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Just arrived in NY is our yearly allocation of the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune and Beaune village wines from Biodynamic pioneer, Jean-Claude Rateau. And special treats in this shipment are three vintages of his superb Beaune 1er Cru "Les Bressandes." We're honored to have these lovely wines at Chambers Street, products of 40 years of organic and Biodynamic farming. Rateau is enormously respected in France and was a great influence on the new wave of Biodynamic producers such as Etienne de Montille, Dominique Lafon, Anne-Claude Leflaive, Michel Lafarge and Pierre Morey. The wines are old-fashioned in their relative lightness and in their beautiful expressions of terroir, free of excess extraction or new oak.
The estate was created 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.
The 2021 Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune and Beaune single-vineyard wines in today's email are simply delicious for current drinking, showing the brightness and balance of this "old fashioned" vintage that was hit by frost, reducing yields, but the wines achieved perfect ripeness and will be superb at your holiday dinners.
The 1er Cru Beaune "les Bressandes" is a fairly steep slope on the Montagne de Beaune, in ancient times part of a group of quarries and probably named for the "broisse" or bushy vegetation. "On the tithe handbook of Notre-Dame de Beaune dated 1380, the site is 'En la Combe a la Broissande.'" This terroir of limestone debris and clay, facing east, is warm and well-drained giving ripe, structured wines that typically benefit from 5 years in the bottle with another ten to fifteen years of peak drinking. These are Jean-Claude's "biggest" wines but they remain balanced and bright due to the gentle extraction, minimal SO2 use and aging in used rather than new barrels.
There is a subtle beauty to these wines that originate in living soils and that are vinified without artifice by Jean-Claude Rateau. Quantities are limited.
Wines will be available Friday, Nov 11th. Case/mixed case 10% discount applies.
Rateau 2021 Beaune Clos des Mariages
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 2021 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 vibrant chalky fruit, sappy and ripe but nicely balanced with firm acidity, earth, mineral and anise/licorice flavors that continue in the very long, juicy finish. This is absolutely delicious now and should drink well continuously over the next ten to fifteen years. Frankly, I would drink it, served a bit cool, this summer... David Lillie
Rateau 2021 Beaune "Les Beaux et Bons"
The first vigneron in Burgundy to convert to biodynamics in 1979, Jean-Claude Rateau fashions wines of geat purity and precision. Working with no new oak and minimal sulfur, his reds are at once floral, savory, and mineral. The 2021 "Les Beaux et Bons," is sourced from lieux-dits "Les Beaux Fougets" and "Les Bons Feuvres" on the Pommard side of Beaune below 1er Cru "Boucherottes." This is quite delightful right from jump, all ripe strawberry and just a touch of stem influence. At first glance it feels a bit like perfect ripe Beaujolais. But 2021 so far seems defined by transparency and delineation of terroir and as it sits in the glass, it gains length and the acidity comes to the fore. Really nice village Burgundy here.
Rateau 2021 Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc Chardonnay
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 in 2021, the wine shows subtle aromas of lemon, almond, stone, spiced pear and apple. Intense, very mineral palate 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 seafoods 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!
Rateau 2021 Cote de Beaune La Grande Chatelaine
Northwest of the Beaune 1er Crus, on the hill overlooking Beaune called "La Montagne," "La Grande Chatelain" is a cooler site with soils comprised of clay over limestone. The 2021 Clos de la Grande Châtelaine has fresh, cool-toned aromatics of white flowers, nectarine, rainwater, almond and pear skin. The medium-bodied palate is a little warmer toned offering flavors of nectarine, white peach, almond, wet stone and crushed herb with a fairly savory finish. . This is generous and makes for a lovely quaffer, as well as a beautiful partner with shellfish, fish in sauce, white meats and milder cheeses. Lovely wine!
Rateau 2021 Beaune Clos des Mariages Blanc
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 limestone soils. (This lieu-dit is named for the cermonies that marked wedding celebrations in Beaune. The guests would go to the vines for a ritual walk before starting the festivities.)
Rateau 2018 Beaune 1er Cru Les Coucherias
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
Rateau 2021 Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Rouge
Jean-Claude Rateau makes this lovely, light-bodied Burgundy from a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune, certified biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. The 2021 shows a bright red/garnet color, with very pretty aromas of tart cherry and raspberry with hints of rose, spice and violet. The palate is light but sapid, and beautifully flavored with bright cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit supported by fresh acidity. There is excellent length of berry fruits, mineral flavors and citrusy acids in the finish. This is an elegant Pinot Noir to serve cool with chicken and game birds, fish in sauce, grilled pork and mild cheeses - just delicious!
Rateau 2021 Beaune 1er Cru Les Reversées (3/20)
From vines grown in the calcareous clay soils of "Les Reversées" premier cru, toward the bottom of the hill in the center of the slope next to "Les Teurons," and below "Clos de la Mousse," exposed east and slightly north (hence "reversées" - wrong side of the hill.) OK! This is Burgundy. The plump red fruit that is the Beaune signature feels further refined here, with a savage mineral edge that cries out for duck. Overall, extremely fine and fresh here and will make fine older bones in ten to fifteen years. Excellent.
The Gevrey-Chambertin by Jean-Claude Rateau is from two small parcels in "Aux Etelois" (below Grand Cru Griottes) and "les Epointures" (below 1er Cru Clos Prieur) on the more fine and aromatic side of Gevrey, south of the village. The midweight palate is lithe, racy, and offers up vibrant flavors of dark fruits, crushed herbs, game, and salty soil notes. Great lifted acidity and core of minerality overlain by an assortment of wild berry fruits. Great tension and verve and a bargain at the price. Wonderful with veau aux champignons.
Rateau 2017 Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes
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 that are quite marked by the limestone soils. 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 2017 Bressandes shows a dense red/black color and aromas of black cherry and ripe strawberry, quite deep with sous-bois, violet, graphite and citrus. The palate is dense and chalky with blackberry, earth, cocoa and minerals with terrific length of red currant, earth and juicy acidity. This is a beautiful wine that will give great pleasure in its youth - it's a bit softer than the 2016 - and should be a superb mature wine as well, perhaps until 2035 and beyond. David Lillie *("A formation rare in Burgundy 'la grèze lithée.' An ancient limestone cliff (and quarry) dominated the slope in the distant past, which eroded leaving debris of small pepples which covered the slope at this spot from top to bottom - leaving a steep slope facing east with a soil rich in pepples, deep, warm and dry, where the vines roots penetrate deeply."
Rateau 2018 Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes
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. Tasted in January of 2020 in the cellar, the 2018 Bressandes showed a deep black/red color and intense aromas of blackberry and ripe black cherry, dense and pure. The palate was elegant and deep with black fruits, bitter chocolate, earth and mineral notes, very, very long and with great finishing acidity. Really a vibrant and beautiful Bressandes which should be fun to drink in it's youthful exuberance, or hold and enjoy until 2040. David Lillie
Rateau 2019 Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes
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. The beautiful 2019 Bressandes shows a lighter color than the 2018 - bright, clear red/garnet, wonderfully perfumed with earth, tart cherry, raspberry, rose-petal, chalk, truffle, citrus and roast meat. The palate is bright, dense and pure with ripe black cherry and red currant fruit, not heavy but sapid and long with earthy mineral flavors, soil, licorice, orange peel and spice. The finish is very long with floral red fruits, earth and citrus flavors and firm chalky acidity. This is a great Bressandes, best to hold five years then enjoy until 2045. David Lillie