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The Brothers Raveneau are a dream team. They carry the family torch with pride, yet with a reserve, pragmatism, and humility that is more likely found among true farmers than the artists they are. There is no set division of labor between the brothers, just “all hands on deck,” as each one brings his own expertise to the mix. Jean-Marie attended the Lycée Viticole in Beaune, and has been with the domaine since 1978. In 1995 when François retired, Bernard finally joined his brother at the domaine after years of working for a négociant.
Together, they farm nearly eight hectares of land, 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). In a cool climate like Chablis, vines find their strength in the rich clay and chalky limestone of the Kimmeridgian chain.
Located near Auxerre in the department of Yonne, the Chablis vineyards lie along a little river aptly named the Serein (" serene "). Vines began to growth during the Roman era. In the 12th century, the Cistercian monks from the abbey of Pontigny developed its cultivation. The AOC Chablis Premier Cru was officially created in January 1938, thus confirming the excellent qualities of this dry white wine which, unlike the wines of some other regions, has held onto its excellent reputation throughout history thanks to the exceptionally high quality of its raw material - the Chardonnay grape.
Premier cru:No French wine-growing area has pinned its faith more firmly on the facts of geology. The main substrata is Jurassic limestone (specifically, Kimmeridgian limestone) laid down some 150 million years ago. The rock contains deposits of tiny fossilised oyster shells which remind us that Burgundy once lay beneath a warm ocean. The Premier Cru " Climats " lie on either side of the River Serein which runs through the vineyards from south to north, but the most highly thought-of Premiers Crus lie on the right bank, enclosing the Grand Cru terroirs which also lie on that side of the river. Chablis: The rock contains deposits of tiny fossilised oyster shells which remind us that Burgundy once lay beneath a warm ocean. Some particularly valuable " terroirs " produce the Premiers Crus.
White Premier cru: pale gold in colour. To the nose, the full extent of its aromatic potential is not instantly apparent. It needs a little airing. This is a wine with good aging potential (5 or sometimes up to 10 years). Each " climat " has its own typicity, depending on soil and exposure. The wines are well-built and long in the mouth. The Premier Cru Chablis wines beguile the palate, whether mineral and tight in their youth or flowery and developing delicate and subtle aromas with age.
White Chablis: colour is rather light - pale gold or greeny-gold. Nose very fresh, lively and mineral with flint, green apple, lemon, underbrush and field mushroom. Notes of lime-flower, mint, and acacia occur frequently, as do aromas of liquorice and freshly-cut hay. Age depens the colour and adds a note of spice to the bouquet. On the palate, these aromas retain their freshness for an extended period. Perky and full of juice, it has an attack like an infantry charge. Long and likeable persistence leads to a smooth and serene finish. Very dry and impeccably delicate, Chablis has a unique and readily-recognisable personality. The name " Chablis " is widely usurped on all five continents by wines which have absolutely no right to it. Be forewarned: there is only one true Chablis.
Premier cru: Aromatically, the Premier Cru is highly complex and therefore highly adaptable. Good matches will include cooked oysters and fish in sauce. The more mineral versions of this wine can be served with fine poultry or veal in white sauce. The more open variations are a wonderful accompaniment to small tripe sausages (andouillettes) and the burgundian specialty of snails (escargots). This is a wine with real breeding, and also does justice to the local specialty of ham in Chablis (jambon au Chablis).
Serving temperature: 10 to 11°C
Chablis: White: this wine is a true boon to fine food. It can be enjoyed young (2-3 years old) with fish or poultry terrines, or with grilled or poached fish. It also goes well with asparagus, wich is normally difficult to match. Meanwhile, don’t forget exotic cuisine: it can handle curries or tandoori dishes and it also balances out the mellow and subtle textures of sushi. Or you could
simply drink it as splendid pre-dinner drink. It harmonizes well with goat cheeses, as well as Beaufort, Comté, or Emmental.
Serving temperature: 10 to 11°C
Burgundy 2018: An ideal vintage
The 2018 vintage was met with a unanimous show of satisfaction from the north of Bourgogne to the south. The exceptional weather, especially during the harvest period, resulted in grapes with perfect health, allowing picking to extend over almost a whole month. Initial tastings ahead of the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction have given an early idea that 2018 will be a truly great year.
The vines had built up some reserves over winter thanks to some very rainy weather, and the growth cycle began on the late side. When the sun started to show in April, the vines sprang into life, with budburst taking place very rapidly. The mild weather then allowed the plants to make up for lost time, even getting ahead of the average. Frosts in April sent a shudder across the whole region, but damage remained very limited. Flowering and fruit setting took place without hindrance.
Summer saw constant heat and drought, apart from a few hail storms in early July that were of no great consequence. The vines continued to grow at a fast pace until mid-August. Veraison took a little longer in places, the heat and lack of water affecting some of the younger vineyards. Nonetheless, since the hydric reserves had been restocked over winter, most of the vines came to maturity nicely thanks to the ideal weather conditions.
The first grapes were picked in the last 10 days of August. Since the dates of flowering, the rainfall and temperature varied greatly from one area to another, harvesting extended into the last 10 days of September.
The fruit was in extraordinarily good health, and the weather was perfect, allowing each winemaker to harvest at the optimum moment. The mood was serene across the whole wine region, producers enjoying this magnificent vintage that combined quality and quantity. Many think this will be one of the best vintages in many years.
Vinification of the whites went without a problem, the grapes having retained a good level of acidity despite the heat.
The reds required a little more attention during vinification due to the relatively high level of potential alcohol.
In 2018, the aromatic complexity of the white wines is incredible. They are explosive on the nose, with an amazing diversity that reflects each terroir. The wines have a certain crispness and good minerality. In the mouth, they are rounded and generous, balanced with a nice tension.
The 2018 reds have a seductive intense color. They are already well structured and powerful, with nicely- integrated tannins and good concentration of fruit. These exceptional wines are perfectly balanced, and are already tasting well in their first flush of youth.
This is a delicious vintage with splendid maturity.
Crémant de Bourgogne
This is a benchmark year, with expressive aromas that vary from one varietal to another, promising balanced and aromatic base wines. The Pinot Noirs are generous, with notes of cherry and rose, resulting in balanced wines with a pleasant freshness. The Chardonnays are powerful, with moderate acidity, making them well- rounded. The fruit aromas reveal some exotic notes, nuanced by fragrances of apple and peach. The Gamays have delicate aromas of raspberry and strawberry, underscored by citrus touches (clementine, lemon). The Aligotés are sharp and lemony, as usual, with good length in the mouth.