Why Big Red Diary?

alain michelot 2009 nuits 1er champs-perdrix


Another from Alain Michelot and frankly, just as good as the first!

2009 Alain Michelot, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Champs Perdrix
The nose is quite different to what I remember of the Chaignots – different vines so a good thing – certainly higher toned though perhaps a little more diffuse because of that. This is quite full, with plenty of tannin – yet the fruit comes through very well indeed – super-engaging personality. I think this excellent.
Rebuy – Yes

attack of the ancient pyrazines (and some old pierre bourée)


Having bought a collection of old Bourées at auction, I have the following batting average:
1966 Nuits St. Georges – excellent
1983 Charmes-Chambertin – disappointing
1972 Gevrey-Chambertin – too balsamic
1978 Monthelie – a remarkable curate’s egg:

1978 Pierre Bourée, Monthelie
The cork comes out in one piece – no mean feet in these older Bourées – the bottle glass has a blue shade to it; clearly a bit unscientific but I’ve never yet had an off wine from a blue-shade bottle! Very good, relatively young colour. The nose? Well it’s rather particular; in-fact blind this is a 2004 with at least a 6/10 ‘score’ for pyrazines. Underneath is a pretty depth of still croquant, sugared strawberry fruit with the faintest suggestion of stems – as an occasional bottle, I’m quite happy to put this in my mouth! There is weight and sweetness to the red fruit with fine if understated acidity – overall a very smooth ride. There is some taste from the pyrazines – mainly in the mid palate before the flavour slowly decays in the finish. I have to say, pyrazines aside this is quite some wine – for those with low sensitivity I expect they would absolutely love this bottle – certainly I find it interesting and still drinkable: Indeed quite a remarkable bottle.
Rebuy – No Chance

Saving your 2004s?
If so, for what reason?
The pyrazine note of this Monthelie is as clear as a bell, and also as fresh as any 6 month, or now six year-old, 2004. I can no-longer grope at straws by expressing the wish/sentiment/dream that pyrazines fade with time; research already indicated that pyrazines are stable and here is a 33 year-old which seems to amply confirm that data. It really doesn’t matter what the source of this aroma and flavour is, in character it is essentially identical to that exhibited by 2004s. I sold half my 2004s around this time last year – I think I may have kept too many…

2007 guillot-broux macon-cruzille les genièvrières


2007 Guillot-Broux, Macon-Cruzille Les Genièvrières
The nose has slightly more than ample brioche notes, eventually the notes go deeper and sweeter improving complexity though not at the expense of impact. Large-scaled flavours, where, to start with, the acidity plays a subtle supporting role – still there is tons of creamy complexity in the mid-palate and finish. This is a wine that transitions from impressive to VERY impressive once it is paired with food; the acidity now seems more supportive and the fruit has a clear sucrosity. Very very impressive despite somehow retaining a Maçon character.
Rebuy – Yes

alain michelot 2009 nsg 1er les chaignots


2009 Alain Michelot, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Chaignots
Rather deep colour. Ooh – now that’s nice – beautiful fruit here, maybe even a hint of gooseberry. Full in the mouth, with a not too generous helping of tannin plus very pretty fruit that seems a mirror of that on the nose. Simply a very tasty wine indeed.
Rebuy – Yes

do you want to own vines in the côte d’or?

beaune-champs-pimont-saferWell do you?

That’s a hard question to answer in the current market. I provide for you here a window to a relatively ‘cheap’ entry into the world of premier cru pinot noir (Chambolle-Musigny would cost you 5x the amount), but the financial transaction and subsequent model will make sense to relatively few of you I think.

Anyway, our starting point is the current ‘offer‘ via the SAFER website.

In effect you would pay €184,000 (plus an 8.5% ‘fee’ for SAFER) plus €3,500 for 0.43ha of Beaune 1er Cru ‘Champs Pimonts’ – nicely situated fifty year-old vines, though don’t ask me how good the plant material is – but even as the owner, you cannot do very much with the land, because with this purchase you also grant a ‘fermage’ agreement to the Dufouleurs so that they can carry on as before. Fermage is a long-term rental agreement, usually renewed every 20 years, and as a non-accredited winemaker, you or I would have little chance to change things, but as the new owner of the land/vines, you would, of-course receive a rent, currently worth 4.4 barrels per hectare which makes 1.93 barrels in this case. 75% of this would be ‘paid’ in bottles – representing approximately 400 bottles – the remaining 25% in cash, i.e. currently €794.

