2011 Domaine Labet, Chardonnay, Cotes du Jura “Les Varrons” Vin Ouille, France.
A deep and pretty Chardonnay from Domaine Labet, this Cotes du Jura Les Varrons wine is a Vin Ouille, non flor, offering that is fresh and vivid with Burgundy like class with brilliant minerallite and Premier Cru density. Domaine Labet is a traditional house in the Jura, and while they do the oxidative style too, they excel in the topped up barrel style as this one shows clearly, this is a solid label to look for, imported by Charles Neal, and their Chardonnay is always a great choice, especially this version. Julien Labet, who is taking over the Domaine is exploring “natural wines” with his own label, but goes classical here and this 2011 Labet Les Varrons is performing with verve and panache, still vivid and delicately pale in the glass, opening to a medium full bodied Chardonnay with a steely edge, but with maturing flavors and understated richness with layers of bosc pear, golden delicious apple, kumquat, dried apricot, quince and lemon butter as well as wet stones, chalk and briny essences. This distinctly unique Chardonnay gains a bit of earth, spice and fleshy mouth feel with air along with hints of herb and floral tones in a wonderfully balanced wine with brisk intensity and pleasing texture. The single parcel Les Varrons Chardonnay is from 65+ year old vines set on Benthonien and Bajocien limestone with clay and eolien sediment, some of the most ancient in Europe, it is fermented using native yeasts and then raised on it’s fine lees in 225 French barrels, mostly well used, and as a side note Julien (Labet) studied at Domaine Ramonet in Chassagne-Montrachet and in South Africa at Hamilton-Russell, both makers of world class Chards! This 2011 has turned into a slightly exotic and stylish wine, somewhat of a thrill for me to pop the cork on as this wine was a bit of an afterthought, since I was at first after Julien’s own label red blend Metis (Trousseau, Pinot and Poulsard), though now I’m so glad I was able to drink this one, it’s a beauty right now and it will be an intriguing wine to follow further into the future.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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