Profile: Château des Ravatys


Tasted in Saint-Lager with Axel Joubert, 09 May 2019.

Château des Ravatys
37 Ravatys
69220 Saint-Lager
Tel: +33 4 74 66 80 35

An impressive and unusual producer – it is effectively the Domaine de l’Institut Pasteur.

This is a domaine that’s far too much ‘under the radar’ outside of France – where it has most of its sales – restaurants and individuals mainly, but no big volume buyers. There are some great wines here, ones to challenge other important ‘chateau’ in the Côte de Brouilly – I think you know what I’m saying!

The château itself was passed onto the only niece of the owners – Mathilde Courbe – and she, in turn, had no heirs so chose to bestow the chateau, its contents and its vines to the Institut Pasteur in Paris. Like the hospitals of Beaune that use the income gained from their domaine viticole (i.e the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune), it is essentially the same here.

The chateau and it’s associated domaine did need some refurbishing though, and as they are supposed to help finance the Institut Pasteur – and not the other way around – they chose to sell some paintings from the chateau to invest in the fabric of the buildings, they also hold weddings, seminars and take bus-loads of visiting tourists too to augment the income of the domaine which extends to 30 hectares of vines. Actually, their land holdings are much more extensive – including the ‘park’ of the château and even a cedar wood on the hillside of Mount Brouilly.

The domaine’s vines are mainly Côte de Brouilly but there’s also 2 hectares of Brouilly on the other side of the château. A rarissimo here is a wine made from 0.15 hectares of Chassagne-Montrachet too: The vines are managed from here, but it’s a local producer (in St.Aubin) who does the work and the château receives just one-third of the production. This parcel was also left to the institute, and as they already had this domaine viticole at the château, it was passed here for management.

The domaine use cement tanks for their fermentations – the grapes having previously been triaged at the vines – it’s a manual harvest here, with three teams of about 20 pickers needed for the harvest – “We don’t want too ripe, we definitely don’t want 14-16° degrees, so it’s 10 days of harvesting, maximum!” Says Axel.

The domaine work the vast majority of their soils.

Axel on 2017:
2017 here was a happy vintage for the wines – I was slightly disappointed with some of the 2018s during elevage, but they just kept improving – the Côte de Brouilly usually needs some time! But in 2017 we had a modest, let’s say average volume for the harvest, but I’m very satisfied. The difference versus 2018 is that the 2017s were delicious from the start.

The wines…

A great find for top-level Côte de Brouilly!

2017 Brouilly Le Marquisat
This, from the 2 hectare parcel opposite the château grounds. Not a long cuvaison – maybe 8 days in the cement tanks – whole clusters. This with an elevage that’s a little shorter – it was bottled in April – ‘We don’t really have any rules, but if it’s ready, it’s ready – we decide by tasting.’
A good colour. Hmm – fresh wide – good concentration a little rigour of minerality but also a little balancing florals in this nose. Round, supple – ooh, that’s super. Fine depth of texture, crunchy red fruit but with a little luxury to the texture too. An extra, graphite-style, flavour in a good finish – some extract here – wait a year or two, but this is a super first wine.

2017 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Mathilde Courbe
A suggestion of more colour. More depth of aroma too – if a little less width – slowly widening with a fine, almost granular complexity – ooh that’s becoming really super! That’s lovely in the mouth too – wide, mineral, a nicely mouth-filling volume – structural with clarity – ooh, that’s excellent. Super wine with small waves of finishing flavour

2017 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Louis Pasteur
A parcel selection but with a longer elevage, assembling both foudre and barrel parts, so modest destemming in some parts.
A more guarded nose – this needs a little swirling – but the fruit is pure and dark below. Hmm, the flavours are not guarded – here there’s freshness, drive and just a hint of cushioning – lithe, complex and delicious as you approach the finish. The slightest suggestion of barrel at the end a touch of spice too – a spice. Great CDB – Love!
2017 Côte de Brouilly Réserve
A more strict and small parcel selection, all barrel – same elevage time as the last, say, 10-12 months in barrel before assembling. ‘We don’t want too old barrels as we want to keep a nicely clean product.’ I have to say, pretty ridiculous pricing direct here for this – €12.70!? It would cost you at least €40 in the Côte d’Or for a similar level of quality – your visit to the Beaujolais is paid for, including a very good lunch, for the difference in price when buying half a dozen bottles here versus in ‘the north.’
Deep colour. Like the last there’s a slightly guarded nose – but there’s a width of aroma and a faint oak-spice in support too. More drive, more freshness – this is really a wine of energy, a dynamic wine. Much more complex, though plenty of that is currently referencing the barrels. But the mid and finishing depth is super. Wait 3+ years for this to round out and for the oak to fade a little more – you can drink the ‘Pasteur’ while waiting. Super length.

2015 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Louis Pasteur
Hmm – a nice width of freshness and a more overt complexity; a little menthol, a little touch of development – very inviting. Nice drive and freshness – actually not as big in the mouth as the 17s – supple, a touch more tannin – but practically zero grain – complex, tasty wine – another glass without a problem here. Excellent wine – yum!

2015 Côte de Brouilly Reserve
Deeply coloured – there’s always about half of this that’s destemmed. Hmm – wide, so inviting, complex and deep – almost a texture to this aroma. A slightly fumé entry, mouth-filling, good energy, lots of complexity – still a touch of oak to wait for – but the middle and finishing flavours are really superb – a great finish – bravo! Drink now and over the next 20 years with joy!

2013 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Mathilde Courbe
‘Actually this wine had a very similar style to the 2017s when young, it tightened after that.’
A little less colour and, of-course, a different shade to the colour. Hmm – this is lovely – a width of fresh complexity – redder fruit, growing florals – really showing well. Fresh, driving, mineral some development of flavour. The palate still says wait a little – or possibly carafe – but the finish is really super.

2013 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Louis Pasteur
A wide and complex nose again – this is even a little more inviting than the last – floral with some development. Lots of drive and freshness but here with more depth and cushioning to the texture – this you could start drinking straight away. Long, nicely layered, finely fresh – great finishing Yes! Bravo! And I haven’t previously said that about many 2013s!

2013 Côte de Brouilly Réserve
More colour than the last two. A little less width of aroma but much more depth – still an accent of oak spice. Like the other two, offering lots of freshness and here with great drive to the flavours too – this the most astringent and for ease of drinking the one to wait longer for. Lots of fresh complexity though, oak notes included – a simply great finish.

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