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Average critic rating : 93.0 points
The 2012 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons has a strict walnut and granite-scented nose with just a hint of tobacco (not often found in white wines.) The palate is extremely well-balanced and spicier than the 2013. The longer this remains in the mouth, the more vibrant and excitable it becomes, finishing in some style with shimmering lemongrass and lime zest. Excellent. Drink 2015-2026. ||Though I have walked past many times and tasted their wines on many a pleasurable occasion, this was actually my first, and I hope not last, visit to the most iconic of Chablis producers. “Raveneau set the standards of excellence few aspire to,” wrote Rosemary George in her indispensable (and over-looked guide) to Chablis. Few would disagree with that sentiment, though I would never say that Raveneau is beyond reproach. Les freres Raveneau, Bernard and Jean-Marie presently run the estate and it was the former that opened the door in the Rue de Chichee, accompanied by his daughter Isabelle. Before commencing with the tasting that encompassed both 2013 and 2012, I asked Bernard about the differences between the two vintages. “The 2013 has been in barrel for around 6 or 7 weeks,” he told me. “We started the harvest on October 2, while the 2012 began on September 22. The 2013s are quite rich with slightly lower acidity than usual. The Right Slope wines are more tendu (taut) and interesting. We were a bit worried about the 2013s with regard to the quality of the grapes and the lack of acidity. They are not typical of Chablis, but they are very open and exotic. You find more minerality as you go up through the range, and vine age had an impact. There was 30mm of rain on Saturday, October 5 and it was so strong that the ripe berries fell off of the vine. The 2012 is completely different. It is more ‘Chablis’: perfect and very healthy grapes, small in terms of yield, around half the normal harvest. This was due to the spring frost, bad weather during flowering, a bit of hail and a lot of wind. Just before putting up the wires together we had a storm and a lot of the canes were damaged. There was a humid July with a lot of rain and so we decided to leaf pluck. Then there was a heatwave in August when the temperature was so high that some of the berries were burned. But in September, there were perfect conditions. There was slightly higher acidity in 2012 than 2013 but more homogeneity.” I then asked Bernard if there was a vintage he might compare 2012 to, and after consideration he suggested a mixture of the 1994 and 2001.||N.B. Kermit Lynch informed me that they have not set the prices of either 2012 or 2013 at time of writing. Wine Advocate.August, 2014
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