Jean-Claude Rateau in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune -- Photos by Eben Lillie

Beautiful, Affordable Burgundies from Jean-Claude Rateau and Jane et Sylvain!

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New shipments of beautiful, old-fashioned Burgundies have just arrived from Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune, and Jane et Sylvain in Gevrey-Chambertin. These two estates practice organic or biodynamic farming, ferment with wild yeasts and age their wines in minimal or zero new oak thus preserving the aromatic complexity and saline mineral flavors that are the essence of terroir expression in Burgundy.

Rateau showing the 20cm difference between his soils in Bressandes and an eroded neighboring vineyard treated with chemicals.

Jean-Cluade Rateau was the fourth vigneron in France to convert to biodynamics, beginning with two hectares in 1979, learning from Yves Herody and working with Claude Bourguignon to analyse his soils. Rateau has always believed that the soils must be alive to ensure the healthy transfer of nutrients to the vines, especially important being the mycorrhizal funghi which assimilate phosphorous and micro-nutrients and live in symbiosis with the vines roots. He has developed a plowing regimen that encourages the life of the soil, uses natural composts and biodynamic preparations and has a varied population of wild plants in the vineyards that harbor beneficial insects. Jean-Claude's techniques in the cellar also enable the production of real wines of terroir. Fermentations are solely with wild-yeasts and stems are included in proportion depending on the vintage. There are manual cap-punchings, but no attempt to over-extract. Aging is uniquely in used barrels, three to ten years old, and minimal SO2 is used. M. Rateau does not seek or receive a great deal of media attention but his wines speak for themselves, with a purity and mineral character seldom seem in "modern" Burgundy.

Rateau's passion for his vineyards and his wines was evident in a recent visit to the domaine, where he provided a tour of his parcels and a tasting in the cellar. He described differences in micro-climate and soil type at each site, spoke proudly of the health of the vineyards, and very frankly pointed out the benefits of his decades of work in organic and biodynamic agriculture. At each stop, Rateau took the time to dig his hands in the soil, touch the plants, and admire the view, obviously at home among his vines. Back at the cellar, we tasted through a lineup of whites and reds as he meditated on each wine with a mixture of analytical precision and pure admiration. He is very serious and intentional with his winemaking, but there remains a humble respect for nature and the mystery that each year holds. Jean-Claude is obviously a man of the soil and as committed and thoughtful of a winemaker as you'll ever find!

 

 

Jane et Sylvain Raphanau (their estate is simply called "Jane et Sylvain") produce tiny quantities of lovely terroir-expressive wines on their four hectares in and around Gevrey, certified organic since 2003. Their finest parcel is uniquely situated at the top southwest corner of 1er Cru Fontenys, separated only by a dirt track from Ruchottes - it's a great site producing a great Burgundy needing eight to ten years to reach maturity. Their 'village' Gevrey is particularly beautiful in 2011 and also a favorite is their lovely Bourgogne Passetoutgrain – in 2013 it's 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Gamay and 100% delicious. We were very happy to find Jane et Sylvain, who seem to belong more in Touraine than Gevrey-Chambertin – they're wonderful people, making honest Burgundies that deserve your attention!

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Rateau 2014 Bourgogne Rouge

The arrival of new wines from Jean Claude Rateau is always a cause for celebration. Rateau was one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture in France and was the first biodynamic vigneron in Burgundy dating to 1979. The mid-weight 2014 Bourgogne rouge, sourced from vines in Pommard, has a limpid ruby robe and cool-toned aromatics. The nose offers violets, wild strawberry, pomegranate, and spice. The palate is racy, brisk, and earthy with a tension between red fruit and a fine cool minerality. A touch reticent at first, with a few hours open the fruit becomes more prominent. Good now with decanting, this will gain from time in the cellar. John McIlwain

 

 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2014 Hautes Cotes de Beaune Rouge

From a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune, certified biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. Lovely light garnet color; subtle, delicate aromas of red fruits and flowers - quite complex and pretty - raspberry, tart cherry and blackberry. the palate is light and lovely with earthy red fruits, citrus and herbal flavors finishing with bright acidity and saline minerals. This is a subtle and refreshing glass of Burgundy - enjoy now served cool or wait 5 to 8 years for a mature experience.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Rateau 2013 Beaune Les Prevoles

From the bottom of the slope with deeper soils. The 2013 Les Prévolles shows a prettier side of Beaune. There are bright fine aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, and violets with notes of earth beneath. The palate is somewhat light but shows tart cherry, raspberry syrup, and stone framed by fine-grained tannins. This is quite elegant with good persistence on the finish. Evolves over many hours after opening. Serve cool with grilled chicken this summer or age for 3-5 years and enjoy with roasted chicken or a cheese course. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2011 Beaune 1er Cru Les Reversees

