Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Man Who Changed Burgundy


The sad passing of Anne-Claude Leflaive last week also made me think of Jean-Claude Rateau. Rateau pioneered biodynamic viticulture in Burgundy in 1979 and was then only the fourth vigneron in all of France to practice biodynamics. His lecture on biodynamics a decade later drew many Burgundy producers including Anne-Claude Leflaive.

Since then most of the top Burgundy vignerons converted to biodynamic viticulture, including, Leflaive, Leroy, DRC, Lafon, Lafarge, De Montille, to name just a few. Amazingly Rateau still remains somewhat undiscovered today. I'm very pleased to help import his Burgundies to the U.S. His wines are not easy to find even in France, so I'm very happy for this new opportunity.

Jean-Claude Rateau is a native of Beaune. After completing wine studies at the Lycée Viticole, he went to train in Beaujolais, where he found out about biodynamics. On his return to Burgundy, he started practicing biodynamics on his vineyards in Beaune in 1979, the first one to do so in Burgundy.

But what differentiates Rateau from other vignerons that farm biodynamcially is that he is just as consistent in the cellar. He vinifies as naturally as possible with native yeasts and with very minimal sulfur. He never uses new oak and usually doesn't filter. The results are wines with obvious energy and transparency. They benefit from at least a few years aging to show their full potential, especially the premiers crus.

Hautes Cotes de Beaune Bourgogne Blanc, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2013 $26.00 (read more)

Hautes Cotes de Beaune Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2013 $29.00 (read more)

Beaune "Clos des Mariages", Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2012 $42.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Les Reversees, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2011 $48.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Les Coucherias Blanc, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2012 $54.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Bressandes, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2011 $57.00 (read more)

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