Jean-Claude Rateau with Eben, Jan 2018

The Beautiful Biodynamic Wines of Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune and Domaine des Amphores in Saint-Joseph! (And No Tariffs!!)

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Veronique and Philippe, January 2017

In the hills above Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, Véronique and Philippe Grenier produce beautiful Saint-Joseph and Condrieu as well as delicious Vins de Pays from Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette amd Mornen Noir. The estate's 11 hectares have been certified organic since 2002 and Biodynamic (Demeter) since 2016. Unknown in the US and unburdened by hordes of Americain sommeliers like their friends the Gonons, the Greniers quietly make honest, soulful wines from great farming and unforced traditional vinifications.

The whites here have become particularly outstanding over the past few years with son Remi helping with the vinifications - the Condrieu (all massale selection Viognier) and Saint-Joseph Blanc are quite elegant wines of terroir at ridiculously low prices. And for value in an everyday white, there is no topping the 2019 Vin de Pays "Detour" made from 50 year-old Clairette vines, Marsanne and Roussanne, grown on granite soils in Chavanay.

The reds from Domaine des Amphores are vibrant and delicious and repesent superb value to anyone who loves Syrah from the northern Rhone! Beginning with the 2019 "Les Iris" from young vines on granite soils. "The palate is dense and elegant, with cool acidity and well-structured blackberry and black raspberry fruit, with a fresh earthy finish with mineral, citrus and ripe red and black fruit flavors." $14.99!

Vines at Amphores overlooking the Rhone

Production here is quite small, thus we have only 48 bottles of each Saint-Joseph red in this offer: "Les Sept Lieus" is a blend of old and young vines from parcels in Chavanay, 50% de-stemmed, aged 50% in vat, 50% in 2 to 10 year-old demi-muid and foudre; and "Les Mésanges," made from 40 to 50 year-old Syrah on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of "Pecher" and "Vauturerie" at Chavanay, 30 - 40% whole cluster, aged 18 months in 5 to 8 year-old 600 liter barrels. Both wines show the fresh, lush fruit of the excellent 2018 vintage, with the more structured "Les Mésanges" needing a decant or a few years in bottle to show at its best. For a beautiful, natural expression of Syrah on granite in a fresh, lighter style, the Greniers offer the Vin de France "Sphé-érique," (formerly AOC Saint-Joseph) from young massale-selection vines in the "Richagnieux" vineyard  at Chavanay. It ferments and ages in a unique round vat and receives only about 10mg/L SO2 before bottling - it shows  superb very bright pure strawberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit, really lovely, which continues on the palate that is refreshing and pure with great focus and length.

It's a great pleasure to work with Véronique and Philippe Grenier, who are so proud of their Biodynamic farming and the quality of their honest and delicious wines of terroir. The fact that they care little about point scores and publicity makes the wines even more delicious!

 

Jean-Claude in the Hautes-Cotes

We're happy that Burgundy lovers in the US are discovering the beautiful wines of Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune. 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. A small new shipment has arrived from the beautiful 2019 vintage including two gorgeous Beaune "village" wines which are delicious now and will cellar for ten to fifteen years. Also arriving are two unique and delicious whites - the 2019 Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune (in this vintage it's a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc!) and the superb 2019 "La Grande Chatelaine" from a great vineyard site above the Beaune 1er Crus.

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 wines in today's email are from two of our favorite estates in France - both "under the radar" and producing wines that are quite special, with superb Biodynamic farming and unforced, traditional vinifications. Take advantage of the low,  temporarily un-tariffed prices on these beautiful wines. Quantities are small, don't delay... (Wines arrive approx. 4/12)

 

Rateau 2019 Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc (Chardonnay/Pinot Blanc)

Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely Biodynamic wines in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils.  In the dry, hot 2019 vintage, yields were extremely low so Jean-Claude combined his Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc into this cuvee which is quite round and lucious showing floral aromas with ripe pear, apple and spice with hints of citrus and almond. The palate is rounder and more ripe than usual, but perfectly balanced with pear, citrus and stone flavors, with terrific length and firm acidity. 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 delightful Burgundy and a great value!  David Lillie

