2011 Domaine Pinson Freres Chablis Les Clos
Expert Rating
BH 92-94 points
(Read the full review below)
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Laurent Pinson 94pts and the Chablisien News We Hate to Hear

"Les Clos" is widely considered the greatest vineyard of Chablis. In an appellation best known for its fabulous minerality and piercing, high-toned juiciness, the old vine Chardonnay off "Les Clos" often displays Cote de Beaune opulence that seems to speak more of Puligny Montrachet than Chablis. In 2011, particularly here at Domaine Pinson, "Les Clos" would be responsible for one of the most luscious Grand Cru Chablis we've tasted in a decade.

In July, we returned to L'Hostellerie des Clos for the 14th time in the last 18 years. While the cuisine may not measure up to the hotel's heyday of the mid 1990s, we wouldn't go to bed hungry. The following morning, we took the five-minute walk across town and knocked on the door chez Pinson. Five minutes later, Laurent Pinson would deliver the news we hate to hear.

Unlike other appellations in France, Chablis, and particularly its top 6 or 7 estates, never felt the bite of La Grande Recession. "Business is booming," Laurent told us, particularly after the arrival of his uber-talented enologist daughter who seems to have vaulted this storied estate into the lofty company of Raveneau, Dauvissat and Fevre. Before heading to the cellar to taste a riveting lineup of 2011s, Pinson reminded us that in this third consecutive vintage where demand far exceeded supply, our allocation of his world class "Les Clos" had been trimmed to smidgen. Hardly the way to start a day in Burgundy.

As Laurent served up the 2011s, firing through his 1er Crus (we're again particularly high on the "Mont de Milieu" of which you'll hear more in the coming weeks) on his way to "Les Clos," the winegrower gave us the play by play of yet another growing season drama that culminated in the call that would save the vintage.

The spring fruit set was superb. After the short crop of 2010, the town cafes were animated with the prospect of a healthy cash flow injection. But when June turned hot, punctuated by torrid 100+ degree temperatures on the 26th, hydric stress set in. As the vines struggled, blistered berries were hand-trimmed, erasing those café smiles. Then, the winegrowers climbed on the seesaw. July was cold and wet. As was the first week of August. When the sun came back -- hot and strong -- sugars spiked, but the topsy-turvy growing season risked robbing clusters of Chablis' signature acid backbone.

Growers were at the crossroads as September approached. Some doubted there was sufficient maturity to pick. Others worried about loss of vibrancy if they chose to wait. In 2010, you may recall, Laurent Pinson made a split second 3am decision to harvest, a call that led to one of the greatest Grand Crus of the year. A year later, Laurent did much the same, calling pickers to "Les Clos" on September 4, well before many of his neighbors, again catching what turned out to be the optimal harvest date.

The 2011 Domaine Pinson Chablis "Les Clos" is brilliant golden/green in color, infused with juicy lemon-lime aromatics, tinged with orange zest. The attack is unusually rich and plump -- as weighty and opulent as any "Les Clos" we've tasted at the estate since 2002 -- packed with ripe apple/honey and lemon curd lushness, all bracketed by the fine acid backbone preserved by Laurent's prescient harvest call.

As The Wine Advocate is to Bordeaux and Napa, Burghound's Allen Meadows is to Chablis. In 2010, Meadows raved about the Pinson Chablis "Les Clos," making it the highest rated Grand Cru of the vintage at anywhere near today's price. In 2011, Meadows was back for an encore, describing this one as having "excellent power, punch, intensity and detail to the large-scaled flavors that brim with palate soaking dry extract before terminating in an explosive, linear and tightly focused finish…" before lobbing on the whopping 92-94pt score that sent importers scrambling -- and trimmed our allocation to a smidgen.

Tasting Notes

2011 Domaine Pinson Freres Chablis Les Clos
"The oak influence is a bit more restrained than I typically find with this wine as it does not interfere with the appreciation of the complex and beautifully layered nose of mineral reduction, seaweed, rose petal and soft spice nuances. There is excellent power, punch, intensity and detail to the large-scaled flavors that brim with palate soaking dry extract before terminating in an explosive, linear and tightly focused finish. This is bone dry and will clearly need a few years of cellar time but at this early stage is appears exceptionally promising."
92-94 points -- Allen Meadows, Burghound

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