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Domaine de Vauroux Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2001

The first task with any wine that features on these Weekend Wine pages is to look back and see when I last featured any related bottle, whether it be the same appellation, vineyard or producer. And I was shocked to see that since shifting to a weekly review in 2006 this is the first time I have ever featured a wine from Chablis. This is especially unusual considering the fact that of all the regions of Burgundy it is Chablis I know best, and have visited most often.

My guide to Burgundy gives details not only on what makes Chablis special, but particular information on the grands crus of Chablis. But for most of us forays into this most iconic of white wine appellations at the grand cru level will be few and far between; we are far more likely to be drinking at the premier cru or villages level, and I am sure this is true for the Côte d'Or as well. So it is worth looking at these wines and the associated vineyards in more detail, I think.

Domaine de Vauroux Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2001

I tend to divide the premiers crus of Chablis into the left and right banks (with reference to the Serein, which flows southeast-northwest through the town), and the grands crus sit on the right, just outside the town itself. Naturally, the premiers crus that sit close to these top vineyards will be of interest, and there are several both downstream and upstream. Downstream is Fourchaume, perhaps the largest and most favoured of all the sites; the Fourchaume sub-climat Vaurolent is directly contiguous with the grand cru Les Preuses, as it sits behind the crest of the grand cru slope, the rest of the vineyard continues over the Ru de Fontenay which flows down into the Serein. Perhaps highest in the right bank hierarchy, however, is Montée de Tonnerre, like Fourchaume an extension of the grand cru vineyards, this time at the Blanchots end. Again, here the vineyards are separated from the grands crus by a small valley. Many wines produced here, especially from the south-facing vines in the sub-climat Chapelot, challenge the grands crus on quality. Raveneau's offering from this vineyard, for example, is extremely highly regarded.

This week's wine is an example of the latter of these two right bank vineyards which flank the grands crus, but not from Raveneau (bad luck!) but from Olivier Tricon of Domaine de Vauroux. The 2001 Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre is initially quite reticent on the nose, perhaps unsurprisingly so, but with a little time it slowly opens up to reveal a fine and maturing style, showing a very slight reductive character as marks many good white Burgundies, the low-level hints of matchstick mixed with a layer of drying, golden fruits. There is an appealing stony minerality in evidence here as well. The palate is full, with well-balanced and rather robust and high-toned fruit mixed with a firm acidic backbone. There are certainly complexities here, elements of bacon and dried fruit, and this is certainly ready to go now, although its composition suggests to me that there is no rush at present. And - as this is Burgundy - I should indicate that there is no worrying oxidation either. Overall, really good stuff. 16.5/20 (6/9/10)

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