A thrilling wine. 100% Chardonnay from the vines Jean-Claude Rateau tends ‘up the hill’. The flavour spectrum is more like Chablis than Meursault to me. The palate has racy acid but the weight on the finish makes it more Côte d’Or in style. I would drink this wine now, with some scampi. You can leave it for 3-10 years and let that acid meld into the wine and the flavours develop.
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 Beurot, 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.
Haute Cotes de Beaune
The high slopes above Burgundy’s main Cote d’Or. Traditionally it was way too cold to ripen grapes with any consistency. But that is changing. And some sites are making stunning wines. The style is often a leaner, more elegant take on Burgundy. However, in the right year, the richness of the sun can come through into your glass. This might be where we are sourcing the great wines of Burgundy in 50-100 years from now.
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.
The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnay can range from cool-climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation.