France – Bernard Defaix
Domaine Bernard Defaix is located in the tiny village of Milly, at the foot of the Côte de Lechet, a few minutes west of the town of Chablis. The domaine was founded in 1959 by Bernard, fourth-generation in a line of respected winegrowers, who decided to begin making wine from the vines his family had long been tending to. We are thankful for that.
Today Bernard shares his wisdom and experience while the estate is run by Bernard’s two sons, Sylvain and Didier. Didier looks after the vineyards; Sylvain, the winemaking and cellar. Didier’s wife, Helene Jaeger, does sales. She also brings along some family property two hours away in Rully, in the Côte Chalonnaise, from which they produce wines under the label Jaeger-Defaix.
The meticulousness of the farming is really what elevates Bernard Defaix from other producers in Chablis. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are the norm, as they feel this approach best allows the uniqueness of each site to express itself.
In the cellar, the idea is to stay back and allow the hard work in the vineyard to shine through. Any use of oak is judicious and measured according to the capacity of the wine. The villages Chablis is raised completely in stainless steel, while about 15% of the Premier Crus are fermented and aged in old oak. The resulting wines are characterized by their precision, purity and minerality.
“While I’ve noted this before, it bears repeating: The quality of the Defaix wines now puts the domaine among the top 10 in Chablis.”
-Allen Meadows, aka Burghound