Brocard is a major Chablis company, and their green-top bottles is a common sight in the Chablis range in many markets. I’ve usually encountered them with screw caps, but on location they turned out to be sealed with regular corks, so the alternative closure seems to be reserved for export to countries that are more progressive than France itself in this respect.
Traditionally, Brocard was a “steel tank producer”, avoided oak completely, and made a point of saying so. I’ve seen many rather recent statements that this is the case, such as “Brocard never uses any oak”. However, that is no longer the case, but I haven’t been able to figure out when the change took place. Anyway, their own online technical information about their wines, the fiches techniques, states that they use oak in all five grand cru wines and four out of nine premier cru wines of their “regular range”. Some of their grand crus also remain surprisingly long (18 months) on the yeast (the lees) in oak.
The following is specified for their five grand crus:
- Bougros: half in large oak barrels (foudre), half in steel tank
- Vaudésir: small barrels (fût)
- Valmur: large barrels
- Les Clos: large barrels
- Les Preuses: egg-shaped concrete tanks (cuve Nomblot) and small oak barrels. There have been sightings of those egg shapes in an increasing number of wineries in recent years. They often look like they stand on some sort of landing gear, so all that is needed is to add some antennas and it looks like they have arrived from outer space…
The four premier crus that receive oak treatment are Côte de Jouan, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu, and Vaulorent, and they either see a small proportion of fût or a large proportion of foudre. The other five are vinified in steel tanks to 100%.
From 1998, Brocard have started to use biodynamic viticulture. Those of the wines that originate from biodynamically run vineyards can be identified by a small ladybug on their labels. There is also a range of wines called Julien Brocard, with a distinctly different label. Julien is Jean-Marc Brocard’s son, and all wines in this range are biodynamical. I haven’t quite been able to figure out if there are any differences in winemaking from the biodynamical wines of the regular range, because the yields and the oak policy seems to be approximately the same.
J-M Brocard Petit Chablis 2011, € 7,90 on location
Slightly flowery, mineral, apple, 85 p
J-M Brocard Chablis “Les Vieilles Vignes de Sainte Claire” 2011, € 13
Slightly flowery, some ripe fruit, mineral, high acidity. Rather fruity style. Young but approachable, 87(+) p
J-M Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2011, € 16
Mineral, smoke, apple (mostly green apple), slightly flowery, rather fruity on the palate. Rather young, but approachable, 88 p
J-M Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2011, € 19,90
Nose with mineral, yellow apple. Palate with mineral, citrus, high acidity, mineral aftertaste. Rather young, somewhat accessible, 89(+) p
J-M Brocard Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2010, € 33
Nose with mineral, yellow apple, a hint of spice. Palate with mineral, good concentration, yellow and green apple, high acidity, very mineral aftertaste. Young, 91(+) p
This wine was served less cold than the rest, since it was opened directly from stores in the shop. 2010 is a more classical Chablis vintage than 2009, of which a few bottles were left, and with a somewhat sharper edge than 2011. This also means that 2010 will require more time to mature than 2009 and 2011, and in my opinion high-end Chablis should be allowed to mature before drinking.
Julien Brocard Chablis Boissonneuse 2010, € 13
Smoky nose with mineral and some citrus. Palate with stony mineral, green and yellow apple, high acidity, aftertaste with mineral. Good for a village-level Chablis! Young, 88(+) p
Julien Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Vaudevey 2011, € 16,90
Nose with mineral, slightly smoky, yellow fruit including yellow apple. Palate with mineral, apple, smoky notes, slightly fruity. Rather young, 89(+) p
A very preliminary impression based only on these two wines is that the Julien Brocard wines are slightly better than the regular Jean-Marc Brocard wines. Their style appears to be slightly more classical, with more obvious smoky notes.
I consider J-M Brocard to be quite OK from a quality point of view, and the wines are sold at a reasonable price. I couldn’t say that I mind that they have started to use oak in their better wines, because I didn’t detect any obvious oak notes in the two wines I tasted that should have seen oak – Fourchaume and Les Clos. Screw caps across the range – as I usually see on export bottles – is always a plus when I’m reviewing. The wines are definitely typical Chablis, but based on their 2011s (four tasted), I wouldn’t really consider them among the region’s the most classical or mineral-packed, since they show a bit too much fruit and flowery notes for that. This means that I’d rather place them in somewhat less demanding and a bit easy to drink category of Chablis wine. The two 2010s, on the other hand, had a bit more edge than the 2011s, just as expected. It may perhaps be unrealistic to expect a firm and demanding style from a large company, but Brocard’s reputation of producing “Chablis with no oak whatsoever” probably means that many Chablis consumers may think that their wines are firmer and more classical than they actually are today.
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.