From young and old vines on "brown" limestone with clay topsoil, in biodynamic agriculture. 21 day fermentation with manual pigeage, aged 18 months in old barriques. The wine is quite rich in 2011 showing deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, violets, strawberry and earth with hints of citrus, plum and spice. The palate is round and ripe with firm acidity and deep black fruits with beach plum and earth with a lovely long finish. While this can be enjoyed young it will be best after 5 to 7 years of aging. This is a delicious Beaune 1er Cru, a great value and highly recommended.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Rateau 2010 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 2010 is a superb wine that will age beautifully. The aromas are subtle and complex with black fruits, earth, violets and spice. The palate is relatively light, but quite intense with black cherry, earth and saline mineral flavors. This is not a "fruit bomb" but rather an old-fashioned wine of terroir. Certainly interesting to taste now but probably best after five years of cellaring, and for many years after that....

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99

Rateau 2014 Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc

This is a racy and very mineral glass of white Burgundy showing aromas of stone, citrus, anise and pear liqueur. The palate is bone-dry with stone and citrus flavors, white fruits and herbal notes that continue on the long and scintillating finish. Serve with shellfish, sole, cod and mild goat cheeses. This will certainly age well and should be quite interesting in 5 to 8 years.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2014 Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune Pinot B

Pinot Blanc from the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune. Balanced, crisp, and very fresh. In our recent tasting, Rateau poured this after the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune Chardonnay, which may suggest that he considers it to have a bit more substance. The salinity that is ever-present in his Chardonnays is definitely evident with the Pinot Blanc. Round, golden orchard fruit dominates the mid palate, and the finish is palate cleansing and mineral, making it very easy to reach your second glass!

 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Rateau 2014 Cote de Beaune La Grande Chatelaine

About a kilometer or two northwest of the Beaune 1er Crus, La Grande Chatelain is a cooler site with soils comprised of clay over limestone. The 2014 Clos de la Grande Chatelain has fresh cool-toned aromatics of white flowers,  nectarine, rainwater,  and pear skin. The medium-bodied palate is a little warmer toned  offering flavors of nectarine, white peach, and crushed herb with a fairly savory finish.  The ripeness of the vintage makes this a little more giving than one would typically expect for the cooler high-altitude climat. This is generous and makes for a lovely quaffer, as well as a beautiful partner with shellfish or milder cheeses. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rateau 2012 Beaune 1er Cru Les Coucherias Blanc

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 giving a full, ripe wine. The 2012 has lovely aromas of ripe pear and apple, with lemon-oil, melon and floral notes. The palate is quite round and ripe with pear, quince, lemon confit and honey backed with chalky minerals and good acidity. This is quite delicious now and until 2025.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Jane et Sylvain 2013 Bourgogne Rouge

Jane et Sylvain: A refreshingly unpretentious name for a small organic estate in Gevrey-Chambertin. Their Bourgogne Rouge is from young vines in a parcel that has never been chemically treated and always tended organically. Lovely red/black color. This needs about an hour open, then shows ripe cherry and blackberry fruit with violet and citrus, quite elegant. The palate shows juicy cherry and blackberry over chalky mineral flavors and firm acidity. This is a lovely Pinot Noir of terroir at a great price - it's delicious now and will improve with a few years in the bottle. 12.5% alcohol, certified organic.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic

Jane et Sylvain 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Fontenys

Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fontenys", high up in the southwest, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track. They are certified organic and age the wine in old barriques. The 2013 is a bit coiled upon opening, but with an hour or so of air opens to reveal cherry and red berry fruit, wet bark, savory earth, and spice notes on the nose. The palate has good density offering sappy cherry fruit, lively acids, and dark-toned minerality with firm but ripe tannins and a very long, savory finish. This is a classy Gevrey which will need 5-8 years to come together but should drink beautifully for another dozen years after that. John McIlwain    In January of 2014, I tasted the 2002 Gevrey 1er Cru Fontenys in the cellar with Jane and Sylvain.Their eldest son was born in 2002, so they saved a bunch for him, but were generous enough to share one with my father and me. It was transcendental - what I refer to as my "religious experience" with red Burgundy, and possibly one of the most memorable wines I've ever tasted. Flowers, stones, dried fruit, the subtle touch of tannin... truly a blissful experience. Jane says the wine has "la finesse du Ruchottes," referring to the Grand Cru vineyard that is literally feet away from the edge of their vines in the Premier Cru Fonteny.  Unfortunately we don't have any of the 2002 at Chambers, but the 2013 is a great purchase for the cellar - patience will reward you if you can wait for it to develop. Eben Lillie  

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $54.99

  • Organic