Nice light and pretty clouds in the Côte de Nuits today…
The hype of the sale-room? The pent-up demand due to the lack of a Hospices de Beaune auction?
Yes, I know this sale was the day before the cancelled event in Beaune! But you decide…
At the weekend, Zachys held their first-ever wine auction in London. The selection of Burgundy was a good one, but this sale was notable for the possibility to ‘buy‘ a whole barrel (image, right, from Zachy’s catalogue) – of-course, this barrel never leaving the cellar of the producer – and that producer happened to be one Jean-Marie Fourrier.
Nearly 50 lots of Jean-Marie Fourrier’s wines were on offer, all coming direct from the domaine. The barrel in question was Fourrier’s Chambolle 1er Les Sentiers which until 2007, Fourrier had blended into his Chambolle-Musigny Villages. Since 2007, it has been separately vinified – vinified but never sold commercially. Fourrier only ever bottled his Les Sentiers in magnums, which he used as giveaways for friends as gifts, or brought to dinners.
The elevage for this wine was/is in a one-year-old barrel, vinified with 20% stems, to be bottled in the buyers wish for formats, ready for shipment in April of 2021. And the price?
Final price including the buyers premium: £136,400 compared to the pre-sale estimate of GBP £90,000-140,000, I’ll let that sink in…
So assuming no other costs and all bottled in 75cl bottles (let’s assume 300 of them) that works out to just under £455 per bottle for a 1er cru Chambolle – honestly, I’d rather have de Vogüé’s Bonnes-Mares for this price, plus any number from a long list of other wines, though I’d take a couple of these, just for the interest 🙂
Just a few quick recollections of 4 complete winners:
2017 Antoine Olivier, Santenay Le Bievaux l’Air de Rien
What a punchy and energetic wine. A touch of apple and pineapple and who knows what else in this delicious and effusive wine. Real concentration but never over-generous. I sometimes think this cuvée tastes like Meursault – but not this vintage today. Delicious all the same.
Rebuy – Yes
2005 Berthaut, Fixin Les Clos
A sturdy, if bleached, cork.
Ooh – what a lovely nose – fading leaves, undergrowth – but violets too! Broad over the palate, another mouthful of generously flavoured wine. Robust too – it seemed just as good on the second evening. The tannin still present but becoming ever-more something of an anecdote. A lovely drop!
Rebuy – Yes
1999 Heritiers Louis Jadot, Beaune 1er Clos des Ursules
The cork comes out in one – but was starting to crack…
First sniff – I sit up and pay attention; gloriously wide, complex, dried leaves but flowers and fruit too – such an invitation. A wine of undoubted, but much softened, structure – just enough to let the flavour melt and then play over the palate. Just a great finish too – less robust than the Fixin as the wine’s definitely fading on day 2 – but day 1 it was simply great – bravo!
Rebuy – Yes
2015 Richard Rottiers, Moulin à Vent
Definitely a funky, low-sulfur, start to this nose. Aeration clearly works some magic – though needs about 15 minutes – bringing the fruit and a measure of clarity to the fore. The palate starts a little grainy – though delicious – like the nose, softening with air. There’s never any question about how tasty the wine is – evidenced by 3 people emptying the bottle in under 30 minutes!
Rebuy – Yes
I spotted the news late on Saturday – far too late for posting about here – a Sunday-morning tweet having to suffice. As you can see from the photo above, on a Sunday night that is usually packed with revellers, the only thing moving in Beaune tonight, was the Christmas lights.
I’ve seen in various local press-outlets that the organisers have been getting a lot of flack over their insistence that the Hospices de Beaune sale would go ahead – and then finally giving in to the inevitable and cancelling at the last moment. On the other hand, I admired their bloodymindedness – that they were trying to keep a charitable event going – and one that is extremely important to the businesses in, and around, Beaune too.
They are planning to find another date as soon as possible, is the current message, but for those buyers who normally (directly) decant the wine into older barrels, trying to lessen the impact of all the new oak – well, it won’t be the same this year – will it(?)!
Loathed as I am to criticise, in the end, like so much of the auction-business in 2020, they should have found a mechanism that preserved as much as possible of what makes this sale so special – but done online. Not just safety for all but a certain measure of security too – having not done so – now what?
Well, in the first instance, somebody’s going to have to pack-up the saleroom – for now, anyway!
