Exploring a Red From a Legendary Producer of White Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet

Domaine Ramonet was established in Chassagne-Montrachet in the late 1920s by Pierre Ramonet, and quickly became one of the preeminent producers of white Burgundy. The 1934 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Ruchottes, for instance, was the first estate-bottled white Burgundy imported in the US and catapulted the domaine to international fame and admiration. Ramonet remained one of the most highly-sought producers throughout the 20th century, until issues with premature oxidation damaged their status like many other producers in the mid to late 1990s. The domaine ultimately passed to Pierre’s son André until he passed away in 2011, and then to Pierre’s grandchildren Noël and Jean-Claude who worked in the vineyards since 1984. Since 2013, Domaine Ramonet labels bear Jean-Claude Ramonet alone following Noël’s semi-retirement and his wines, particularly the whites, remain a force to be reckoned with.

In the vineyards, Ramonet likes to work with older vines and keep his yields low. Most of the wines are produced from vines 12 to 50 years old, though they typically like to use vines 18 years or older. The domaine’s vinification practices are traditional in nature, with the whites starting in tanks before transfer to French oak barrels and the reds in cement vats for maceration and fermentation. New oak usage varies by wine and vintage, with the whites typically seeing 10-15% for village wines, 30-40% for 1er Crus, and 50%+ for the Grand Crus. Reds typically see 10-20% new oak for village wines and 30-40% for 1er Crus. None of the white wines are bottled fined or filtered.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Clos Saint-Jean is pale to medium ruby in color and moderately transparent. Once this opens up in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, lavender, raw leather, slight barnyard, black tea, cinnamon, rosemary, and mineral. There is some slight heat as well. On the palate, I get notes of red plum, cranberry, black cherry, tobacco, forest floor, charred herbs, underbrush, chalky minerality, and blood. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. Not as balanced as the 2014 vintage I had in November, 2019.

Price: $100. This is not a bad price, but I can’t go as far as saying this is a good value because there are many outstanding Red Burgundy options at or less than $100. That being said, I’d be curious to try this again in a few years. Pair with seared duck breast, herb-crusted lamb, or mushroom stroganoff.

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