The first impressions of Lamblin from the outside, a large warehouse-like facility in Maligny, weren’t promising, but here I found some excellent, typical Chablis. I met with Didier Lamblin, the president, and 12th generation of this family-owned winery, and Alexandra Vailleau, who looks after the export markets.
The family began making wine in Chablis in 1690, and they are now a vineyard holder as well as a negociant.
Climate is a concern in Chablis, and Didier explained that with global warming, the vines are starting budding a bit earlier which can leave them more exposed to spring frosts. This year they have already had three nights of frost fighting, but fortunately little damage. There are also, it seems, increased problems with hail.
But after two tricky, short vintages of 2016 and 2017, 2018 was a dream year, he says, with good quality and quantity.
As is normal in the region, around 90% of their grapes are mechanically harvested. They arrive, are pressed, and then settle overnight. In a good harvest they don’t add any SO2 at this stage, but they do inoculate for alcoholic fermentation.
Farming varies, but they try to work the soils where possible rather than use herbicide. This year they have produced a Vaillons Premier Cru that is organically farmed.
You’ll note that their Fourchaumes is with an ‘s’: this isn’t a typo. They’ve chosen to do this because it comes from more than one of the climats in the premier cru Fourchaume (which in addition to the true Fourchaume contains three other climats that could, if they choose to, use their own name as a premier cru). This move simplified the premier crus, bringing down the number from 40 to a more manageable 17.
Lamblin & Fils Petit Chablis 2018
Crisp and mineral with nice clean citrus fruit and very subtle nuttiness, with a faint trace of cream. Lively, tangy acidity. Quite brisk on the finish with nice focus and freshness. 89/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis 2018
This is fruity and expressive with a lemony edge to the pure, crystalline fruit. Ripe with a touch of mandarin and generous, fine fruity character, with some fine mineral notes too. Has a delicacy to it. 90/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Fleur d’Acacia 2018
Fermented at lower temperatures (17 C) to give more flavour: in a ripe vintage they say there’s not a lot of difference between this and rhe regular cuvee, but in a cooler vintage the two wines are very different. This has expressive fruity notes with lemon, a twist of green tea and some subtle mandarin characters. It’s pure with a nice stony minerality and well integrated acidity on the finish. Very fine. 92/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2018
This is from vines over 45 years old. This has some mineral intensity to it, with a stony edge to the lemon and pear fruit. Slightly creamy with nice density and focus, and a long finish with some stone fruit richness. 91/100
Lamblin & Fils 1er Cru Vaillon 2018 (tank sample)
Regular cuvee, showing nice concentration with a distinctive stony, mineral core and good acidity. This is really lively. There are some slightly green cabbage hints, but this has lots of interest with some fine spicy notes. Very expressive. 92-93/100
Lamblin & Fils 1er Cru Vaillon Vin Biologique 2018
This is interesting: there’s a fine spiciness with lovely mineral tones under the citrus fruit. It has a delicious crystalline quality with some hints of mandarin and spice and green apple, finishing fresh and vibrant. Very appealing. 92/100
Lamblin & Fils 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2018 (tank sample)
(on the right of the Grand Crus on the right bank) This is taut and mineral with some green hints to the slightly pithy citrus fruit. Lovely acidity here with good precision and a long lemony finish. Has lots of potential, with a zingy finish. 91-93/100
Lamblin & Fils 1er Cru Fourchaumes 2018
This has some generosity, with some pear and white peach, and a nice minerality. Has lemony freshness and detail. Supple and appealing with a long, tapering finish and some notes of mandarin. 91/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Esprit Nature 2017
No added sulfites (total is 3 ppm). This has lovely mineral quality to it, with a slight saline edge and lovely acidity. Subtle appley hints with keen acidity giving a brisk undercurrent to the lemony fruit. Fine grained and expressive with great precision. Such an interesting wine full of life and complexity, and some subtle oxidative hints. 94/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Eleve en Fut de Chene 2017
This has a touch of spice and nuttiness from the barrel fermentation, with some creamy hints, and a lovely mineral core. Nice intensity and depth here with real precision, but also some richness and depth. Very effective. 91/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2016
This is distinctive: it has a subtle creamy edge, some hints of cabbage, with lovely ripe pear, apple and white peach. Vaudesir is a well situated site like an amphitheatre with lots of sun on the south part where this comes from (although one part of the Vaudesir vineyard gets less sun), and you can taste the ripeness here. This has lovely generosity and balance. Beginning to open out. Bad quantity with hail in May and June, but the quality was good. 93/100
Lamblin & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2016
The biggest and most famous of the Grand Crus. This is concentrated and quite dense but also fresh with a nice stony edge to the citrus and pear fruit. Taut with lots of potential for development and nice complexity. Just a faint hint of cabbage in the background which adds nice complexity. 93/100
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