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It was a great thrill to be back in Jean-Claude Rateau's spacious cellar on the Route de Bouze in Beaune, tasting his beautiful 2022s from barrel and a few other treats, like the profound 2020 "Les Bressandes!" The 2022 Hautes Côtes de Beaunes will ship later this spring - they're just beautiful wines, with perfect ripeness and bright acidity - we hope to get a good allocation! One of the pioneers of Biodynamic viticulture, Jean-Claude makes pure, subtle and focused wines of terroir - in his farming and winemaking, we are reminded of the work of Baudry and Gonon...
In the meantime, this small shipment includes the 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," says Jean-Claude. The lovely 2021 sold out quickly last fall - it shows vibrant floral and red fruit aromas and a pure, silky palate - serve cool for current enjoyment or cellar for ten years.
Although every wine in this shipment is oustanding, we have to give special mention to the 2020 1er Cru "Les Bressandes" which we had not tasted prior to our February visit. This is a superb example of Bressandes, powerful but elegant with fantastic purity of fruit and great terroir expression. The palate is intense and ripe but not heavy - "precise" is the word that came to mind, perfectly balanced with red and black fruits, earth and saline mineral flavors in the very long finish. Certainly interesting to taste now but probably best after five years, and for many years after that - a great Burgundy for the cellar at a reasonable price!
Jean-Claude 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. Replanting is 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.
10% case/mixed case discount applies, wines arrive week of March 20th.
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 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.
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 2020 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 2020 is a superb wine that will age beautifully. The aromas are deep and complex with black fruits, earth, violets and spice. The palate is ripe and intense, elegant and beautifully balanced with red and black fruits, earth and saline mineral flavors. "Precise" is the word that came to mind, a great expression of this terroir, showing a bit more like a Grèves or Teurons in this vintage. Certainly interesting to taste now but best after five years of cellaring, and for many years after that. A great Burgundy for the cellar at a reasonable price!
Rateau 2020 Beaune 1er Cru Les Coucherias
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is a steep parcel 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 giving a full, ripe wine. (tasted from a 12 year-old barrel) Light gold/brass color. Lovely aromas of pear, quince, lime-flower and ripe citrus. The palate is elegant and supple, with white fruits, almond, citrus and caramel framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors, showing good ripeness but finishing with firm stony acidity. Lovely wine. Delicious now, this should age gracefully till 2035 and beyond.