2013 Chablis Butteaux Domaine Raveneau

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£754.00 DP

Average critic rating : 93.0 points



The 2013 Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux has a sensual nose with subtle hazelnut, smoke and almost resinous scents, verging on Riesling scents, that are beautifully defined. The palate is fresh and vibrant on the entry with pleasing, mouth-watering salinity, easing back toward the finish with Granny Smith apples and a healthy dash of lemongrass. I can imagine this changing a lot in bottle – it comes across as a mercurial Chablis Butteaux. ||It is stiflingly hot in Chablis. The sun is beating down mercilessly. What better way to cool down than a tasting at Domaine Raveneau? Isabelle Raveneau, who has taken an increasingly central role in the running of Chablis’ most famous Domaine, advised that it was particularly cool down in their barrel cellar and recommended a jacket, a thought that was inconceivable given the heat outside. I told her that I would relish the chance to cool down in a T-shirt and managed to taste through their 2013s in bottle and 2014s from barrel without contracting hypothermia.||“We are happy with the overall quality of the 2013s given the vintage,” Isabelle told me in her impeccable English, honed during her time living in Kent. “September was very sunny but you had humidity, so the grapes turned from ‘just about ripe’ to rot within a week. How quick you harvested was important as botrytis was spread and yields were getting low. Everything harvested at the beginning was more “classic," for example the Vaillons, compared to say the Fôrets that was harvested later. It was very frustrating. The berries were not very healthy, so we had to use more sulfur than usual. That damages the bacteria and delayed the fermentation and the malolactic. We had to make sure that the juices were clear when they were being racked. You had to be attentive what you were doing and monitor all the time. We bottled two months earlier than usual as they felt they were ready. The acidity is lower and we wanted to keep the freshness and fruit. That was fine because we racked the 2014s early in January, so everything worked out. The 2013s have a botrytis character. I don’t think it is a vintage to age because the levels of acidity are lower. The lack of wine was a real issue for some domaines in 2013.”||“With respect to 2014 - everything changed on August 20. We had a very sunny and warm September and even October was lovely. We picked from September 17 for about five-and-a-half days. It is because of this good weather that the fermentation went smoothly. In 2014, everything was finished before Xmas. By then it was ready to be racked and the wines could come down into the cellar. But for 2013, the malolactics were sometimes still going on in January so we had to keep heating until the summer, yet still the malolactic was going really slow.” ||This is an interesting point. Referring to my opening sentence and Raveneau’s temperature inside their barrel cellar, I discerned that they are one or two degrees cooler than other cellars and this would naturally retard the malolactic, which appears to be the case with respect to the 2013s. Some winemakers actually prefer a slower malolactic, believing that it imparts more complexity, though to be honest I am not totally sold on that theory (unlike a slow alcoholic fermentation of course.) ||The two vintages are commensurate with the style that I was passim in Chablis: the 2013s softer and rounded, more approachable, less severe and the 2014s more taut and mineral driven, perhaps more reflective of their respective terroirs, more “Chablis” in a way. My preference leans toward the 2014s, though as you might expect, their 2013s represent some of the best you will find in Chablis. You might argue that should be the case since they are often the most expensive, though simply by dining at one of the local restaurants, you’ll soon see that their ex-cellar prices are little more that other growers’. It is the secondary market, cultism and speculation that adds the premium. One piece of news is that 2014 sees a new addition to the range – at the “bottom” rather than “top end." For the first time, Domaine Raveneau will offer a Petit Chablis and it should served as an ideal introduction to the delights of this Estate. “It comes from a parcel of vines located on top of Vaudésir on the flat area of the plateau. They were planted in 2010,” Isabelle informed.||The 2014s contain huge potential. Even from barrel the tension and energy in these wines is compelling. I tasted few Chablis wines that could match Domaine Raveneau’s Chablis Blanchots that manages to combine intensity and severity. In some ways, it is an uncompromising Chablis wine – but you would not want it any other way. I thought that the finest Premier Crus from Raveneau actually touch the quality of the Grand Crus this year, perhaps none more so than their spellbinding Chablis Montée de Tonnerre that just crescendos in the mouth. ||Following our tasting, it was time to re-enter the outside world that was as hot as it had been ninety minutes earlier. I am tempted to ask Isabelle whether it is possible to spend the rest of the afternoon in their cellar, but I my next appointment next-door at Jean-Dauvissat awaited. It had been a wonderful tasting. Throughout the week, I pick up odd mature bottles of Raveneau that are so much cheaper than elsewhere. There is something inevitably sad that merchants and restaurants see Raveneau as an opportunity to hike prices, so one must take the opportunity. These bottles serve as a reminder how their wines benefit, blossom and achieve a “higher plane” with ten or twenty years in bottle. No, not every bottle will age as gracefully, and I have heard in the past that there are some vintages that have not escaped the dreaded premature oxidation problem, although I find less incidences myself. But there can be no denying the quality inside every waxed bottle of Raveneau, the care and complexity within. eRobertParker.com.August, 2015


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