Chablis in Numbers Chez Picq

As I’ve written about before in this column, 2016 was a rough year in Chablis. Here are a few numbers on the 2016 vintage recounted to me by Didier Picq, who oversees the winemaking at his family’s domaine:

  • The domaine made 30,000 bottles instead of the usual 100,000!
  • Only 2 hectares at the domaine were fully intact and unaffected by hail at harvest.
  • The family didn’t harvest anything off 6 of their 14 hectares.
  • In the Dessous la Carrière vineyard, the Picqs harvested only 6 hectoliters from 2 hectares! (For perspective, village level Chablis can be harvested at up to 60 hl/ha.)
  • The Picq village Chablis cuvée averaged only 10 hl/ha.
  • Alcohols were much lower in 2016 compared to 2015, down by 1.5% in one case!
  • For those buying in Chablis (the Picqs do not), the price per liter of village Chablis went from €13.50 in 2015 to €15.00 in 2016.

Chablis 2016
It’s hard to get village Chablis that is better than this. This light gold wine has a riveting, salty tang of freshly-picked lemons and limes seamlessly balanced by a medium-bodied, well-concentrated and custardy palate. The lingering finish brings on fennel, white pepper and crushed chalk.
Drink: 2018-21

Chablis En Vaudecorse 2016
This was the only intact parcel at harvest at the domaine in 2016. It was an almost miraculously high 35 hl/ha! Here the soils are the same as for the Vaucoupin Premier Cru, along side which these are located. The Picqs returned to hand-harvesting their fruit in 2016, even for this plot. This supple, rounded wine tastes of bitter almonds, cantaloupe and dried mango. It has a lime-like acidity with a vivacious, palate-tugging texture.
Drink: 2018-21

Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2016
Though the Picqs managed to get 35 hl/ha here, they lost the equivalent of one parcel between the three that go into this old vine cuvée averaging 60-63 years of age. For what remained of these Left Bank parcels, Didier explained that one parcel gives the wine freshness and the other gives it richness. And it is rather exotic: papaya, guava, yellow grapefruit peel and pomelo all feature on the palate. Like with all of the Picq wines, there is no shortage of sumptuousness on the palate, but there is a firm acidic backbone.
Drink: 2018-22

Chablis Vaucoupin Premier Cru 2016
This was the last parcel the Picqs harvested, on October 1st. This is despite the fact that the vines face directly south. Didier explained that they have a 55° slope, and there can be a 2° temperature difference in the vines from the top to the bottom given the aggressive wind there. The flavors here are of honeydew melon, guava and roasted apple skin – truly a combo of cool and warm sites! The palate is rich and dense, but a strong chord of minerality sounds through the long finish.
Drink: 2018-24

Chablis Vosgros Premier Cru 2016
The Picq’s portion of this Premier Cru is smack in the middle, and their vines face from directly south toward the west. This is a more savory wine with tones of straw, Spanish almonds and Asian pear. The solid core of fruit and terrifically integrated, if marked, acidity means this is ready for a long haul.
Drink: 2018-24