Why Big Red Diary?

good day, thursday…

The mist blew off by lunchtime (again!) today, and beautiful it was. Afternoon in the Côte de Nuits for me and I thought I’d take plenty of pics after my 3pm appointment in Chambolle – unfortunately I didn’t leave the cellar until 6pm – when it was already dark!

Not many pics then!

mist, sun, barrels, horses, trees and sky…

It just felt like that kind of day!

On my way through the mist to visit Le Grappin today, I even saw peoples’ breath steaming a little – it didn’t seem that cool, but apparently…

The sun managed to break through quite early today, it was already sunny around lunchtime. The vineyards close to the RN(9)74 have lost much of their leaves, but on the hillsides they remain beautifully coloured, delineating the vineyards – none more-so than Monthelie and St.Aubin in the Côte de Beaune.

Heading back to Puligny from Saint Aubin I happened upon the horses of Leflaive doing their thing in Pucelles. Idyllic…

Le Grappin 2013s

DSC05312Tasted with Andrew Nielsen in Beaune 29th October, 2014. Pictured right, Andrew and Emma Nielsen.

Le Grappin

Well, there was no point in making you wait 2+ more weeks for the October issue of Burgundy Report EXTRA! to read this – because the Le Grappin 2013 offer closes on the 4th of November – so here you go for a free view of what’s assembled in the EXTRA! The highlighted wines are personal my favourites.

Andrew and Emma were moving, scrubbing and moving (again) everything in sight when I visited. The former cuverie of Fanny Sabre in the centre of Beaune remains their compact and bijou home. It could have been an even tighter squeeze were it not for the hail of 2013: With the addition of a contract for Santenay-Gravières blanc they had the potential to produce roughly 35 barrels of wine in 2013, but of-course their vines were hit by hail – so just 18 barrels of 13s await…

The wines…
Andrew plans to bottle his whole production next week – he notes that the year he used a contract bottler for his 18 barrels, it took them just a few hours – when he did the same himself last year it took them over a week! I guess the contract option looks rather appealing ;-) Overall, a lovely set of wines – there’s nothing here that I wouldn’t consider buying:

2013 Savigny-lès-Beaune
From 60 year-old, organic managed, vines in Aux Fourneau. Really badly hit by hail in 13 so he was able to get a few more rows from the same grower, but they took a whole week, pre-harvest, to drop sub-standard and damaged fruit. That said, they took a further 14 hours to sort the remaining 3 barrels-worth of fruit once harvested. Still, they managed to find about 10% good whole-clusters too. There was no pigeage and just 3 remontages with the whole-clusters on the top of the grapes.
Really great colour. The nose has fine depth of aroma, and is seemingly almost textured – really lovely. Round yet with the upmarket concentration expected of a 1er cru – lovely weight of extract. I think this an excellent result

2013 Beaune 1er Boucherottes
Also hailed, but less dramatically than in Savigny – it was also ‘hit-and-miss’ hail – unlike Savigny where every single cluster was damaged, in this plot some remained perfect. Andrew has managed to make 7 barrels worth, and also include 25% whole-clusters in his recipe. Daily remontage plus 4 days of light pigeage here.
Again excellent medium-plus colour. The nose is darker and just faintly spicy. Despite a little CO2 this is clearly a more direct and transparent wine of good intensity. Lovely width and purity to the flavours from the mid-palate onwards into the finish. Really good!

2013 Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc
This plot was basically destroyed by the hail: Instead of his normal 4-5 barrels, Andrew was able to assemble only 90 litres of pressed juice. Although he prefers to make only from the same plots each year, there wasn’t enough to properly vinify, so he was forced to buy must from a grower in a neighbouring plot. He now has 3 barrels worth – ‘It had to be done’ he says…
The aromatic here is nicely round with a slowly growing, fresher aspect. Round in the mouth too with a slowly bubbling acidity below. It would be even better with just a twist more of acidity, but the depth of flavour is lovely – it remains a really tasty wine.

2013 Santenay 1er Les Gravières Blanc
The grower tells Andrew that this is the only chardonnay on the terres blanches of Gravières – easy for him to say ;-) Vines have a good age of about 40 years and provided enough for two (older) barrels worth of wine.
Here is a fresher, modestly mineral nose that has fine floral top-notes. There’s faint CO2 on the palate but behind, the wine is clearly lithe, wide and very tasty. I find a fine tension from the mid-palate into the finish. Very lovely!

