2017 Domaine Raveneau Petit Chablis 1.5 L

Year: 2017
Appellation: Chablis
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 89
Vinous Media: 89
James Suckling: 90
Burghound: 86-88
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.0%
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"The 2017 Petit Chablis reveals pretty aromas of white flowers, citrus zest, fresh peach and crisp green apple, followed by a medium to full-bodied, lively palate that's pure, precise and delicately textural. Bottled only in magnum, these vines—which are located on the plateau above the grand cru slope—were only planted in 2010, but they're already delivering terrific results.

In last year's Chablis report, I wondered aloud how one explains the Raveneau magic? Yields here aren't excessively high, but they're not the region's lowest. Fermentation at between 18 degrees and 20 degrees centigrade in tank, followed by élevage in used barrels define the very elementary outlines of the winemaking process—a description that would equally apply to Vincent Dauvissat's stylistically different wines. The devil, presumably, is in the details.

This year's visit with Bernard Raveneau, with whom I passed a fascinating two hours, revealed a new piece of the puzzle. When I inquired about the importance of lees during the wine's time in wood, Raveneau's response was memorable: "I've never understood why we change babies, whereas we leave a wine in its excrement!" Clearly, therefore, the Raveneau wines go to barrel after their fermentation in tank with very little in the way of solids, and perhaps this provides a point of distinction—in addition, of course, to different approaches in the vineyards—with Vincent Dauvissat's more reductive wines. In any case, as I wrote last year, I'm content to ponder the domaine's mysteries for the foreseeable future, as the Domaine Raveneau is undoubtedly the source of some of Chablis's greatest wines—and its most dependably long-lived.

The 2017s, which were bottled during my two weeks in Chablis, increasingly resemble the domaine's 2010s, though they're a touch more extroverted and expressive in style. While acknowledging that "people will fixate on the Clos and Montée de Tonnerre," I suspect Raveneau may have shared my preference for the Butteaux and Valmur over their more famous siblings in this year's collection. Tasted from barrel, where they had only just begun their élevage, the 2018s—which represent the first copious yield chez Raveneau for several years—were already quite put-together, supple and incipiently delicious. It doesn't appear to be a vintage built for the long haul, but it will deliver immense near- and medium-term pleasure, as well as what appears to be, at this early stage, a more classically Chablisien profile.

Readers looking for more on this important estate and its history are directed to my article published in the End of March issue of The Wine Advocate, which includes information previously unpublished in English." (WA)

"The 2017 Petit Chablis offers impressive intensity on the nose: a light oyster shell scents percolating through the citrus fruit. The palate is well balanced with a taut line of acidity, linear in style with a brisk but focused finish. Very fine. " (VM)

"A small plot planted in 2010 north plateau above Vaudesir. A very crisp and light wine with a peach and pear nose. A crisp tangy palate, too. Bright, light and fresh. Drink now." (JS)

"Hints of mineral reduction and sea breeze add nuance to the mostly white orchard fruit-suffused nose. There is both good energy and detail to the attractively textured middle weight flavors that terminate in an agreeably dry, clean and saline finish. Correct." (BH)