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We're proud to feature new arrivals from two outstanding Biodynamic estates, Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune and Guillemot-Michel in Clessé (Macon) each one practicing superb viticulture and producing soulful winesof terroir. (Wines arrive Tuesday July 7th)
Jean-Claude Rateau created his domain in 1979 with a few family parcels, always in biodynamic agriculture, and now cultivates 10 hectares in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune, Beaune and Gevrey-Chambertin. Only a light and superficial plowing is done in summer, respecting wild plants and keeping hedges and fruit trees along the vines. Minimal fertilizers are used, always organic composts, as well as biodynamic preparations. Replantings are by massale selection, seeking a great diversity in the parcels, often with co-planted varieties, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in La Grande Chatelaine. Fermentations are with wild yeasts, of course, with the goal of making wines with no additives, with minimal added SO2.
Our yearly visit last January to his voluminous cellar on the Route de Bouze outside of Beaune, was delightful as usual, with the added treat of tasting 2018s and 2019s - two vintages of beautiful ripeness but retaining the earthy flavors and bright acidity always present in Jean-Claude's wines. The 2019 reds that have been bottled early are particularly vibrant, juicy and delicous and will provide superb drinking over the next three to five years. We especially love the 2018 Côte de Beaune "La Grande Chatelaine" - this great vineyard site north of the 1er Crus produces whites of great character and complexity. The 2018 "Prévoles" is the most structured of the Beaune "village" wines - vinified with whole clusters, it's beautifully sapid and complex, and will drink well over the next ten-plus years. The 2018 Gevrey-Chambertin shows the brawny side of Gevrey in this vintage, a big, black-cherry infused wine that will cellar beautifuuly. The 2018 Beaune 1er Crus are oustanding - the "Coucherias" Blanc is a dense and delicious wine with mineral, almond, citrus and ripe white fruits, and both the "Reversées" and "Bressandes" are complex, elegant, deep and very long. Only a few bottles of "Bressandes" remain for this email - those wshing to reserve "Reversées" or "Bressandes" for fall delivery should contact email@example.com. Thank-you Jean-Claude for 40 years of great farming and these superb old-fashined Burgundies!
The Mâconnais is home to numerous superb estates, many being pioneers of organic and Biodynamic farming - our favorites including Domaine de la Bongran, Domaine de Roally, Clos des Vignes du Maynes and Château des Rontets. Relatively unknown and rarely available in the US are the unique and magical wines of Domaine Guillemot-Michel in Clessé where the living soils and meticulous winemaking create vibrant Chardonnays that cellar beautifully for 20 to 30 years. Pierrette Michel took over the family domaine in 1982 with her husband Marc Guillemot, now succeeded by daughter Sophie and her husband Gautier Roussille. Certified Biodynamic in 1991, the estates 6.5 hectares are situated on degraded Jurassic-era limestones with thin clay soils. With relatively high yearly rainfall, the unique soils and very old vines (planted between 1920 and 1989) produce intensely mineral wines with firm acidities.
On a walk through the vines with Gautier last winter, we remarked on the absence of stones on the surface - he explained "these are incredibly healthy 'forest soils' full of earthworms and with no erosion thus the stones are covered with a layer of humus and topsoil." The vines are planted in high density of 7,000 - 8,000 vines per hectare, and pruned according to the Guyot-Poussard method - more time-consuming but which promotes the flow of sap, limits the risk of disease and prolongs the life expectancy of the vine. The grapes are hand-harvested of course, and undergo a very slow fermentation - the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations occur naturally in cement vats with natural yeasts and bacteria. A small amount of volcanic SO2 is burned and added in the form of gas.
The 2018 "Quintaine," the estates main cuvée, is a gorgeous white Burgundy, showing a brilliant pale gold color and complex aromas of poached pear, almond, candied lemon, kiwi, stone and lime-flower, elegant and quite beautiful. The palate is round and dense, a bit riper than the 2017, with firm acidity, showing cool stone fruits and citrus with caramel, stone and mineral flavors. A very young wine, it will benefit from decanting or a few years in the cellar, then keep it at least until 2040.
The 2018 "Retour à la Terre" - created in 2017, this cuvee is issued from grapes in the "Champ-Rond" vineyard, vinified in amphora of 800 liters. The 65 year-old vines are grafted on "Riparia Gloire de Montpellier" an old root-stock obtained in 1880, giving very low yields with magnificent small grapes, of a deep gold color. The 2018 Retour à la Terre presents the exotic notes typical of the domain with an extra dimension of expression due to the respiration of the amphora. The small grapes of "Champ-Rond" ripen beautifully without a high degree of alcohol - they are picked on the last day of the harvest, and the elevage in amphora gives the wine a great purity. Tasted at the domaine in January 2020, the wine showed elegant floral, white fruit, apricot, lemon and stone aromas. The palate was round, dense and silky with fabulous length. This is a superb white Burgundy that is delicious now and will cellar beatifully for twenty years. Highly recommended!
