Entries from 2020

offer of the day – Domaine Leflaive 2019…

By billn on October 26, 2020 #the market

As always, from the same supplier each year. Priced in Swiss Francs (chf)
Image courtesy Domaine Leflaive:

DOMAINE LEFLAIVE 2019 – Puligny-Montrachet
In brackets are the prices for 2018, 2017, 2016 & 2015 – though most of the 2018 prices are missing (—), sorry …

Bourgogne 75cl 55.00* (49.00, 45.00, 42.00, 38.00)
Puligny-Montrachet 75cl 99.00 (—, 89.00, 82.00, 69.00)

Puligny-Montrachet Les Clavoillons 75cl 148.00 (139.00, 128.00, 118.00, 89.00)
Meursault Sous Le Dos d’Âne 75cl 148.00 (—, 128.00, 118.00, 99.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 75cl — (—, 198.00, 185.00, 145.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 75cl — (—, 198.00, 185.00, 185.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 75cl 299.00 (—, 259.00, 245.00, 195.00)

Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet 75cl 595.00 (—, 498.00, 459.00, 325.00)
Bâtard-Montrachet 75cl 648.00 (—, 565.00, 498.00, 348.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet 75cl 840.00 (—, 695.00, 685.00, 445.00)

*As always the Swiss purchase tax (7.7%) is not included but otherwise, these are delivered prices.

Some of the usual suspects are also missing from this offer. There is (always) only one direction for the prices chez Leflaive. As is always the case, the two entry wines can be benchmarks for their respective labels, but for perspective, you can buy some very great Puligny 1ers for under 100 chf. At least in the most recent vintages – for my tastebuds 2016 onwards – the quality was very fine chez Leflaive but I won’t be able to taste the 2019s this year as the domaine is not accepting tasters until 2021 – maybe – it will depend on the covid…

more robots…

By billn on October 25, 2020 #a bit of science

I previously introduced the BAKUS here. Two years later, maybe you might start seeing them in the ‘wild.’ In this case, in the vineyards of Louis Moreau in Chablis:

another week’s inquisition…

By billn on October 23, 2020 #degustation


My many thanks for the vigneron(ne)s that put up with my questions this week – once-more, many covetable wines for sure, you’ll have to subscribe to hear about the bad ones 😉

Purely alphabetically, domaines:
Jean-Philippe Fichet
Jean-Noel Gagnard
André Goichot
Hubert Lamy
Vincent Latour
David Moreau
Caroline Morey
Pierre Morey
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey
Jacques Prieur
Etienne Sauzet

golden hour…

By billn on October 21, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

Or in my case – golden 15 minutes!

The Mâconnais was in full, glorious, colour on Monday, but I had zero time to take photos. Yesterday less glorious – more grey – but again no time to take photos.

My last appointment of today was cancelled – he had a sore throat (oups!) – but that meant I was finished at 17h30. And guess what… It was sunny! Though as noted I only had the light for 15 minutes, so here’s a bunch of images from Santenay as you get closer to the border with Chassagne:

marko’s harvest diary 10-Sep-20 – day 8 – the last!

By Marko de Morey de la Vosne on October 20, 2020 #vintage 2020

2020 harvest - it's over!

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day 8, Thursday 10th Sept 2020

So, here we are, our final day of the Covid vendange. For me, it was anybody’s guess where we’d be going this morning, where we might finish, and how much of the day we’d be working. I was to be surprised (in a good way !) on all counts. Thinking back to 2019 we’d finished then, not far away from the domaine, in late afternoon, on the plot of Bourgogne, on the far side of the railway line, reached down Vosne’s Route de Boncourt le Bois, and toasted our efforts in Champagne served by Alain Noellat before making our traditionally noisy (vehicle horns) way back to the domaine. As we’d already been to that final 2019 plot we wouldn’t be going back again.

Off we went on another fabulous morning, weather wise. Surprise, surprise, back to the Hautes- Cotes again via Chaux. Our initial destination was the plot through Villers-la-Faye, past Tonnellerie Meyrieux, I mentioned in my 5th para of Day Seven. I referred then to not being sure when we came this way but I now reckon I was wrong and it was only this morning of our final day we came to this plot (not visited in 2019). I should have looked at my Day Eight photos before commenting in Day Seven as it was those photos which decided for me today was the day of our sole visit. Quite a pleasant spot with the vine rows finishing against a shrubs & treeline boundary. Nice fruit again here, all the HCDN Pinot reminding me as being of similar quality/volume as 2019 (as best I could recall). We finished our initial morning efforts with what would be our final casse-croute break before moving on. The domaine ‘did us proud’ with the fayre on offer for our casse-croute breaks – I’d have no hesitation as considering this year (2020) to have the best casse-croute breaks, or offerings, of my vendange career (not difficult per Domaine Arlaud as in my first years there we never had casse-croute or other breaks & only in the latter years did Herve Arlaud, bless him, soften the original hard driving approach !).

