As is so often the case, there’s much more to today’s red than can be discerned from the label. But there is one big tipoff: “2014,” right there in bold type. This is a red Burgundy vintage I’ve celebrated incessantly over the last few years, and as more time passes, my admiration for the ’14s only grows.
The same goes for hands-on vigneron Pierre Ravaut, whose wines we began importing about a year ago after visiting his small domaine in the village of Ladoix-Serrigny. His 7.5 hectares of vineyards include some prime parcels on the fabled hill of Corton (which Ladoix famously flanks), but today I’m fixated on what he achieves in some nearby, relatively unsung, terroirs—not just Ladoix, in which the Ravaut name is a reference point, but a few towns north in Comblanchien, one of the five “villages” in the Côte de Nuits-Villages AOC and the source of today’s exceptional wine. Finding a transcendent value like this means searching around every corner and looking under every rock, so to speak, and when you do come across one…well, to me, it’s every bit as satisfying as getting your hands on some ultra-rare Grand Cru. This is way more wine than I was expecting at this price, and, perhaps not surprisingly, I locked up every bottle I could. Grab some for yourself before it disappears—your first sip will confirm what a savvy purchase this is!
Ravaut’s stomping ground is right where Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune meets the Côte de Nuits. Most of his 7.5 hectares are in the Corton-adjacent village of Ladoix, but he has a few choice parcels elsewhere, including Vosne-Romanée and Comblanchien in the Côte de Nuits. And given all we hear about the importance of limestone in the soils of Burgundy, it’s surprising that Comblanchien—which is grouped, somewhat anonymously, with four other non-contiguous villages under the Côte de Nuits-Villages umbrella—isn’t more celebrated: The village is probably as famous for its quarries as it is for wine, and lends its name to a specific type of pink-veined marble called Pierre de Comblanchien (used most famously in the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris).
Several years ago, Pierre Ravaut made a tough, but necessary, decision. He and his brother, Vincent, represented the sixth generation of their successful family estate—Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut, whose wines we have also offered at SommSelect—but, as noted by Burgundian author and journalist Laurent Gotti, Pierre felt change needed to happen: “I wanted to go back to a smaller farm to be closer to the vineyards and wines. In a field of 20 hectares one is quickly monopolized by the administrative and commercial work.” So, he parted ways with Vincent, amicably, and took a small portfolio of vineyards with him. About 80% of his production is red wine, from vineyards farmed according to organic practices, except in extreme emergencies (the French lutte raisonnée, or “reasoned struggle,” approach). This Côte de Nuits-Villages was aged in 15% new French oak for 12 months, followed by six months on its fine lees in stainless steel before bottling.
Whereas critics were more besotted with the hotter, bolder 2015 vintage that followed it, I’ll take the ’14s any day—and I’d hold up this beautifully balanced, exotically perfumed wine as a prime example of why. Not only has it begun to put on a little bit of weight from time in bottle, its aromatic range has broadened as well, with more positive evolution still in store. In the glass, it’s a bright ruby-red moving to garnet and pink at the rim, with perfumed aromas of black cherries, plums, raspberries, tea leaves, violets, underbrush, and hints of baking spice and crushed rocks. It is medium-bodied on the palate, at once vibrant and silky, and has begun to enter its prime drinking window, which shows no signs of closing anytime soon. Now’s a good time to remind you what an outstanding value this is, so consider stocking up—it’s still got 5-7 years in the tank while also being supremely delicious now after 30 minutes in a decanter. Serve it at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems and, if you happen to be with someone who’s Burgundy savvy, serve it to them blind: Everyone appreciates an inexpensive Burgundy that over-delivers (everyone I know, anyway), and this one is sure to ignite conversation. Pair it with the attached miso-glazed salmon steaks for a meal full of deep flavor without the extra weight. Cheers!
Comblanchien (Côte de Nuits)
Pinot Noir 100%
15% New French
Limestone & Clay