President of French wine group Badet Clément, Laurent Delaunay, has teamed up with his winemaker cousin, Dominique Gruhier, to launch a contemporary and international Chablis wine brand – Grand Calcaire to “shake up Chablis”.
The two cousins are both from the fifth generation of the Delaunay family, a renowned family of Burgundy negociants and producers in the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune who have played an important role in the region since 1893.
The new collection consists of three levels, Grand Calcaire Chablis 2019, Grand Calcaire Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2019, and Grand Calcaire Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2020. The latter will only be available in 2022.
The wines are made after the pair selected what they believe to be the best plots, often shaded north-facing plots as well as the misty slopes with Kimmeridgian clay limestone marl soil.
It is this typical ‘cool terroir’ character that they sought out to allow them to these minerality rich wines.
Before the Chablis project, the two cousins had a successful career in wine in their own right.
Laurent began his winemaking career around the same time in the Languedoc where he became known as a disruptor for the style of his wines and for his vision for the region’s future. He returned to his native Burgundy in 2017 to relaunch his family’s former estate, Edouard Delaunay, for which he has received much international acclaim and where he has again, done things differently.
Encouraged by Laurent, Dominique first started making wine 30 years ago and was one of the pioneers of organic, biodynamic and sustainable viticulture in Chablis.
Speaking of the Chablis project, Laurent says, “We’ve always wanted to make wine together and combine our talents on great terroirs. What we wanted was to produce Chablis wines whose freshness really illustrates their northern terroir with a certain sophistication. Vibrant, fresh, delicate wines with a salinity that expresses the great Chablis limestone.”
“We both bring different things to this project. Dominique brings his in-depth knowledge of the terroir and I bring my vision of the market and my understanding of consumer expectations.’ He continues, ‘Cool climate and minerality are two key trends in the international wine market at the moment, in Grand Calcaire we have both.”
The wines are packaged in what the duo described as “international style which is uncluttered, distinctive” and communicates the brand name itself, which is minerality-driven wines.
The wines have been made at the Domaine de l’Abbaye du Petit Quincy winery in Chablis, owned by Dominque and founded by Cîteaux monks in 1212 during the Golden Age of the Cistercian Order.