Entries from 2017

chablis – day 1

By billn on January 05, 2017 #travels in burgundy 2017

My first day of a three-week tour of duty in Chablis – almost 50 domaines lined up for some Vintage 2015 action. A chilly day but 3°C – it’s forecast to be -6 to -8°C overnight – that should be fun judging by the damp roads! Anyway, my first visits delivered delicious wines – one producer described them as more ‘commercial’ than the chiselled brilliance (my description) of the 2014s. Let’s see how it goes…

bonneau du martray (largely) sold

By billn on January 04, 2017 #producer update

dsc02017Jancis (above) was the first to post on this, in English. One hour ahead of her was the following in French.

My rough commentary is:

American Stanley Kroenke has acquired the majority of the capital of Domaine Bonneau Martray
Kroenke, approaching 70 years old, and owner Arsenal football club in the UK, plus US basketball, soccer and football teams, is also the owner of, amongst others in the US, the Screaming Eagle winery.

The Bault de la Morinière family (Jean-Charles – pictured right – 15 Dec 2016) for a long time have told the tale of ‘only 3 owners in 1,250 years‘ but the family have now sold the majority (whatever that means) of their shares in the domaine to Stanley Kroenke for an undisclosed sum – and he’s not a Frenchman! – but maybe this allows the family to claim maintenance of ownership, even if a minority ownership.

At nearly 70 years of age, Kroenke is roughly the same age as Jean-Charles; whilst the latter has been looking for a successor, the former continues to forge deals. I had heard that the generations following Jean-Charles were not interested to take up the reigns of the domaine – maybe there was no other possibility – or indeed this was the least worst solution, assuming that Pinault and Arnault were potentially unwelcome suitors…

I hope that it works well for all the parties involved, Jean-Charles has been a fantastic steward of the domaine, I have always enjoyed my many discussions with him, though it’s also a domaine that has been blighted with oxidation issues in the last years. According to Les Echos, Armand de Maigret, ‘the French general manager for Mr Kroenke’s vineyards, will supervise the property while maintaining its unique identity.

hello 2017, hello taillepieds…

By billn on January 04, 2017 #travels in burgundy 2017

My first day, this year, in Burgundy today. A short trip to a producer in Volnay this afternoon was my only visit, and tomorrow I will start my campaign in Chablis. When I arrived at midday, the vines and hillsides were white with frost, but slowly as the afternoon temperatures reached the dizzy heights of 4°C, the white line of frost went ever higher. In the picture above only the trees above Taillepieds stayed white…

week 52, weekend wines…

By billn on January 03, 2017 #degustation

There was more Pommery – it has served a very useful, delicious function this Christmas!

1985 Michel Voarick, Pernand-Vergelesses
A little must and apparently some deep, kind of dirty oak too – fortunately with this wine, aeration is our friend – it cleans up remarkably, delivering a deep nose with some sous-bois and an attractive plummy sweetness. That’s a pretty apt description of the flavours too – round deep, a little sweet, and putting on some nice weight with time in the glass – this wine went from unattractive to very nice in about 40 minutes. Tasty!
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Lucie et Auguste Lignier, Morey St.Denis 1er Chaffots
Still a deep and young colour, The nose implies a little gas and there’s certainly some modest reduction, above which there’s fruit – but you need to shake the bottle to release that gas, and wait another 20 minutes before you can get at that fruit – fruit of very fine clarity that’s worth the wait. In the mouth this has a subtle spritz to start and the reduction is also on the palate – indeed it never leaves despite half the bottle waiting for day 2 – at this stage I have to declare that a fault. The impression on the palate is of high acidity – drinkable but still high. A wine that’s the archetypal Curate’s Egg today as there is much that I like, and whilst the reduction is modest, it’s persistent so will need at least another 5-6 years to fade – if it fades.
Rebuy – No

pierre vincent – goodbye vougeraie, hello leflaive…

By billn on January 03, 2017 #producer update

dsc01911More Leflaive: I originally posted about this in my Domaine de la Vougeraie 2015 report, in December 2016.

Seemingly, and for many weeks, this was Burgundy’s worst kept secret, yet no-one publicised it, and I’ve still seen nothing official about this from either domaine; but, just before Christmas, Pierre Vincent finished his career as winemaker chez Domaine de la Vougeraie. He has now started in that role for Domaine Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet.

Pierre has made super whites for a long time, no less so his 2015s chez Vougeraie, where he was responsible for a little over 42 hectares of vines – all managed with biodynamics. Chez Domaine Leflaive he now has 24 hectares, again, all biodynamic. (Drouhin are the largest Organic/Biodynamic practitioners with 78 hectares including Chablis)

I think it’s fair to say that the expectations (rightly or wrongly) of Domaine Leflaive clients will be higher – given their long history of excellence – though their wines having been patchy since 2002 (quality and resistance to oxidation).

