Alice and Olivier De Moor are true Chablis superstars, and their wines are highly sought after. It’s fair to say that they have led the natural/authentic movement in the region. I was looking forward to this visit a lot, but it didn’t start well: they were under the impression I was arriving at their domaine in Courgis at 10 am, not 9 am. Still, despite the confusion, Olivier hosted me gracefully.
‘We created this domaine from nothing 30 years ago,’ he says, ‘when we planted the first vineyards.’ Initially they both worked part time as hired workers for others, doing their own wines on the side, and then when things picked up they concentrated fully on their own production. They have been full time on their wines since 1995.
Over the years, Olivier explains, they have managed to buy some plots and rent some other plots. Two years ago they started to have access to some premier crus. Their current holdings are four hectares in the Auxerre area, and six hectares in Chablis.
‘We always harvest by hand, which is not really the rule here in the region,’ says Olivier, although I heard from another source that a neighbour once picked two rows of theirs by machine, in an error, so their beautifully tended grapes ended up in a vat with some conventionally farmed grapes. 15 years ago they transitioned to organic production, and they have never added yeasts, and do no fining and filtration with the exception of wines that have residual sugar that need to be filtered.
How do they divide the labour? They decide everything together, but Olivier is mainly in the the vineyard and Alice is mostly in the cellar. Now, after 30 years, they are well accepted in the Chablis region, but their ideals come from other regions in France where there is a more natural approach. Olivier listed famous domains in other regions where he has special friends.
‘Twenty years ago, we separated ourselves from the mainstream philosophy of winemaking,’ he explains. ‘We opposed the idea of standardizing the wines too much.’
2016 and 2017 have been difficult years here. In 2016 everything was destroyed by frost and hail, and in 2017 frost hit again. They responded by buying grapes from other regions but raised with the same ideal – organically farmed and also harvested by hand. ‘We preferred to stay with our ethical ideals, rathe than buying grapes from the region not raised in this spirit,’ he says.
No sulfites are added except just before bottling. ‘We try to settle and rack to get very clean wines – we think cloudiness has an effect on the precision of the aromas.’
One point of difference here is that they are working with grapes from the Auxerrois, which is not normal for a Chablis domaine, even though the regions are close together. ‘The separation between the Auxerrois and Chablis isn’t geological,’ says Olivier, ‘it’s an organization/political one. The problem is Chablis is a magic name for selling wine. There’s a lot of potential in the Auxerrois – there’s as much potential as Chablis if the wine growers were to make the wines in a proper respectful way.’
Alice & Olivier De Moor Le Vendangeur Masque Caravan 2017 Vin de France
Assemblage of Clairette (Drome), Pinot Gris, Chardonnay (from the south of Burgundy) and Riesling (Alsace). One year in barrel then blended afterwards. This has lovely floral, grapey aromatics with some citrus and tinned pear. The palate has lovely texture and depth with pretty grapey notes but also a lovely texture. Nice grainy structure and good acidity. Very fine and expressive, starting out so pretty, but then displaying a more serious mouthfeel. 93/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Bourgogne Chitry 2017
The same soils as Chablis here, with marl and clay loams. In small barrels this year (because of smaller volumes: the 2018 is in a foudre). This is from their own vines, which they planted 20 years ago. There’s a touch of oak here, but the core of the wine is precise, fine-grained citrus fruit with lovely lemony freshness. This has great precision and a lovely acid line. Such a lovely wine. 93/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Chablis L’Humeur du Temps 2017
Some in foudre and some in small barrels. An assemblage of five parcels most years, but the blend changes each year. This is complex and detailed with a saline edge to the apple, pear and citrus fruit. Detailed and precise, but has good concentration and is astonishingly mineral. An expanding finish. Beautiful wine. 95/100
Alice e& Olivier De Moor Clardys Chablis 2015
Organic, unfiltered. This has a lovely grainy, mineral structure with amazing precision and some saline streaks. It’s really thrilling showing some green apple and lemon fruit with a bit of yellow plum, finishing electric and long. Such a beautiful wine. 95/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Chablis Coteau de Rosette 2017
One steep plot and the soil is pure marne (marl). This is fresh and mineral with a touch of green apple. Linear and quite bony with great precision to the lemony fruit. Compact, pure and quite taut, this has a real sense of brightness to it. Give it time. 94/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey 2017
A steep plot of marne, which they bought in 2016. It’s in organic conversion. Larger barrels. Slightly nutty, dense wine with apples and pears and some fine citrus fruit. A broad, expressive wine with nice precision and notes of apple and lemons on the long finish. Good concentration here. 94/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2017
Rented plot which they took over in 2016. This has been organic for several years already. The upper part of the plot has very old vines that suffer from millerandange. Planted too narrow to work with a tractor so they use a horse for this. Fermented in small oak. Concentrated and quite refined with dense citrus and pear fruit, with a touch of white peach. It has a beautifully integrated acidity, and notes of nuts and spice. Very expressive and concentrated, and needs time to show what it’s really capable of. A lovely wine. 95/100
Alice & Olivier De Moor Saint Bruit 2017 Vin de France
This is from Saint Bris but has too much residual sugar to get the appellation (the limit is 4 g/l) so they call it Saint Bruit instead. This is from an old plot planted in the 1950s and it had lots of dead vines, which they have replaced. A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc, and Sauvignon Gris. Beautiful aromatics: passionfruit and melon with a touch of grapefruit. The palate is fresh and textural with lovely acidity and generous but elegant fruit. So much flavour and a long spicy finish. Exotic but also serious with nice intensity. 94/100
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