Arnaud and David Lavantureux at Domaine Roland Lavantureux in Lignorelles.

or years, for generations, Domaine Roland Lavantureux has been an all white domaine, producing Chablis only. This is now about to change. The Lavantureux brothers are taking on the domaine of their maternal grandparents. With four hectares of pinot noir in Épineuil this means they will be making the first red wine of the domaine.

Chablis vinyards in Lignorelles, Burgundy. I think that Bourgogne Épineuil as an appellation has great potential, says Arnaud Lavantureux. It’s important to have low yields, but that means higher costs. With an appellation like this it’s difficult to charge a higher price. Épineuil is not Chambolle-Musigny in that sense, but we will treat it as such when we make it.

Arnaud Lavantureux returned back home to the family domaine in 2010. His brother David arrived the year after. Domaine Roland Lavantureux, named by their father when he began bottling in 1979, is located in Lignorelles, a twelve-minute drive northwest of Chablis, but still within the Chablis appellation.

– Arnaud is responsible for the technical side of the domaine, while I deal with management and sales, explains David Lavantureux. Still, it’s a family estate so we do many different things.

Chablis vinyards in Lignorelles, Burgundy.Together they have changed quite a few things at the domaine. They now bottle and sell all the wine they produce. Nothing is sold off to négociants. Barrels are used for ageing the wines to a much larger extent than before. Vauprin, a village appellation Chablis lieu-dit not far from the winery in Lignorelles, has been singled out for a separate cuvée. And since they don’t own any Chablis grand cru some is bought in as juice.

– We use stainless steel tanks for both the alcoholic and the malolactic fermentation, says David Lavantureux. For the ageing we prefer to use barrels.

– The Petit Chablis is 100 per cent stainless steel, continues Arnaud Lavantureux. All the other wines are aged part in barrel, part in tank. The old vines Chablis is 40 per cent barrels, while the straight Chablis is between 20 and 25 per cent. The rest of the wines are fifty-fifty tank and barrels.

Chablis vinyards in Lignorelles, Burgundy. We like the typical minerality of a Chablis, says David Lavantureux. And we like richness and concentration to balance it. That’s the kind of wines we like to drink ourselves. In order to achieve that you need low yields, something nature has taken care for us (with hail and frost) on several occasions over the past years. Now we’re back with normal conditions and we’re keeping the yields low. To keep freshness, purity and precision we do all the fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Then we age in barrels.

When Roland Lavantureux took on the domaine there were only five hectares of vines. Previous generations had been farming different crops, where wine was only part of their activity. But since Roland Lavantureux was interested in wine he set out to extend the surface area under vines. Luckily it was a time when land was easy to come by. During the 1980s he planted a total of 15 hectares of vines.

The five hectares of Petit Chablis of the domaine are right next to the winery in Lignorelles. Unlike most other Petit Chablis this is on the slope, not on the flatter areas which is more common.

David and Arnaud Lavantureux at Domaine Roland Lavantureux in Lignorelles.– Thanks to this we get a Petit Chablis which has more richness, says David Lavantureux. The soil contains much clay, which brings freshness and fruit. That’s why we don’t use barrels for this wine. It’s more interesting to balance the fruit with the freshness in stainless steel.

Once you move up to the village appellation Chablis there is more limestone in the soil. At Domaine Roland Lavantureux there are three different wines at this level – a straight Chablis, the old vines cuvée and the Vauprin.

– Our old vines Chablis comes from the last parcel planted by our grandfather, says David Lavantureux. The vines are 60 years old. Thanks you low yields we get a very good concentration.

You will find the Vauprin vines at the top of the slope in Lignorelles. This makes it one of the highest Chablis vineyards. It is facing straight south and the average age of the vines is 35 years. At tastings they prefer to present this wine after their Chablis premier cru Fourchaume.

Chablis vinyards in Lignorelles, Burgundy.– This exposure makes Vauprin quite a powerful Chablis, says David Lavantureux. The soil there always brings salty finish to the wine. There a well-balanced power to it. For us this is a parcel which could be classified higher than village appellation.

– The soil is a mix of clay and limestone, says Arnaud Lavantureux. It’s Kimmeridgien sub-soil. Since it’s on the slope it’s not particularly deep.

Across the river Serein, on the opposite slope you’ll find Fourchaume. This is one of the wines they buy as juice and have been doing so since 2010.

– Fourchaume is facing west, says David Lavantureux. It is between the river and the forest, so there is always more humidity there. It’s a delicate and elegant wine.Vauprin is much more powerful.

One of the more recent acquisitions at Domaine Roland Lavantureux is the Chablis premier cru Vau de Vey in Beine. The first vintage was in 2016. Both the grand crus of the domaine – Vaudésir and Bougros are bought in as juice. Like for the Fourchaume they buy from the same grower every year.

– Vaudésir consists of two parts, says David Lavantureux. You have one part facing north and one part facing south, which is also steeper. Our wine comes from the latter, so it’s quite powerful.

Going back to the domaine of Lucien Beau, their maternal grandfather, now. The 2019 harvest saw their first try in Épineuil. They harvested 0.4 ha of pinot noir, producing 350 litres of Bourgogne Épineuil. In 2021 they are looking at harvesting the whole four hectares of what used to be Domaine des Noisetiers. In addition to this there is also another four hectares not yet planted. One hectare of Bourgogne Épineuil and three hectares of the white Bourgogne Tonnerre. All will be sold under the Domaine Roland Lavantureux label.

© 2019 Ola Bergman