Location: Chablis, Borgoña
Winemaker: Guillaume Michel
Properties: 25 choice ha. on the slopes of Chablis, mainly in the Premier and Grand Cru areas.
Production: 130.000 bottles per year.
"Outstanding" and "One of the best five producers in Chablis" according to Austen Biss and Owen Smith. "Excellent" says Robert Parker. "Louis Michel wines are exemplary and exquisite" says Bernard Ginestat. "The personification of Chablis in stainless steel style" according to Jancis Robinson. "One of the best in Chablis" says Rosemary George.
The town of Chablis in the northern part of Burgundy is the modern cradle of the Chardonnay grape and possibly the best known appellation of Chardonnay wines in the world. Chablis wines are traditionally clean and austere, with a pronounced citric aroma and a mineral taste associated with the area’s cold climate and its limestone soil. The wines are very dry, with marked acidity and proven longevity. The quality of Chablis wines suffered during the 70s and 80s when, in response to growing market demands, large quantities of diluted and unripened wines were produced , loaded with excessive wood so as to hide its obvious flaws. It is thus undertandable that consumers turned to other Chardonnay-producing regions such as California or Australia. Nevertheless, Chablis is currently undergoing a resurgence, with small winemakers producing extraordinary wines under improved practices, particularly in the vineyard. Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel, current director of Domaine Louis Michel et Fils, plays a central role in this resurgence, as a clear proponent of a smaller production, manual harvesting and, within the winery, of a slow and low-temperature fermentation. With the proper care, says Jean-Loup, there is no need for any oak whatsoever in the production process; his main objective is to preserve the aromatic crispness of the wines which reflect their origins of his various vineyard sites. He has experience working with oak: until 1979 all his wines were fermented and aged in barrels. But in 1980 the winery replaced oak barrels with stainless steel vats, and Jean-Loup is currently the best known producer of wine in this style, where the buttery and vanilla notes typical of oak are not typical of Chablis nor of the pure and unadorned taste of Chardonnay.