Daniel-Etienne Defaix’s ancestors were already cultivating the vine in the sixteenth century at the Château de Faix near Avallon, not far from Chablis. Etienne-Paul Defaix installed the family as vignerons in Chablis during the eighteenth century. Today, Daniel-Etienne Defaix continues this long family tradition as he maintains a domaine of 26 hectares planted exclusively to Chardonnay and primarily in a series of vineyard sites classified 1er Cru.
The vineyards are fertilized, when necessary, with a natural compost of cow and horse manure. Treatments in the vineyards are severely limited and never done within two months of the harvest. All the wines at this estate are vinified in a similar fashion. At harvest a strict triage is done to eliminate unripe and unhealthy grapes; the grapes are pressed slowly for three hours, separated parcel by parcel, with only the finest juice maintained for bottling at the domaine. The wines normally ferment for three weeks (sometimes as long as a month) using only indigenous yeasts and at a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius; the malolactic fermentation is always completed but never artificially rushed (on rare occasion, the ML has taken two years to finish). The wines rest on the fine lees in stainless steel cuves for at least 18 months (and sometimes longer for the 1er and Grand Crus) undergoing a type of batonnage without exposure to air and without the addition of sulfur (utilizing the CO2 created by the malolactic fermentation to conserve the freshness of the wines). The wines are generally not fined nor are they filtered prior to bottling and the wines are never exposed to a “passage a froid” to precipitate the tartrates … the elevage of two winters in a cold cellar does that work naturally. The Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix releases its wine to the market only after obtaining several years of bottle age at which point the market has the pleasure of having access to wines that more fully express the remarkable and unique terroir that is Chablis. Note also that the high quality corks used at the domaine are purchased two to three years in advance to secure the finest quality and to ensure the stability of the cork.
At harvest a strict triage is done to eliminate unripe and unhealthy grapes; the grapes are pressed slowly for three hours, separated parcel by parcel, with only the finest juice maintained for bottling at the domaine.
Synthetic treatments only when necessary
Annual ploughing to promote soil health
Kimmeridgian limestone-clay marls
Average age 42 years, trained in Guyot and planted at 6,500 vines/ha
Controlled with severe winter pruning, debudding, and green harvesting
All wines are machine harvested.
Entirely estate fruit
Following total destemming and pressing, wines ferment spontaneously in stainless-steel tanks for 3-4 weeks
Bâtonnage employed during the first 2 years of élevage
Chaptalization when necessary
Spontaneous, beginning in tank in the spring and lasting up to 2 years
Wines age in stainless-steel tanks for 3-10 years
1 year for village wines, 3 years for 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines
FINING & FILTRATION
Bentonite fining, diatomaceous earth filtration when necessary
Applied after fermentation, at rackings, and at bottling