Bernard Raveneau
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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Bernard Raveneau describes the family's 2006s as "very rich and supple, more like Burgundies to our south." The wines started out a bit like the 2003s, he told me, "but with more freshness and minerality, and a less exotic character." The fermentations were long, and most of the wines finished with about two grams per liter of residual sugar. This will no doubt give them more early personality and appeal than the 2005s here-a crop of wines that Raveneau describes as "more structured and solid, and possibly a vintage with great aging potential." Raveneau compares his 2005s to 2002, but believes they're even richer than the earlier set of wines. Still, he admitted, as he gets older he increasingly prefers wines with a bit more fruit and less obvious structure because they're less tiring to drink. Bernard and brother Jean-Marie buy less than 10% new oak each year. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA)

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Foret

Subtle, reticent aromas of citrus and minerals. Juicy, fresh and precise, with good energy to the lime, lemon and spearmint flavors. On the lean side but quite brisk for the year.

88-91

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Montmain

(the Raveneaus have relatively young vines here) Subtly complex aromas of fresh hay, herbs, lemon and lime. Juicy and sharply chiseled, with good limey lift to the flavors of citrus zest and white flowers. This boasts a lovely sugar/acid snap and finishes with considerable early sex appeal. Very tasty already.

89-92

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Vaillons

Good pale, green-tinged color. Rather austere nose suggests menthol and stone. Steely and bracing, with bright, deep flavors of citrus peel, flowers and crushed stone. The older vines here give the wine more structure, not to mention amplitude, notes Bernard Raveneau. Finishes shapely, brisk and long, with complex hints of grapefruit, pineapple and toast.

90-93

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Butteaux

(tasted from a one-year-old feuillatte Good pale color. Reticent citrus peel nose complemented by a grilled note. Juicy, tight and metallic; this is all cut today yet avoids coming off as hard. Finishes precise and long, with slowly mounting flavors of grapefruit, powdered stone and mint coating the palate. Less showy than the Vaillons, with a tighter grain.

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre

Reticent aromas of hay, minerals and smoke, plus a bit of spice from the feuillatte Dense, round and silky but sharply focused, with an impressively deep core of citrus, stone fruit, fresh herb and spice flavors. Explosive rising finish offers a rare combination of finesse and power. This boasts a terrific spinal column of fruit.

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Chapelot

(just six barrels made, from 50-year-old vines) Precise, metallic, high-pitched aromas of lemon and stone. Very pure and structured, with tangy acidity and outstanding citric cut for the year. Quite tight today and less expressive and refined than the Montee de Tonnerre but this penetrating, bound-up wine boasts superb vinosity that's rare for the vintage. This will need patience.

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Blanchots

(from the estate's oldest vines) Very ripe aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, with suggestions of exotic fruits; the nose suggests an opulent wine. Then quite backward and dry on the palate, with powerful flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and stone. This is hard to taste today despite its full ripeness, as there's no early sweetness here. Rather austere on the aftertaste. This, too, will require a good seven or eight years of cellaring.

91-93

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Valmur

Good pale, green-tinged color. Subtle, pure, perfumed aromas of lime, powdered stone and spearmint. The palate offers a subtle sweetness but bright acidity and underlying minerality give the flavors terrific precision and stony cut. A very classic style, at least as closed as the Blanchots but not at all hard, thanks to a lovely sugar/acid balance. The exhilarating, palate-staining flavors of white grapefruit, lemon and stone perk up the salivary glands. This one really captured my attention today.

92-95

2006 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Clos

Ineffable nose suggests lemon peel, fresh hay, white flowers, stone and mint. Densely packed but suave and supple, with great depth and vivacity to the flavors of citrus fruits, powdered stone and flowers. This one seems to combine all of the best qualities of the 2006s at this address. A very complete, complex wine with a fine-grained, mounting finish and great energy to its piquant flavors of grapefruit and underripe pineapple. Not a Clos with huge structure but this boasts superb balance and grip, and a rising finish that ranks it as an early candidate for wine of the vintage. As is so often the case, Bernard Raveneau suggests starting to drink the Foret and Montmain after five years, but waiting longer on the rest of the estate's crus.

