Every now and then one finds a new producer that fills one with a sense of real excitement.
Something of the sort occurred last year when I tasted the 2017 Chablis wines of Lavantureux Frères. Simply put, they were electric. They reminded me of the first time I tasted the wines of Bachelet-Monnot i.e. I was left wondering whether the world - and this producer specifically - was now making Chardonnay the way it should have been made all along.
As at Bachelet-Monnot, a generational change has resulted in the turning over of a stunning new leaf. These young brothers - Arnaud and David - are heading straight to the top of the Chablis hierarchy. Grab some now and you will always be able to say that you were there at the beginning!
Last vintage, I had already secured an allocation of delicious Chablis wines, so had to pass on the 2017 Lavantureux vintage. But I vowed to visit the estate when next I was in Burgundy, a trip that occurred last November.
Together with Tasting Buddy, I drove the long road from Vosne Romanée to Lignorelles in the north of the Chablis commune. And boy, were we glad we'd made the effort. The wines were every bit as exciting as I remembered.
And the same Burgundy-based distributor hosted a tasting in London a few weeks ago, so I had another chance to taste the Lavantureux 2018s.
In addition, they were showing wines from a number of other producers and one of the Côte de Nuits estates proved to have done that truly rare thing in the '18 vintage (and something I've talked about in earlier Burgundy emails): they've succeeded in capturing the essence of the vintage whilst transparently communicating the character of the vineyard from which the wines come.
This is a joyous offering packed with wines that really do show Burgundy at its finest.
David and Arnaud Lavantureux
2018 Chablis, Lavantureux Frères
£78 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-2024
Masses of camomile and chalk and rich lemon and green apple fruit meets one's nose. This smells like utterly classically-built Chablis. There's the merest hint of spiced breadth on entry, but this quickly turns really firm and upright. There's superb tension within: a heart of proper Chablis-ness. This is a busy wine of spicy density through to lemon leavings: a pithy, concentrated finish. Bowes Wine original note
"...the green-apple and chalk character of classic Chablis. Good persistence and tension on the palate, and it's very attractive to drink now." Julia Harding MW
2018 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, Lavantureux Frères
£132 in bond per 6 Drink 2022-2028
N.B. Fourchaume is situated between the forest and the river and tends to be a cooler terroir. There's a touch more breadth on the nose here over the village Chablis. It smells richly of green orange fruit nuanced by scents of mint, even wintergreen. The palate has a superb density and there's a core of really spicy tension. This has something slightly laid-back about it, yet it's a highly confident wine with a spiced exit and long, lemon through-put. Bowes Wine original note
"Long, powerful core fruit...with lots of ageability." Richard Hemming MW
2018 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros, Lavantureux Frères
£240 in bond per 6 Drink 2023-2031
Just a lovely, lovely nose of pear and melon and apple and green orange and there's that wintergreen scent again which i am beginning to suspect might come from the wood. The palate is rich and dense, of white fruit and herbs. This is quite reserved, but very chalky, very direct. It's an upright wine of spicy/peppery through-put. Great presence in the mouth. Superb, busy, mineral wine with fabulous lemon tension at the back. Bowes Wine original note
"...shows that Chablis can be taken as seriously as any top burgundy. Still very young, and will go on to even greater things." Richard Hemming MW
2018 Vosne Romanée, Jérôme Chézeaux
£177 in bond per 6 Drink 2022-2032
Beautiful nose of pure, domestic fruits including strawberry, with a hint of darker things. And there's a touch of something saline about this. This is a really cool wine, coolly beautiful, with support from fine, slightly tacky tannins. This is a long and really classy example. Like this. Classic Vosne. Bowes Wine original note
"Fragrant and expressive with delicious baked-earth, black-cherry and iodine character. Expresses its terroir with bells on. Probably not a bad price for such a classic style." Richard Hemming MW
2018 Nuits St Georges Les Charbonnières Vieilles Vignes, Jérôme Chézeaux
£162 in bond per 6 Drink 2023-2033
This is more backward than the Vosne; darker, with delicious-smelling slightly chocolaty dark plum fruit. There's a bramble note too. It goes in the mouth plush and rich and quickly reveals its bold, tacky and really quite assertive tannins. This is a really long wine, with big, spiced grip at the back. Bowes Wine original note
"Excellent dark-cherry fruit with a touch of bramble. The fuller, riper side of Pinot, with firm structure that is typical for the Nuits-St-Georges prototype." Richard Hemming MW
2018 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots, Jérôme Chézeaux
£390 in bond per 6 Drink 2023-2037
N.B. Suchots is surrounded by grands crus vineyards. The only reason it remains a 1er cru is that there is a fold in the middle of the plot where cold air and moisture accumulate. It is a very grand 1er cru! Beautiful nose that smells richly of small dark berries including elder. This is a touch backward, but does give off scents of cassis, smoke and chocolate. Entry is cool and fluid and easy, showing a touch of the wood. Then it becomes really quite backward, with bold, incisive tannins. This becomes really very mineral. A lively and expressive wine, very Suchots. Very long. Super stuff. Bowes Wine original note
"Juicy red fruit with wonderful damp-earth and truffle complexity...Shows off the elegance and purity of Vosne-Romanée." Richard Hemming MW