The 2018 "Une Bulle" comes from a tiny parcel of old vines on limestone with red clay, high in iron. The wine is a Pet-Nat (Méthode Ancestrale) that is bottled after a short period of fermentation, leaving enough sugar in the wine for the fermentation to continue and create the desired bubbles. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for around 18 months, then riddled and disgorged and re-bottled with a bit more "Une Bulle." The result is a very delicious aged Pet-Nat showing honeyed aromas of pear and white peach with hints of almond, marzipan and brioche.
It is with heartfelt entusiasm that we recommend these wines made by a wonderful family that cares deeply about the health of their soils and the purity and quality of their wines. (And we hope to someday offer the superb spirits now created at the estate by Gautier Roussille. And if you care about Sake, click on the title find a copy of Gautier's sensational book, Nihonshu: Japanese Sake!)
Located toward the bottom of the slope beneath Beaune Grèves and adjacent to Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Mariages is a mix of young and very old vines planted in clay and brown limestone soils. "This fertile soil gives wines that are open and joyous, with delicate spice notes, giving great pleasure in their youth and capable of long-term aging." (J-C Rateau) Indeed the 2019 Clos des Mariages is a gorgeous wine showing a bright mélange of black cherry, strawberry and raspberry with hints of spice, citrus, licorice and violet. The palate shows dense, chalky fruit, sappy and ripe but retaining a nice lightness of body with firm acidity and mineral flavors that continue in the very long, juicy finish. This is absolutely delicious now and should drink well continuously over the next five to ten years. David Lillie
Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2018 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) was vinified with the stems, bringing just the right structure to this lush and beautiful wine which shows beautiful ripe aromas of cherry and black raspberry with rose, earth, citrus and brown spice. The palate is chalky and sapid, showing the ripeness of the 2018s, with lush berry fruits enveloping firm acidity and mineral flavors. Really a lovely wine and quite delicous now, full and ripe enough for grilled meats, as well as chicken and pork dishes and cheeses such as morbier, tomme de savoie. This should benefit from a bit of aging but is quite beautiful as a young wine, drink until 2035. David Lillie
Jean-Claude Rateau has a large parcel in the 1er Cru Les Bressandes on a steep slope facing east with pebbly clay/limestone soils, conducted in biodynamic farming since 1979. The soil is warm and well-drained giving ripe, structured wines. There is a 21-day cuvaison with manual cap-punching followed by 18 months in old barrels.Even with the minimal extraction practiced at the estate, the 2018 Bressandes shows a dense red/black color and aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry, quite deep with sous-bois, violet, graphite and citrus. The palate is dense, elegant and chalky with blackberry, earth, bitter chocolate and minerals with terrific length of black fruits, earth and juicy acidity. Given the weight and ripeness of the vintage, the wine still seems balanced and frames the copious fruit in ample acidity and tannin. This is a beautiful wine that will give great pleasure in its youth and should be a superb mature wine as well, with a long life ahead of it... David Lillie
From two small parcels in "Aux Eletois" (below Grand Cru Griottes) and "les Epointures" (below 1er Cru Clos Prieur) on the more fine and aromatic side of Gevrey. The 2018 shows a bright red/garnet color with high-toned aromas of ripe black cherry, black raspberry and red currant with rose, herbal and citrus notes, quite pretty and not over-ripe. The palate shows terrific density of complex red and black fruits with hints of licorice, sous-bois and minerals while retaining a lovely lightness and freshness, with bright acidity under the long vibrant red fruits and mineral flavors that linger in the finish. Grreat fun to drink now, best to wait 5 to 8 years when it will really sing, then drink until 2035 - 2040. David Lillie
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is high on the slope on the site of an old quarry and much of the sub-soil is limestone tailings, permitting root penetration and drainage, with a topsoil of mixed clay and limestone "marnes blanches." In biodynamic agriculture since 1979, the vineyard is a south-facing semi-circle—a very warm spot.The 2018 has a bright bronze/gold color and lovley aromas or ripe white peach and pear with exotic citrus and herbal notes. The ripe, deep palate palate shows stone, apricot, pear and almond flavors with lovely density and a firm core of minerality that lingers in the very long finish. Delicious now, showing the lush fruit of 2018, it should cellar beautifully as well. David Lillie
The Guillemot-Michel "Une Bulle" comes from a tiny parcel of old vines on limestone with red clay, high in iron. The wine is a Pet-Nat (Methode Ancestrale) that is bottled after a short period of fermentation, leaving enough sugar in the wine for the fermentation to continue and create the desired bubbles. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for around 18 months, then riddled and disgorged and re-bottled with a bit more "Une Bulle." The result is a very delicious aged Pet-Nat showing honeyed aromas of pear and white peach with hints of almond, marzipan and brioche. On the palate the mousse is soft and creamy with flavors of peach and quince with lime-flower and minerals and a long finish of white fruits, citrus peel and firm acidity. This is a delightful wine to sip by itself or pair with mild cheeses, patés and terrines, fruit desserts.. David Lillie
We're extremely happy to have the wines of Guillemot-Michel back at Chambers Street! Along with Jean and Gautier Thevenet, and Julien Guillot at Vignes du Maynes, they are making white Burgundies with more depth and minerality than anything comparably priced in the Cote D'Or. The 2018 Quintaine is a gorgeous white Burgundy, showing a brilliant pale gold color and complex aromas of poached pear, almond, candied lemon, kiwi, stone and lime-flower, elegant and quite beautiful. The palate is round and dense, a bit riper than the 2017, with firm acidity, showing cool stone fruits and citrus with caramel, stone and mineral flavors. The finish is long and very mineral, with chalky white fruits lingering on the palate. This is a young wine, give it some time in a carafe if possible. (At a recent tasting, the 1989 and 1990 were showing beautifully, so put a few in the cellar!) Beautiful wine - congratulations to Pierrette, Marc, Sophie and son-in-law Gautier!
