Domaine Louis Moreau is owned by another old Chablis family. They’ve been present in Chablis for 6 generations, and are based in Beines. The winery started with Louis’ great grandfather who was a barrel maker, and then through marriage he got some land.
The estate was for a long time based on 20 hectares of vineyard, and in the past everything was vinified in barrels or cement tanks. Most of the wine was sold in France, but Louis has found pictures of barrels shipping on trains to Germany and the UK
There days, it has grown to become a larger estate of 50 hectares, including all the different appellations, and with premier cru vineyards on both the left and right bank of the Serein.
Almost everything is vinified in stainless steel. ‘We played with barrels,’ says Louis, ‘but since 2014 we have been using stainless steel, using smaller tanks adapted to the different parcels. Stainless steel is neutral and I like to find austerity in the wines.’ The only wine that gets a bit of oak is Valmur, where a portion is fermented in 500 litre barrels, but Louis things that it has the body to cope with it. ‘In other wines a barrel could end up in front,’ he says. ‘I don’t want that, I want something neutral.’
Other changes? ‘We used to inoculate,’ he says, ‘but since 2014 we have used wild yeast.’ He hand harvests for premier and grand cru. These grapes are sorted, pressed for 2 hours, then the juice has natural settling for 24 h. Louis lets the juices go naturally into alcoholic fermentation. ‘For us this is a big change,’ he says, ‘but with low intervention and longer élevage you get more depth and detail, not simple a crisp fruity wine.’
‘With 24 month élevage you really bring out more of the personality, and you are more precise in a wine. There is nice body and full maturity but there’s also good precision.’
In the vineyards they are applying HVE (a certified sustainable system), working a lot to reduce spraying, adapting according to weather and disease pressure. Mildew is the big problem, oidium less so. ‘We adapt,’ says Louis.
The trunk disease ESCA is present in the vineyards of Chablis. ‘We don’t have a solution that is clear.’ Some people have been doing Guyot Poussard pruning, which respects the vine’s sap flow and is thought to help. One observation is that some youngish vineyards (20 years old) get these trunk diseases, but much older vineyards don’t get affected as much. Could it be that grafting quality is a factor.
Louis Moreau Petit Chablis 2018
Crisp, bright, focused and fruity with nice precision. Has some green apple and lemon character. Lovely bright fruit here with fruit to the fore. The wines on these plateaus get good maturity and are picked earlier. The idea isn’t to make a complex with, but one with lovely fruit. This succeeds here. 89/100
Louis Moreau Chablis 2017
In 2017 lost 35% of yield, which was better than 2016 where they lost 80%. Fine lees left in tank. 12 months before bottling. No yeast added, one month long alcoholic fermentation, full malolactic. This has a touch of herb and cabbage on the fringes of vivid citrus fruit, with some yellow plum richness. A blend of vineyards from Beines on the left bank (more clay soil) and Fleys on the right (much rockier soils). This shows good concentration and weight with a lovely mineral undercurrent. Good acidity. Lovely stuff. 92/100
Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignot 2017
Vaulignot is a draughty, one kilometre long valley with lighter soils, on the left bank near Beines. It’s also known as Vau Ligneau, which is a more common spelling. Subtle creamy edge to the vivid, bright citrus fruit. Has an energy and vitality with good acidity. Really nice fine-grained structure here. There’s almost a bit of white pepper, and some chalky detail. Very fine. 94/100
Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignot 2014
Complex with some salty iodine notes and a touch of herb, as well as lively citrus and pear fruit together with a twist of apple and orange peel. Has some creamy undercurrents and a bit of stoniness. Developing nicely. 92/100
Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2017
It’s a south-facing terroir on the left bank. This is powerful with peach and pear richness, but it doesn’t run away with ripeness and a powerful crystalline citrus core pulls everything back into a nice tension. Fine and linear with such precision. A really lovely wine. 93/100
Louis Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2015
24 month elevage, stainless steel. Concentrated and intense but with an innate richness, showing peach, pear and crystalline citrus fruit. Some white pepper, too, with stony, flinty detail and beautifully integrated acidity. Effortless with a lovely harmony to all the various components. Some floral detail too. Such a lovely wine, with edges and lovely chalky intensity. 95/100
Louis Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2015
Stainless steel elevage. This is above Grenouilles and it is smaller rocks and lighter soil. It can reach maturity fast so you have to pick a bit earlier. Ripe and generous with lovely delicate pear and peach fruit, with pretty floral notes and fine spices. Has an ease to the elegant fruit characters. It’s all perfectly integrated, but there’s still some nice acidity here. Shows finesse with rich aromas and some flesh. 94/100
Louis Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2015
Half in old 500 litre barrels, half in stainless steel. Neighbouring Les Clos and above Grenouilles. 60 year old vines. Deeper soils with some clay; the rocky calcareous soil is further down. Very fine and expressive with lovely citrus fruit core. The oak is there, with a touch of nuttiness on the finish, but there’s a nice peppery, grainy structure here with good acidity. Multidimensional with incredible precision. Needs time to show its best, but it’s already quite delicious now. Very fine. 95/100
Louis Moreau Clos des Hospices Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2012
This was a vineyard purchased from the monks of Pontigny, a half-hectare at the bottom of Les Clos, with mainly clay soils. Fermented in barrels and aged for 15 months, then back into stainless steel for 9 months. Interesting nose with hints of pineapple and green herbs as well as some bright citrus fruit. Concentrated with some cabbage and spice notes as well as ripe pear, mango and pineapple fruit, together with citrus depth. Has some richness but also good tension. 93/100
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