This Rateau Beaune Les Reversees is all the proof you need of Jean-Claude’s ability. 2014 was a difficult, but not impossible, vintage. Les Reversees is a Premier Cru site that would not be your first pick if you could have any site in Beaune. And despite all of this, Jean-Claude has made a remarkably good wine. Not good for 2014, or good for the Les Reversees vineyard. It is a wine you’ll never drink enough of. I would definitely drink one of the Rateau Beaune Les Reversees now. Just to see what I’m prattling on about. Then I would put some away to see them at 10, 15, and 20 years of age.
Radio interview with Jean-Claude Rateau
Do you know the wines Of Jean-Claude Rateau? As a fellow Burgundy lover, I’m suggesting you get to know them soon. It was my privilege to meet and talk with Jean-Claude Rateau. Despite him having my words translated to French and his reply translated back to English it is obvious he is a smart and fun man. Jean-Claude Rateau is the first Burgundian to work commercial vines biodynamically. His parcel of Clos des Mariages is the first biodynamic plot in Burgundy starting is 1979. Jean-Claude took over 1 hectare from his family. Now he has 8.5 hectares and makes 14 different wines.
Jean-Claude informed me that Burgundy was rarely a single variety. Field blends were the norm until phylloxera. He has planted Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Beurrot, and Pinot Noir in his vineyards. Some wines are single variety and some are blends.
With such pure and healthy fruit, Jean-Claude only needs to nurture grape juice into wine. If the vintage allows, Jean-Claude makes use of the stems. There is no new oak; all barrels are 3-10 years of age. The wine sits on lees until bottling time. There is minimal use of sulphur. Fining and filtration are only done if necessary.
Jean-Claude’s wines are pure and expressive. They jump out of the glass and evolve with time. The wines featuring some of the “alternative” varieties are obviously different but also still very Burgundian. The wines will improve with age, but being mostly from Beaune, you don’t need to wait 15 years. 4-7 is a good start.
Historically an important trading town with large vineyard area. Beaune has numerous (!) Premier Cru sites but not one Grand Cru. There are a handful of sites and producers that are irresistible and for that reason, don’t write off Beaune. Most of the wines are sturdy if a bit clumsy at times. Often soft and pretty style with mid-term aging potential. They can represent great value for this reason.
The classic part of Burgundy known as the Cote d’Or (the slope of gold) is essentially one vineyard that is 60km long and maybe 5km at its widest. From this limestone ridge, some of the most complex, long-lived and aromatic wines are produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Cistercian monks who owned the land codified the entire region and so each small plot has a name.
This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one-trick pony, it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too.