Denis Bachelet’s domaine is tiny, making up just over four hectares; his vines are very old, and his yields correspondingly low. But that only goes some way to explaining why his wines are so scarce: the main reason is that they are quite brilliant. He is a prodigiously talented farmer, and it is his vineyard work that is the secret to quality; the winemaking is simple and a small part of the whole.
There have been some changes since 2014. A new cooper is providing barrels which Denis and his son Nicolas, who joined him in 2007, find bring out the sweetness of fruit more effectively, and they have made efforts to affect a gentler extraction of tannins by reducing the number of punch-downs during fermentation. They have recently converted to biodynamic practice. They are still traditional in their thinking – Denis noted with amusement during our last visit that they are one of the few domaines left to use a crusher-destemmer, instead of just destemming. Rather than using clones which all ripen at once, they favour a selection massale in their vineyards, which mature at different times, giving them a little more flexibility during the harvest.
The Bachelets were very concerned about the water shortages during the summer of 2019, feeling that the vines were not coping, so they are investigating drought-resistant rootstocks from Italy and Spain. The growing season was otherwise normal, and they were keen to avoid overconcentrated, flabby wines, so began picking on the earlier side, on 14th September. Yields are down by over 40%.
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