Why Big Red Diary?

1955 pommard grands epenots


I rarely drink more than a couple of glasses per evening, but sometimes you have to suffer for your art – no? Of-course it could have been oh-so different!

The wine in question was a 1955 Tastevinage, and given my experience of the Tastevinage, I have a positive impression of the quality today – I can’t vouch for before I was born though! Anyway, whilst it had less than a couple of inches of ullage, after removing the top of the capsule, the cork looked pretty damp. Usually this (supposedly dry) end stinks of oxidised wine when so wet – but I could detect none. With screwpull-worm and ah-so in tandem I slowly began to pull (twist) the cork out. It nearly, nearly made it one piece too, but the cork was longer than the ah-so and left a small chunk behind. Fortunately it could be removed without dropping into the wine. Impressively for such an age, you could still even make out some of the wording on the cork; Grands Epenots…

1955 Tastevinage, Pommard Grands Epenots
No mention of 1er Cru – in those days you were supposed to know that the Village name followed by a vineyard name, on the same line with the same size of letters, was indeed a 1er Cru! The producer was Henri Gaunoux (et ses Fils), and it was bottled for Mövenpick, Switzerland who have/had, wineshops, restaurants and hotels.
This is rather dark and seems rather browner than might be palatable, but the core is still of something that looks red. Ooh – what a pretty and sweet nose. It’s showing a little earth and some soy sauce but wrapped in a sort of clean sweetness. In the mouth it’s not super concentrated but it’s clean, quite fresh and silky too – unless you chew – and here are grainy tannins that (blind) could be only 5 or 6 years old; but – such is the balance here – you have to look for them. The finish is not super-long, but has a sweet, almost spiced, pears poached in wine impression. I simply love the nose and appreciate all the rest.
Rebuy – No Chance! – so I’m luckily that I have a few more ;-)

Out of interest, I thought I’d have quick look at what was happening in 1955:
Mercedes’ 190SL was launched
James Dean died – but in a Porsche!
Albert Einstein also died – not car-related
West Germany becomes a recognised country and joins NATO
The last occupying Soviet troops leave Austria (I’d no idea it was so late…)
The Warsaw Pact was signed

a quartet of camille giroud 2011s…


Okay, time to tidy my desk! These short notes have been hanging around on this desk for about 3 weeks now – I buy a bunch of wines from here every year. Here’s my first look:

2011 Camille Giroud, Santenay 1er Clos Rousseau
This was such a bravado performer in barrel – almost the explosive complexity of a grand cru in the mid-palate: In bottle it’s a much shy-er proposition today: very little aromatically and a palate that starts shy but silky and balanced. Only in the mid-palate is there some redolence of that brio and complexity from barrel. Très anonymous today – either very tight or a sub-detectable poor cork(?)
Rebuy – Maybe

2011 Camille Giroud, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Peuillets
Aromatically more open, with some depth of red fruit and a little P. In the mouth there’s a little more tannin grain and a little more obvious energy. There’s good depth of flavour in the mid-palate, here with a little P flavour. Quite good, but certainly not to the (high!) level of this wine in previous vintages.
Rebuy – No

2011 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Lurets
(My) Time doesn’t give me space to say how good this wine is! Aromatically it’s a gorgeous mix of fresh fruit and floral notes. In the mouth you have the same impression, allied to a silky but fresh palate and lingering fruit notes. It’s a modestly concentrated but wonderfully clichéd bottle of Volnay love. Super-yum!
Rebuy – Yes

And 2 days later…

2011 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Caillerets
Hmm. This is like the Santenay. It has more muscle and sinew, more intensity and minerality – but from an aroma and flavour perspective there’s almost nothing to see here today, move along…
Rebuy – Maybe

oops – maison ilan 2010 gevrey 1er corbeaux

Bottle number 1.

I’ve never been one who sets out to write things with the potential to annoy a producer, indeed, if I don’t like the wines of a certain domaine, I actively avoid visiting, preferring to visit, and write about, somebody who provides more interest and colour. Such is his ‘story’, Ray Walker certainly provides the interest.

It’s been well documented in various fora, and probably here too, that Ray had some issues with his small-cuvée Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux in the 2010 vintage: Because it didn’t go through malolactic fermentation in its first year (as others in the cellar did), Ray chose the non-interventionist route and to let nature take its course. And take its course it did the following year. There was always likely to be some penalty to pay for this from an organoleptic standpoint, probably, but I guess Ray didn’t account for the flack that came his way when the shipping of his 2010s was delayed – certainly for those who (like me) elected to take the full mixed shipment when ready, rather than accept just part of the order. Such is life – one lives and learns. Anyway, I certainly didn’t bitch.