And for those of you with an interest, for the third year in a row, the tasting panels of the Tastevinage have chosen their ‘majors’ for the year – their best wines tasted. Like last year they have stuck with the reduced number of 12 wines to showcase. You can see them in the image below – courtesy the Tastevinage organisation. There are a couple of names that I don’t know and others that you will have seen showcased here in Burgundy Report.
2020 is the next in a series of warm vintages in the Beaujolais; it was frost-free in the Springtime and there was practically no hail in the Summer either. If there was to be one problem it was the dryness – some areas were described by locals as ‘being on the limit.‘
Yet when it came to the harvest they had good, clean, grapes – even those with quite high degrees of potential alcohol. The final figures are not yet available for the yields in 2020 but the current expectation is for volumes that are below the average due to the aforementioned dryness. If that turns out to be the case, I won’t be at all surprised.
2020 and the most recent vintages:
I’ve done this tasting since the 2017 vintage, and whilst the recent quality from Grower Nouveau is on a much, higher level than I can ever recollect – and with much more consistency too – it seems to me that yields go a long way to defining what you will find in a bottle of Nouveau.
I’m certain that it’s not particularly from the perspective of absolute quality that yields show themselves but rather from the perspective of the consistency of the observed quality where they play their role. Some people will always go to the maximum allowed – 65 hl/ha – whilst others are quite happy with 45 – or less:
Vintage 2017 – a warm, clean, early vintage – one hailstorm excepted – but low yielding. The best wines were excellent and the quality was consistent
Vintage 2018 – a warm clean and again an early vintage but with many higher-yielding places where the producers allowed. I observed significant quality differences in the samples – I largely attributed this to big swings in yields.
Vintage 2019 – another warm vintage with harvesting a little later but because of both frost and hail, yields were cut. The best wines were of high quality and the consistency was intermediate to 2017 and 2018.
Vintage 2020 – a warm clean vintage with consistently below-average yields. The best wines, once again, show high quality and a consistency that’s at least as good as seen in the 2017s. The wines are relatively powerful and well constructed, the ‘villages’ wines generally need a little patience but are consistently excellent! NB Given the early harvest in 2020, these wines have seen nearly an extra month of ageing – that’s 33% more! – than would be the case for a, more traditional, late-September harvest. In 2020 you can almost blind-buy Beaujolais-Villages-Nouveau as they are overwhelmingly excellent, less-so Beaujolais Nouveau but still with some confidence. Of course, if you don’t want to gamble, try the list further below.
And the market?
Of course, it’s a nightmare time to have an en-primeur campaign in ‘mid-lockdown’ but judging by the number of trucks on French roads, logistics still seem to be effective. It’s (still) a very important slice of the region’s sales for these primeurs – Japan representing the largest export market after the US, Canada, Switzerland and then the UK. About 46% of the production was exported from France in 2019, when Nouveau accounted for nearly 30% of all the sales from Beaujolais – about 21 million bottles – and that now includes 2 million bottles of rosé too!
So how are the wines? One week before the big day, here is my list of 21 goto wines from 162 tasted 04 November 2020:
2020 Beaujolais Nouveau:
2020 Fellot Emmanuel, Vieilles-Vignes
2020 Château de L’Eclair
2020 Coquard Christophe
2020 Famille Chasselay, La Marduette
2020 Jean Loron, Tradition Vieilles Vignes
2020 Domaine Girin
2020 Chandesais, Petit Marcel
2020 Domaine Perroud Robert, Vieilles-Vignes
2020 Les Vins Aujoux
2020 Beaujolais Villages Nouveau:
2020 Domaine Nesme Mickael
2020 Famille Chevrier
2020 Colonge André et Fils, N°1 Gasby Gamay
2020 Fessy Henry, Tradition
2020 Domaine Lagneau
2020 Domaine des Fournelles – Dumontet Guillaume
2020 Lacondemine Jérôme, Coeur de Raisin
2020 Domaine Monternot Les Jumeaux
2020 Dubost Jean Paul, Beaujolais Lantignié
2020 Cave du Château des Loges, Les Trois Madones
2020 Boudeau Nicolas
Click below to see the full notes for all 162 wines:
*Groupe des Jeunes Professionnels de la Vigne et du vin de Bourgogne
In mid-October, the young professionals held their blind tasting in Chorey-lès-Beaune with nearly 100 tasters – all blind-tasting. Here’s a nice list of (mainly) very good value wines from the vote-count – note, no mail-in votes!
These wines will subsequently be blind-tasted to reveal the ‘producer-winners’ in GJPV regional categories, usually done in the week of the Beaune wine-auction.