So assuming you could also convert your bottles to cash, your annual return on this investment would be only about 1.6% – though comparable to the return from many banks’ deposit accounts, but also, from some perspectives, a better chance of preserving your invested capital. This latter point is largely what is driving new investment in the Côte d’Or; not the traditional business models of buying the land and amortising the costs of the land through selling wine over 10-20 years, because the land is too expensive for that today, but rather the preservation of the value of (some) capital as part of a diversified investment portfolio – it is fair to say that it is a minority of people who can plan and invest in such a way.

Anyway, assuming you have a spare €200k which you would like to ‘preserve’ and don’t feel worried by phylloxera biotype B, this could be the thing for you. But I hope you like the incumbent’s wine, because I doubt they would let you take your rent in grapes, or specify how you might like the viticulture to be done in your rent’s 2 rows of vines…

Ooh, I almost forgot; just because you have the cash don’t for a second think that it’s a done deal. The opaque organisation that is SAFER might just consider you not fit and proper purchasers, and if so, that’s that!

2009 marc roy gevrey clos prieur


2009 Marc Roy, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Prieur
Ooh – deep, ripe fruit, perhaps a hint of cola, actually more than a hint. In the mouth I find this has quite nice acidity, intensity comes in tandem – the flavour is long too for a villages. Clearly the fruit is very ripe and the tannin has a little rasp to the texture – unlike both the 2008 an 2010. Tasty, and certainly I prefer the flavours to the aromas, but overall I’d much rather drink the 2008 today – I expect also in 10 years but I’m happy to have the bottles to allow for that possibility
Rebuy – Maybe

alain burguet 2009 vosne 1er les rouges du dessus


It had to happen; a 2009, from a good producer, which I can’t recommend…

2009 Alain Burguet, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Rouges du Dessus
Very high-toned aromas, indeed close to volatile. In the mouth there’s some good tannin that has just a twist of astringency, yet, again, I have the impression that the fruit is rather medicinal and seems a match to the nose. I hope this is an off bottle because it is far from my taste, even before taking into account the price asked…
Rebuy – No

bouchard père & fils 2008 beaune 1er du château

2008 Bouchard Père, Beaune 1er Beaune du Château
Gradually there are some higher, floral tones and eventually a few flashes of tobacco too, but mainly this has a deeper register of dark fruit buttressed by equally dark oak. Round, plenty of sweet depth, just a little cushioning, balanced by close to perfect acidity. There’s plenty of flavour here, but I really can’t find the ‘Beaune’, and that’s because such a large part of the flavour profile is the sweetness of dark oak. Despite that oak, this has quite a measure of elegance – this is a lovely wine – but it needs to shed a lot of non-grape derived flavour before it becomes a lovely Beaune.
Rebuy – Maybe

White Burgundy, Christopher Fielden (1988)

Jointly Published by Christopher Helm (UK) and The Wine Appreciation Guild (US)

A head-cold had determined that, for much of the last week, there was no value in opening bottles, so I thought I’d finish reading this book instead. And what a lucky boy, I even (somehow) managed to buy a copy through Abebooks that was dedicated by the author – although I’d need to change my name to Ian…


  • This is a handy A5-size, hardback book of about 180 pages if you include appendices that cover vintages (1987-1968), appellations, suggested sources (producers) and the bibliography.
  • Just a few black and white photos adorn what is essentially just text and an occasional map.
  • After a foreward by John Arlott, there are few pages of introduction by Fielden followed by some history and a chapter titled The Burgundy Factors which is essentially about the rules of AOC, the allowed grapes, how to make white wine and things like that. There is one more chapter headed The Generic Burgundies before moving into a description of Chablis, Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne. Other White Wines of the Côte d’Or are shoe-horned into the chapter of that name; the wines of The Côte Chalonnaise and The Mâconnais and Beaujolais get their own chapters. Last is a chapter The Future of White Burgundy.
  • Despite having seen such content re-hashed over and over again, the description of the main villages is on a much better level than ‘workmanlike’ and offers the odd snippet of ‘fact’ that may have eluded other writers. Fielden, unlike many commentators, is quite happy underlining how he likes oak and plenty of it in his chardonnays.
  • Despite such a large area of vines being lumped together in the chapter Other White Wines of the Côte d’Or, I find this and the chapter on the Côte Chalonnaise that follows to be the high-point of the book: Slightly irreverent, grounded, clearly insightful and with so many remarks and references of historical note that the book is worth buying only for these two chapters – great stuff indeed.
  • I liked it, it’s easy to carry around and it’s a good book for dipping in and out of.