Where to post casse-croute ? Well, before that, on a whim, I decided to photo record the laminated Covid notices each vehicle displayed in their side windows. One referred to sanitary precautions, the other that mask wearing was obligatory. The former notice was headed by the domaine name. I’d noticed during our vendange, when passing vehicles from other domaines they’d displayed the same notices identifying the actual domaine hence infer such was from a ‘central’ authority directive. To my slight surprise, we headed back through the outskirts of Villars, past the relaxed grazing donkeys in their field by the road junction, taking the road back in the direction of Chaux, but soon turned off again left and back to the Pinot plot we’d worked Day Seven p.m. Here, we shifted along a bit from the Day Seven rows, to some more which had previously been started and then left. Finishing off these vines didn’t take long at all & by mid-morning we were ‘done’ – complet for 2020. Remained only to take finishing photos, gather the equipment and, for the enthusiastic, undertake the traditional end of vendange vehicle ‘decoration’ with vine foliage – Michel & Patrick being prime movers in this respect for our vehicle. Jean-Claude had not been a particularly sympathetic chauffeur and I winced at the Renault’s vendange ‘battle scars’ of visible scrapes and odd panel damage – notably the front and wings low down. Not one I’d personally be wanting to return to the hirer !

No champagne in the vines to ‘celebrate’ our conclusion this time but to be fair we were some way from Vosne & the domaine, and there was to be a generous pre-Paulee champagne reception to come later. A relaxed drive back to Vosne through Chaux and Nuits. Much horn sounding (again, a tradition signifying the end of a domaine’s vendange) as we came to/passed through any habitation. On reaching Vosne we took a horns honking around the village ‘tour’, thro back streets, to the domaine. At one point, passing the open gates of another Vosne domaine, shame I couldn’t identify it, two or three guys cleaning equipment in their yard heard our noisy progress and came to their gates to aim their hoses at our passing vehicles – funny and all in good spirit. Back at ‘base’ a weary disembarkation, for your’s truly at least, before the final ‘round’ of bucket and pannier cleaning to cap things off before our final lunch. I junked my two pairs of gloves which had, unusually, lasted the vendange. I’d used two of the same pairs of gardening type gloves as whilst the faces had a vinyl type material the rest of the gloves were cloth which got wet & dirty. Each evening I’d cleaned that day’s pair, leaving to dry in the garage for 24 hours, rotating with the other pair. The same pair of knee pads had lasted the vendange without mishap and my camera had survived another round of harvest abuse – kudos to Canon. Only my left hip and pelvis area ended the vendange badly – an X Ray and follow up awaited my return to the UK to diagnose the problem(s) which I was already guessing at/foreseeing as potential left hip replacement.

I’m not quite sure now (ageing defective memory again !) what became of the early afternoon to be honest. I recollect lingering over the final lunch & liquid refreshment, and later having a long overdue appointment with my razor & shaving foam to address my through the vendange unshaven state, but otherwise can only think I maybe scrounged an entry to the closed domaine shop to access use of the wi-fi, the IT equipment – servers etc, being in another room behind the shop (latter closed during the vendange). I would have photo downloads and editing to do as well as catching up on over a week’s emails and UK news. Post a return to being clean shaven and shower thereafter time to dress smartly casual for the evening ahead. This (the late afternoon/evening) largely followed the same pattern as 2019 in that we all slowly gathered (lodgers and locals – latter coming back from their homes) to the front of the domaine, the early arrivals amongst us grabbing a chair/seat on the patio/garden type furniture immediately to the front of the buildings. Tables had been erected to the open side of the dining space awning parking area for champagne & other drinks plus nibbles & canapes. All very pleasant & convivial. Before the reception various of my colleagues had been asked individually to go and see Madam Noellat in the office – this to receive their vendange pay packet. For myself, Sophie approached me whilst all this was going on and whispered was I ok to receive my pay envelope on Saturday – which was fine by me. I’d already asked if I might stay on in my vendange accommodation for a couple of days hereafter, as I did in 2019, on the basis I fed myself of course, prior to heading back to the UK. This had been readily agreed hence Sophie knew I’d be ‘around’.

