Why Big Red Diary?

adieu benjamin leroux…


Hi Bill,
Just a quick note to inform you that I will leave the Domaine Comte Armand by the end of July this year. Paul Zinetti who worked with me for the last 4 years will take over my position. I will be still act as a consultant, if need be, but I truly want 2014 to be his first vintage.
I have made 15 vintages over here, and the recent purchase of 3,5 Ha in Meursault (including some Genevrières) has made my decision much easier.
A bientôt,

Benjamin Leroux

This was a staple of the rumour-mill for the last (almost) six months, but good-luck to Benjamin as he concentrates on his own domaine, based in Beaune.

back in france…


Having published the March-EXTRA! report in the early hours, I’m now back in Burgundy to complete my visits for April!

A brilliant visit to start the day, at Jean Fournier in Marsannay – wines certainly on a similar quality-level to Pataille’s, and the first Marsannay whites that I really like! (Shock…). Interesting that the locals are already pointing to plots of Marsannay vines and saying ‘but that’s only villages.’ ;-) Lunch was a rag-tag, but tasty, collection of things bought in the Boulangerie on the RN974 in Gevrey, then eating said items while wandering through the earthworks of Bertagna, checking-out at the bedrock of Amoureuses, and looking back towards the Clos de Vougeot.

Despite a little rain in the last days, the vineyards are dry, dry dry – really low rainfall this year – so far! A quick detour into Aloxe-Corton gives the impression that a battle has taken place there – the roads are simply awful just now – new drains but no new road surface – so far!

Bedtime in Chablis. Two full days of domaine visits await. It’s funny how I get to drink less wine while I’m in wineland – so far! ;-)

March Issue of Burgundy Report EXTRA!

03-2014-motifIs now online for subscribers.

  • The first of three parts beginning my exploration of Chablis; starting with the town itself and a view on the wines of 2012. Its Grand Cru vineyards, its producers – there are already 20 domaines lined up – and even Petit Chablis will come under scrutiny in part.2, in the April-EXTRA!
  • Then there are few domaines visited – more 2012s.
  • Finally, a round-up of the tastings I made during the Grands Jours de Bourgogne; over-whelmingly focused on the latest vintage, 2012.
  • Well-over 300 wines tasted on your behalf ;-)

Enjoy – HERE.

wine faults seminar 15th may in london…

It seems that half a dozen places are still open for this seminar, so if you’re both interested and available, please directly email andrea.warren at btinternet.com

“Pyrazine in the Burgundy: could it really be the ladybirds?”

Bill Nanson has had derision and support from winemakers in almost equal measure for his theory about the ailment that affects 2004 and 2011 red Burgundies, and the basis of this will be explored and no-doubt extensively challenged during this discussion. But it seems that a minority of people can taste and smell this aspect of those vintages – or is that simply because they haven’t been properly introduced to it(?) During this discussion we may find out, with four examples from very well-known and admired producers, some false positives, and some fun exhibits that may or may not support Nanson’s contention…


Bill Nanson’s “Wine Faults” seminar

Date: Thursday 15th May, 2014

Timing: 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm

Venue: WSET, International Wine & Spirit Centre

39-45 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3XF

Cost: £15 per member (£35 for non-members)

galeyrand’s 2006 marsannay


I’m typing this in a break from hundreds of notes for the March edition of Extra! – online by Monday. This wine reminds me of why I do all of this – it’s a treat!