In more detail
Just a selection of quotes that I found interesting, funny or downright prescient!

p3: It must also be borne in mind that improved methods of viticulture and vinification are leading not only to the production of better wines, but also higher yields… …The authorities, and they are generally controlled by the growers,… …Permitted crops are now, in most years, considerably higher than they were under the old legislation.

p5: Whilst the better wines of Burgundy have never been cheap, they are not expensive, as long as they remained the preferred wine of the connoisseur…

p24: As the Burgundian writer Vergnette-Lamotte said, at about the same time, in withering fashion, ‘Chaptal, who was born in the Midi, and, as such, only valued wine by its alcoholic degree, has considered alcohol to be the principal preserving element in wine and upon this basis that the sad elements of vinification that govern us today, have been based.’

p25 (of Phylloxera): The area under vines in the Beaune region fell from 28,000 hectares in 1875 to 13,000 in 1897.

p27: Commercial demand has meant that white Burgundy is drunk, and made to be drunk, much younger than it was in the past. Long ageing in cask, followed by storage in bottle, is expensive and seems to be unnecessary as far as the consumer is concerned.

p39: The pressing of grapes is now done almost totally in horizontal presses. The Vaslin horizontal screw-press is now the most common in Burgundy, but there are many white wine producers who now prefer the Willmes pneumatic press, as they feel the flavour of the fruit is better preserved, as there is less chance of unattractive traces being crushed out of the pips.

p40: White Burgundies are often criticised by New World winemakers as being oxidised. This might be partly as a result of being kept in cask too long before bottling, or more seriously, because of unhygenic cellar techniques.

p42: It is the individuality of its wines which gives Burgundy its eminent position in the world vinous hierarchy. This individuality stems from two sources. The first is the obstinacy of the Burgundian grower in preferring to make smaller quantities of a large number of wines – and it must be accepted that whilst there might be more work in pursuing this poilcy, there is also much more money to be made…

closing the spanish campogate

A heart-felt piece here.

I always think wtf (sorry…) when I hear of Spain being an ‘up-and-coming’ wine-region; I mean, how lazy is that? It simply suggests to me that I can’t trust what the writer is going to type next. Ryan’s Catavino piece (above) simply paints a picture of a region (sorry, country) with wine-styles so diverse that people around the world haven’t the basic knowledge to buy a Spanish wine, and that’s clearly not helped by producers that have clutched in desperation at every available style, process and presentation.

The essential problem is that people think of Spanish wine as an entity, and while you might also hear the phrase ‘French wine’, buyers of French wine are usually buying Burgundy or Bordeaux (or even Loire…!) with a decent idea of what it will taste like and really don’t consider ‘French wine’ an entity. Most people would be hard-pressed to come up with a Spanish wine region other than Rioja – here’s the nub of problem facing ‘Spanish wine’ – Pancho might not have been the solution but he clearly wasn’t the problem.

Perhaps Spanish wine really needs a bunch of MW business-men and women, but with their hands more on their hearts than in the tills, resolute about each region they represent and able to showcase a consistent style in their region – without consistency they will continue to have problems selling their wares. The local wine critics need also to be a part of the solution; criticising Neal Martin (that’s even a Spanish name isn’t it?) as the WA’s new man in Spain as ‘biased’, because several years ago he had the gaul (sorry, that’s not in Spain) to publish his experience of several sub-standard bottles, is not really part of any solution is it?

Let’s see what happens, but the country has to offer engagement and focus if it is to be a success in the market – quality is only an entry-ticket to the game – with Neal Martin I can’t think of another wide-circulation writer who offers such opportunity for real engagement, but I remain worried about the focus…

[Yes I have a cold - maybe another day or two before I exercise my corkscrew!]

2009 lejeune pommard 1er les argillières


Hmm, starting with a cold methinks – perhaps the last bottle for a day or two. This was anyway a good one and always outstanding given its modest pricing…

2009 Lejeune, Pommard 1er Les Argillières
Here is a quite lovely red-fruit-driven nose. In the moth this is a combination of equally red pretty fruit and quite some tannin. There’s a bit of astringency before a long finish. A strong character in all departments and certainly an interesting glass yet initially this seemed not that ‘together’. The last third was drunk on day two; it was rounder, more supple and seemed very well put together. Probably a wine to wait at least ten years for, but worth a few bottles in the cellar!
Rebuy – Yes

jean tardy 09 nsg au bas de combe

Does it get a little monotonous, all these 09s being so good? The only criticism that you could justly make is that they all have a very ’09’ taste and aroma to them, but if you don’t drink only 09s…

2009 Jean Tardy, Nuits St.Georges Au Bas de Combe Vieilles Vignes
High tones, some herb notes too that float above lovely red fruit – this is very pretty! In the mouth this seems finely boned and with good acidity too. This finishes well with beautiful red fruit note. Very good wine indeed, but in an elegant, less forceful way – I certainly wouldn’t guess this was a Nuits.
Rebuy – Yes

Page 60 of 192« First...102030...5859606162...708090...Last »