Post champagne reception, and before we sat down for our evening meal, another tradition – the cellar visit conducted by Sebastian as also occurred for me in 2019. The same awkward little entrance down a few steps from the big room we’d normally (without Covid) dine in, into the first ‘chamber’ lined with racked bottles, a large old barrel stood upright in the centre of the chamber for tastings etc. A bashful, shy looking statue of St Vincent occupied a small alcove in one wall. From the initial chamber more steps down into the impressive looking barrel cellar which stretched into another room beyond racked out with mouth watering wines from recent vintages and some older. I was particularly ‘taken’ by the bottles of 2015 Echezeaux & 2012 Vosne 1er Les Beaux Monts ! These bottles must be the family’s personal cellar as the above were not for sale in the domaine shop which only has the most recent vintages. I’ve been in a few barrel cellars in my time but that of Michel Noellat is, for me, one of the more impressive – if an ‘argument’ might be made for less use of new oak.

Cellar tour/visit over time to sit down for our Paulee meal. Not strictly a Paulee in the true sense as the bottles opened to accompany our meal came ‘only’ from the Noellat cellar. I can’t for the life of me recall the menu, but don’t believe it was boeuf bourguignon as we’d already had that. Nor did I make a note of, or have any full recall of what we may have drunk. I do recall the opening vin blanc as a village Puligny en magnum – we’d had this wine in 2019. I gather Alain obtains this for family personal consumption from an unknown (to me) vigneron via swap of his own reds. I certainly don’t recall any stellar red offerings as were opened/poured in 2019. Mindful I had roaming plans for the following day I certainly wasn’t going to overdo ‘it’ in consumption terms – one following morning’s banging head this vendange was enough ! Post meal just ongoing chat amongst small groups until the locals drifted away & us lodgers drifted off to our beds. Sophie’s husband, Arnaud (a Sirugue – Domaine Robert Sirugue) was present throughout, giving me the opportunity to check it would be ok for me to call at his family’s domaine on my travels to come.

The close of the working element of my 2020 vendange, just two more ‘free time’ days to come for touring, domaine visits, and purchasing which I’ll also write up for anyone interested. Personal takeaways from this harvest ? In no particular order:- good weather throughout (the first year I can ever recall not having to reach for my Wellington boots at least once) without being too hot, very dry ground from the Cote’s lack of material precipitation pre vendange, weight of foliage cover on many vines, fruit quality (hardly any rot at all), maybe less volume, incidence of shrivelled/burnt grapes here & there, the lower lying plots with heavier soil seemingly benefitting more than higher ground with lighter soils, going to ‘new’ plots we hadn’t been to in 2019, and conversely not going to one’s we had been to last year. Additionally, Covid impacts/precautions, and for me maybe the crux i.e that yet again as a huge disappointment, I didn’t get to experience the Domaine’s Vosne premier crus or Cote de Beaune plots, and that our group was only one ‘half’ of two teams, the other the mysterious Bulgarians we never came across. Did I enjoy it ? Of course, my vendange has been the highlight of my year for a number of years now & gives me a valued perspective on my long time passion for the wines of Burgundy, and Burgundy as a place. With each year now I’m conscious age will catch up with me at some point thus maximising those years I can continue to work is key. It will be a sad day when I have to ‘give in’ & cease my annual sojourn but hopefully there’ll be a few more years yet ! 2021 already seems to hang in the balance as my return to the UK, and X Ray result has confirmed major left hip issues, the next stage for me an awaited orthopaedic consultant appointment. If, as seems inevitable, a hip replacement follows then timings of any waiting period for such and convalescence could rule me out of next year’s harvest – we can but see.

tasting’s not easy in covid times…

By billn on October 19, 2020 #degustation#vintage 2019

Tasting 2019s and 2018s

A long day in the Mâconnais today. As you can see, the producers can be rather grumpy in these covid-dominated times – or maybe it’s just their impatience with me, trying to find the right buttons on my camera 🙂
My thanks for all their patience!

weekend stuff…

By billn on October 18, 2020 #degustation

Pernand & Savigny

My weekenders came from north of Beaune – but not so far north!

