-filling and very approachable. Such is the fleshy richness here. Drink or hold. 95 points.Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com August 2019
“This is a wine of power, energy and breadth. It’s still an infant, but you can sense its density and power quietly building like water behind a dam.”Andrew Jefford on ’16 Montée de Tonnerre
Also available in limited quantities….
The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux Vieilles Vignes had only been bottled two weeks before I tasted it, but even in its reserved state it was showing very well, offering up aromas of green apple, white flowers, nutty reduction and iodine. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with good tension and structure. This is one 2016 that will have some upside potential. 91+ points.William Kelley, Wine Advocate September 2018
This is a wine of power, energy and breadth, made from 3ha of vines in this fine right bank site just south of the grands crus. Like Michel’s village Chablis it’s still an infant, but you can sense its density and power quietly building like water behind a dam. Elemental, brooding notes reminiscent of plant sap and ground stone lurk in that resonant, aromatic inarticulacy, yet its mute force succeeds in seeming concentrated, close-grained and sheer in the mouth. 95 points.Andrew Jefford, Decanter Magazine June 2018
Showing the purity that’s typical of Guillaume Michel’s style – oak is rarely if ever used – this superb wine comes from a single four-hectare parcel. Saline, yet showing the richness of the right bank with a stony bite and layers of flavour. 96 points.Tim Atkin MW, Gourmet Traveller WINE April 2016
A warmer site with higher clay content. This has an exotic array of tropical fruits with strong white peaches and a hint of praline. The palate rolls out smooth and fleshy fruit with a pithy, slightly grippy texture. Pastry and hints of orange marmalade to close. Drink or hold. 92 points.Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com September 2018
100% on the north-facing side. A fresher wine from this warm Grand Cru site. Very attractive gently reductive nectarines and mangoes. Sweetly perfumed and full of energy. Mouthwatering. The palate has a very powerful, very composed and concentrated core of exotic fruits. Succulent. A joyride! Drink now. 93 points.Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com September 2018