Raveneau is the top Chablis producer, everyone knows it, the prices are sky high, yet worth it in my opinion, as the quality experience is virtually guaranteed, both young and especially with age. 2012 vintage in Chablis was particularly strong, and Raveneau's 2012's that I tasted were fabulous. Riesling-like minerality, honeyed, spicy butteriness that lingered on the lips for hours, viscous oily textures and exotic seawater / seaweed salinity were the hallmarks of this lineup, with the bonus 1999 Montee de Tonnerre showing amazing seamless silkiness and marvelous complexity. Yet with all those admirable attributes, these are not wines of weight and obviousness, but rather of elegance, complexity, texture, precision and enormous class. My oh my, I was smitten, they were the best 2012 white burgundies (if you can call Chablis that) I have had! In 2012, there were other excellent Chablis producers that cost a fraction of Raveneau - the likes of Dauvissat, William Fevre, Christian Moreau, etc... Personally, I hold Dauvissat in almost as high esteem, yet Raveneau is still the king!
2012 Raveneau Chablis "Vaillons" 1er Cru - satiny seawater, creamy pillowy oiliness, intensely spicy and very long finish lasting more than a minute. This is great!
2012 Raveneau Chablis "Butteaux" 1er Cru - slightly riper than the "Vaillons", more orchard fruit, still nice honeyed salinity and oiliness. I preferred the Vaillons by a tiny margin.
2012 Raveneau Chablis "Montee de Tonnerre" 1er Cru - beautiful creamy scent, spice, oil, spicy florals, intense finish, silkier and softer than the "Valmur" and "Butteaux", slightly more elegant if perhaps less powerful than the previous two.
2012 Raveneau Chablis "Valmur" Grand Cru - more power and punch here, more flavor, oily buttery finish, Riesling-like minerals, actually reminds me of an Italian wine too, in terms of focus and minerality, but with cream/butter/oil adding an enormously pleasurable dimension of class, very obvious crushed stones covered with honeyed butter, very long finish that reverberates on my taste glands. Wow!
1999 Raveneau Chablis "Montee de Tonnerre" 1er Cru - note of petrol and butter on the nose. Palate: silky smooth, buttery, slightly roasted nuts, wow!, really complex and delicious, great balance, rich! In a perfect place to drink now. Wish I had this in my cellar! Marvelous!...
|Iron Chevsky and Erwan Faiveley (right), with his outstanding 2013 Corton-Charlemagne.|
At the 2015 Frederick Wildman Burgundy portfolio tasting in San Francisco, I got a chance to sample some very good wines from the upcoming 2013 vintage. Some (like Olivier Leflaive) are currently being bottled while others are a few months away. But the vintage characteristics already shine through. And I very much liked what I saw, at least from the top producers at this tasting.
I generally preferred the reds here to the 2012's. While the 2012 is hyped by many as a great vintage, I personally don't think so. The 2012 reds are fluffy, juicy and plush - but they seem to lack structure. The 2013's on the other hand have it - they are more serious and angular, with nice ripe dark fruits reminiscent of black tea, with tart acidity and fine tannins. The acidity seems to stick out just a bit on some of the reds at this early stage, but I think it will integrate nicely in the coming months and years, as the reds have plenty of material. The whites are more mixed, some a bit lean and acidic, which on the other hand makes them appear more pure, focused and mineral/terroir-driven, not a bad thing.
Armand Rousseau and Faiveley impressed - no surprise there! All four Rousseau wines were fantastic - Gevrey-Chambertin villages (very good this year, concentrated blackberry and black tea and hint of black pepper, a serious village wine. It has about 10% 1er cru juice, and also this year they removed one of the under-performing village plots, further boosting quality of the final blend), Lavaux St Jacques (more intense than the village Gevrey, with a pronounced pepper note), seemingly more integrated Mazy, and Beze with even more depth and refinement, a wow wine! The four Rousseau's Gevrey's were deeper, denser and darker than Faiveley's, with consistent black tea signature running through, balanced by tart (cranberry / citrus) acidity, without overt tannins. I liked them better than Rousseau 2012's at this point last year, which seemed more formidable and monolithic.
All four Rousseau reds were fantastic. As was ever-so-delightfully saucy Cyrielle Rousseau herself (Eric Rousseau's daughter).
The Faiveley table seemed the busiest at the tasting, undoubtedly a tribute to the rising popularity of this domaine. The standouts for me included Gevrey Cazetiers (though a bit reduced at this stage, with strong note of meat) and Chambertin Clos de Beze (delicious and multi-faceted, I can only imagine how wonderful cuvee "Les Ouvrees Rodin" must be!...