I love steely, high-acid wines that make my face contort—like biting into a lemon wedge—but today’s offering is not the least bit pucker-inducing. Romain Collet’s Montée de Tonnerre (a.k.a. “Thunder Mountain”) has the pedigree of a Grand Cru Chablis and the end result is a wine of utmost precision; it is blessed with gorgeous roundness and concentrated staying power. This is elite winemaking from a visionary young gun, all for a price sub-$40. To my knowledge, we secured just about every bottle that was sent to the West Coast, save, perhaps, for a few exclusive restaurants. Snatch up as many as you can while they last!
The Collet family’s vine-tending history dates back 225 years to 1792 (for perspective, George Washington was being re-elected POTUS), so I’d say they know their way around a vineyard. The domaine, however, was established by Jean Collet in 1952 with just 1.5 acres under vine. Grapes were originally sold off to large négociant houses, but within a matter of years, they were bottling and exporting their very own wines. As recognition poured in from around the world, they gradually expanded their property with more prestigious Premier and Grand Cru holdings. Fast forward to 2009, where fourth-generation Romain Collet returned from his enology studies in Beaune to take the helm. At just 31 years old, his dedication and passion is immense, as he has one goal in mind: to honor his family’s history by producing Chablis of unrivaled grace and expression.
The vineyard of Montée de Tonnerre enjoys a warm southwest exposure along the right bank of the Serein River. Roots are buried deep in the Kimmeridgian limestone subsoils of Chablis, which play an integral part in the intense mineral components of the wines. The vines of Collet range between 30-45 years of age and their organic farming methods strictly prohibit all forms of chemical treatment. After hand-harvesting yields that are well below the region’s average, the juice is gently extracted with a state-of-the-art pneumatic press. Fermentation is then introduced with native yeasts in large, neutral Burgundian casks and, after an additional 16 months of maturation, this small-production wine is bottled. Collet’s style is similar to that of the cult wines of Raveneau (which currently sell for around $250).
In the glass, the wine shows a pale gold, straw yellow core with green reflections dancing around the rim. As before mentioned, this is not a tart acid bomb, but rather a lavish tour de force that shows richness and concentration. Upon first smell, the wine’s power and pedigree immediately introduces itself with a big bear hug: high-toned white flowers, crushed oyster shell, wet rock, beeswax, yellow apple, Meyer lemon pith, citrus blossoms, raw lees and hazelnut. It is medium-plus in body and fully expressive, with a dense palate and a grand finish that stays for minutes. If drinking in its youth, decant for a minimum of one hour and serve at 50-55 degrees. As hard as it will be to keep your hands off this wine, I will say that greatness lies down the road and in 5-7 years this wine will be a behemoth, peaking somewhere around its 15th birthday. Whip up a simple dish of sautéed scallops and leeks with a creamy sauce. Bon Appétit!