The Michel family have been cultivating their passion for tradition and the Chablis terroir since 1850. The winery is situated in the heart of the village, with the 25-hectare vineyard spread over the very first slopes that were discovered by Cistercian monks in the 11th century. Two-thirds of production is designated premier cru, and the vision here revolves entirely around the vineyards. Of the estate’s team of 10, seven people spend the entire year in the fields. It’s 45 years since the family decided to stop making the wine in wooden barrels. Through this philosophy, combined with the limited yields inspired by organic winegrowing techniques, the domaine has developed a worldwide reputation for presenting a pristine image of each of their superb climats.
“I like Chablis to be clean, fresh, precise and go straight to the point, so we make our wines in exactly the same way, with no discrimination between the Petit Chablis to the grands crus,” says Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel.
The wines undergo long temperature-regulated fermentation using natural yeast. This is followed by spontaneous malolactic fermentation. They then spend time in tank on fine lees, with as little manipulation as possible. The Chablis gets six to eight months, premiers crus 12 months and grands crus 16. They undergo long stabilisation at low temperatures and may be fined with bentonite if necessary, followed by light filtration before bottling.
2014 Louis Michel Petit Chablis RRP $41 screwcap
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.
2015 Louis Michel Chablis RRP $45 screwcap
375ml RRP $29
MAGNUM RRP $96
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.
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons RRP $62
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.
(a blend of very old vines and another parcel replanted in 1985): Very shy nose hints at stone fruits. Round and mouthfilling, with ripe stone fruit flavours complicated by a saline edge. In a sunny style, as usual, but from vines picked early. 88-90 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
This is riper still with notes of yellow orchard fruit, citrus blossom, ocean breeze and a hint of iodine. The attractively textured flavours possess both good energy and an appealing salinity before concluding in a finer but not nearly as long or complex finale. This is certainly good but the old vines Butteaux offers another dimension. 89-91 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux RRP $62
Four parcels of land, spread over the Butteaux slopes produce the grapes for this wine. Planted in 1970 and 1972, these are the furthest from the winery at a distance of 2km. The terroir is Kimmeridgian left bank, featuring marl with marine fossils. The topsoil has plenty of clay, limestone, and few pebbles. Vines with an average age of 37 years.
Pale yellow. Very tight nose hints at flowers; unusually classy for this wine, which is typically a bit more rustic and earthy than the more minerally, iodiney Montmains. Then broad and lively in the mouth, showing sound acidity (4.5 grams per litre according to Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel) and a tactile, lightly tannic finish. 87-89 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
Here too there is an abundance of Chablis character present on the citrus and cool floral aromas that include notes of tidal pool, shellfish and algae. There is a bit more volume and concentration to the medium-bodied flavours that possess a refreshing salinity and driving minerality on the muscular, balanced and long finish. This won’t win any awards for refinement but I really like the bold flavour authority. 90-92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux Vieilles Vignes RRP $72
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 51 years.
Subtle aromas of apricot, ginger and minerals. Deeper than the regular Butteaux but less sweet and forthcoming in the middle palate. In fact, with its firm 4.7 g/l acidity, this juicy wine is quite tight today. Yields in the Montmain area were small in 2014, according to Gicqueau-Michel. This was actually the highest in residual sugar among the 2014s but still at a very low 1.0 g/l, he added. 88-90 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
Not surprisingly the nose is quite similar to that of the regular cuvée though the fruit seems ever-so-slightly riper. By contrast there is definitely more size, weight, volume and mid-palate concentration to the big-bodied and equally muscular flavours that deliver excellent power, punch and complexity on the impressively long finish. This is a classic Butteaux of power and muscle. 90-93 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Forêts RRP $62
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.
Pale straw-yellow. Expressive nose offers scents of peach, acacia flower and vanilla. Round and pliant if still a bit youthfully unforthcoming, with a peach flavour nicely shaped by ripe acidity and firm mineral spine. Finishes dry, saline and linear, with good length. 88-90 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
A wonderfully pure nose offers up plenty of classic Chablis aromas in the form of iodine, oyster shell and mineral reduction along with floral and citrus scents. There is fine delineation to the delicious, intense and energetic medium weight flavours that culminate in an overtly stony and bone dry finish. This is textbook Forêts. 89-92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Séchets RRP $62
From one of the domaine’s old parcels that used to be blended into Vaillons. Kimmeridgian soils on the left bank. Hard limestone on a clay base, relatively deep soil with a browny red appearance. Vines with an average age of 30 years.
(from 45-year-old vines): Bright, pale yellow. Lovely lift to the aromas of lime zest, white peach and minerals. A step up in concentration of flavour from the Vaillons but also boasts lovely delicacy to its intense flavours of stone fruits, flowers and chalk. Fine-grained, smooth wine with solid spine; this will need a few years of cellaring upon release. More Kimmeridgian in its minerality than the Vaillons. 89-91 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
An agreeably fresh and bright nose is composed of citrusy, saltwater, iodine and cool green apple scents. This is quite fine with good detail and plenty of minerality to the medium weight flavours that deliver excellent length if perhaps not quite the same depth as the Vaillons. That said, this is very pretty in its own right. 89-91 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Montmain RRP $62
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.
