Roland Lavantureux Chablis 2016
Loaded with the classic mineral of the region, but its defining characteristic is the brush of lemony acidity that simply lasts and lasts.
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With a sharp eye, natural instinct, and solid Burgundian pragmatism, Roland Lavantureux made a name for himself crafting no-nonsense Chablis that has come to be one of the most reliable of the old reliables here at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. Upon his completion of wine school in Beaune, Roland founded the domaine in 1978 in the town of Lignorelles, about four miles northwest of Chablis. Today, his two sons have taken over the Domaine: Arnaud is in charge of the vineyards and cellar, while David takes the lead in marketing and sales. In addition to making a stunning Chablis, the Lavantureux family also bottles a mouth-watering Petit Chablis, which, depending on the vintage, can easily rival their more highly pedigreed bottling—only proving the unwavering consistency of the Lavantureux family that has kept our relationship with them so strong for over thirty-five years.
The region is best known for its Kimmeridgian soils, a highly prized terroir of limestone and clay infused with tiny, fossilized oysters. The intensely chalky sea-shell minerality lends deep complexity to whites, making this region an ideal home for the Chardonnay grape. The Portlandian soils in the extension of the Chablis appellation, known as Petit Chablis, may not enjoy the same reputation as the Kimmeridgian, yet they imbue the wines with a crisp, lively freshness and zesty, citrusy aromas that speak to the deep mineral component of northern Burgundy. There is no accounting for these imaginary appellation boundaries, because the pedigree of the wines is palpable. As Roland once told Kermit, “I don’t know why the INAO named some vines ‘Chablis’ and others ‘Petit.’ When I stand in the middle of my vineyard, the row to my left is Chablis, to the right it is Petit Chablis, but you can’t see any difference.”
Since joining the family operation, the young Arnaud and David have shown remarkable ambition and precision in their work ethic: they have increased the family holdings to twenty-one hectares, adding single-vineyard cuvées while constantly striving for more complexity and layered texture in the mineral-driven beauties they produce. The Lavantureux wines display show-stopping nerve, to be enjoyed as easily before dinner as they are with a piece of grilled fish or oysters-on-the-half-shell. These wines drink as honestly as the people who make them; they are staff favorites year after year.
The source of the most racy, light and tactile, yet uniquely complex Chardonnay, Chablis, while considered part of Burgundy, actually reaches far past the most northern stretch of the Côte d’Or proper. Its vineyards cover hillsides surrounding the small village of Chablis about 100 miles north of Dijon, making it actually closer to Champagne than to Burgundy. Champagne and Chablis have a unique soil type in common called Kimmeridgian, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except southern England. A 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells, spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England all the way down through Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis. This soil type produces wines full of structure, austerity, minerality, salinity and finesse.
Chablis Grands Crus vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil, an ancient clay-limestone soil that lends intensity and finesse to its wines. The vineyards outside of Grands Crus are Premiers Crus, and outlying from those is Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as most Premier Cru Chablis, can age for many years.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.