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One of the highlights of our recent whirlwind Tour de France was tasting the lovely organic Burgundies from these three great estates. All three produced delicious wines in 2015, featuring the ripeness and gorgeous fruit of the vintage, but happily avoiding the extra weight and alcohol present in many conventional Burgundies. And we have to say that 2016 is the real deal - a vintage that will require some patience for the more "serious" wines, but we were quite impressed with the elegance of the fruit and the excellent length and terroir expression in the wines.
Jean-Cluade Rateau We have just received the last of the lovely 2015s - they can be enjoyed now, especially the delicious "Les Prévoles," and the 1er Crus will cellar beautifully. The 2016s tasted from barrel were superb and should arrive in late spring. One of the few growers in Burgundy to practice biodynamic agriculture, Jean-Claude's techniques in the cellar 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, and we urge you to try them!
From Jane et Sylvain, our organic friends in Gevrey, comes more of the simply delicious 2015 Passetoutgrain and Bourgogne Rouge and the 2015 Côtes de Nuits-Villages (from the Queue de Hareng in Brochon). These are beautiful everyday Burgundies, particularly the Bourgogne Rouge which shows wonderful purity of fruit and perfect balance. The Côtes de Nuits-Villages is a unique, very complex and mineral wine and a great value - it benefits from opening a few hours (or days) in advance. For those with cellars, the 2015 Gevrey "Fonteny" is a great value in 1er Cru Burgundy - beautiful after ten to fifteen years of aging.
Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Les Champs de l'Abbaye in the Côte Chalonnaise have been farming with organic and biodynamic methods since 1999. (See the excellent article in www.Wineterroirs.com from 2009). The 2016 reds have just arrived and they are super-delicioius, vibrating with bright red fruits and refreshing acidity - serve them cool with grilled foods this summer! Their 2015 Bourgogne Blanc and 2015 Rully "les Cailloux" have arrived as well - these are outstanding white Burgundies with sensational depth and minerality in a lean, elegant frame, partially aged in new oak, reminding us of the De Moor Bourgogne Chitry. Only 120 bottles of each are available for the US, don't delay to give them a try! An Extra Added Attraction is the 2015 Vincent Rapet Pernand-Vergelesses "Les Belles Filles." This cool east-facing vineyard normally produces a light but very lovely wine, and in the warm vintage of 2015 the wine shows an extra layer of ripeness and depth and beautiful complexity. For a moderate cost, this is a very satisfying glass of Burgundy - only available in the US at Chambers Street!
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on shallow red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentations with minimal SO2. The 2015 Jane et Sylvain Côte de Nuits-Villages is a superb and unusual Burgundy showing intense aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry with rose leaf, brown spice and herbal notes as well as dusty stone and mineral smells which are typical of this vineyard. With aeration the aromas become more pure and fruit-driven and the palate shows lovely black cherry, strawberry and red currant fruit, quite dense and ripe, with a finish that's extraordinarily long and pure. Decant 4 to 6 hours in advance if drinking now, or cellar for 3 to 5 years and drink till 2027. Highly recommended for those who enjoy some minerals in their Burgundy!
The Hasard’s Bourgogne Blanc is made from hand-harvested and certified organic Chardonnay grown on a limestone/clay parcel in Aluze, next to Mercurey. The native-yeast fermentation lasts 10 months in barrel and only minimal SO2 is added at bottling. The 2015 is more fruit-forward on the nose, with aromas of dried mango, pear followed by ripe yellow fruits and river rocks. The palate is mineral, saline, and layered with notes of dried apricot, fennel, white flowers, and stone on a very generous finish. An excellent value white Burgundy that would pair well with oysters, cheeses, or roast chicken with herbs. Amanda Bowman
The Hasard's have 1/2 hectare in Rully with 35 year-old organic vines planted on clay and limestone soils. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermented with native yeasts, and aged in barrel. The 2016 is racier than past vintages, with tightly knit, beam-like acidity springing forward upon opening. Aromas of earthy Bosc pear, lime flower, salty river stone, and soft toasty notes from new wood use. The palate is austere and lighter than the 2015, with flavors of white peach, lime zest, mint, and stone on the finish. The flavors and texture become more supple on the second day, showing hints of smoked pineapple, white flower, seashell, and fleshy pear. A lovely wine in its youth that becomes more expressive and elegant with air, this should be beautiful in 5-10years. Amanda Bowman
Jane and Sylvain have done it again! Another beautiful Passetoutgrain from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Gamay, grown near Gevrey-Chambertin, organically farmed and quite delicious! The 2015 shows ripe aromas of tart cherry and raspberry liqueur with earth and violets. The palate is lively and bright with morello cherry and raspberry with stone, tobacco and citrus, quite vibrant and long. Really a refreshing and delicious wine, perfect for picnics and barbecues, served quite cool. This is a fantastic value and highly recommended.
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. The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge shows a brilliant red/black color with lovely tart cherry, raspberry and violet aromas, very high-toned and bright. The palate shows the ripeness of 2015 with pretty strawberry and cherry fruit backed by firm acidity, and it finishes with refreshing citrus and red fruits. Serve this lovely Pinot Noir quite cool over the next five years - it's a delicious wine and a great value!
