2017 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis 1er Cru “Montée de Tonnerre” White Burgundy, France.
The Raveneau Montée de Tonnerre is my favorite Chablis, so the opportunity to taste it again recently was rare treat, especially as hard as it is to get a bottle, a big thank you to the nice people at Kermit Lynch, who were celebrating their and his 50th Anniversary as an importer and had the Raveneau’s pouring a selection of wines, including this gorgeous 2017 Montée de Tonnerre, which was stunning on the day. Raveneau is is one of world’s great white wine producers and makes some of the most sought after, and sadly some of the most expensive, wines, that enthusiasts and collectors clammer to get their hands and palates on. So, these days, it is beyond rare for me to taste these wines, let along get a bottle, but wow, it was fabulous to sample this one, with enough age on it to allow for its full rewards to show. I was lucky enough to try a few prior vintages, from 2010 to 2014, and even poured the 2011 Montée de Tonnerre for a special La Paulée (Burgundy themed) tasting in San Francisco, which was fabulous. This 2017 is still racy, citrus and mineral intense, but has gained a beautiful textural quality and added secondary elements, with clove spice, golden fig, white peach and a subtle butter cream note to go with steely wet stone, lemon, leesy hazelnut, chalky oyster shell and apple, all lifted by a soft framing of acidity and mouth watering salinity. This wine is renown for its bracing personality, intensity and taut firm structure, especially when young, but this vintage has just the right amount of residual tension and it is deliciously creamy, again without losing its vigor and sense of flinty terroir.
The Domaine Francois Raveneau, founded in 1948, in the post war boom years, but it was under Francois’ sons, Bernard and Jean-Marie who brought international fame and fortune to this small estate, utilizing small prime plots of vines, including three Grand Cru vineyards (Blanchot, Les Clos, and Valmur) and six Premier Crus (Montée de Tonnerre, Les Vaillons, Butteaux, Chapelot, Mont-Mains, and Forêt). Now, the next generation is getting their feet wet here at Raveneau, though nothing is changing, as Bernard’s daughter, Isabelle, has joined in the running of the property, and it was her, who was at Kermit’s awesome 50th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting, though she had a huge crowd and I wasn’t able to get her even for a moment to express her opinions on the wines. Well, the wine did the talking and it was glorious, even so, I hope I get a chance to meet her again and hear her thoughts. The Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre vineyard is close to the Grand Cru hill and on the classic Kimmeridgian Limestone soils, with Raveneau’s parcels (vines) being over 50 years old, that coupled with a cool climate makes for bracing wines, which Raveneau does to perfection. The winemaking is fairly strict and traditional, the grapes are gently pressed with a pneumatic press and settled, then the juice is racked off its lees into cuve to ferment cool, lasting about two weeks. After which the wine goes through malolactic fermentation in barrel and aged for 18 months in mainly older oak wood and almost exclusively from barrel-maker Chassin, with only a tiny percentage of new oak employed. Again, what a pleasure and a treat it was to have a chance to savory one of my all time favorite wines, especially with the scarcity and cost these days, I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to sip on a mature Raveneau!
($300 to $549 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive