Why Big Red Diary?

spectrum wine auction: corney & barrow respond…

It’s worth pointing out that Corney & Barrow – the UK agents for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – have taken the unusual step of publishing a press release this evening with regard to the Spectrum Wine Auction that happens tomorrow – you remember, the one with the dodgy label(s) on theoretically blue-chip DRC.


It seems they can do nothing other than register their concern – but have taken the unusual step of fully crediting (and linking) the wineberserkers forum, in particular the critique (analysis) of Don Cornwell that I linked to on Sunday. It seems a shame that many of the (anticipated) Asian buyers might not get this message, though perhaps C&B are hoping to shame the company into retracting lots…

Also, I really have to ask, what are the ‘traditional media’ doing here? Their silence is deafening. Decanter usually lead on ‘news’ but their coverage has been an anodyne afterthought with no critique, indeed I should be critical and say it is actually puffing the dubious denials of the auctioneers. That wineberserkers (you can also read Don Cornwell into that) has been credited in a press release by wine-merchants to the Queen is actually one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a long time; not amazing that C&B would issue a press release to distance themselves from this, but rather C&B actually crediting and linking to a web-forum in a PR that will overwhelmingly be distributed to ‘old media’ where it will (in large-part) not be read until after the sale (sigh…)

there but for a second….

A good-old story. Lucky really, no-one would have believed those bottles with TJ etched on them anyway…

camille-giroud 2009 corton

2009 Camille Giroud, Corton
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is at first reticent but the array of pretty red and black fruits is certainly enticing. Eventually there’s a more savoury soil note which isn’t so nice – I hope that’s just a phase. Silky entry, with good freshness. There is a wiry strength to this, linear until the flavours grow in the mid-palate then decay in a subtle but long finish. Overall this has quite a mineral personality and largely submerged tannins – but it’s certainly less involving than the 2008 was at this time last year. A good wine but with a question-mark over the aromatics…(?)
Rebuy – Maybe

big boys…

It’s old news (for some) but this is a captivating narrative from Jay McInerney, brought to the fore by current discussions of wine auctions.

niellon 2008 chassagne 1er chenevottes


2008 Michel Niellon, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Chenevottes
A faint creme brûlée floats over green and yellow citrus notes – you have to wait some time before the classic Chassagne green herbs finally appear – it’s a tight and ripe at the core. The entry is silky but quite understated, indeed indifferent, but the mid-palate just launches you into the next dimension with minerals, agrumes fruit, mouth-watering acidity and really super intensity. You’re left with a long line of finishing flavour. This is really super.
Rebuy – Yes

bejot – one vintage…

You may remember that it was the Maison Bejot that purchased Maison Thomas-Moillard from the family Thomas. Film-maker Jean-Baptiste Avril has made a very pretty (and not too long!) film to reflect one vintage at Maison Bejot – nice!

BEJOT – Vins & Terroirs from jb avril on Vimeo.


birds, bottles and links…


It’s the same every year; the orange berries on this tree are completely ignored until we have a severe frost – the frost can be January or it can be like yesterday’s -15°C – then the mistle thrushes appear and devour them all. They patiently wait in the higher trees for their ‘turn'; I counted fourteen (when they stood still for a moment) in the garden yesterday, until Carlo the cat made a poor effort at trying to catch one – to be fair, his charge through 20cm of fluffy snow was never going to be a thing of elegance!
The tree is now stripped bare, it only took one day, but the birds remain, surfing through the snow looking for those berries they dropped – I still don’t give Carlo much chance!

