The grapes to produce the Chablis “St Martin” Domaine Laroche were pressed and settled at low temperatures for 12 hours in wide tanks, to help the settling process and minimise the need for sulphur dioxide. Fermentation lasted 21 days at 17°C, followed by full malolactic fermentation. After filtration with bentonite, the majority of the wine was aged for eight months on fine lees in stainless steel tanks with a small amount (8%) in large oak casks (foudres). Filtration was light to preserve the natural body of the wine.
Saint Martin refers to the patron saint of Chablis, whose relics were kept in the domaine’s ancient monastery for many years. Domaine Laroche owns 63 hectares of Chablis vineyard on the famous Kimmeridgian soil that gives the wines such precision. Each plot, of which there are 30 in total, has a different exposure, soil depth and vine age which contributes complexity to the wine and means that every parcel ripens at a different time. Gregory Viennois refers to Chardonnay’s ‘two-day window’ of maturity – if the parcels aren’t harvested in this time the precious Chablis aromas are lost.
Domaine Laroche is deeply rooted in the history of Chablis, based in the ‘Obédiencerie’, a former monastery in Chablis itself, where wine has been made for over 1,000 years. The quality of the wines is consistently impeccable, with the Chablis hallmark of crystalline purity and racy acidity. Their ownership of vineyards is remarkable and sets them apart from their main competitors. Chablis is a fragmented region, yet Domaine Laroche owns 90 hectares of vines, including 21 hectares of Premier Cru and six hectares of Grand Cru vineyards. In addition to their own vineyards, the domaine has developed long-standing purchasing partnerships with 40 small growers; the Laroche Chablis is made from these partnerships, while the Domaine Laroche wines are made from their own vineyards. The domaine has been built up over the past 160 years, but a dynamism that is unusual in such a venerable producer permeates everything Laroche does.