  • white
  • 34 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2019 Côte de Beaune La Grande Chatelaine

About a kilometer or two northwest of the Beaune 1er Crus, La Grande Chatelaine is a cooler site on the Montagne de Beaune with soils comprised of gravel and 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 but full and dense due to the low yields  of 2019,  with fresh orchard fruit and lemon oil flavors, dancing astride sapid herbal notes with a clinging stoniness on the long, mouthwatering, expansive finish. Serve wth seared scallops, halibut or other full-flavored fish. This is lovely ripe and vibrant Chardonnay from a unique vineyard site - drink over the next 5 to 8 years.

  • white
  • 10 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Rateau 2019 Beaune "Les Beaux et Bons"

The first vigneron in Burgundy to convert to biodynamics in 1979, Jean-Claude Rateau fashions wines of great purity and precision. Working with no new oak and minimal sulfur, his reds are at once floral, savory, and mineral. Les Beaux et Bons is sourced from lieux-dits Beaux and Bons on the Pommard side of Beaune - the 2019, tasted from baarrel in January 2020, was a bit lighter in body than the "Prevoles," showing super elegant high-toned red fruits with underbrush and an earthy spiciness on the nose. This follows through on an intensely mineral palate, very silky and lush with fresh acidity and savory red fruits and terrific length. With time in a decanter more floral notes appear and the palate expands in weight and complexity. Beautifully balanced. Decant now or hold for 3-5 years and enjoy over the next 10.

  • red
  • 14 in stock
  • $35.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2019 Beaune Les Prevoles

Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2019 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) was vinified with %100 whole-clusters, bringing a bit more structure and tannin to this deeply fruited wine which shows beautiful ripe aromas of cherry and black raspberry with rose, earth, citrus and brown spice.  The palate is chalky, ripe and sapid, showing the density of the 2019s with lush black 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, best perhaps 2023 - 2030+.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 7 in stock
  • $35.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2019 IGP des Collines Rhodaniennes Detour Blanc

Domaine des Amphores, a long-time organic and Biodynamic estate in Chavanay,  just south of Condrieu, produces excellent Saint-Josephs and Condrieu as well as red and white Vin de Pays. "Detour" is made from Roussanne, Clairette and Marsanne - it's a delicious Northern Rhone wine and one of the best values in the store. The 2019 is ripe, round and beautifully balanced with aromas of apricot, almond, lemon, hay and stone - the palate is supple and elegant with stone fruits, anise and mineral flavors, finishing with ripe white fruits, firm acidity and saline minerals.  Delicious by itself or with fish or chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. This great value will open up nicely over the next few years and is highly recommended!  David Lillie

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $14.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2019 IGP des Collines Rhodaniennes Viognier 'Les Iris'

We love Condrieu, but Viognier from other regions can often be cloying and uninteresting. This example from the Grenier family in Chavanay, however, is elegant and outstanding. It comes from Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC, always tended organically, certified since 2002, and Biodynamic since 2016. Like stepping into the sunshine, this wine is a bedazzlement of friut and floral tones. Yellow flowers, white blossom, honeysuckle, apricot, peach, canteloupe and underripe pineapple, with slight hints of almond, citrus and lemon peel all playing on the alluring nose of this wine. There is a unctuousness on the palate that is beautifully balanced by a lively acidity. The finish introduces a hint of fresh cut hay and that particular late summer evening light. (For those of you comparing with the last vintage, the 2019 seems a bit more concentrated, with a bit more brightness and acidity than the very ripe 2018) A lovely Viognier and a great value!