Anyway a few weekend links for you:

The latter auction catalogue is of interest for two reasons; firstly the unbelievably fabulous bottles and their attendant prices, but secondly because the source of some of these bottles is believed to be the same as those forged Ponsot bottles in the Acker-Merrall auction in 2008. You may note from the previous link that there are open questions about labels and the numbers on the labels of some of these lots. I have a high degree of scepticism as to why the bottles were were consigned from the US to be sold in the UK – is it simply because the UK is generally less litigious(?)
[Edit]: And now the smoking gun I’m sure we are all happy to suspend (dis)belief and agree that Percy Fox would occasionally spell the name of their road incorrectly on the labels they fixed to bottles of Romanée-Conti:

A crop from the auction catalogue, page 98. Here’s a better image from the auction website…

take a break…


The mid-fourteenth century was a time of maximum distress across Europe. The Black Death struck in 1348, though it was by no means the last irruption of the bubonic plague. France was about to descend into the bear pit of the Hundred Years War with England, and the Holy Roman Empire was in uproar over the Golden Bull of 1356 and the introduction of a consolidated imperial constitution and electoral procedures. Thanks to the papal schism, there was one Pope in Rome, and another in Avignon. Those few parts of the Kingdom of Burgundy which had not been lost were often disputed amongst neighbours. To cap it all, mind-boggling crises of succession erupted simultaneously in the Kingdom of France, in the Duchy of Burgundy and the County-Palatine. At this point, faint-hearted readers are advised to take a break.

Phew – I will Norman, I will!

du pavillon 2007 beaune les epenottes


2007 du Pavillon, Beaune Les Epenottes
Medium, medium-plus colour. This has a nose that starts with quite a bit of vanilla – it’s also reflected in the early flavours – not my favourite but it just about avoids excess; behind is a raspberry coulee, and very nice that is! In the mouth this has the weight of a 1er cru Epenottes and a good ripe aspect to the fruit which lingers on an understated but fine line of acidity. If told this was a 1er cru from Beaune I don’t expect you’d quibble – though you might reject the barrel vanilla. Over 2-3 hours the unneccessary vanilla make-up fades significantly from both the aromas and flavours but underneath is a wine of excellent value.
Rebuy – Yes

just so very smelly…

When the fraud squad raided Verget from Verget on Vimeo.

bourée 1972 gevrey villages

Bottle number two from this stash; the first was so impossibly balsamic that I couldn’t even finish a glass.

1972 Pierre Bourée, Gevery-Chambertin
This one has about 7cm of ullage and a cork that crumbles – c’est la vie…
Here is also some balsamic aroma but it’s just a trace, there’s a little beef broth too – neither are my favourite. Slowly both of those components fade to reveal a wine of clarity, silky intensity and a lovely extra creamy dimension of flavour in the mid-palate and into the bright finish. There’s a result! The fruit aromas are of alcohol macerated cherries and oranges. I started to make a coffee in the first few minutes this was opened – I never did finish making it! ;-)
Rebuy – No Chance

jf mugnier nuits 2006 1er clos de la maréchale

Another 2006? Well it seems perfect to compare a Pommard with a Nuits – in reality less-so in this case; a Nuits 1er made by Fédéric Mugnier in the Chambolle style – maybe it’s his yeasts! I also remember the Nuits / Vosne area to be the peak of 2006s so I’d anyway expect a little more from an 06 Nuits versus an 06 Pommard. This may not be a great comparison, but it’s a great bottle!

2006 JF Mugnier, Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos de la Maréchale
Medium-plus colour once more. Here the nose is really about pinot (oops – Nuits! – well, maybe…) with a top to bottom elegance, plenty of floral, violet, references too. In the mouth this has extra sweetness and also is much more silky; yet roll it around in your mouth and you’ll find lovely acidity and no lack of velvety tannin – you just need to look for it. The fruit in the mouth is quite high toned, but very pretty. This is actually very lovely now, but has a reserve of balance – which I hope will allow me to still enjoy my last bottle in at least another 20 years. It’s not super-long, but it is super-tasty. Yum. A point worth noting is that if the wine reaches the heady heights of a mere 20 degrees, it becomes a bit diffuse an less impressive – keep to 18 or below and all is well.
Rebuy – Yes

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