The name Ramonet is revered amongst wine drinkers the world over. Recognised as one of the greatest producers of Chardonnay, his wines are sought after and fought over by collectors everywhere. An invitation to a tasting of his wines was therefore not to be missed. I had been to a spectacular tasting of his wines some years before in Kelly’s, so I knew what was in store.
A word about Kelly’s Resort Hotel in Rosslare, Co. Wexford and Bill Kelly. Bill married into the Avril family, proprietors of Clos des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This provided him with an introduction to some of the finest estates in France and elsewhere. He now imports a large proportion of the hotel’s wines directly from the producer. His list is therefore quite incredible, and amazingly well-priced. I know wine-lovers who travel to Rosslare simply to enjoy the wines and food at very reasonable prices. Looking at the wine list in the bar, I saw Bourgogne Rouge from Rougeot, Mortet, and Benjamin LeRoux (who visited here last year), all at around €35.
Jean Claude Ramonet is a modest man, a little ill at ease giving tastings in a formal setting; I hear his cellar tastings are a very different affair. He struck me as a very pleasant man, in many ways still a traditional farmer, and someone who wears his knowledge lightly. I enjoyed his company over dinner later that night, where we drank the red Chassagne Clos de la Boudriotte 2012. It was a wonderful light refreshing wine; gouyelant I think the French would say. He was accompanied by his daughter, Ann-France who is studying in Bordeaux University.
Ramonet has 22 hectares of vines in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, including small holdings in Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet and Le Montrachet. He produces no less than 27 different wines each year. The average age of his vines is forty years. His grandfather arrived in Burgundy in the late 1920’s and gradually built up the estate. He runs the domaine together with his brother Noel, who looks after exports. The winemaking is deceptively simple, and sounds the same as you hear at every Burgundy cellar door. The result are not; I have yet to taste a disappointing wine from Ramonet, and most of the wines are superb. If you ever get the chance to try a bottle, don’t miss it.
Bourgogne Blanc 2012 – made from vines within Chassagne, a delicious lively young wine with plump elegant fruits.
Chassagne-Montrachet 2012 – a clean fresh nose with herbs; lovely purity of fruit, nervy and long. Delicious wine and a definite step up the ladder.
Puligny-Montrachet 2012 – a little broader and richer on the nose, with a lovely cleansing minerality on the palate alongside some succulent pure fruits. Excellent.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Clos de la Boudriotte 2012 – 30% new French oak, although you don’t taste it, from a one hectare plot of 30 year-old vines. Classic Chassagne with wet stones, rich melon fruits and real power. Delicious.
Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet 2009 – 1,500 bottles made. Wonderful honey and honeycomb on nose and palate, big and powerful with excellent concentration and length. Superb wine.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Les Chaumes 2004 – excellent mature white Burgundy. Waxy nose with developed palate of grilled nuts, old cupbaords and a creamy texture.
Le Montrachet 2010 – tried later that evening, a memorable treat. Huge young concentrated fruit with honey, acacia, and subtle new oak. Mouth-coating and textured but perfectly balanced. I would love to try it again in a decade.