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Valette Macon-Chaintre Vieilles Vignes 2015

Valette Macon-Chaintre Vieilles Vignes 2015

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"Vinified and bottled without sulfur, Valette's 2015 Mâcon-Chaintré Vieilles Vignes responds well to oxygen—in fact, it's best decanted—and the more air it sees, the less wild it seems. Opening in the glass with aromas of buttered orchard fruit, orange rind, smoke and nutmeg, the wine is medium to full-bodied, satiny-textured and muscular, with lively acids, chewy structuring extract and a long, sapid finish. This is an intensely characterful Mâcon-Chaintré that exemplifies the last two decades of reflection and evolution chez Valette. Any readers who find parallels with the wines of Jean-François Ganevat will be interested to know that Valette told me that the two producers are working with fruit that grows in the same strata of Jurassic limestone—though there are clearly technical and philosophical parallels too. Drinking window: 2018-2030. 92 points

After years of trying, it was with great interest that I at last paid a visit to Philippe Valette's elusive 8.5-hectare Chaintré estate. The Valette family were the first to exit the local cooperative, and they rapidly won a reputation for rich, concentrated wines that were frequently celebrated in the pages of this publication. On leaving school in 1990, Philippe began to convert the domaine to organic farming, and since 1992, their wines have never been chaptalized. Influenced by a meeting with Pierre Overnoy, Valette has come to identify with the natural wine movement, and today, his wines see little or no sulfur and increasingly long élevage—indeed, the 2006 Clos de Monsieur Noly spent fully 12 years in barrel. If the estate's wines through the late 1990s were simply powerful, textural examples of high-quality white Burgundy (notes on several will appear in the next installment of Up From the Cellar), the wines being released today belong in a category of their own. Complex and sapid, I find them fascinating, but readers should be prepared to find wines that are quite different from any of the Valettes' neighbors. Anyone who appreciates the Jura bottlings of Jean-François Ganevat or the Thomas Pico Chablis wines is likely to love them! My experience is that they often benefit from extended aeration, and I tend to decant Valette's wines or follow them over several days."

William Kelley, Wine Advocate (244)