This is part deux of my report on the gathering of minds and palates at Barry’s place on March 20th. I will post the notes on the reds in a separate thread.
Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2001 – Domaine François Raveneau
Our first bottle of Chablis of the day is sporting a medium intense yellow core, with a golden highlight and a clearing rim. The nose is medium-plus intense and shows notes of butter, ripe yellow fruits, a hint of botrytized diesel, some honey, a licorice mineral touch and lemon sherbet. The attack reveals a medium-plus bodied wine with medium acidity, which is fully integrated into minerally infused, medium-plus intense lemon cheesecake flavours. With time in the glass, notes of butter candy give some added complexity while the mineral flavours assert themselves some more and provide some lift. This wine has very good texture and does 20-25 seconds on the finish, where it remains complex and refined if perhaps lacking the line which Chablis is known for. 91 points and this should be drunk now or over the next two years.
Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux 2000 – Domaine François Raveneau
The colour seems a slightly less intense version of the previous wine, without the golden hue. Here too, the nose is medium-plus intense but less complex. Yet, this noble south-bank 1er Cru conveys medium-plus intense notes of ripe pears and pit fruits, some hazelnut, again a hint of butter candy and a slight Serein clay mineral touch.
Medium-plus bodied, this wine does sport pronounced acidity, which is nonetheless largely buffered by the mid-palate flavours and glycerine-laden texture. Intense, albeit still relatively simple flavours of lemon sherbet are lifted by a pronounced cretaceous mineral infusion. There’s seems a slight oxidative hint present, but given an excellent line of pronounced acidity paired with impressive concentration, this puppy may yet surprise us in the future. The minerally driven finish adds an extra jolt of intensity, but is otherwise an exercise in balance, which is maintained even beyond the 35 second mark. I’ll give 92 points for this showing with two for potential, but my next bottle (I have none) would be slated for 2015. Having said that, there seem to be some reports of advanced bottles floating around the web…
Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux 2002 – Domaine François Raveneau
Virtually undistinguishable in colour from its older sibling, this Butteaux starts out but medium intense on the nose, but that doesn’t keep it from displaying serious elegance and precision. Fresh notes of ripe limes, fennel, licorice & oyster shell minerality and a hint of creaminess are shining brightly without anything dominating the rest.
On the attack, this wine is slightly more than medium bodied after which a combined effort from both pronounced acidity and minerality lends tremendous lift to the intense flavours of lemon sherbet, saline oyster-shell, fresh spearmint and fennel bulb. Not as dense and oily as the 2000, it is however much more elegant and a poster child for the old axiom of weightless intensity. Its balance is impeccable and I’m usually not given to metaphoric allusions, but in that sense it reminds me of Mozart’s best work. The 35 second finish is another masterpiece of balance, finesse and elegance and manages to add an ashy mineral edge, which lasts for at least half a minute longer.
This is hands down the best 1er Cru Chablis I ever tasted and with that in mind, 94 points seem stingy. Considering its youngish demeanour and sound structure, it may even improve a point but if you have enough stashed away or you like your Raveneau on the adolescent side, then do yourself the huge favour of popping one.
**Puligny-Montrachet “Pucelles” 1er Cru 2007 – Domaine Marc More**y
This wine sees 50% new oak pièces and is not quite medium intense straw coloured with a slight green tinge. Initially, the nose –while medium-plus intense– is rather peculiar and shows reductive notes of Roquefort cheese. This takes twenty minutes to subside and make room for nervous agrumes and cretaceous mineral notes.
The body is about medium, while slight saline minerality and pronounced acidity lend lift. On the mid-palate, this wine still shows its wood treatment in toasty flavours and some creaminess, but it is somewhat closed in on itself otherwise. And yet, it somehow pulls off medium flavour intensity and I quite enjoy the pebbly minerality on the 25 second finish.
I think this wine has excellent potential and the nervous edge the vintage imparts on it is right up my alley. I award 90 points for this showing, but giving it a minimum of five years in the cellar may see it reach as high as 93 if the p’ox doesn’t claim it first.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Boudriotte” 1999 – Domaine Ramonet
Not having had a bottle from my formerly favourite Côte de Beaune domaine for quite some time, I was really looking forward to this! It’s medium intense, bright golden yellow at the core while there is distinct clearing towards the rim.
Medium intense on the nose at first, the wine offers up fresh citrus fruits against a somewhat dirty and rustic background of manure and stable. This must have been reduction, because with a couple of minutes of oxygen, it makes room for notes of white flowers, some lifted menthol and an impression of pebbly minerals.
A medium-plus body is soon paired with medium-plus acidity and ditto intense notes of lemon sherbet and cashew nuts, while aforementioned pebbles are quite present here as well. Texturally, the wine is pleasant and while it does well to avoid any heaviness, it is somewhat lacking in precision and line on the 20-25 second finish… compared to the Raveneaux anyway. Notwithstanding all that, 91 points are warranted and drink this wine now or over the next 2-3 years.
Meursault “Les Narvaux” 2004 – Domaine d’Auvenay
Opened up for examination at 11AM by our gracious host. According to him, the sulphur made his eyes water so this wine was the only one to be doubly decanted and given 6 hours to absorb even more oxygen.
Not quite medium intense straw in colour, there is still some green present at the rim. The nose is pronounced and still somewhat sulfurous, resembling chicken excrement. This unpleasantness is drowned out after 5 minutes in a caraffe, by typical notes of ripe pear, hazelnut, chlorine minerality, toast en slight wood spice. This is by all means a young wine, but it does not lack precision.
Definitely fullbodied on the attack, huge acidity lends this wine the tremendous lift needed for freshness and its extraction levels belong to a different dimension compared to the previously tasted. Pronounced, hazelnut-infused peachy flavours are still accompanied by a caramel edge at this point in its evolution, but buckets of sève, good overall balance and similar texture keep this wine approachable. The finish clocks in at an amazing 40-60 seconds –I can’t be more precise than that, I’m afraid– but this wine is quite superlative in everything else as well.
I’ll bet this will take the ribbon at many a comparative tasting, but despite its good balance I would not drink more than a glass of it, which is exactly my qualm with this style of wine making. As usual, that presents me with the problem of how to score these wines, but I couldn’t possible go lower than 92 points with unknown potential. Having said that, after 30 minutes more luxurious oak flavours replace the SO2 and finally settle on butterscotch.