I FAVATI FIANO di AVELLINO PIETRAMARA 2017: This house has been one of a small number of Fiano di Avellino sources we have worked with over the years, and probably the most consistent as far as quality goes. This is a definitive Campanian white with plenty subtle white stone fruit and floral aromatics alongside a high-toned minerality. The wine is fleshy and fairly unctuous, yet all is nicely defined by well-positioned, well-integrated acidity which gives a nice lift to everything.
The I Favati Fiano di Avellino Pietramara 2017 absolutely ‘blows up’ with lighter handed, herb based pasta or risotto dishes and whitefish and shellfish preparations. There’s a certain density and relaxed acidity that are kind of a surprise if you are coming from other genres of Italian whites, but that is exactly the charm of wines like Fiano and Greco di Tufo which make up their own unique stylistic subset. There are few frames of reference for these wines but this is one of the textbook examples of the breed and a consistent favorite around here. It has been a tre-bicchieri choice of Gambero Rosso on multiple occasions (this one not yet rated) as well.
PHILIPPE RAVIER CHIGNIN BERGERON 2017: First, for those that don’t know the genre, it’s probably not a bad idea to define our terms. This term Chignin-Bergeron refers to the appellation here in the Savoie which is, in turn, named for its only permitted grape variety. That grape variety is called Roussanne everywhere else. But it is fair to say that the character of the varietal is quite a bit different here in these pristine foothills in eastern France.
Sparkling streams, blue skies, this almost idyllic area yields wines of uncommon freshness with bright stone fruit and minerality taking the forefront and the typically heavy, soily, almost oxidative nature of Roussanne definitely not a major part of the profile here. These crisper, cooler versions have the honeyed tones and the earth elements present but dialed back. Bergeron gives a whole different impression when lifted and paired with a higher toned minerality that is a signature of this region.
Philippe and Sylvain Ravier cultivate 7 hectares of Roussanne (called Bergeron here as we said). The vines are between 10 and 30 years of age and are planted on very steep, due south-facing slopes of the Massif des Bauges at 1100-1500 feet altitude. The soil is rocky, decomposed white limestone which drains well while retaining heat to help ripen the grapes and the cool nights keep everything crisp. The fruit is harvested by hand, carefully sorted and moved into the press by gravity. After a light pressing, the must is protected from oxidization by a blanket of CO2.
The Philippe Ravier Vin de Savoie Chignin Bergeron 2017 has a rather surprising density to the delicate fruit that sits atop firm but giving acidity. Honey and nut elements play against the white stone fruit and flower core with subtle minerality throughout. Fresh and light on its feet, it’s a fine example of the category.
CHRISTIAN MOREAU CHABLIS 2016: Chablis has been a bit of a ‘sticky wicket’ of late thanks to the fact that quantities have been erratic over the last couple of vintages and the currently widespread 2015s are generally overtly ripe and not quite so Chablis-like in terms of lift and acidity. A few producers got it done right in terms of delivering wines that are true to type but still possess that essential combination of flesh and zip to pull it off. The Christian Moreau Chablis 2016 fills an important role as something the Chablis lover can go to with confidence.
Yes there is some volume in the mid-palate, but also the kind of zip one expects from Chablis with plenty of evident apple/citrus fruit up front that fades into a pleasing minerality. As Burghound puts it, this has ‘… enough Chablis character to be persuasive. The round, rich and more voluminous flavors possess good punch and concentration while delivering better depth and length on the somewhat drier finish.” That’s fair enough as a comment.
We like this as a great choice by virtue of the engaging, ‘drink me’ style that still says ‘Chablis’ in the glass and sells for a reasonable tab at a time where successful executions in this are much more scarce. This was not an easy vintage from a farming standpoint and quantities have been erratic thanks to quirks in the weather. So it’s great to have delicious a go-to in this important category. Few are this ‘on target’.