Domaine d’Elise

M. Frédéric Prain

Chablis, Petit Chablis

13 ha


Wine has been produced around Chablis since at least the ninth century. For the last hundred years the area of cultivation authorized to use the name Chablis has had controversial and shifting boundaries.The controversy centers around the area’s two geological formations of limestone deposits; the Kimmeridgian and the Portlandian.The Kimmeridgian soils which are soft and marly, are found mostly on the slopes while the Portlandian soils are hard and rocky and are found mostly on top of the hills. The question is whether or not to restrict the appellation to vineyards on Kimmeridgian soils. There are many opinions on the subject, but no two seem to agree. There is great overlapping of the soils and thus a geological answer is not clear cut and there is also the historical record of where vineyards have been cultivated which further confuses matters.

Today, the basic organization of the appellation gives Grand Cru status to seven vineyards which are contiguous and comprise a total of 112 hectares. It gives Premier Cru status to 40 vineyards comprising 742 hectares which are spread throughout the appellation. These vineyards are on Kimmeridgian soils. The far greater portion of the appellation is divided into Chablis Villages (4420 hectares), largely on Kimmeridgian soils and labeled simply as Chablis and Petit Chablis (1562 hectares) which are largely on Portlandian soils.

Established in 1970, the Domaine d’Elise is located just outside the town of Chablis in the commune of Milly. It was purchased by the current owner Frédéric Prain in 1982. The domaine’s vineyard is situated directly above the south/southeastern facing Premier Cru Côte de Lechet vineyard. It is unusual in that its entire 13 hectares are in one parcel. Interestingly, the appellation laws have divided the vineyard into two equal plots of Chablis Villages and Petit Chablis.The soils are quite poor with an abundance of surface stones, particularly on the top of the hill. A great deal of pruning is done throughout the growing season in order to limit yields to 45/50 hl per ha. Harvesting is done as late as possible.

M. Prain allows the must to settle before fermentation (débourbage) which is done in stainless steel lined cement vats that are temperature controlled. Both wines go through a malolactic fermentation and then are matured on their lees; the Petit Chablis for seven months and the Chablis for 10 months. M. Prain selects the best vats to bottle under his own label and sells 50% of his production “en vrac” to negociants. His wine is fined before being bottled.