This lovely Gevrey by our organic friends, Jane et Sylvain, is 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2015 shows very pretty high-toned ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit with violet, soil, graphite and citrus peel. The palate is dense and balanced, with a mineral aspect missing in most modern Burgundies, with supple ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with citrus and herbal notes. The finish is very long with red fruits, spice, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-fashioned Burgundy that is delicious now and should age nicely, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny," high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Beautifully balanced for a 2015 and built to age, the wine shows subtle, complex black fruits with hints of spice, citrus and earth. The palate is supple and well-structured with red and black fruits backed by firm acidity and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Certainly enjoyable now with a long decant, best held for five to eight years then enjoy until 2035. Lovely wine. David Lillie
From 10 to 50 year-old vines grown on limestone soils (Middle Jurassic!) in the commune of Aluze, Cotes Chalonnaise, certified organic since 1999. This is an approachable Pinot Noir, showing lively raspberry fruit, violets, and hints of mint on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with bright wild cherry, spice, tart blackberry and pepper over bracing mineral flavors. Delicious now, best served chilled and with some aeration. Amanda Bowman
The 2016 Côtes Chalonnaise "les Claveaux" is a lovely new cuvée from Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Les Champs de l'Abbaye. Made from young vines of Pinot Fin, with 10% Chardonnay, the wine is delicate and delicious and should be served a bit cool. The aromas are vivid and very pretty - tart cherry, raspberry, citrus and violet. The palate is light and refreshing with cherry and berry fruits and hints of citrus and earth. Serve with chicken and white meats and save some for grilled foods this summer...
Certified organic, from a limestone terroir rich in seashells, with iron-rich soil, just below the 1er Cru Clos des Miglands. Very low yields, 80% de-stemmed, wild-yeast fermentation, one-year aging in 40% new fine-grained barrels, bottled by gravity, no fining or filtration. The 2016 Marcoeurs shows subtle aromas of black cherry with plum skin, earth, graphite and hints of violet and citrus. The palate is very mineral and saline with flavors of earth and tart black cherry that are intense and long, finishing with firm acidity. This shows the intensity of the 2016 Burgundies and is delicious now with a long decant, or cellar for five years and enjoy until 2030. David Lillie
From the biodynamically farmed high altitude Les Sous Roches lieu-dit on the northwest slope in Monthélie composed of thin stony clay soils over limestone. 2016 is a great vintage for the Monthélie "Les Sous Roches" from Alain and Isabelle Hasard showing the classic structure and density of this excellent vintage. The wine shows vibrant aromas of fraises des bois and cherry liqueur with earth, mint and citrus. The palate is dense and sapid with bright blackberry and black cherry fruit, spice, earth and firm acidity. Impressive length with sappy black fruits, mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Delicious now if a bit intense?perhaps open the night before and re-cork?best to cellar 5 years and drink until 2030+. Serve with mushroom pappardelle, roast veal, grilled meats. 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 giving a full, ripe wine. The 2016 "Coucherias" is an extraordinary wine showing elegant aromas of almond, lemon confit and pear with subtle spice and mineral notes. The palate is deep and concentrated but beautifully balanced by firm acidity, very sapid and pure with a perfect finish of stone, pear, lemon and herbal flavors. This is a beautiful white Burgundy that is superb now but will be even better after a few years in the cellar, probably best 2021 - 2030. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2015 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) 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 2015s 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, best perhaps 2019 - 2026. David Lillie
Generous black cherry, boysenberry, notes of cherry pit and anise on nose. Ripe mid-weight palate, ripe black fruits, hints of iodine and iron and other soil beneath supple structure. Succulent acidity and savory mineral notes offset the ripeness and lend energy and drive on a rich, palate-coating finish. This has good punch, even if it's more generous than I associate with very young Rateau. The purity of fruit and earth notes are finely balanced and this is an excellent Burgundy for the mid-term. A fine pairing with braised chicken thighs with mustard, tarragon, and shallots. A great value from the pioneer of biodynamic Burgundy! John McIlwain
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 2015 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. 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, perhaps until 2032 and beyond. DL
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 2015 shows a lovely bright red/black color with high-toned aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with violet and graphite. The palate is dense and ripe with tart red fruits, very pure and long with hints of licorice and citrus with a chalky mineral backbone. Drink now to enjoy the lush, bright fruit or cellar five to eight years, then drink until 2030. Lovely wine. DL
The Pernand-Vergelesses vineyard "Les Belles Filles" is a northern extension of "Iles des Vergelesses" and "En Carradeux" facing east and usually producing an elegant, very pretty light-bodied Burgundy. In 2015, the hot, dry conditions gave this vineyard (and others in Auxey-Duresses for example) their moment in the sun with wines of balance and firm acidities but showing the ripeness of the vintage. The 2015 "Belle Filles" is quite beautiful, beginning with the usual floral tart cherry and raspberry aromas found in this wine; with aeration, the aromas deepen into earthy black cherry with hints of licorice and graphite. The palate shows ripe black cherry and strawberry fruit with earth and mineral flavors, quite dense and deep but still light on its feet and balanced with firm acidity. Three days later, the wine is really singing with terrific depth and length of black fruits and saline minerals. This is a great vintage for "Belles Filles." Decant well in advance if drinking now, best to cellar five to eight years and drink till 2033. David Lillie