Yesterday morning Vincent Ravaut began our tasting at the domaine with a simple glass of white from an unmarked bottle -- “just to arrange the palate,” he explained. The wine was a very pretty chardonnay, with a lovely nose of white flowers and almonds and a rich but lively mouthfeel. Noting our interest, Vincent explained it was the domaine’s entry-level Bourgogne blanc from 2013; he then smiled and broke the news that it was “épuisé” (sold out) for some time.
We dodged large raindrops this morning running from our car to the domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin. Situated in a majestic mansion dating to 1700, this domaine makes fine, elegant red Burgundies that are delicate and finessed. Tasted some beautiful 2014s, which should both require and reward some patience.
We spent last Friday morning in the Beaujolais. It’s a charming region -- really a 30 mile vineyard punctuated by a handful of villages. The region’s most widely distributed wine is an inexpensive and insipid red that’s rushed to market several weeks after the harvest. But as connoisseurs have known for years, there’s far more to Beaujolais than meets the eye.
Chablis has had a rough year so far. With hailstorms and late frosts devastating the region this spring, our conversations during yesterday’s tastings all turned to the cruel whims of Mother Nature. It would have been an entirely depressing visit had it not been for the two most recent, truly excellent vintages already in the cellars.
This morning, after buttery croissants and homemade Stumptown coffee brewed through an Aeropress and enjoyed on the sunny veranda of our apartment, we drove to Chablis. It’s about an hour and a half to the north -- an hour on the highway, and a half on the small, straight country roads of northern Burgundy.
Other than the rock-covered fields of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the vertiginous hillsides of the Côte Rôtie might seem the last place in the world to grow vines. With slopes reaching 60 degrees in places, all field work -- planting, pruning, treating, harvesting -- must be done entirely by hand. As we walked through the vines yesterday we again wondered aloud what could make this all worth it.