Jean-Loup Michel
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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.This producer was one of the last to begin harvesting in 2004, waiting until October 6 because the fruit was so late to ripen."Despite all of our efforts, the year was very abundant," admitted Jean-Loup Michel, who describes his young 2004s as "very typical Chablis."Michel was one of a few Chablis insiders who told me that the failure of one grower with holdings in Vaillons to treat his vines against oidium made it difficult for other vineyard owners in the neighborhood."Oidium is pernicious, and the spores can quickly disperse over the whole valley of Vaillons," he told me."In this vineyard we did an early pass simply to remove the grapes affected by oidium."Michel told me he harvested all of his grand crus by hand in 2004 because machines can't distinguish between healthy grapes and those affected by oidium.As is his usual practice, Michel kept a lot of lees with the wines to avoid having problems with the fermentations.(Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL) Also tasted: Chablis.

2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis

Fruit-driven aromas of lemon and banana, with a hint of minerality. Fresh, pure and lean, with citrus, spicy and herbal nuances. A bit youthfully tart today. (The 2004 Petit Chablis was even leaner, with lesstexture to buffer its lemony acidity.)


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Montmain

Reticent nose hints at lemon and fresh herbs. Suppler and softer than the village wine, with fruit-drivenflavors of pineapple, lemon and mint, along with a whiff of banana. On the lean side but more persistent on the aftertaste than the village example.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Forets

Pure aromas of citrus skin, flowers and minerals. A step up in texture and acidity over the Montmains, with well-delineatedflavors of pineapple, flowers and minerals. Much more authoritative Chablis.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

Lower-pitched, musky aromas. Fatter and softer intexture but comes across as less filled in than the Foret. Today I don't find as much real ripeness of flavor, and the finish seems a bit tart.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Fourchaume

(50-year-old vines in a little valley in Vaulorent, in the south side of the appellation, with a south exposition protected from wind) Pale, green-tinged color. Lively aromas of lemon, minerals, mint, smoke and spring flowers. Fat, ripe and full, with a sweet peachflavor enlivened by a firm lemony backbone. Fairly broad for the vintage. Finishes with very good but not outstanding length.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Montee de Tonnerre

Pale yellow. Aromas of lemon icing, powdered stone and spices. Dense, chewy and tactile yet youthfully austere for 2004. The flavors of citrus fruits, flowers, dusty stone and minerals offer terrific energy. Finishes very long and dusty, with mineral and saline traces. This will need a good three to five years of bottle aging.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Vaudesir

Discreet, pure nose hints at citrus peel and stone. Then almost surprisingly broad and rich, though rather closed and not yet expressive. A fairly large-scaled, supple wine that will also require bottle aging.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Grenouilles

(a mix of 48- and 30-year-old vines, with the younger vines normally yielding higher sugars) Pale yellow. Very ripe aromas of stone fruits and spices, plus a whiff of banana. Fat, full and broad, with softflavors of peach and spices. Conveys a distinctly sweeter impression than the Montee de Tonnerre and Vaudesir. Finishes with very goodbreadth and length.


2004 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Les Clos

Pale yellow-green color. Slightly reduced, complex aromas of crushed stone, silex, lemon, lime and mint. Then densely packed, broad and chewy but rather inexpressive today, even austere. But this wine's perfectly integrated acids and impressively long, palate-staining, spicy, mineral-and-citrus aftertaste suggests that it will be outstanding with five to seven years of bottle aging.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Montmain

($38) Good pale color. Aroma of toasted grain. Sweet, musky, round and ripe, with nicely concentrated but somewhat blowsy honeyedflavor. Not really heavy but needs more verve. Finishes with a faint dry edge. This seemed firmer and more gripping a year ago.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

($38) Much more nuanced and expressive on the nose than the Montmains: quince, green melon, minerals, flowers and fresh herbs, plus a whiff of licorice. Supple, plump and flavorful, with a bit more verve than the Montmains. Fairly full, in the style of the vintage, and persistent on the back end. In contrast to the Montmains, this seems better in bottle than it was in tank.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Montee de Tonnerre

($43) Good pale color. Nuanced aromas of pineapple, crushed stone and flowers. Dense and broad on entry, then concentrated, bright and high-pitched in the middle, with sharply delineated lemony flavor. A big mouthful of wine with good balancing acidity. Michel noted that there was substantial frost damage here in 2003, but his large 4.5-hectare parcel managed to yield 45 hectoliters per hectare.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Vaudesir

($63) Good pale green-tinged color. Rather cool aromas of herbs, flowers, hay, wet stone and menthol. Then supple and easygoing in the mouth, if a bit youthfully sullen and not yet expressing itself. Full and sweet but a bit warm. Less gripping than the Montee de Tonnerre but finishes with good length.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Grenouilles

($69) Pale yellow. Riper, fruit-driven aromas of apricot and peach. Fat, round and sweet but not hot, with intense, thoroughly ripe stone fruit flavors given shape by sound acidity. The fruitiest of these 2003s today. Good ripe, persistent chardonnay.


2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Les Clos

($69) Pale yellow. Reticent aromas of pineapple, menthol and stone. Dense and rich on entry, then closed in the middle palate, hinting at lemon and crushed stone. Then broad and silky on the back end, finishing with mounting flavors of wet stone, toasted grain and nuts. This offers more classic Chablis structure than Michel's other 2003 grand crus. The very small grapes here produced just 35 hectoliters per hectare.

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