Roland Lavantureux Petit Chablis 2020
The Lavantureux's most humble cuvée, Petit Chablis, remains the domaine's benchmark for value and typicity. With a delectable combination of fresh fruit and oyster-shell aromatics, a texture on the palate that is both suave and linear, and a finish as mouthwatering as one demands from cool-climate Chardonnay from limestone soils, this Petit remains one of the region's grandest bargains.
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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.
While there is not really anything small about Petit Chablis, it does categorically represent a “mini” Chablis in the sense that the wines are more approachable when young and not intended for long age. Petit Chablis is a perfect introduction to the Chablis style of Chardonnay—bright, racy, tactile, flinty, complex. But Petit Chablis won’t put you over budget and they are notoriously wonderful food pairing wines. Raw fish, oysters, grilled prawns, or any fish for that matter, as well as egg-based dishes, goat and soft creamy cheese and savory puff pastry tartlets will partner graciously with the floral, citrus and mineral notes of a Petit Chablis.
The term Petit Chablis actually refers to the wines made from Chardonnay grown in vineyards right outside of the borders of the Grands Crus and Premiers Crus, but still within the Chablis wine-growing district. In thte Petit Chablis areas, Portlandien soil dominates, a clay limestone soil similar to the prized Kimmeridgian (where the Grands and Premiers Crus Chablis vineyards lie), but geologically younger.
Petit Chablis are generally made without the use of oak barrels.
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.