Entries from 2023

100 Years of Mercurey AOC

By billn on July 27, 2023 #anniversaries

AOC Mercurey

It’s a little sad that this anniversary comes with some significant hail losses for thei 2023 anniversary vintage (see previous 2023 vintage update) but it’s an important anniversary all the same.

Some of first Burgundy vineyards to receive AOCs were Pouilly-Fuissé in December 1922 and Mercurey in May 1923 – most villages received their AOCs in the period 1935-1945. Also special was that Mercurey was one of only three (the others were Pouilly-Fuissé in 1922 and Pouilly-Loché in 1936) to have their AOCs confirmed by decree of the courts. By the normal route Mercurey also had its AOC confirmed in 1936. But why the courts? The BIVB explains it thus:

100 years ago, Edouard de Suremain, a winemaker in Mercurey and also President of the Bar, with Antoine Rousseau from Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu (before becoming the mayor) and their winemaker colleagues from the 3 villages: Bourgneuf-Val d’Or, Mercurey et Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu, went to court to plead against the fact that winemakers in the neighbouring villages of Rully and Givry were using the Mercurey name on their labels to improve the chances of selling their wines.

It was a time when the concept of the appellation contrôlée (AOC) with its customs and traditions, was still in its infancy.

The Mercurey appellation in short:

  • On 29th May 1923, by legal decree in Chalon, the renowned red wine, famous since the 9th century, and the white wine so appreciated by wine experts, became officially recognised under the new Mercurey appellation.
  • The vineyards of the appellation are based in the 2 Côte Chalonnaise villages of Mercurey and Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu.
  • 650 hectares of vines, with 550 hectares of Pinot Noir (85%) and 100 hectares of Chardonnay (15%).
  • The union of producers representing 70 vineyard owners and 40 winemakers
  • Mercurey is the largest appellation of Pinot Noir in Bourgogne and the largest in area on the Côte Chalonnaise.
  • Vinification is a centuries-old art in Bourgogne and added to that is the know-how and personality of each of the Mercurey & Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu winemakers.

2023 vintage – late July update

By billn on July 26, 2023 #vintage 2023


Maybe some extra infos for you in this article but it seems largely culled from the Instagram accounts of the vignerons concerned.

What’s missing from this report are the areas most affected by the hail – namely the higher slopes of Bouzeron that run into the plateau of Rully – some vignerons estimating more than 50% losses – parts of Mercurey and Givry were similarly affected and Montagny a little less. For now, it’s the Côte de Chalonnaise that has seen the most significant losses.

Chablis Les Clos - 20-July-2023Fortunately, Chablis has been spared from the hail for now. The problem in Chablis is different – mildew. At this time it’s the grapes that have been affected – see image right – rather than the leaves.

The preference would always be for the grapes because you lose those grapes that have been affected – they dry out and drop off. But if the leaves are affected they will also dry and drop off and you lose the ability to have photosynthesis and, hence, can’t ripen any remaining grapes. There are obviously some yield losses in Chablis as the image I show was, a few days ago, quite consistent across the villages, 1er and grand cru vineyards that I visited…

Harvest timing remains consistent for now – the cremant grapes already in the last days of August – perhaps the odd domaine in Meursault too. Côte de Beaune producers largely looking at 05-09 September and the Côte de Nuits 09 September onwards with many still looking to start around the 12th.

Keeping fingers crossed.

a little weekend wine…

By billn on July 25, 2023 #degustation

weekend wines...

The Dönnhoff has always been very tasty, moreish wine – actually a bit too sweet – but that doesn’t seem to slow us down drinking it 😉

2019 Zito, Gamay Noir
When I recently visited Bernard Zito, just as I was leaving he put this in my hands and said – tell me what you think. Apparently, it’s a blend of gamay from Beaujolais (Côte de Brouilly), Mâconnais and Côte d’Or.
I love 2019 Beaujolais so it was hardly a surprise that I was going to love this too – the nose is very aromatic and floral-infused – give it enough air and there’s a hint more structure and a slightly graphite-style minerality. In the mouth this has volume and energy – it’s completely delicious – full of crunchy red and darker-red fruit. Joyous wine!
Rebuy – Yes

2021 Gautheron, Chablis Emeraude
My first from a dozen purchased.
Plenty of colour – more yellow than green. There’s plenty of weight, indeed concentration to this wine – ripe fruit but still with all the requisite energy and chiselled style that marks it out as Chablis – it’s delicious too!
Rebuy – Yes