2006 Jerome Galeyrand, Marsannay Combe du Pré
What a lovely wine! I’m actually writing this note on the second day of drinking this bottle – overnight, unstoppered in the fridge – but it’s still lovely. Medium-plus colour. Fresh dark-red fruit that almost shows a come-hither Chambolle-ness. Lithe yet with good concentration, the fruit is fresh but with ripe depth and a nice impression of concentration in the finish. All you could ask for in the label.
Rebuy – Yes

digioia-royer 2008 chambolle-musigny


2008 Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny
Hmm. A nice fresh nose with a slowly growing background of pretty dark fruit – ‘drink me’ fruit. In the mouth this is a sleek, fresh wine that has probably lost the fat of its youth but certainly not its vivacity and energy. Modest tannin but a lithe and tasty intensity of flavour. Très tasty!
Rebuy – Yes

an easter weekend in beaune…

A taste of Beaune market…

Friday, back in Beaune from Chablis – the weather had turned cooler and cloudier. An abortive attempt to go to Dilletantes in the evening – was on holiday until 24th – followed by an abortive attempt to eat something at Maison de Colombier – it was already full – so, luckily, found a place in Bar du Square! I say luckily, because you never know if is going to be open!

Saturday, sunny but a cold wind. I met the new aussie-powered coffee-machine in the Saturday market, plus another aussie, Andrew Neilsen and finally Matt the Canadian winemaker who works with Nicky Potel. In the afternoon it was to the ‘open-doors’ tastings in Monthèlie. I have to say, it was a bit cold, there weren’t so many ‘open-caves’ and the overall quality (on show) wasn’t brilliant. Actually the best wines were at the first visit – Château de Monthèlie – a long, slow (sometimes painful) diminuendo followed! Fortunately, the evening was on another level!

Early to Maison de Colombier – pole position, at the bar! Here you can watch the chef prepare what you’re about to eat, and the bottle of Coche-Dury 2010 Pommard Vaumuriens was simply a lovely sleek, direct and very tasty thing – a great evening.

Sunday, Easter Eggs, of-course from Bouché of Beaune. Yum! A walk of the ramparts – today in the sun and without the cold wind – followed by a trip to Maranges for their weekend of ‘open doors’! Many more producers showing wines, food, bands, lots of people in Dezize (where everything was happening) and the average wine quality was much higher than in Monthèlie – both surprisingly and on reflection sadly – but c’est la vie. In a way, it was quite surreal – Dezize has speakers dotted around the village, a quiet, calm, indeed half dead village (in places) yet with canned music blaring form speakers on most corners. It made me think of North Korea – except that instead of martial music, we had Gorillaz. Lovely day!

A taste of Gorillaz-free, Maranges…

petit and cold – chablis day 4 (updated!)


Well, that’s blown out the cobwebs!

A quote from the manager of an important estate this morning:

Last night, -2°C down to nearly -3°C in some places. Frightening !

Another grower, this afternoon, showed me the ‘burned’ dead shoots he’d removed from some vines in Les Clos, but said

It’s inconsequential, there’s so little of this – but only because it’s so dry here. It may rain tomorrow though, and then we may have to worry.

Tonight, depsite the forecast of rain, it seems we’ve turned a corner in the season – the wind is still there, but today it was cooling rather than chilling – the first cicadas are singing tonight too, and I also saw the first swallow-tail butterfly of the year too!

A small collection of images from today:

the chablis shuffle, part (day) 3

chablis 2014 – to heat, or not to heat


There were many producers holding their breath last night, and will probably be doing the same tonight – it reached -2.2°C at 05h30 this morning.

The fact that it is dry gives a little more latitude, so the vines can better resist the cold, but still at -3°C the new leaves and shoots on those vines will be damaged. If the vineyard was more damp, they can really only tolerate -1.5°C! The forecast is for similar tonight. Apparently two nights last week were also equally worrisome.

It’s actually unusually dry in the vineyards, in one of the pictures below, you can see the workers of William Fevre having to water the new vines they planted last week in Grand Cru Preuses – otherwise they would die – pretty-much unheard of in April. On the other hand, lucky for them that they didn’t yet have to heat the vineyards or spray water to protect the vines. Spraying water is a double-edged sword; it’s effective, but once you start spraying you may have to do it more often…

the chablis shuffle, part (day) 2

just shuffling around Chablis – day 1

Oh, and for those of you who missed the news:

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