Pierrick Laroche (Domaine des Hâtes)

Pierrick Laroche (Domaine des Hâtes), Chablis, France.

Pierrick Laroche grew up in Maligny, the northernmost village in the Chablis appellation. His father farms 200 hectares of cereals in the outlying hills, and always maintained a few acres of vines to sell the production to the reigning co-op, La Chablisienne. Beginning in 1985, his father applied to the INAO for rights to increase his plantings by about an acre and a half, and did so every year thereafter. He got his degree in oenology at Beaune, did an internship at Villa Maria in New Zealand, and returned home to start life as a grower. He made his first commercial vintage in 2010, just 2,300 bottles, but they garnered him top billing of three stars in France’s wine magazine, the Guide Hachette.

Pierrick’s new cellar is built into the side of a hill, so that from one side of the hill the upper level is the ground floor, while from the other side the lower level is the ground floor. Hence, gravity is utilized. The press is on the upper level, where the grapes are received, and the tanks are on the lower level. His wines are mostly raised in steel (a small amount of wood is used for the top wines), undergo full malolactic, and rest on their lees throughout their élevage.

2015 Petit Chablis
The domain has nearly 12ha of Petit Chablis, classified as such because the limestone tends to be the younger Portlandian rather than the older Kimmeridgian, and as such typically occupies higher sites (Portlandian overlies Kimmeridgian) and has less clay. Pierrick is convinced that his largest parcel of Petit really ought to be classed as Chablis; it makes wine like Chablis and indeed is surrounded by AOC Chablis vines.

2015 Chablis AC
As with the Petit Chablis, the domain has nearly 12ha planted in the Chablis classification, all of it (like the Petit) planted in the Maligny commune except for 1ha in the little valley of Fontenay heading toward the Grand Crus. He has eight parcels ranked Chablis, and the average age of the vines is 25 years.

The 2015 Chablis Villages, matured for 14 months in stainless steel, has a detailed, wet-stone bouquet that unfolds nicely in the glass. The palate is well balanced, with crisp acidity, fine tension and admirable sappiness that keeps the taste buds salivating. I like the uncompromising nature of this Chablis village. This really is quite superb for a village cru. Drink 2017-2025. 90 points, Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, September 2017.

2014 Chablis Les Châtillons
Les Châtillons is located in the valley of Fontenay, to the southeast of Maligny and is the most calcareous of Pierrick’s eight Villages sites. Pierrick’s parcel was planted in 1972-73 and makes for an elegant, long, especially mineral wine and for that reason he bottles it separately. Roughly 15% is aged in wood (both barriques and demi-muids) and this is blended with the steel-aged remainder.

2015 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume l’Homme Mort
The 2015 Chablis 1er Cru l’Homme Mort comes from 35-year-old vines and sees 15 months in 75% stainless steel and 25% wooden barrels. It has a complex and engaging bouquet, with subtle wax and honeysuckle aromas that combine neatly with the cold stone/flint scents. The palate is well balanced with a fine thread of acidity that counterbalances the viscous texture. It is a typical 2015 Chablis: quite rich and opulent and eschewing mineralité for depth and extravagance, and to be honest, it does that with some panache. Drink 2019-2029. 92 points, Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, Sept 2017.