Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”
Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”

Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”

Chablis, France 2010 (750mL)
Regular price$75.00
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Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”

The wait is over. Repeat, the wait is over! Defaix has finally, if not begrudgingly, released his first wave of magnificent 2010s. If you’re a new face, trust that this is no typo: While the vast majority of Chablis producers have already released their 2021 bottlings into the market, today marks the grand debut of Daniel-Etienne Defaix’s 2010s. If this sounds insane to you, you’re not wrong—when it comes to Chablis, let alone any white wine, only a few souls exist that are brave and patient enough to compete with Defaix’s preposterously long “watchdog” regimen.

That, in and of itself, is a thrilling-enough reason to load up, but we have yet to factor in the elite terroir and shockingly reasonable price tag. This bottle hails from “Vaillon,” which, in the eyes of many, is a top-three Premier Cru Chablis vineyard. And it’s all delivered to you for $68. Considering the age, prime real estate, and unrivaled value, this is an undoubtedly elite rarity. If you have yet to experience Defaix’s miraculous ability to preserve a vintage’s youthful energy, texture, and profundity for an absurd amount of time (13 years in today’s case!), here’s some blunt advice: buy it now!

In an era when Burgundian whites are so often (a) overpriced and (b) engineered for quick release and young drinking, Defaix remains one of the last defenders of slow aging in the cellar and genuine value in the bottle. We can’t quite say how the estate stays in business after deferring profits for more than a decade, and then charging such modest prices for such exceptional wines—but we’re not arguing, either. 

Most top Premier Cru Chablis have been shown to drink best between 5-15 years of bottle age. This is typically the point when oxygen has broken the wine down to the perfect balance between mellow minerality and advanced aromatic complexity. This waiting game, however, can be dangerous, as one never knows if the wine has expired until the bottle is open. Fortunately, Daniel-Etienne Defaix is a master of anticipating each vintage’s nuances in this regard. Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed a variety of Defaix whites from the late 1990s to today’s 2010, and, spectacularly, they’ve possessed a beautiful synthesis of youth and maturity. 

Defaix’s family has been producing wine in and around this region since the 1500s. Defaix works almost exclusively with Chardonnay throughout his ample collection of Premier Cru vineyards. It’s also worth mentioning that his approximately 50-year-old “Vaillon” vines lie in the heart of the original Premier Cru parcel, before the vineyard was expanded to include other climats. Still, the most exciting and unique aspect of this property is what happens in the cellar. Over the last handful of centuries, the Defaix family has amassed a sprawling collection of acreage in Chablis—yet very little of the fruit it produces ends up in wine with a Defaix label! With 70 acres of vines in the region, Daniel-Etienne oversees a ruthless triage (sorting) every harvest that banishes all but the finest, most pristine grapes to the négociant (merchant) market. Only a minuscule amount of peak-quality product remains for fermentation in the Defaix cellar. 

Drawing exclusively from the property’s native airborne yeast culture, Defaix’s whites ferment for 3-4 weeks and malolactic is always completed but never artificially rushed. It’s an unusually patient, hands-off process, but the excitement doesn’t end there for today’s 2010 “Vaillon.” For the first 1.5 years, the lees were stirred once per month, without sulfur additions, and then the wine aged “indefinitely” in specially designed steel tanks. After transferring into bottle without fining or filtration, another year-plus of maturation occurred—all told, a dozen years passed before today’s wine was officially released. Trust us when we say that while the wait is indeed agonizing, the payoff is spectacular. 

Daniel-Etienne Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”




Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France


Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France


Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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