Created in 2017, this cuvee is issued from grapes in the "Champ-Rond" vineyard, vinified in amphora of 800 liters. The 65 year-old vines are grafted on "Riparia Gloire de Montpellier" an old root-stock obtained in 1880, giving very low yields with magnificent small grapes, of a deep gold color. The 2018 Retour a la Terre presents the exotic notes typical of the domaine with an extra dimension of expression due to the respiration of the amphora. The small grapes of "Champ-Rond" ripen beautifully without a high degree of alcohol - they are picked on the last day of the harvest, and the elevage in amphora gives the wine a great purity. Tasted at the domaine in January 2020, the wine showed elegant floral, white fruit, apricot, lemon and stone aromas. The palate was round, dense and silky with fabulous length. This is a superb white Burgundy that is delicious now and will cellar beatifully for fifteen to twenty years. Highly recommended! David Lillie
The Rateau Bourgogne Rouge is certified organic and Biodynamic, from both young and 60 year-old vines in the commune of Pommard (lieu-dit "En Rochetin") on alluvial soils over limestone. The wine is aged sur-lie for 8 months in old barriques. The 2019 shows deep, ripe cherry and strawberry fruit, very Pommard-like in this warm vintage, but still showing a nice core of earth and minerals with bright acidity. Really a lovely wine, but very little is made, limit 6 btls please,
From a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune, certified Biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. The wine shows a bright red/garnet color and very floral aromas of berry fruits - crushed raspberry and strawberry, quite pretty and a bit riper than usual in 2019, with a bit of orange peel and spice. The palate is bright, vibrant and medium-bodied with sappy tart cherry and strawberry fruit, finishing with good length of juicy acidity and minerals. The wine is quite elegant and refreshing - it's a perfect Pinot Noir for roast chicken and lighter meat dishes, serve cool and enjoy! David Lillie
Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely Biodynamic wines in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils. Quite racy and bright even in 2018, the wine shows ripe aromas of lemon, almond, stone, spiced pear and apple. The palate is rounder and more ripe than usual, but perfectly balanced with pear, citrus and stone flavors and terrific length. The antithesis of fat, oaky Chardonnays, this food friendly wine will accompany everything from oysters and grilled seafood to roast chicken and mild cheeses. Delicious now or cellar for 5 to 8 years. This is a real Chardonnay of terroir and a great value! David Lillie
About a kilometer or two northwest of the Beaune 1er Crus, La Grande Chatelaine is a cooler site with soils comprised of clay over limestone. Stone fruit and pear skin, white flowers and wet stone on the nose. Bright and fresh aromatically. The mid-weight palate is racy (especially given the vintage) and rainwater fresh with orchard fruit and lemon oil flavors, dancing astride sapid herbal notes with a clinging stoniness on the long, mouthwatering, expansive finish. Delicious with mezze maniche and sautéed fresh white corn, spring onions and grape tomatoes. And I can see this pairing beautifully with grilled sea bass or pan-roasted scallops. This is lovely vibrant Chardonnay with a sense of place and worthy of a look, though I’d drink in the mid-term while the fruit is singing, say until 2025. John McIlwain
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is high on the slope on the site of an old quarry and much of the sub-soil is limestone tailings, permitting root penetration and drainage, with a topsoil of mixed clay and limestone "marnes blanches." In biodynamic agriculture since 1979, the vineyard is a south-facing semi-circle—a very warm spot. The 2017 has a pale green gold robe. The nose offers an array of stone fruit and citrus peel aromas with a hint of mineral spice. The mid-weight, punchy palate shows a melange of stone fruit and green apple flavors with a pungent sense of minerality driving the long, concentrated finish. There's plenty going on here with ripe fruit and floral overtones vying with an overt stoniness for attention. Just cracking with a wild mushroom risotto, and a natural match for chicken, roasted cod, or even blanquette de veau. Give a quick decant now or better still in 2-3 years and beyond. John McIlwain