Having collected my mixed pack of 1ers in January, I waited a few days before opening the first Corbeaux, as it happened, together with some winemakers while checking out another producer’s wines – one who also makes ‘Corbeaux’. The packaging is rather well done on the Ilans, except that none of mine carried a back-label; you know, those administrative things with mandatory health warnings, alcohol levels, etcetera, etcetera! Still, I was taking these home, not doing the F&DA’s biddings – I simply didn’t care. One aspect of the packaging I did care about was the cork when extracted – it seemed rather short – it also had a significant piece (wine-end) missing. Very strange; the other piece wasn’t in the bottle. I trusted that a faulty cork had simply, and mistakenly, been slipped into the bottling line – if bottle #2 had been different, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it. Yet, because of the presentation of that wine (note below) I anyway chose not to delay opening my second bottle (of only two).

As you will note from the pictures that follow the tasting-note, that second cork was also the same smaller, presumably cheaper, and unbranded (by the producer) article, an article that was rather crushed on one side so almost broken – presumably not inserted straight. It had also (almost) lost a chunk. This raised a question, was the first cork also badly inserted, pulled out, lost chunk removed and then re-inserted? I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such an appalling bit of corkery – at any price point. Either Ray, or the person he was supervising did a totally unsatisfactory job here. For comparison, the corks in the other Ilan cuvées are longer, darker, ‘maison’ and ‘cuvée’ branded, and seemingly perfectly inserted – for that reason, I have no qualms about those bottles.

Maybe in the end, Ray wasn’t planning to commercialise this but felt forced to by the complaints about deliveries(?) I anyway suggest, that those with the 2010 Corbeaux, drink them without too-much delay. For good order, I’ve emailed Ray about this. I’m sure he’ll chip-in…

2010 Maison Ilan, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux
The colour is rather lovely; bright and inviting – don’t mind if I do. The nose is a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde; switching between lovely, ripe fruit (more 09 in style) and flashes of something acetic and volatile. Fine texture – it’s really rather soft and silky. There’s an overall 09 style about this wine’s flavour too, delivering a beautiful ripeness and padding to the presentation, yet with traces of that aromatic volatility in the flavour too. A wine the currently delights but also disturbs. That volatile note is hardly going to improve – the wine didn’t lose it with 2 hours aeration. I’m pretty sure Ray would warm his cellar next time, at least if his 5 barrels of Chambertin showed no signs of malo ;-) Still I’ve no problem with the winemaking choices – bravo him – but the packaging is hardly designed to bring longevity to the product – only here do I have an issue – but I think it’s a big one…
Rebuy – No – Drink them quickly…

For comparison: 2010 Corbeaux bottle number 2 cork, with the cork from Ilan’s 2010 1er Cru Monts-Luisants for comparison…

perrot-minot 2010 morey saint denis, la rue de vergy


There can’t be many producers that have done such an about-face in wine style in the last years. Although I found some of these wines marvellously impressive in 2005, it was 2006 that (I think) saw the last of the highly concentrated, and often hard to love, wines from this domaine. 2007 was a new dawn where the wines offered finesse and elegance – and that wasn’t just for 2007 – the approach continues:

2010 Perrot-Minot, Morey St.Denis La Rue de Vergy
Barely medium colour. The nose is soft, warm and very inviting, showing floral hints that evoke whole clusters – it’s very, very pretty. In the mouth it’s no more than medium-weight, but there’s a beguiling quality to the fruit and flashes of perfectly focused red berries. Slowly mouth-watering and very nicely long. This wine’s not really an advert for 1er cru quality. But it remains a beguiling partner for the night! Super-yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2006+2007 tollot-beaut slb champ-chevrey – updated!

Let’s open two of the same – a year apart. Well, what else is one to do on a Thursday?

2007 is a vintage that’s rather looked down upon, yet is better than 2000, and all the people who currently like 2000 complain about 2007 – oh well! Then there’s 2006. A very good Côte de Nuits vintage but then people often pooh-pooh the wines of the Côte de Beaune. I guess I’m really putting myself on the line here, I should probably get danger money!

Anyway, Nathalie Tollot tells me that in recent years, the domaine has rather rethought their hierarchy, and now puts Champ-Chevrey ahead of Lavières. Personally, I’ve always found Champ-Chevrey the friendlier of the two, but thought Lavières the more impressive – I don’t know if that should equate to ‘best’ or not though…

2007 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Champ-Chevrey
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose starts with dark oak notes and some complexity of herbs before settling on a wide, slightly darkened-red fruit and something faintly fumé. Lithe, silky and shows direct sweet fruit – this really impresses until you get to the mid-palate and finish, which is dominated by a bitter oak component. Bitter chocolate I like, bitter oak I don’t like. I find this quite hard to drink on day 1 so let’s try another. Day 2 and I’m perplexed – me or the wine? It’s silky, tasty and has no bitterness, neither bitter oak, nor bitter chocolate, or otherwise. Rather tasty.
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Champ-Chevrey
The colour is just a shade lighter than that of the 2007. Here the nose is rounder and a little sweeter – there are no obvious oaky references either. The aromas become ever-more higher toned and I might even be prepared to say pretty, eventually, very pretty! Also silky and direct, just a little more width. Whilst it’s not quite as bad, I have a similar bitterness in the mid-palate and finish. Maybe it’s me! I’m not opening a third bottle – let’s see how these are tomorrow. Day 2, and like the 2007, also silky and no bitterness – but this clearly has more mid-palate and finishing heft and complextiy. Very yum and clearly the more impressive of the two vintages – for today. (If not Thursday!)
Rebuy – Yes