Actually, I’ve found Domaine Leflaive just a little opaque in the last vintages – ‘who actually has been making the wines and taking the big decisions for the last 18 months?‘ – I don’t know. Of-course Leflaive made the recent big decision to the change to DIAM closures from the 2014 vintage – I think we can be pretty sure that Brice de la Morandière (cousin of Anne-Claude Leflaive, who took on the role as head of the domaine in May 2015) was responsible for that decision. It will be interesting to get Pierre’s updated take on that, as the wineries of the Boisset group have been resistant to that particular change – Vougeraie remaining with cork for top whites in the 2015 vintage – but perhaps that was a Boisset group decision, rather than left to individual wine-makers.

But good luck Pierre, I’m sure that lots of people will be watching!

‘new old’ labels, chez leflaive…

By billn on January 02, 2017 #producer update

The Domaine Leflaive label is has changed little since its inception in the 1920s, when Joseph Leflaive decided to bottle at the property – itself an innovation at the time.

The label when first done stood out from contemporaries, because creamy ‘parchment’ colours were the fashion, but the background to Leflaive’s label was very white. Then there is the coat of arms; two cockerels on each side of a shield that contains five Saint Jacques shells: a route through Puligny-Montrachet is one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela (1500 kilometres away) and these shells are the symbol of the route.

Over the years, however, the label had started to become more cluttered due to successive legal necessities, such as the marking of volume, alcohol content, country of origin of the wine, Grand Vin de Bourgogne and such et-ceteras.

Now the label will be more direct and minimalist, the legal niceties having been moved to a new back-label – the coat of arms and lettering now updated with clarity in mind. I’m looking forward to getting up close and personal to them!

some week 52 wines…

By billn on January 01, 2017 #degustation

2005 Albert Bichot, Grands-Echézeaux
The grapes from the Engel estate. This had rather too much vanilla in its youth, so let’s see now!
Hmm – this nose is not bad at all! It’s lost the vanilla, though the overall impression is of a wine with a subtle intensity of aroma. The palate is fresh and shows beautiful texture and I would even say ‘great’ length, yet compared to many here – particularly the 2011s – it is very-much a tight thing. Whilst beautiful and enjoyable this is not quite half my expectations today – still I’m happy to see that the vanilla is now gone! I won’t open another for 4 or 5 years – the advantage of still having 5 or 6 in the cellar!
Rebuy – Yes

2011 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Lurets
This was fabulous when young, and definitely a notch higher performing than the Caillerets, today the nose is a little less floral but open and giving with fine fruit and just a suggestion of sous-bois. In the mouth its a layered and pretty wine that’s really easy to drink – indeed it tastes great already – yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2011 Camille Giroud, Beaune 1er Les Cras
Hmm – here the nose has the edge over the Volnay Lurets in both purity and power. In the mouth too, this is round but with fine balance and super weight of flavour – delivered in super mid-palate and finishing waves – ooh, this is gooood… Just drinking beautifully today. Excellent!
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Chenu, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Hautes-Jarrons
Quintessentially Chenu from this period – fine, elegant wine that wafts through the nose and over the taste buds. Simply delicious stuff – they make wine with a little more power today, just a little, but this is simply delicious. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Jean Loron, Pouilly-Fuissé Les Vieux Murs Vieilles-Vignes
Deep colour, but not the faintest suggestion of oxidation – a powerful and open nose of ripe fruit but with energy and the impression that there was once plenty of oak here, but now all melted. In the mouth, this is a big wine – mouth-filling, tasty but with quite enough acidity. Big, impressive stuff – no-one would guess PF blind, just a great thing! Extra-yum!
Rebuy – Yes

1994 Bouchard Père ete Fils, Volnay 1er Caillerets Cuvée Carnot
The nose starts quite unattractively, but given aeration improves a lot – it still remains very herbal and with questionable ripeness – but eventually, not DNPIM! The palate is modest, some herby complexity and a little phenolic in the mid-palate – which can be good when mixed with good fruit, but in this case mixed with (again) some less ripe elements. I’m afraid that one glass of this particular bottle was enough…
Rebuy – No

2012 Michel Rocourt, Champagne Blancs de Blancs
The nose is fresh and very-much at the malic/green apple end of the spectrum. Actually the palate is similar. a wine of character for sure – tasty wine – but honestly I preferred the two bottles that followed:

Then there were a couple of bottles of Pommery NV – the second, because the first tasted so good – underestimated stuff I think…

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