You may recall that Chablis was hit by a hailstorm just before harvest on the 1st September 2015. Despite the dramatization of this event, losses were kept to a minimum and the quality is surprisingly good at the leading domaines...there is just less wine. Aside from the hail, which only affected specific sites within the appellation, the summer had been very good leading to an early harvest. As William Kelley and Stephen Brook commented in a Decanter summary of the vintage: ‘The 2014 vintage may prove the more classic here, but the 2015s, with their higher ripeness and slightly lower acidity, are impossible to dislike’.
We have followed the impressive Chablis of Louis Michel over the last five to six years and recently had the opportunity to taste a range of 2015s. Even though this included some Grand Cru, one particular wine stole the show, namely, the Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre (offered here at £150 per 6 bottle case in bond). Why? It offered more concentration and volume than might normally be associated with this vineyard due to the selection process post-hail and the fact that the vine’s energy was focused on a smaller yield. Domaine Michel harvested from the 27th September giving the vines ample time to recover – this is crucial in understanding their success this vintage. The added note of concentration stands out on a palate that offers a complex, mouth-watering fruit of pear and apple allied to stoney/ flinty characters and a markedly saline finish. Long, pure and stylish with a silken texture, this vintage certainly does not show the youthful austerity that can be associated with this Cru, nor is it marked by the heat of the warmer 2015 vintage. Frankly, in 2015, the Montée de Tonnerre pitches up alongside the Grand Cru and was an easy purchase to make. We secured all we could there and then as I was sure this will impress.
It is worth bearing in mind that Domaine Louis Michel only use old oak for fermentation and ageing, which imparts no toastiness to the wines. They prefer to make pure, racy, clean-cut styles in order to show the inherent aroma and flavour profile of true Chablis. Today, under the guidance of Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel, they continue to maintain an enviable reputation for producing classic, age-worthy Chablis. For us, this is something of a ‘go-to’ estate…. the 2015 Montée de Tonnerre might surprise some given the interminable discussion of hail in the wine press, but hard-work and application by dedicated vignerons often deliver impressive results even in trying conditions.
I should add that, for wine critic Allen Meadows of Burghound, the Premier Cru of Montée de Tonnerre and Vaulorent scored just as highly as the Grand Cru of Le Clos and Grenouilles in the 2015 vintage. I include his full note below.
2015 Chablis, 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre, Domaine Louis Michel
£150 per 6 bottle case in bond
92 points, Allen Meadows, Burghound
A pretty and distinctly ripe nose combines even more prominent notes of white flower along with those of pear, apple and quinine. The refined, pure and reasonably well-detailed medium weight flavors possess good richness and density while delivering reasonably good length on the moderately dry and lemon-inflected finale. This is also very classy and a wine that should benefit from a few years of bottle age to develop more overall depth. Drink 2022+
Whereas Allen suggests drinking from 2022 based on his tasting from autumn last year, I tasted in January and perhaps the wine was easier to taste, but I would suggest that this vintage could be enjoyed now and will age for six or seven years if desired. The wine is already in stock with us and will be available for immediate delivery if required.