I consider Domaine d'Henri, owned and managed by the Laroche family, one of the top three or five houses in Chablis. It's certainly near the top of my Chablis shopping list and at the very top of my Chablis enjoyment list. And all that on the basis of one premier cru; I have added the Troesmes and the basic village wine to my list after this tasting.
Why do I love the domaine's wines so much? Well, Chablis is a gilded cage. Five years ago I wouldn't have imagined that I might become a bit bored with that oyster shell and sea weed thing. I may not have quite reached a plateau of ennui, but it's certainly growing harder to find something new to write about Chablis.
The Laroche family, however, seems to mine great purity and focus beyond the norm, bringing nuances of origin into crystal clear relief.
Petit Chablis, 2016
This carries a surprising dash of quality Chablis character and finesse. Although maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, since, as I said, this is one of my favorite domaines. QPR. 70 NIS.
At 80 NIS, this is an even better value. More body and character, more of that classic marine character, viewed through a very clear and focused lens. As though the sun has come out over the sea after the rain had cleared the air the night before.
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2013
The first Premier Cru tasted is less forward than the straight Chablis, the fruit more subtle, seamlessly embellished by wet pebbles and moss. While it is not quite electrifying, it is very detailed and gratifying, complex enough to sate the heart and mind of anyone of meaningful artistic bent. 130 NIS.
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2015
Round and inviting, not yet very complex at first, this needs air and/or time. I'm pretty sure of that seeing how it develops a piercing minerality. It will never be a very tense wine, but I think it will show a complex array of minerals befitting a Fourchaume.
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2012
Caught mid-step between 2013 and 2015, showing the purity and focus of 2015 with the ready complexity of 2013.
The 2014 is sold for 130 NIS.
Chablis Premier Cru, Troesmes, 2015
I find a different aromatic and flavor profile here, greener, perhaps, mintier. Clearer as well, and I prefer it for that. As though someone dropped Puligny into the vat. A pittance at 120 NIS.
Old vines Fourchaume
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2015
I usually expect to find great concentration in old vines, but this is more about purity and steely tension. Like someone beat your palate with a steel whip.
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2014
Decanted. I admit to bias; I expected, if not greatness, then at least the highest pedigree. Not disappointed. Generous, yet focused, aromas with a hint of sweetness. Not overt sweetness, but rather the sweetness borne of concentration of fruit that people used to swoon over decades ago, because it was rare. It’s not that rare today, but it’s still special and appealing in this context, when it cuts across the steely tension and breaks the marine mold, without diluting the mineral framework. It’s close to Grand Cru breadth, without having been subjected to the barrel regime some producers put their Grand Crus through. And the price is to drool over: 200 NIS.
Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2012
This has lost some of the initial vigorous punch of youth and the sheen of its steely frame, and has not gained the inviting complexity the regular Fourchaume 2012 already shows - but it does show that thread of sweetness I noted in the 2014. If you missed its initial flowering a couple of years ago, you'll just have to wait a few more years for its second bloom.