Forbes: Wine of the Week: Domaine Laroche Grand Cru Les Clos
“There’s a wall in my dining room that’s completely covered by framed menus from memorable meals I’ve enjoyed over the years. Among the most prominently displayed is one from a Domaine Laroche Chablis lunch at Restaurant Daniel in New York in 2008. It was the first high-end French wine lunch I’d ever been invited to as a professional, and it was a deeply memorable experience—Chef Boulud was as charming and welcoming as ever, and the wines showed with a particular brilliance that afternoon alongside the beautiful dishes he prepared. Laroche has had a special place in my wine-pumping heart ever since.
Which is why I’m so excited that my white Wine of the Week today is the Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2017, a Chardonnay that’s practically alive with coiled energy, and that deliciously demonstrates just how profound and unforgettable the best wines of the region—and this producer—can be. Sweet spice informs aromas of jasmine and Seckel pear, and the silky, concentrated and subtly powerful palate pulses with flavors of tarragon, kaffir lime leaf and fresh-squeezed lime, and a ringing sense of minerality.
Technical Director Grégory Viennois told me that, when he arrived at Laroche at the end of 2010, the decision was made to work in a more ecologically conscientious manner. In addition to focusing on what he called a “new biological dynamism” during a phone interview, Laroche has been given the HVE, or High Environmental Value, certification, which ensures that their processes are respectful of wildlife, recycling, water, and more. Since then, Gregory said, the vineyards have been able to better withstand heatwaves, and the resulting fruit produces wine with more dry extract and energy, more reliable maturity and acid balance, and a better texture. The Grand Cru Les Clos is a beautiful example of all their hard work paying off. (For less money, around $29 – $34, the Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2017, their entry-level bottling, is incredible, with lots of oyster shell, tarragon, fennel bulb, lime, and crushed rocks keeping it both approachable and thoroughly tied to the famous Chablis terroir.)”
Hints of vanilla pod inform aromas of jasmine, Seckel pear, and a bit of sweet spice. The palate, silky in texture and cut through with linear, almost salty acidity, is concentrated and powerful, with flavors of tarragon, kaffir lime leaf, fresh-squeezed lime, and mineral, finishing with remarkable detail and length. Drink this now or age it for another two decades.