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Domaine Race should really consider changing their name to Domaine Racy. Everytime we pull a cork on a Race Chablis, we’re blown away by just how fresh, zippy, precise, and mineral-laden these wines are. Even in warm vintages, when some of their neighbors deliver rich, tropical Chardonnay that is more akin to some of our local wines here in California, the team at Domaine Race delivers terroir-true excellence that is truly nonpareil. And the astounding thing is that they do all that and still charge prices that are a throwback to the 1990s! Though Chablis in general is still the best value in white Burgundy, many of our favorite producers are asking $30-40 for their village bottlings, which is the same price as the stellar Premier Cru “Montmains” we have today. Yup, top notch, refreshing, loaded with complexity white Burgundy for a song. In fact, if you grab six or more bottles (and why wouldn’t you!?!) the price is just $34 per bottle! But it is not unlimited, so hurry and stock up while you can.
Domaine Race is four generations strong, but it was the third generation, Denis, who put them on the winemaking map. Prior to his joining the family business at the ripe old age of 13, all the fruit was sold to local négociants. Denis built a cellar and began bottling under the label Denis Race in the early 1980s. Today, all 18 hectares are used purely for their estate-bottled wines. And Denis’ daughter, Claire, is in charge. She started in the family business back in 2005 and took the helm a few years ago. Her younger sister, Marine, is now part of the team as well, and you can still find Denis in the vineyards.
Stainless steel is the name of the game at Domaine Race. There has never been an oak barrel in the cellar until very recently when Marine bought a few old barriques to experiment with, but that is not what Claire is interested in. She says, “What we are after is something more natural. Barrels add something we believe a Chablis doesn’t need.”This focus on transferring the pure, mineral terroir of their parcels is a true asset given the ever warmer summers that can threaten the distinct and lovely elegance of Chablis. Claire is fighting the good fight, and based on the success of her 2020 Montmains, she is winning!
Montmains is the Race family’s largest and most important cru. They have several sub-parcels, including some old vines in top lieux-dits Forêts and Butteaux, but they blend everything into their single Montmains bottling. The relatively even mixture of Kimmeridgian limestone and clay in these vineyards combined with a cooler, windswept exposure produces a supremely elegant and balanced Chablis. You can enjoy this gem right out of the bottle, but with time in a Burgundy stem or a carafe the aromatics will really take off. Loads of lemon peel, crisp apple, white pear, white flowers, wild honey, and raw almonds all layer together over a core of pure, oyster shell minerality and super bright, tingly acidity. This bottle is a delightfully refreshing summer sipper to pair with crudo, but it is also perfect for the fall table and can take you right up to crab and oysters during the holidays. Don’t forget that the special price of $34 kicks in when you put six or more bottles in your cart, but don’t stop at six: this is a wine to buy by the case!
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