2013 Beaune 1er Les Grèves Blanc
Again, lower yields due to hail, There’s no new oak used here.
Once-more there’s something floral in the aromatic – but below is more depth of aroma. Lithe and wide in the mouth – the depth of flavour growing all the time and leaving a suggestion of salt on your tongue. Lovely wine again.

weekend wines and misty burgundy


A couple of wines from the weekend above – and why not 2008! The Pillot was nicely muscled and in perfect drinking order. The Camille Giroud Corton was a pig to taste before bottling but has rounded out to a very pretty and engaging wine – very yummy. 2 hits from 2008!

Monday, back to the Côtes. It was a misty/low cloud day, and it never really left, just covered everything with a faint shimmer of dampness. Tuesday started exactly the same. I saw Blair Pethel and he said that it was just wet enough to keep him from ploughing – oh well, it seems like Autumn is arriving. But late afternoon the sun managed to break through the cloud and we were treated to a lovely last 2 hours of sun and sunset…

My tour of white domaines continues unabated, lovely wines to discover…

friday in sunny chassagne before the autoroute

Friends arrive for the weekend today – but in Switzerland! So time for just one visit this morning, in Chassagne, before heading home.

Picture-perfect blue sky. Still about 10° cooler – we didn’t really reach 10°C until lunchtime. Hopefully it’s still as pretty when I get back next Monday. Hopefully Beaune will be a little easier to navigate next week – this week, roads kept being closed for putting up the Christmas lights!

Hmm, only 5 visits in the diary for next week though – so far ;-)


cold, zalto, riedel…

Ouf! Thursday was cooler – we’ve lost 10°C in 12 hours! Thursday had a brilliant sunrise (for those heading for early appointments in Maranges!) but stayed very cloudy until late afternoon. By 4pm there were the first flashed of blue sky – but don’t tell the people of St.Romain – it was already black as night when I left there!

In the evening I had a little play with, comparing a Zalto, a Riedel and a 2004 Volnay Champans from Count of Lafon. I didn’t find any pyrazines with either glass, but the aromas were a little more herbal in the Riedel versus the more floral and prettier Zalto. 1:0 to Zalto. In the hand though, I found the Zalto stem disconcertingly narrow and it seemed a little top-heavy. The Riedel seems more balanced in my hand – that could be familiarity of-course – the Riedel was more like an old friend. I prefer drinking with old friends!

But that doesn’t mean I won’t keep having a chat with the Zalto ;-)

chevalier for breakfast…

Well, somebody has to do it!

This morning the wind had dropped, but there was also a more noticeable chill: 7°C at 07h30. The light was lovely though, and the vines haven’t yet lost all their leaves from the wind! A mix of grander and ‘insider’ domaines today, including one that previously ‘could do better.’ I was invited for lunch – a shock I know – I’m unrepentant, but I don’t have a list of commercials ‘things’ that I have to avoid on my site, so I’m allowed – I consider myself too grown up for that ;-)

Back to my apartment in the evening, it’s still chilly – I will have to jog faster – but first, it’s time to eat the Bolognese that I was too scared to eat yesterday while cleaning. Yum!

every week until christmas!

I arrived in Beaune today, just like I will every week from now until Christmas – some weekends will spent here along the way too. There are just so many 13s to taste and put into some sort of digestible format before the en-primeur offers hit your mailboxes – mainly in January, but some of the schemers (merchants!) are now even sending out their offers in December!

Actually I’d prefer to do all these tastings exactly as I have this year: I mainly tasted the 12s after assembly or bottling. But now I’m up and running with the ‘EXTRA!’ report, readers won’t wait for that – reduced or fizzy people want to know: to buy or not to buy, as Will S would say…

It’s still unseasonably warm here, but it feels just a little cooler because there’s such a gusting wind – occasional heavy downpours too. Still, I’m dry, and despite a little jogging too. I’d planned to crop and post the last of the images for my September report tonight – but it looks like it’s now slipped into Thursday – that’s because a public health imperative intervened! My lodgings were shared with winemakers doing a stage, but now it’s just me – actually not just me – there seemed a mountain of mouldy stuff in the kitchen. I really didn’t know where to put the food I’d just bought. So! Sleeves rolled up, I attacked, defrosted and cleaned the fridge and the freezer. The dishwasher looked frightful too – so all the things that didn’t look properly clean were loaded-up, the ECO program was junked and a long 70°C wash is ensuing as I type. I expect to be able to eat my breakfast from the inside of that machine tomorrow. Okay, gastroenteritis now avoided (hopefully!), I will return to more productive typing tomorrow – oh, but only after visiting 5 domaines…

