There is a game we like to play among the KLWM staff: which producers in the portfolio, who now fly under the radar, will reach superstar status within a few years’ time? Looking back, there was once an era when Jean-François Coche’s Meursault-Perrières sold for $14.95 a bottle, or when cases of Clape’s Cornas lined our retail store floor. Even just a few years ago, one could walk into the shop and choose from a wide selection of cuvées from Arnaud Ente, a vigneron whose rise to stardom has been stratospheric. So, who will be the next Coche-Dury, Clape, or Ente? Without hesitation, we all agree: David and Arnaud Lavantureux are top of that list. These young Chablisien prodigies have taken an already stellar family domaine and lifted it to the next level. They have added new wines, including premier and grand cru sites, to their lineup, and introduced fresh ideas to vineyard and cellar work—all with passion, drive, and crucially, pinpoint precision in their execution. Their 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 grandest bargains we import. Rendez-vous in a few years to check in on the Lavantureux brothers’ wines—if they are finally perceived for their true value, stocking up will be nowhere near as easy as it is today.
With a sharp eye, natural instinct, and solid, Burgundian pragmatism, Roland Lavantureux is making 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. Today, he is joined by his two sons, Arnaud works in 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 Petit Chablis, two premier crus>, and three .
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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