Michel Laroche
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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.Michel Laroche waited to get full ripeness in 2004, even at the cost of a bit of rot, and carried out a long debourbage to ensure that the fermentations began with clear juice.Laroche describes the new vintage as "very classic in character, very fresh and elegant but not fat."He noted that2004 was the first year in which all the malolactic fermentations were done; in 2003 Laroche blocked most of the malos and also added acidity.Incidentally, after giving his customers the choice of corks or screwcaps in recent vintages, Michel Laroche has made the decision to bottle entirely with screwcaps, a decision that I applaud.As in the past, I focused my attention on this large firm's estate bottlings.(Remy-Amerique, New York, NY)

2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint-Martin

(made from the best parcels of village wine) Bright, pale, green-tinged color. Aromas of peach, spring flowers and spearmint. Juicy, peachy and perfumed, with lovely ripe acidity giving theflavors shape and grip. Finishes brisk, fruity and persistent.


2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaudevey

Peppery aromas of ginger, snap pea and chlorophyll. Then surprisingly dense and round in the mouth, with concentrated, gruner veltliner-likeflavors of fresh herbs and lime. Conveys an almost sweet impression which is leavened by lovely balancing acidity.


2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes

Pale yellow. Aromas of peach, clove and flint. Sweet and silky, if less fat than the Vaudevey. Nicely rich, gingery wine with enticing inner-mouth perfume. Finishes spicy, quite dry and persistent.


2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes

Pale color. Musky aromas of peach, ginger, flowers and wet stone. Densely packed but with lovely lift; flavors of stone fruits, ginger, flowers and mint. The slow-mounting finish is long and aromatic.


2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots

More minerally and less fruity on the nose, with ginger and quinine notes along with a raw, somewhat herbaceous peppery quality. Dense and concentrated but quite backward, with slightly disjointed acidity. Very sappy herbal and peppery flavors are not yet harmonious. This is extremely unevolved and hard to judge today but its texture and length are impressive.


2004 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Clos

Very pale green-tinged color. Pure, vibrant aromas of lime, snap pea, crushed stone and pepper. Very ripe but very reticent, with sharply focused flavors of minerals, mint, pepper and powdered stone. Less obviously dense than the Blanchots but wonderfully pure and impeccably balanced. Finishes with excellent grip. There's a lot of wine here.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint-Martin

($25) Honey and apricot on the nose. Fat, sweet and a bit heavy, with modest intensity and definition. The honeyed character follows through in the mouth.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaudevey

($33) Superripe aromas of apricot and smoke. Ripe, round and sweet, with an exotic honeyedflavor. Then much better on the back end than the Saint-Martin: soft and honeyed but not hot or alcoholic.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes

($37; about one-third aged in barriques and larger casks, one-third of which were new) Bright pale yellow. Aromas of stone fruits and spices. Fresher in the mouth than the Vaudevey, with the oak spice perking up the ripe peachflavor. This offers good thickness in the middle palate. Finishes with a trace of alcohol and very good length.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes

($40) Apricot, pineapple, ginger, honey, earth and porcini mushroom on the nose. Less open and sweet than the Vaillons; in fact, a bit youthfully tight today. Not a chalky wine but shows a solid mineral spine. Quite discreet, and in need of a couple years of aging. From vines averaging nearly 45 years of age.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots

($60; aged in about 25% new oak, down from past years) Wet stone, orange oil, peach and honey aromas are lifted by a floral topnote. Sweet, rich and ripe, leading with its peachy fruitflavors. Not minerally, but not oaky either. A nicely concentrated fruit bomb of a 2003 that avoids coming off as heavy.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Clos

($75) Minerally aromas of oyster shell and apricot. Sweet, rich and silky, with ripe, sweetflavors of peach and apricot. This, too, leads with its lovely fruit. A concentrated, rather elegantly styled 2003 with a very broad, palate-coating finish. The fruity side of Chablis, but unmistakably Chablis.


2003 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots La Reserve de l'Obedience

($100; a selection of the best barrels, foudres and tank from Laroche's holding in the grand cru Blanchots) Initially closed nose opened to reveal peach, apricot, minerals, flint and spicy, vanillin oak. Less opulent and more reserved today than the Clos but quite fresh, with very good inner-mouth energy and a strong spice character. The Clos may be more typical Chablis but this boasts lovely subtle sweetness and length.

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