Was it me or the wine? Hard to know – I wasn’t ready to open a ‘known’ third bottle, and nothing else Iate or drank that day seemed odd. But day two, these wre fine. Oh well…

confuron-cotetidot’s 2006 vosne-romanée


2006 Confuron-Cotetidot, Vosne-Romanée
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has just a few ‘pinched’, high-toned seconds before opening its aromatic wings; depth, great red+ fruit, spice and a very slowly growing floral aromatic. Class! Even before the nose kicks into gear, the palate is full, round, and bedded in a lovely blend of ripe tannin and mouth-watering dark fruit – almost chunky in the mid-palate. This clearly something of a baby, but something of a honey too!
Rebuy – Yes

a et p de villiane 2012 mercurey les montots


Two for the price of one!

At the weekend I drank Domaine Bernard Moreau’s 2012 Bourgogne Pinot Noir and it was just a lovely, friendly, round, ripe and concentrated wine for the label. A real beauty!

Here, a wine from Aubert and Pamela. It has a little more structure, but is built from the same basic cloth of enjoyment and round young fruit that the wine from Moreau showed. I have to say, at the risk of excluding myself from many of the best addresses, that I have rarely over the years been as wowed as most commentaries (about these wines) would suggest (I should have been!) but this is simply lovely:

2012 A et P de Villaine, Mercurey Les montots
A warm, round, ripe red-fruited nose that encourages you to take a (big) sip. Time in the glass and there’s a more herbal complexity too. Very round but nicely shaped wine, with good but not imposing structure. I’m really enjoying this wine. Very easy drinking but very tasty drinking too.
Rebuy – Yes

wednesday: pics, fat whites & shameful herbicide treatments…

The warm (20-22°C) weather continues; blue sky and sunshine:

A tough tasting during the day – 70 whites from the Mâconnais, mainly 2012s. It’s a very small list of producers whose wines I would buy…

Much worse that fat, concentrated white Macon, was the sight of vines which had clear signs of herbicide treatments – and 1er Cru Beaune too. It will only become more and more obvious in the next week or two. There’s no excuse for this… :

a short jog around gevrey/morey before dinner – and more…

Time seems of the essence this week; more tastings than makes sense if you get entrance to them all, but the BIVB have been careful to spread people out. Still, you might not have thought so with the throng of people at the Vosne-Romanée tasting yesterday morning! In the end, it’s hardly possible to taste all the wines from all the exhibitors, it makes more sense to taste ‘all x in the room’ and go for this surgical-strike option.

Of-course a full-packed program means disappointments too. Arriving for the Morey-Chambolle tasting at 15h30 I found close to half of the exhibitors had already left – it was scheduled from 09h00-17h00. Oh-well. I didn’t taste, I just went to my hotel in Gevrey and a little jog before dinner.

First some jogging pics from my phone; hopefully you can make out the vines ‘crying’ (the sap rising and forming drops) on the picture taken in Clos St.Denis…

And more pictures taken during the day :

a few notes from today…

Of-course it’s Grands Jours de Bourgogne week, and you know that there was a bit of early jogging – but it was worth it, despite the freezing hands ;-)

Tastings in Chablis today, and the it’s an impressive undertaking to get so many producers and tasters together, so much so that it can be rather difficult to get near many producers’ wines – I expect it will be no easier for Chambolle and Vosne, tomorrow, either! Anyway, I set myself the simple target of making notes on 50 1ers from 2012 and 15 Grand Crus from 12, the latter selected by the Union des Grands Crus – no easy task as it turned out. Still, by tasting GCs when many people were eating lunch, life proved easier – less elbowing required!

Back to Beaune for a tasting this evening – and it was such a let-down that I gave up! I have 15 notes, but I won’t be bothering to publish them. The problem wasn’t the wines, rather the small, thick glasses that were provided. Nothing smelled of anything – so what’s the point(?) Such a shame, a nice selection of bottles and wonderful surroundings. Oh-well!

I returned to type for a couple of hours, then another jog, check emails, do this, shower and …. BED!

first rays of sun on 1er cru mont de milieu…

Awake at 6:30am, so I decided to go out for a run. Virtually 7:00am, on the nail, the first rays of sun penetrated the frosty morning:

just one of those picturesque days…

A lovely day Spring day, where I am mainly (but not completely, obviously!) in Chablis.

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