In Chablis, with one of the new star producers: E&E Vocoret

Eleni & Edouard Vocoret specialize mainly in single-site ‘village’ level wines, but they have quickly reached the levels of some of the Chablis greats. Jamie Goode visits.

This was one of the visits I was most looking forward to. Edouard Vocoret and his wife Eleni are young by Chablis domaine-owner standards (they’ve just turned 30), and are making some of the most exciting wines in the region. He comes from a well established Chablis family – Vocoret et fils – and in 2012 was gifted just under five hectares of vines to establish his own domaine, together with Eleni who’d worked as assistant winemaker with Chablis legend Vincent Dauvissat. Eleni is Greek/German and met Edouard in New Zealand, moving to Chablis in 2010.

Edouard Vocoret

Eduoard Vocoret is the seventh generation of winegrowers in his family. He studied wine in Montpellier, Beaune and Mâcon and moved to New Zealand in 2010 where he worked at Alan Scott Wines. This is where he met Eleni, his wife. ‘We were working in the same estate,’ he says, ‘and then we travelled around New Zealand, Australia and some other countries.’ They returned and did a vintage in the family domaine. He carried on working at the family estate, while Eleni worked with Vincent Dauvissat and Natalie Oudin, and in 2012 his father offered them an amazing opportunity: to have their own estate. ‘my father took off five hectares that were run by the family. It is vineyards from my grandmother, grandfather and my father. They are now renting these. There are 4.5 ha in Chablis, and 0.3 ha of premier cru (Butteaux).

‘I worked in small estates which were around 5-10 hectares. So I really learned how to know the vineyard by heart.’

This year will be the first year that they can do everything on their own. The only thing they didn’t do themselves was spraying. This year they are going to try to be as organic as they can be in the vineyards. All the plots are worked the same way, and treated the same in the cellar. Everything is picked by hand (into 300 or 500 kg bins) and pressed whole bunch. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation is in tank, for 6 months. Then they move the vintage already in barrel to tank, and move the new vintage into barrel for a year.

‘We have different plots, soils and expositions,’ says Edouard. ‘Most people from Chablis blend all their Chablis plots together, but our idea is to let the terroir express itself.’ Each of their plots is a cuvée, which is why they make three different Chablis and a single 1er Cru wine. ‘We want to work the vineyards and the wine in the same way, to let the terroir express itself.’

He says that for him the left bank is always more citrus (grapefruit, orange), but when you pass the river it is more peach and apricot.

To do this, they leave the wine 6 months in tank and then a year in barrel. ‘When you ferment in barrel it is like adding make-up to the wine,’ he says. ‘Fermenting in tank keeps that straightness.’

We tasted some barrels of 2018

En Boucheran 2018
This is on the left bank, between Montmains and Vaillons. The rows are up and down the slope, and there are three levels in the plot, which brings some complexity. The middle one is light clay, and if you dig 20 cms you hit crispy sea shells. The top is less interesting, as it has been quarried. And the bottom is colluvium: small stones from the river. This wine has been in barrel for two months, and will have another 10 months in wood. Taut with some appley notes, showing nice precision. Lovely fruit here: very detailed, with a touch of tangerine. 91-93/100

Les Pargues 2018
This has the same exposition as the premier crus, and should have been a premier cru like neighbouring Butteaux and Forêt. But when they did the AOC in 1938 this long lieu dit would have made too much 1er Cru vineyard, so they left it as Chablis. It runs north-south along the D2. This is from half white clay (at the bottom) and normal, darker clay (top). So fine and expressive with tight mineral notes and fine spices. Crisp and sharp, but has some depth and texture. Very grainy and mineral. 93-95/100

Le Bas de Chapelot 2018
This is below the lieux dit Chapelot, which is part of the 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. The soils are a bit deeper as this used to be the riverbed. This has precision but also finesse, with nice citrus and pear fruit, and a bit of crisp acidity. There is some weight in the mouth, with a rounded character and a nice long lemony finish. 92-94/100

1er Cru Les Butteaux 2018
This is in the top part of Butteaux in the bottom part of Montmains, and has white clay soils. Fine, detailed and very mineral. Quite taut with a lovely grainy structure and mouthfeel. Fine herbs, lemon and grapefruit here. 93-95/100

Then bottled wines from 2017. Edouard describes this as a ‘particular’ vintage. They lost 90% in their biggest plot, Bas Chapelot, because of spring frosts. They got 3000 litres from 3.3 hectares. So they made 14 000 bottles overall instead of the usual 25-30 000. ‘It’s a shame,’ he says, ‘it’s a really nice vintage.’ They thought about buying some bougies (large paraffin-based candles) but it is expensive for such a large area. The frost risk was 6-7 nights in 2017. ‘If we had protected for three nights we would have spent a lot of money and still lost the buds,’ he says. They try to prune late, as this delays budding and reduces frost risk, but you can’t prune 3.3 hectares in a week. Some people are using baches, which are a special textile that is put over a bay of four vines to protect from frost. They are put on in mid-April and are removed in mid-May. ‘Not many do this,’ says Edouard. He names Christian Moreau and William Fevre as practitioners. ‘It is the most ecological thing to do, but a lot of work to set it up.’

E&E Vocoret Chablis ‘En Boucheran’ 2017 Bourgogne
Expressive, ripe and aromatic grapefruit with a touch of apricot on the nose. The palate has lovely fruit expression with a juicy grapefruit edge and some yellow plum, and nice acidity. 93/100

E&E Vocoret Chablis ‘Les Pargues’ 2017 Bourgogne
Very stony and mineral with taut, fine-grained citrus fruit. This has lovely precision, with a tapering, spicy, grainy finish. Lovely focus and freshness here with nice depth. Thrilling stuff: really lovely. 95/100

E&E Vocoret Chablis ‘Bas de Chapelot’ 2017 Bourgogne
Small crop because of frost. Lovely weight with pear, some apricot and bright citrus fruit with very fine acidity. Lovely fruit with nice tension and detail. Hints of salinity and green tea. Very fine. 95/100

E&E Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru Les Butteaux 2017 Bourgogne
Wonderful aromas on the nose: fine citrus, some spice, a bit of pear. The palate has precision and freshness. Amazing tension with a mineral streak and integrated acidity. And an eternal finish. There’s nice salinity here, too, with some fine-grained structure. Great concentration. 96/100

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