Winemaking Against The Odds: Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin


“Pure, crystalline and with a fine balance between power and minerality” is how our Director of Trade and resident Frenchman Olivier Gasselin describes Benoit Droin’s masterful Chablis wines. Vines were first planted in Chablis in 1133 by the monks of Pontigny and by the 15th and 16th centuries several families bearing the Droin name owned vines in the region. 

This is a challenging place to make wine due to the northerly latitude and regular frosts and hail storms which have wiped out entire vineyards and crops. In 2016, for example, frost wiped out half of the family’s crop, decimating their annual output for that vintage. Despite these hardships the Droin family have been making wine here for over 400 years with the estate now managed by 14th generation vintner, Benoit Droin.

Benoit’s father, Jean-Paul, began to work in the family vineyards aged 14 and was instrumental in replanting the vineyards and purchasing a series of cellars in the centre of Chablis. Following Jean-Paul’s retirement in 2014, Benoit has made his own mark on the domaine by restraining the oak influence and respecting the terroir and origin of the grapes in the winery.

The Droin philosophy focuses on working in harmony with nature in the vineyards, using sustainable practices wherever possible. In total the family have 13 hectares of vines and produce five grand crus and seven premier crus. Oeno currently has a limited allocation of three Grand Cru wines and two Premier Crus from the excellent 2018 vintage.

According to Louis Moreau, president of the Chablis Commission, 2018 is “a full round fruit-oriented vintage with a hint of minerality. So a more forward vintage compare to leaner, terroir oriented vintages like 2017, 2015 & 2014.” 2018 comes after a challenging couple of vintages for Chablis which prompted Moreau to further comment that “the vines had given us a wonderful gift after two very difficult years”.

The 2018 Droin wines currently available from Oeno include Les Clos, the most powerful and majestic of all the Chablis Grand Crus (95 points James Suckling). Droin’s spirited bottling is smokey and zesty with white peach and a very incisive character. Vaudesir (95 points Antonio Galloni) is similarly showy, harmoniously combining power and elegance and a distinctive walnut and hazelnut profile which transforms into a truly magnificent Grand Cru with a few years of ageing. Valmur is another powerful and ripe Grand Cru with notes of dried stone fruit, hawthorn, and sometimes quince which blossoms after a few years ageing (96 points Antonio Galloni).

Of Drion’s Premier Cru bottlings, Vaillons is the biggest and most famous, generally showing floral notes as well as subtle seaweed and menthol character (93 points Tim Atkin). Montee de Tonnerre is located alongside the Grands Crus and is generally a very muscular and punchy Premier Cru, with long ageing potential (94 points Tim Atkin).

For further information and to reserve your allocation, please contact your account manager or the Oeno team at

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