A Day in Chablis Pt.2 – A Visit to Château de Béru

The Camaraderie of Vignerons
My favorite “aha” moment of the day was this: The 2016 harvest was a disaster at Château de Béru. An early killing frost devastated the majority of their vineyards, followed by hailstorms later in the spring. The silver lining to the 2016 weather was a story of the “Camaraderie of Vignerons”. When they heard of the plight of Château de Béru, other organic/biodynamic growers around France sent them grapes so they could make some wine. They commented that someday they may lose a harvest and perhaps Château de Béru would send them some Chardonnay grapes.  At Château de Béru, Gaelle said they had fun making wine from grapes they had never worked with before: Carignan, etc… Such is the spirit of the organic & biodynamic winegrowing community.

Once you find the entry door in the imposing wall outside, you enter the compound, wow.

Finding Château de Béru
We just had time for one day in Chablis, and just one winery visit. Better choose well! I had met Zev Rovine on his visit to Minneapolis in the fall. Zev specializes in small organic, biodynamic and natural wineries, and he imports Château de Béru. I had bought and enjoyed a couple bottles so I was curious to see if we could visit.  Luckily, Château de Béru has a nice website including a way to set up a visit. Yay! Step one completed.

Now, driving into the village of Béru, you have the address loaded in your GPS, but it isn’t obvious where the entry is.  Not too surprising in Bourgogne, as many estates don’t have a fancy entrance. The house dates back to the 16th century, so you might have to search around for the entry and it may be an unassuming door in a big wall. Luckily, after a few minutes we managed to find the entrance underneath the sun and moon dials.

(click on any photo to start the full size slideshow, hit escape to return to the post)

Touring the historic Clos at Château de Béru
Clos Béru is a special place. Recognized by monks in the 12th century, the vineyard was enclosed in a wall or clos. For hundreds of years, wine was produced. However, when phylloxera hit in the 1900’s the estate was hit hard and they decided at the time to not replant. The land lay dormant until 1987 when Athénaïs’ father replanted the vineyard in the clos. When Athénaïs’ decided to return to the estate and restart making wine, she made the bold move to organic viticulture. This is unusual in Chablis where traditional chemical use is still the norm. The estate has been organic since 2005, and converted to biodynamics in 2011. Today, all their vineyards are being managed this way.  Château de Béru aims to lead the way, to show it can be done.

When we arrived, we were greeted by Gaelle, from the vineyard and winemaking team. She proceeded to give us a complete tour of the vineyards around the estate, the winery and finally a tasting of the wines.

After an inspiring tour of the vineyard, we proceeded to the cellars. The winemaking at Château de Béru follows the vineyard work in similar fashion. They press the grapes slowly (8 hours) under a pneumatic press. No chemicals, no adjustments, native yeasts. There are no sulfites added until racking and bottling, and then only the minimum necessary.

2016 Vintage and the Camaraderie of Vignerons
After touring the cellar, Gaelle led us into a charming space where the BnB guests are served meals, and where they host a wine bar on the weekend. We tasted several of the 2015 wines. Gaelle told us the story of the horrible vintage and the Camaraderie of Vignerons. We enjoyed the 2015 vintage wines, knowing there will be 2017 wines and that organic/biodynamic winegrowers are a tight community.

Clos Beru Chablis
Grape: Chardonnay
Vineyard Size: 1 hectare
Soil: kimmeridgien clay & limestone, high concentration of fossils
Average Age of Vines: 30 years
Harvest: By hand
Winemaking: direct press, fermentation in stainless steel, indigenous yeast
Aging: 14-16 month in old oak barrels
Fining: No.
Filtration: No.
So2: below 50mg/L

Links to Château de Béru
If you’re planning a trip to Chablis, consider stopping at Château de Béru. You can contact them through their website here. I know we’ll be staying at their BnB on a future return visit! There’s more information on the  BnB here. To find their wines in the US, you might start with Zev Rovine, their importer, here. Finally if you’d like to read more, there’s a nice article in Bon Appetit  here.

Château de Béru Chablis with grilled lobster

Château de Béru Chablis back home in Minnesota


12 Responses to “A Day in Chablis Pt.2 – A Visit to Château de Béru”
  1. Great post! I really enjoyed it. Will definitely look them up.

  2. I’m not familiar with any biodynamic producers in Chablis, so I really enjoyed this post. Everything, from the camaraderie among the chateaux to the seashells in the soil, made me want to visit. Your photos have me imagining that I’ve already been there!

  3. Lynn says:

    I never tire of these old Châteaux, so much character. And the lending of a hand and helping community of vignerons, so refreshing. Seems it was a lovely choice!

  4. Wow. Thanks for the Wednesday morning journey to Chablis.

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