Pale yellow. Shy aromas of peach and stony minerality, with a riper note of orange emerging with air. Supple and easygoing in the mouth, with a sweet peach flavour dominating. Harmonious acidity gives grip to the finish of this discreet premier cru. 87-89 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
Here too there is good Chablis typicity on the citrus, floral and mineral reduction inflected green fruit nose. There is good richness to the sappy middle weight flavours that possess solid amounts of dry extract that also serves to buffer the moderately firm acid spine on the dry, clean and persistent finale. 88-91 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent RRP $72
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 Valorent, 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.
Deeply pitched aromas of apricot, spices and honey are fresh but very subdued, showing a hint of reduction. Plump in the mouth, with an impression of sucrosité leavened by a firm back end. Slightly phenolic. Not bad, but a bit blocked today. 88-90 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
A notably floral nose enjoys excellent breadth with its nuances of citrus, algae, pear and ocean breeze. This is notably richer than the Séchets with more volume as well to the mineral-inflected flavours that terminate in a clean, dry and beautifully complex finale. This is really quite pretty and should drink well both young and with 5 to 7 years of age. 90-93 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre RRP $72 screwcap
MAGNUM RRP $176
375ml RRP $45
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 40 years.
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
Subtle, pure, scented nose combines stone fruits, crushed rock, spices and a touch of flinty minerality. Big and rich in the mouth but still a bit youthfully compact, conveying a dusty impression of extract from its strong underlying minerality. Finishes tactile and long. 90-92 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
This too is quite floral yet at the same time manages to be more elegant with its wafting nose of iodine, apple and oyster shell hints. There is terrific energy to the refined, detailed and saline-inflected medium-bodied flavours where an intense minerality adds lift to the clean and dry finish. This is arguably classier than the Fourchaume though not necessarily more complex or persistent. 90-93 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir RRP $136
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
Very discreet nose hints at dusty stone and moderately ripe stone fruits. Tightly wound and youthfully compact, showing good acidity and subtle floral lift to the juicy stone fruit and ripe citrus flavours. More linear in the early going than the Montée de Tonnerre; also drier on the back end. Does it have the flavour depth of that wine? 90-92 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
A notably ripe yet cool array is composed of citrus, orange peel, sea breeze and floral scents. There is excellent cut and delineation to the mouth coating and terrifically intense middle weight plus flavours that possess an incredibly fine mouth feel on the almost pungently mineral-driven finish. This explosive effort will need a few years but the potential is clearly present. Worth considering. 92-94 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles RRP $144
Located on top of the most best-renowned hillside of the Chablis grands crus, and planted in 1958, Louis Michel’s parcel of 1.2 acres produces a complex and powerful wine. Kimmeridgian soils of limestone pebbles encased in clay-textured marl with marine fossils. Vines with an average age of 50 years.
Superb satsuma and apricot fruit with subtle iodine notes, a chiselled texture and floral finish. This parcel high on the hill often sees a gentle breeze which helps to protect the vines from fungal disease. 96 points. Gérard Basset, Decanter February 2016
(12.8% alcohol): Pale yellow. Inviting aromas of ripe yellow fruits, tangy citrus zest and wild herbs. Larger-scaled and rounder than the foregoing premier crus, with a strong spice character intensifying and lifting the stone fruit flavours. The most voluminous of these 2014s to this point but not yet filled in. Finishes lightly dusty and persistent. 90-92 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
This is even cooler than the Vaudésir with its restrained nose of green fruit, pear, lemon zest and mineral reduction aromas. The palate feel of the medium weight flavours is interesting in that it is at once rich and generously proportioned and somehow manages to be restrained while displaying plenty of minerality and salinity on the powerful finish. This isn’t as fine as the Vaudésir at present though it’s important to remember that finesse is usually something that only comes with age for Grenouilles. 91-94 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015
2014 Louis Michel Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos RRP $144
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.
Fresh, pale yellow. Sexy, subtly complex aromas of lime blossom and acacia flower. Suave on entry, then youthful and sharply delineated in the mid-palate, with harmonious acidity framing and extending the intense citrus and powdered stone flavours. A rather delicate young Clos with a saline aftertaste and no austerity. 91-93 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media June 2015
A fresh, cool and highly reserved nose offers up notes of white flowers, citrus elements, pear, green apple and a plethora of Chablis character. The mouth feel of the substantially-scaled flavours is really quite fine with lovely delineation and verve adding to that impression, all wrapped in an intensely mineral-driven finish that is clean, dry, balanced and notably complex. This classically styled beauty should amply reward up to a decade of cellaring. 92-94 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound October 2015