2017 Françoise André, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Frétile
A recent 2016 of this was outstanding – this needs more time…
A big, punchy nose of ripe pineapple and a sweet creaminess of oak. That more than adequately describes the palate too. A crowd-pleaser but not a me-pleaser as I find the oaky sweetness leaves something to be desired. The oak is the style of this domaine’s whites and, happily, it fades – but not yet for this wine. I’d wait a couple more years before returning – and drink the 2016 if you can find it – there wasn’t much due to the frost…
Rebuy – Maybe

2011 Camille Giroud, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Peuillets
A fine cork.
The nose is a bit one-dimensional but it’s a nice dimension of red-fruited purity. In the mouth we definitely move to the next level, with a flavour that entertains from the start but grows and widens over the palate – really nice balance and flavour complexity here – still young in many respects but rather fine and balanced all the same. Red fruit, ripe but not a bit of the extra-ripeness that we have ‘enjoyed’ over recent vintages. Probably starting to peak in another 4 or 5 years but anyway delicious today…
Rebuy – Yes

Châtaignier Durand 2015 Juliénas

By billn on October 17, 2020 #degustation

Life’s not just about grand bottles – it’s about different corners of a region, different grapes – and of course, different vintages:

2015 Châtaignier Durand, Juliénas
There’s deep colour here – as in most places in 2015. The nose has plenty of freshness, indeed a crunchiness to the fruit that’s not overtly 2015 – but then much of Juliénas is planted at quite a high altitude – so perhaps here is the reason for that. Anyway, the nose is a fine invitation to drink. In mouth, this wine has a much riper style compared to the aromas. All the same, there’s good acidity, but a wine that from a flavour-perspective is quite true to the vintage. Delicious in this riper style, it drinks quite well given the stated 14% alcohol… I have to say, yum!
Rebuy – Maybe

A couple of birthday bottles:

By billn on October 16, 2020 #degustation

The first few vintages of this label were put on general release with the domaine’s other wines. Latterly the cuvée was reserved only for clients in the restaurant trade, though any number of those would later appear in auctions. I was lucky enough to secure bottles of the 1999 and 2002 when released by the UK importer at what, today, seems a ridiculously low price – I wish I still had those catalogues!

I’ve never quite understood the current market pricing of this 2002 wine versus that of the 1999. That’s because I’ve never found the 1999 as complete an experience as that delivered by this 2002 – the acidity of the older wine has always been a little insistent, practically pointy – consistently so. The 1999 was the first of these modern-day Duvault-Blochets and perhaps therein lies the answer to its even more ridiculous price – or perhaps it’s scarcity – but hey, it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, or…(?)

2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée 1er Duvault-Blochet
It’s a fine, long cork, but it slips out of the bottle worryingly easily – the wine, however, is clearly unperturbed!
Medium, medium-plus colour – quite unlike the brutishly deep colour of the most recent vintages. Now that’s a nose! Faintly spiced, perfumed from the stems, just a little plummy and with the right amount of leafy forest floor – yep, you got me! Here lies the perfect balance and clarity that embodies, indeed emphasises, how good 2002 can be. Never a big or powerful wine, but with such an elegance over the palate, perfectly mouth-watering acidity and lingering flavour. I scold myself for opening it before it is 20 years old but how could this wine ever be better than today? Chastised but happy 🙂 A thimble-full remains for day 2 and the wine seems relatively stable – just a little more ‘pinched’ aromatically.
Rebuy – Clearly if you’ve no other use for the cash!

But we weren’t finished, though I wasn’t sure whether this should be served before or after the last wine, it worked well though:

2001 Frederic Esmonin, Chambertin
‘Only’ 49mm but it’s a nicely sealed and robust cork.
The nose starts open and directly complex – some old oak and florals in the depth but the flowers are on an upwards trajectory. The palate starts almost watery but grows and grows in dimension – it’s also super-silky. This is a wine that never stays in one place, the nose heading more in the direction of leather and beef but the florals growing and balancing. This wine seems so much bigger with air – filling your mouth, slowly adding a little granular tannin. It’s a long way in style from the almost ethereal quality of the DRC – that wine is a more complete experience – but this is a wine that has more impact and more complexity. More is not always better, but this is a super wine, one that has grown from its more meagre youth when Esmonin’s Bèze was clearly better than this – but that’s what I expect from Chambertin – a good one, anyway. A treat – in fact tonight, a double treat! Day two – and let’s be honest, there wasn’t much left over – the leather aroma is fainter but happily there’s no development of brett – the palate remains delicious.
Rebuy – Yes – I seem to remember less than or around £40, way back when…

Burgundy Report

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