Raveneau – Easily the most famous Chablis estate, with highly sought after (and hence highly priced) wines of the utmost sophistication that clearly reflect the terroir of Chablis.
This tasting was organised by Gary Steel of Domaine Wine Shippers (Raveneau importers) and I can’t help but be jealous of the man who imports Rousseau & Raveneau.
What did surprise me was the vintage variation, which was very pronounced, even in the young 2005 & 2004 vintages. You could broadly break down the wines into the drier, waxier & cooler vintage styles vs the more opulent, quite new world Chardonnay like styles (I find them both attractive). I think that for most vintages, 7-10yrs of age seems to be prime drinking, though with the inherent acid backbone of this style age is certainly not a barrier. The colour didn’t change all that much from the 93-05 either.
2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
Its a very big wine, and the oak is surprisingly obvious (considering that it is largely old oak) but if you are looking for power & richness, this is your wine. Honey & slate on the nose with bold vanillan oak, the palate starts rich & intense with golden fruit that then melds into firm acidity on the back. Definitely not a classic Chablis style, its a bit blocky for that, but real mouthfuls of power and flavour and still with resounding acidity. 18.7+/20
2004 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
Closed and so very backward after the 05, this lacks the intensity, but more than makes up for it with prominent acidity. The nosey gives a bit of vanilla bean & citrus, the palate is waxy, very lean with a very strong, citric acid dominated palate. The acidity is bracing (to say the least) & the whole package is retracting into itself and seems a little dumb at present. The acidity will see it through, but its not much of a drink right now. Leave it in the cellar – will improve with time. 18+/20
2002 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
This was my eventual favourite, closely followed by the 1999. Its a bright gold colour, the nose has restrained lemon & beeswax. Its a floral but still reticent nose, with hidden delights. The palate is very tight with lemony fruit & overt citrussy acidity. Very long with a clarity of fruit and precise prominent acidity. Such a complete wine. 19/20
2001 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
A lively, approachable and open knit wine, this is immediately enjoyable, if a rather ripe interpretation. There is a hint of honey & even marmalade on the nose, with more trademark lemon. The palate has a slight honey edge to the lemons & slate, the acidity is much less prominent. The whole package is tasty, generous & lovely – if a very ready and less serious style. This and the 99 were commented upon as the most drinkable at this very moment. 18.8/20
2000 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
After the past couple of real stunners, this seemed awkward and quite developed. The nose had mealy, slightly blowsy developed Chardonnay fruit & honey, the palate is racked with straw & its a little on the fat side. Acidity is still tingling, but its not a complete wine and I’m no fan of where its going. 17.4
1999 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
This was right up there as one of my favourites & I think this shares alot of similarities with the 02. The nose has some very light apricot and peach that is creeping in over the top of the lemon fruit, the palate is still tight & waxy with long acidity. Its actually quite creamy & very long, with excellent acid driven intensity. Will keep, though its a very nice drink now. 19/20
1996 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
Lesser. This had a golden straw colour, a still quite tight nose, but there is a distracting mothball aroma going on. The palate is all lemon with still huge acidity that is tingling and quite severe. I found the secondary mothball characters quite distracting here and the sheer weight of acidity couldn’t cover this up. A very acidic yr (and apparently very similar to 2004 with its acid intensity) but I wasn’t a big fan & the secondary characters weren’t all that appealing. 17.2
1993 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre
The most secondary of the lot and from a crap yr, this was the least appealing wine of the lineup. Still bright gold in colour. The nose is faintly yeasty, with an aroma that is faintly yeasty & honeyed, the palate still has great honey fruit with prominent acidity still at play, though I think it has hit the plateau and is on the way down the other side. 17