President of Badet Clément, talented winemaker and brand creator, Laurent Delaunay has teamed up with his winemaker cousin, Dominique Gruhier, to shake things up a bit in Chablis. The pair have created a contemporary, international brand, Grand Calcaire, that encapsulates their extensive combined knowledge of the region and their shared vision for the future.
Cousins and lifelong friends, Laurent and Dominique are the fifth generation of the Delaunay family, a 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.
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. 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.
Driven by a mutual love of Burgundy and its terroirs, both men are passionate about their work and specialists in their fields. Their complementary and open-minded outlooks combined with their respective talents and in-depth knowledge of Chablis, has enabled them to turn a shared dream and common vision for the future of the wines from the region into reality.
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.’
In order to achieve their goal, the pair have had to adopt a different approach, carefully identifying the best vineyard plots, often selecting 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 craft these disruptive new wines.
As well as the style of the wines themselves, Grand Calcaire’s packaging also breaks the mould, and in contrast to traditional Chablis conventions has an international style which is uncluttered, distinctive and communicates the brand name itself which translates as, high-end mineral wine.
There are three levels in the new Grand Calcaire range which are being launched to international markets later this month;
Grand Calcaire Chablis 2019
Grand Calcaire Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2019
Grand Calcaire Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2020 (available 2022)
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. Its cellars and winery making the ideal base for the project, full of shared family memories and five generations of the Delaunay family heritage.