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Foret

Pale, green-tinged color. Aromas of lime, wet stone and menthol. Round and ripe, with appealing flavors of stone fruits and acacia flower. Fat and broad but dry and classic, with plenty of stuffing. Very good but a bit less pristine than the 2006 version.

89

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Montmain

Pale, bright yellow. Broad aromas of citrus fruits, butter, toasted bread and minerals. Rich, ripe and nicely concentrated, with sexy stone fruit flavors nicely framed by harmonious acidity. Full and pliant but not at all heavy thanks to its lingering aftertaste of dusty minerality. A superb showing today.

92

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Vaillons

Bright, pale yellow. Highly aromatic nose combines citrus peel, toast and hazelnut; more pristine than the Foret and Montmain. Fat, ripe, rich and dry, with superb breadth and chewiness to the white peach, citrus and mineral flavors. This really saturates the entire palate with flavor. Finishes quite full, long and strong, with exhilarating acidity giving it a light touch. Like the Montmain, this is even more impressive than it showed from barrel a year ago.

93

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Butteaux

Good pale, green-tinged color. Stony, pure and subdued on the nose. Tightly wound today, with the citrus, mineral and spicy oak flavors coming across as dry, even austere. Strong acids and minerality give the finish a faint hard edge and make this tricky to taste today. Right now the fruit is in the deep background.

89(+?)?
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2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre

Bright, pale yellow. Pure but reticent aromas of citrus peel, hazelnut, clove and minerals; even more strict today than the Butteaux. Powerful but almost painfully closed, dominated today by citric and mineral cut and a flavor of wet stone. A very rich but austere wine that's presently hard to taste. Finishes broad, layered and quite dry, with a ripe, honeyed quality. This will almost certainly be for drinking after the '06.

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Chapelot

Good pale yellow. Pure, steely aromas of lemon drop, minerals and powdered stone. Dry and classic, conveying an impression of brooding power. And yet this high-pitched, penetrating wine comes across as more elegant and delicate than the Montee de Tonnerre. Saturates the palate with lemon and crushed stone on the very long, almost painful aftertaste.

93(+?)
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2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Blanchots

Pale yellow. High-toned, slightly exotic pineapple aroma-"heavier, like the '06," notes Bernard Raveneau. Fat and oily on the palate but with a very dry impression in spite of its ripe pineapple flavors. Very long and a bit warm on the back end, with a trace of finishing bitterness. In style this is more Cote de Beaune than Chablis. Much broader than the sample I tasted a year ago from barrel. Today, this one strikes me as the oddball among these 2005s.

90(+?)

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Valmur

Pale yellow. Brisk, pure aromas of citrus skin, powdered stone, quinine and iodine. Juicy and citric on entry, then supple and rich in the middle, but with superb energy giving shape and grip to the lemon-lime, citrus, stone and floral flavors. Conveys an impression of sucrosite but also comes across as wonderfully fresh and taut. Pure, palate-dusting, rising finish boasts terrific lift and aromatic perfume. Valmur is favored in hot years, notes Raveneau. "The vines here run north-south, which enables them to resist the mid-day sun and retain freshness."

2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis Clos

Pale yellow. Ineffable nose combines fresh pineapple, grapefruit, crushed stone and menthol. Pure, taut, extremely backward wine that's like sucking on a mouthful of rocks today. Like a richer and even more austere version of the Montee de Tonnerre. With no obvious sweetness showing today, this is revealing more than it's showing. Finishes very long and very dry, with a purity of mineral expression that's rare for this vintage. Less likable today than the Valmur but even denser. This will require at least a decade of cellaring.

95(+?)
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