  • white
  • 23 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Domaine des Amphores 2019 Saint-Joseph Blanc 'Altitude 300'

From Veronique, Philippe and Remi Grenier at Domaine des Amphores, certified organic and Biodynamic. 80% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne on granite soils in "Le Monteillet" at 300 metres altitude. The 2019 shows bright gold/bronze color, subtle aromas of hay, apricot, white peach, citrus peel, melon and wet stone. The palate is ripe, dense and elegant with stone fruits and mineral flavors, textured and earthy, finishing with floral white peach, minerals and firm acidity. Serve with a full-flavored ceviche, fish in sauce, white meats, goat cheeses... Lovely wine!  David Lillie

  • white
  • 21 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2019 Condrieu "La Côte"

The white wines of Philippe and Véronique Grenier at Domaine des Amphores have become particularly successful over the past few years, as their son Remi, now the winemaker at Chateau Grillet,  has been helping out. The vineyards have been farmed organically since their inception and are now certified biodynamic as well. The 2019 Condrieu "La Côte" has a delicate and compelling aroma of fresh pear, apricot skin, soft white flowers like baby's breath, and something that makes me think of moss growing on a wet stone. The palate is incredibly luscious and rounded with a slightly bitter almond skin on the finish.  Serve with a full-flavored fish dish, chicken in sauce, foie gras, goat cheeses. This is a lovely Condrieu and a great value!

  • white
  • 14 in stock
  • $38.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Domaine des Amphores 2019 IGP des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah "Les Iris"

From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now  Biodynamic  as well. The 2019 "Les Iris" Syrah  is similar to the exuberant 2018 but perhaps a bit brighter and with a bit more concentration and depth. The wine shows cool aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of stone, mint, smoke and violet, quite fresh and pretty. The palate is dense and elegant, with cool acidity and well-structured blackberry and black raspberry fruit, with a fresh earthy finish with mineral, citrus and ripe red and black fruit flavors. Terrific length and depth for a wine at this price. This is a very versatile wine to serve cool with grilled chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses or to sip by itself, slightly chilled. It's  an authentic and delicious wine and a great value! David Lillie

  • red
  • 9 in stock
  • $14.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2018 Saint-Joseph "Les Sept Lieus"

(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they are certified Biodynamic as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. 50% de-stemmed, aged 50% in vat, 50% in 2 to 10 year-old demi-muid and foudre.  The 2018 shows a deep red/black color with elegant high-toned floral blackberry, black raspberry and black olive aromas with hints of earth, citrus and coffee. The palate is balanced and well-structured with blackberry and black plum , finishing with black fruits, earth and firm tannins. With aeration the finish broadens with elegant black fruit liqueur, licorice, coffee and black olive. This lovely Saint-Joseph will accompany lamb shank, pork stews and grilled meats - this is quite delicious now, best 2022 - 2030+ it's a beautiful wine and a great value.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 23 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2018 Saint-Joseph "Les Mesanges"

"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from 40 to 50 year-old organic Syrah vines on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of "Pecher" and "Vauturerie" at Chavanay, 30 - 40% whole cluster, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels, 5 to 8 years-old. This is the most structured and age-worthy of the Domaine des Amphores Saint-Josephs and is a lusher more forward wine than usual in this excellent vintage. The 2018 will benefit from a few years of aging, and needs a bit of time open if drinking now, then shows generous aromas of ripe blueberries, smoked green olive and thyme and is generally brimming with energy and life. As in 2015,  the palate is ripe and supple with black fruit liqueur, menthol, spice, earth and mineral flavors, quite intense but very bright, lifted by firm acidity, really showing the Biodynamic farming.  It has terrific persistence and freshness and was a perfect companion to roast chicken and summer squash. This will drink beautifully over the next 15 years. SE/DL

  • red
  • 23 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Domaine des Amphores 2019 Vin de France Sphé-érique

The 2019 Vin de France "Sphé-érique" from the Grenier family in Saint-Joseph is an elegant Syrah from Biodynamic farming that is fantastically delicious! The wine is from young massale-selection Syrah vines on granite with shallow clay soils in the Richagnieux vineyard  at Chavanay. It ferments and ages in a unique round vat. The wine shows  superb very bright pure strawberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit, really lovely, which continue on the palate that is fresh, refreshing and pure with great focus and length. There is minimal added SO2 which allows the fragrant, floral aromas and fruit flavors to be fully expressed. Serve this beautiful Syrah cool with charcuterie, grilled lamb and pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses. It's lovely wine and a testament to the great farming and winemaking by Véronique and Philippe Grenier and family. David Lillie

  • red
  • 13 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur