Entries from 2017

a year-ending promenade in frenchie speaking switzerland

By billn on December 31, 2017 #travels in burgundy 2017

Our last day of the year took in a little tour around the Bielersee (Lac de Bienne) and stop-offs in Champagne and Avenches. I well remember the outrage of Swiss colleagues in the early 2000s when it became official that the (Swiss) town of Champagne was banned from making wine under their own name. Of-course it had no bubbles and it was 90% sold only in the canton of its birth – we all understand of-course – but try telling that to the Swiss when they can buy Emmental-Francais or Gruyère-Francais cheeses in French supermarkets!

Avenches is a small but pretty town that was once best known for it’s (still!) very impressive Roman amphitheatre – today it’s probably better known for being a large production centre for Nespresso, surrounded by fields full of buffalo for the mozzarella – oops! The High Street of Avenches is beautifully kept and has great architecture – but on this last day of the year, and a Sunday to boot, it was as dead as a very dead thing…

a lunchtime corton

By billn on December 29, 2017 #degustation

1997 Bouchard Père et Fils, Le Corton
After a run of corked wines from the same case, here one that’s just right.
Medium, medium-plus colour. A nose of pinched florals and spice above, and below a wider macerating-plum depth. A big wine in the mouth – with a leading wave of freshness followed by a more considered and persistent depth of (again) plummy fruit, here accented with a little creamy barrel – still! Just a modest rasp of saline tannin if you look for it. A wine of volume and concentration that is currently quite tasty, if not particularly memorable.
Rebuy – Maybe (if not corked!)

December 2017 Burgundy Report is now online for subscribers!

By billn on December 28, 2017 #reports


The trilogy of October to December reports cover 101 Côte d’Or domaines and over 1,600 wines.
With over 100 more domaines to be covered in January and February – that’s for 2016 Chablis and 2016 Beaujolais – nobody else provides such depth and perspective of the new vintage in Burgundy.


some christmas bottles…

By billn on December 27, 2017 #degustation

1997 Bouchard Père et Fils Le Corton
My last bottle of this – during The September Report’s look at 1997s, 20 years on – was completely corked. This cork, looks fine but was as hard as concrete – still, had it protected not corrupted the wine this time? My first sniff I thought yes, but this was one of those borderline cases – swirl and it seems okay, let glass rest and the aroma of cork builds in the glass – curses – two in a row from this case – I’ve 5 more to be annoyed by…

1999 Denis Bachelet, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles-Vignes
Denis to save the day? The nose shows a hint of brett at first, but quickly fades to (almost) nothing – growing in the glass with a very fine and pure fresh red fruit. Lots of volume in the mouth – energy, sweetened Kirsch, a vibration of flavour. This is so delicious that I can forgive the slight transgression on the nose – mega-delicious wine.
Rebuy – Yes

1992 Francois er Antoine Jobard, Meursault Genevrieres
Magnum. Deep golden, practically orange. No oxidation, rather a subtle reductive note – fireworks. Very ripe pineapple aroma to start, slowly more like a blend of ripe lemon and quince but always broad, always deep. In the mouth, like the nose, it’s big, concentrated but silky – with a penetrating slightly reductive intensity, finishing mature and creamy – almost Creme brûlée. So stable – drunk over three days – the last glass at least as good as the first. Such a shame that it’s my last. It was a great wine!
Rebuy – Yes

1997 Lamarche, La Grande Rue
Quite deep colour. What a simply magical nose of floral freshness and exquisite line – simply captivating – you would never guess it’s from 1997. great mouth-fulling volume of more bloody red fruit, but layers and depth of flavour. This could be my best wine of the year – and what timing! So broad in the finish. Also finished on day three, where the nose and finish were good but less good – the mid-palate retaining its fresh delicious and layered personality. I’m unlikely to be able to top this Christmas brace next year, at least in magnum format anyway!
Bought for a relative song in an auction over 10 years ago – Lamarche not yet fully accepted as good winemakers. This wine reminded me of a discussion I had a couple of years ago with Pascal Marchand where he explained something about his small parcel of Musigny ‘It’s from the bottom; Porcheret bought the land from Christian Confuron and it was planted in 1990 with something like pinot droit but it’s great to see how terroir can be so strong as the wine is real Musigny‘ And like that Musigny, the force is strong with this wine!
Rebuy – Yes

I opened another 1997 BP&F Corton – it’s just like the last – I’m confused – I’ll have to discuss it with them…