And for the record, the EXTRA! timetable:

September Issue: This week, is the harvest info issue.
October Issue: Mid-November, is the ‘white domaines’ 2013s issue
November Issue: Mid-December, is the ‘red domaines’ 2013s issue
December Issue: Hopefully as a Christmas present will be the ‘Grandes Maisons 2013s’ as here
January Issue: 2nd half of February, will be the Chablis 2013 issue…

pavillon’s 2012 rugiens

Back into my ‘arrivage‘ stash of 2012 EP wines. I paid a little more for this than previous vintages as I knew it had been decimated by hail, but (Will L!) it still came in at £33 per bottle, delivered to my door…

2012 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard 1er Rugiens
A deep, almost silky nose of red fruit and some creamy oak complexity. In the mouth there’s good, smooth, power and concentration – good balance too. The fruit is more red than black and shows a nice peak of flavour in the mid-palate – slowly fading on a little vanilla augmentation again. The Bichot house style shows through with this vanilla – though you only get in bottles, not the pre-bottling samples. Still, I’ve tasted enough verticals to know it’s gone before 5 years of age. Almost too hedonistic today, but it will blossom into really good wine with cellar time…
Rebuy – Yes

disappointing ‘wine-writers’

The caveat here, is that I’m talking about some ‘generalist’ wine-writers who occasionally dip their toe into a region, tasting at a few well-manicured addresses, probably sponsored by some ‘body’ or other, and back that up by tasting a bunch of grand crus that start at €100 a bottle. I’ve not been involved in a similar roughing of Twitter feathers before, but these two troll-esque tweets (from writers with over 40k of twitter followers) annoyed me just as much as previous Decanter (harvest) stories that seemed, at the same time, sensationalist yet lacking any real depth of comment or apparent knowledge:
Well, that’s my perjorative, clearly biased opinion based on what I read, anyway ;-)

I assumed the first was tongue in cheek – and I like to have a laugh – but prodding showed that this was indeed Will’s thinking despite initially teasing-out that he was talking about ‘only the very best!’ His views seemed to harden and widen in the ‘conversation’ that followed. Hopefully he goes out and visits in more depth than I fear will be the case. As for Jamie – sorry, but that comment does not come up to his usual standards. There is much more to this if you wish to follow the conversations in the links above. Unfortunately, Twitter becomes unwieldy and close to useless once more than a couple of people are ‘involved’ in a conversation…

I pondered writing this, mainly because it seemed too self-serving, but the fact is, you need specialists if you want to know what to buy. Jancis’s site is going that way with multiple contributors, but already you have Roy Hersh for Port, Chris Kissack for Bordeaux and Loire, Burghound, maybe Neal Martin, maybe me for Burgundy – but for god’s sake, don’t read magazine/newspaper style columns hoping get useful info. World of Fine Wine is an exception, but has such lead-times you could never describe it as a guide for buying.

My basic premise is: Yes indeed Burgundy has become expensive for a certain niche producer list, put another way ‘no shit Sherlock.’ But a journalist can’t just say ‘I’m telling it like it is’ without actually showing some groundwork on which their opinions are formed. Actually, I’d be much more amenable if they simply said ‘In my opinion, Burgundy has a vanishing level of relevance because of xxxx, yyyy and zzzz‘ substantiating their words…

But we all know the phrase about ‘opinions’ – mine too! ;-)

great article from jancis…

From Jancis on the changing face of Burgundy ownership

patrice et maxime rion’s 2012 chambolle fuées


I’m delving into my small but perfectly formed ‘arrivage’ of 4 different 2012 en-primeurs. The white Pernand-Vergelesses Clos Berthet from Dubreuil-Fontaine is already two great bottles down – only 4 left – will they see out 2014? – maybe not! Today there’s the Fuées from Patrice Rion – I note that son Maxime now has his name on this négoce label too!

2012 Patrice et Maxim Rion, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Fuées
Hmm. A faint whiff of oak spice but it’s engulfed by smooth, dark-red fruit of fine depth – yum – even before it hits the tongue. Super-smooth on the palate with a faint undertow of oak, but such is the fineness of texture I expect even an oak-a-phobe will be purring. Full, round, and with perfect balance. There was no shame at all in opening this baby of a bottle.
Rebuy – Yes

Page 1 of 19612345...102030...Last »