Château de Béru & Athénaïs Béru

  • Country

    France

  • Region

    Chablis, Burgundy

  • Founded

    1627

  • Farming

    Organic & biodynamic certified

In the aftermath of Phylloxera, this estate’s vineyards risked being forgotten. It was only in 1987 that Comte Éric de Béru replanted the historic Clos Béru. Today, his daughter Athénaïs farms the estate according to biodynamic methods and produces tensile, incisive wines that see very little sulfur dioxide throughout their lives. Admirers of racy, mineral Chablis should give this important estate serious consideration.

William Kelley, The Wine Advocate, August 2019

Athénaïs Béru is an extremely talented winemaker and we are unbelievably excited and honoured to be able to offer these wines, especially as we have been huge fans of hers for a number of years.

Athénaïs has been making the wines at Château de Béru since 2004 and also makes some négoce wines under the label Athénaïs. She has taken the domaine to a new heights with the implementation of organic and biodynamic farming. The wines see a long élevage (18-36 months) with low or zero sulphur additions resulting in deeply concentrated, crystalline wines with great terroir expression. They are considered amongst the finest in the region.

The wines are all unfined and unfiltered, immensely characterful, serious examples of Chablis. 

This really is the perfect fit for the Emile Wines portfolio; the wines are incisive, richly textured and chiselled. The vineyards have been farmed organically since Athénaïs took over in 2004 and biodynamic conversion started in 2010 – the domaine is now certified for both. Low or zero sulphur additions mean the terroir can really shine – but Athénaïs does not follow a recipe and is disdainful of the dogma often attached to natural winemaking. If a wine needs a little sulphur she will add it, though she has found that since adopting biodynamic viticulture her wines are much more stable. Hers is a philosophy we admire and respect. 

She says that biodynamics completely changes your vision in the winery as it completely changes the wines. Year on year the grapes gain greater balance and complexity; a raw material with more energy, more balance and more potential.

The village of Béru is located 400 metres above sea level and the vines encircling this hill benefit from exceptional sunshine, especially the Clos Béru, (which dates back to the 12th century) located on the southern slope. The grapes are ripe, from low yields and produce ample, dense, complex wines with a bright spine of acidity (reflecting their high altitude site), a far cry from a number of insipid, bland and one-dimensional wines often made in Chablis. Chablis is not a standardised product and there is not one standard style of Chablis – the area is deeply complex and varied, discovering its myriad terroirs and wine styles is ever fascinating and truly exciting. Athénaïs is emphatic on this point, and we couldn’t agree more. Chablis has the potential to make some of the most complex, thrilling and age-worthy wines on the planet. The terroir here is so unique and distinct and offers the world’s clearest defense of terroir; Chablis is chardonnay in pure form.

What makes the terroir in Chablis so special is the Kimmeridgian limestone. Formed 150 million years ago and composed of limestone that has been deposited on an ancient seabed, interweaved with layers of fossil-rich marl. Kimmeridgian limestone is in part responsible for the unique expression of Chardonnay found here. 

At Château de Béru, as it’s so high compared to the rest of Chablis, the soils are very rocky and the Kimmerdigian limestone is very close to the surface, creating very mineral, direct and focussed wine. Full of nervosité beautifully contrasted against pliancy, and richly textured palates. 

Most of the domaine’s holdings are situated around the Château in the village of Béru, though there is also a 1er cru Vaucoupin:

Terroirs de Béru is a blend of the domaine’s ten different plots and demonstrates the energetic, bright, mineral style of the Château. Élevage is 50% stainless steel and 50% foudres. Yields are low, on average between 25/30hl/ha. Smoky, saline with ripe citrus and wet stone. Pithy, taut and focussed but with no austerity. A wonderful example of village Chablis.

Le Montserre is situated at the highest point of the hill of Béru. Montserre is a very specific rock in the Kimmeridgian family composed of fossilised sharp lime layers – a very particular terroir producing a wine with a strong personality. Immensely textural and concentrated. Mineral, salty and smoky with lemon confit and white floral aromatic note. Very crystalline, incisive and fresh – an exemplary example of the benefits of altitude in a warm vintage.  Élevage is in large oak barrels.

La Côte aux Prêtres is a spectacular vineyard, perched on the top of the hill of Béru forming a dome with excellent exposure. The grapes here get very ripe resulting in a richer, fleshier style of Chablis with strong sapidity, nervosité and salty iodine notes. A very long and concentrated finish. Superb. Élevage is predominantly in used oak barrels, with a small proportion in stainless steel.

L’Orangerie is located behind Clos Béru, is a small lieu-dit surrounded by ancient fig, apple and pear trees. The top soil of l’Orangerie is atypically rich in clay, producing a wine with a strong fruity character with notes of orange marmalade and warm spices. Yet, because the vine roots plunge deep into soil the wine keeps its typical complex Chablis tensile and mineral characteristics.
Because of the clay, Athénaïs finds the élevage is best suited to Stockinger 500 litre barrels – an Austrian cooper who uses Austrian, German, Hungarian and Romanian – the source of the oak and the larger size impact very little oak influence on the wine.

Clos Béru is the flagship wine of the domaine. We love the 2017 vintage for white Burgundy and this is a total showstopper. Intense with plenty of dry extract; incredible depth and power yet subtlety and nuance that make us excited to see what this wine will become in many years to come. We love Chablis to be a bit ‘painful’ and this is a textbook example of that bracing vigour and energy that we don’t believe Chardonnay can obtain in any other region. Utterly sensational.

Vaucoupin is the only 1er cru in the range and produced in very small quantities. Vaucoupin is located on the Right Bank though its wines tend to be more Left Bank in style – taut, mineral and floral. This is in no small part due to its aspect and Vaucoupin’s defining feature is its steepness. This is beautifully aromatic with notes of crushed rock, ripe citrus and fresh ginger. Fluid and smooth with a bright salinity.

The Amphore Chablis sees skin contact fermentation in a tinaja for 2-3 months, it’s then pressed and aged again in the tinaja for 1 year. After one year it is racked in 350 or 400 liters barrels and aged for further élevage. This is a very unique, exciting wine demonstrating how far Chardonnay can be pushed in this remarkable terroir.

This is a natural sparkling wine made with the youngest vines from across the domaine’s holdings. 

Méthode Ancestrale is an approach that predates Champagne by more than 200 years. The primary fermentation is stopped before it has finished and a secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. There is no dosage and the wine is not disgorged to remove any sediment or lees remaining afterward. It’s a hands-off approach – minimal intervention, maximum character! We love Champagne that has a Chablis-like character (see the growers in our portfolio) so this was a dead cert buy for us!

Chablis Clos Béru Monopole 2017:

Still in barrel on the lees, the 2017 Chablis Clos Béru Monopole reveals Still in barrel, the 2017 Chablis Clos Béru Monopole is a stunning wine. Rich and textured, with tons of phenolic intensity, the 2017 possesses remarkable depth from the very first taste. More than anything else, the Clos Béru is a Chablis to admire for its textural intensity and utterly captivating beauty. It is one of the most distinctive whites I have tasted in a number of years.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2020

There is also a range of excellent négoce wines, called Athénaïs, made from bought in fruit from great sources and often friends of Athénaïs – all of whom work with organic viticulture, either certified or on the way to becoming so. Like the rest of the range they see a wild yeast fermentation with no fining or filtration.