1993 Frederic Esmonin, Mazy-Chambertin
Medium, mature colour. There’s a nice open, airy quality to the nose – complex, sous bois and a hint of clean white mushroom. A little more direct after the Lamarche, less concentration but still with depth to the slightly cushioned texture and a fine grand cru depth of mid and finishing flavour – my first instinct is a little mint, then coffee, there’s a lot here. There is no rush for the Lamarche, but this is à point! Super wine…
Rebuy – Yes

gros frère et soeur’s 1995 grands-echézeaux

By billn on December 22, 2017 #degustation

1995 Gros Frère et Soeur, Grands-Echézeaux
Now that’s an informative cork! From a small parcel of vines just behind the wall of the Clos de Vougeot, next to the vines of DRC. Much of the domaines vines were replanted between 1980-1995, this could be quite young vines, or…
A spicy nose, open above, still with old toasty oak at the base – it takes an hour from opening, but the dirty oak fades (perhaps it was more reductive) and there’s some fine, elegant floral notes – this level of improvement implies to me that there is plenty of improvement still in this wine. A good volume in the mouth. Freshness and openness over the palate, nothing blocky or weighty. This is quite mature, relatively surprisingly, and it’s delicious too. Quite some elegant finishing complexity too but certainly not a wine of power – perhaps young vines then (…?)
Rebuy – Yes

benoit germain’s 1995 beaune 1er les teurons

By billn on December 21, 2017 #degustation

It’s a little more than 7 years since I visited Benoit Germain in Chorey-lès-Beaune, and for the combination of great weather, great wines and Benoit’s shining personality, it was my favourite visit of the year. In some ways Bertrand de Villaine today reminds me a little of Benoit, but Benoit was more ebullient. It was simply incomprehensible to this casual visitor that behind that façade was somebody so wracked with doubt and depression. Only a couple of months later he took his own life – the memory of my last visit resonates every time I pick up a bottle.

The domaine’s plots across the Beaune hillsides were very highly regarded by other winemakers, mainly today they lie with Jadot and Remoissenet – as I heard it, sold by Benoit’s wife – though the rest of the family apparently wanted to keep ownership, preferring to put the vines out to fermage – long-term (15+ years) rents. It was a very complicated end for someone who, to the casual visitor like me, seemed so uncomplicated…

​1995 Château de Chorey / Jacques Germain, Beaune 1er Les Teurons
My nose is a little blocked today, but this is so clearly fresh and dark-red pure fruited – no leather or spice in this 1995. Wide and fresh with lovely fruit, still a little rasp of tannin in the finish – but only if you really search for it. The oak of its youth is no longer visible. This is remarkably elegant now for such a poorly reputed vintage. I’ve been ‘out of’ this vintage for a while, but clearly I will have to open more 1995s, because this is excellent. For what it is, just about perfect today – thank-you Benoit.
Rebuy – Yes

offer of the day – 2016 l’Arlot

By billn on December 20, 2017 #the market

In my inbox today – I offer the comparison with the price (in brackets) of the 2015 this time last year…

Domaine de l’Arlot

Nuits-Saint-Georges Mont des Oiseaux 1er Cru 2016 75cl – – (59.00)* Swiss Francs
Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de l’Arlot 1er Cru 2016 75cl 85.00 (79.00)
Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos Forêts St-Georges 1er Cru 2016 75cl 85.00 (79.00)
Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos Forêts St-Georges 1er Cru 2016 150cl 175.00 (- -)
Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots 1er Cru 2016 75cl 119.00 (109.00)
Romanée Saint Vivant Grand Cru 2016 75cl 486.00 (445.00)

– – = not offered
*Note that 8% sales tax is also due, but delivery cost is included…

2016 red burgundy – report online

By billn on December 20, 2017 #reports

For subscribers, my November report with 50 visit reports and 650 wines and more is now online:

2016, not much wine, a complex yet highly rewarding red burgundy vintage

And if you’re undecided about subscribing – here is my report on the 2014 Reds:
Burgundy Report 11-2015

pierre boillot’s 1993 volnay santenots

By billn on December 19, 2017 #degustation

1993 Pierre Boillot, Volnay 1er Santentots
This domaine/vines now being exploited by François Mikulski – this clearly the backend of the era where it wasn’t thought necessary to actually write ‘1er Cru’. The cork is shorter than yesterday’s Lafarge, but better as it wasn’t spongy and crumbly – and both bottles were bought at the same time from the same retailer!
This wine is totally in the sweet spot; yesterday’s Lafarge could be accused of being a bit leathery in style, but this one still has a depth of fruit, fabulous texture, great line and such an impressive concentration – not one part of that detracting from this wine’s open and delicious presentation. Simply a very fine wine – even in the context of 1993! Fabulous!
Rebuy – Yes

Burgundy Report

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