Wine Advocate 90
“… apple blossom and fresh pear aromas, perhaps with a hint of peppermint in the background. The palate is well balanced with a crisp line of acidity. I appreciate the tension of this Chablis: taut and linear, quite saline in the mouth and this serves to prolong the finish. This is a well-crafted and very delicious Chablis from Gregory Viennois and his team. This comes recommended.”
Neal Martin, August 2016
The name Domaine Laroche is virtually synonymous with Chablis. With a history that dates back to 1850, when Victor Laroche purchased his first parcel of land in Chablis, the Laroche family has been dedicated to producing top-quality wines from the region for five generations. Michel Laroche, the great-great-grandson of Victor, joined the family business in 1967, and today remains at the helm. Under his stewardship, Laroche has become one of the most respected producers in Chablis and is one of its largest landholders of grand cru vineyards. Purity and quality are the heart of Michel’s winemaking philosophy as exhibited by the wines produced at Domaine Laroche.
Saint Martin is a blend of the best plots of Domaine Laroche in the Chablis appellation. All plots are located on Kimmeridgian soil with a west to northwest orientation. Thanks to the diverse nuances of these sources, they bring richness and complexity to the final cuvée.
Definition: Saint Martin, the patron saint of Chablis, was a Roman cavalry officer who converted to Christianity, lived as a humble monk and was elected Bishop of Tours. After his death in 397, his body was brought back to the Abbey of Marmoutier in Tours, where his relics (his famous cloak, in particular) were kept. In 877, as the Normans were invading the Touraine, monks took his relics to Chablis to avoid destruction. Saint Martin’s relics were kept for a decade in the Obédiencerie, the prayer hall in the ninth-century monastery in the town of Chablis.
Viticulture: One-man, one plot cultivation at Laroche, meaning one person is completely in charge of his section of the vineyard, from pruning through to harvest. Conversion to organic viticulture was begun in 2010 for these Laroche vineyards. Domaine Laroche will require four consecutive years of organic cultivation (one more year than EU regulations prescribe) before they will consider their viticulture to be 100% organic. Traditional Chablis pruning system with strict pruning and debudding; trellising to aerate the canopy and leaf plucking to avoid compact canopy and prevent growth of botrytis. Green harvesting when needed.
Size: 60 hectares (148.26 acres)
Vine Age: Average of 30 years
Clones: Massal selection from Laroche old vines for the new plantings
Density: 6,600 vines/hectare (2,670 vines/acre); 10,000 vines per hectare (24,700 vines per acre) for younger vines
Domaine LarocheView all from Domaine Laroche
The name Domaine Laroche is virtually synonymous with Chablis. For more than 160 years, the Laroche family has been dedicated to producing top quality wines from the Chablis region. The history of Laroche dates back to 1850, when Jean Victor Laroche purchased his first parcel of land in Chablis. In 1967, Michel Laroche, who represents the fifth generation, joined the family business at the age of 21. Convinced of the appellation's potential for high-quality wines, Laroche embarked on a period of expansion, taking the holdings from six hectares (14.83 acres) in 1967 to nearly 100 hectares (247.11 acres) of prime Chablis vineyards today.
Vineyards: Like all white Burgundy, only Chardonnay grapes are grown in Chablis. The region is at the northernmost section of Burgundy, separated from the Côte d'Or by the hills of the Morvan and closer in latitude to Champagne than to the rest of Burgundy. Chablis' grand cru and premier cru Chardonnay vineyards are planted primarily on the region's unique Kimmeridgian soil -- a mixture of clay, chalk and fossilized oyster shells -- renowned for producing crisp, minerally, precise and elegant wines that have become prized throughout the world.
Domaine Laroche owns a total of nearly 100 hectares (247.11 acres) spread out across the entire region, including 6 hectares (14.83 acres) of grands crus, 29.66 hectares (73.29 acres) of premiers crus, 63.02 hectares (155.72 acres) of Chablis, plus 2.25 hectares (5.56 acres) of Petit Chablis.
Michel Laroche passionately believes that the best wine can only be made using the finest grapes. His approach to viticulture is to create optimal conditions to achieve top-quality fruit -- purity and typicity being the heart of the Domaine Laroche philosophy. Grégory Viennois, technical director of all Laroche estates, along with his team, shares this view, working in tune with nature, encouraging low yields and natural ecology in order to produce fruit that is true to its vineyard origins. Domaine Laroche relies on one-man plots, meaning that one person is wholly responsible for the care of a single vineyard parcel, from the pruning, soil conditioning and control of yields to the sorting of the harvest. Domaine Laroche is currently undergoing active conversion to organic viticulture.
Winemaking: The gentlest-possible methods are used in the winery to protect the fruit's natural characters and maintain the purest expressions of each vineyard plot. Fermentation is usually carried out in stainless-steel tanks, except for the premiers and grands crus, which are partly fermented in barrels in order to impart delicate oak flavor and additional oxygen. As part of Michel Laroche's goal to retain purity and minerality in the finished wines, he was the first Burgundian producer, in 2001, to switch to screwcap closures, even for his grand cru wines.