A new (good) name to me – Brice Garlan, Irancy

By billn on July 21, 2023 #degustation

Brice GarlandOr maybe I should have said Prehy, in Chablis – but the family, and, of course, the vines are from Irancy. Brice’s father was one of the first in the village to change to organic farming. These wines were bottled at the start of November and contain only pinot:

2021 Irancy Paradis
A modest red colour. Old vines next to Mazelots – all pinot fin. Almost a small smoky note of tobacco to this nose. Nice shape in the mouth – juiciness of red fruit – just enough ripeness. The last drops are almost a little juicy, creamy, peach in the finish.
Rebuy – Maybe

2021 Irancy Mazelots
Younger colour and a little more colour too. A more vibrant nose – seemingly quite silky too. Hmm – texturally lovely – width and velour. The fruit with a small creamy cushion – it’s from an old demi-muid. This is delicious, impressive wine – very lovely in this difficult vintage.
Rebuy – Yes

Things that have been announced but not yet finalised and things that have been finalised but not yet announced :)

By billn on July 18, 2023 #the market

It’s been about a week since the press release was set free into the wild but the Artémis Domaines and Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite have announced that they have entered into exclusive negotiations for the sale of Domaine William Fèvre from the former to the latter. A bit of a coup for the latter and I can’t help but feel a bit of a shame for the former. A shame? Well, it seems that they don’t value Chablis – one of the iconic wines of the world and they already have in their hands one of the greatest Chablis domaines – I’m sure DBRL will be very happy!

And things not yet announced? Well, the vineyard workers will always talk, won’t they?

It seems that my favourite domaine in Monthelie has a new owner – I suppose that the announcement is imminent but it seems that American couple – Mark Nunnelly and Denise Dupré – who, were also owners of Leclerc Briant in Champagne and more recently Domaine Belleville in Mercurey and the Château du Clos de la Commeraine are also the new owners of Domaine Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret.

I’m sure it’s not going to harm the quality of those excellent wines chez MDP – only the price that you might now be expected to pay for them 🙂

some weekend hydration…

By billn on July 17, 2023 #degustation

wines, week number 28 2023
It was already week 28 2023!

The weather was warm so it was no surprise that the accent was heavily white:

2016 François Buisson (Buisson-Battault), Bourgogne Chardonnay
Always a winner – the recent tasting of his 2022 showed a winner too. You will think that you have Meursault in your glass – only when you compare to an actual Meursault, particularly from François, will you see that there is more headroom. Drinking excellently and still very young.
Rebuy – Yes

1995 Germain (Chateau de Chorey-lès-Beaune), Beaune 1er Les Cras
There’s some green, quite texturally green, on this nose – not pyrazine, rather ‘less ripe’ tannin – it’s like you can smell the tannins before you taste them! Then you, of course, you taste them! A wine that improves markedly with plenty of air – more than 1 hour – though it’s clearly wine from a different generation. Actually, this wine got better over a period of 3 days – until it was gone. A slightly masochistic pleasure but my pleasure all the same!
Rebuy – Probably not…

2017 Thibert, Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Blanches
What an inviting nose! Wide, cool, and with the impression of minerality – something that’s amply delivered in the flavours. Clean-cut, precise with fine flavour depth and it’s absolutely delicious – that’s a great Pouilly!
Rebuy – Oh yes!

2020 Alain Geoffroy, Chablis 1er Beauroy
There’s plenty of colour to this wine. Aromatically, my nose is anticipating a little of the vintage green – but today I don’t find any – rather a richness and even slight sweetness of aroma. In the mouth this has good energy and even a hint of richness for Beauroy. Just a very good and tasty wine.
Rebuy – Maybe

Visitor programmes – the Cités du Vin

By billn on July 14, 2023 #events

For visitors to any, or all, of the three new sites, there’s an outline programme of events that’s been released, so from the BIVB:

Following the opening of the Cités in Mâcon (3rd May) and Chablis (17th May), and soon that of Beaune (17th June), the time has come for the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne to lift the veil on its summer programme. Whether with family or with friends, for relaxation or a learning experience, this inaugural season’s rich and varied programme offers something for everyone.

Scenographic tour : 10.30 a.m., Sundays 4th June, 2nd July, 16th July, 30th July, 13th August and 27th August

Plant prints: Saturday 3rd June – 3 p.m

Land art: Saturday 1st July – 3 p.m

AFTER-WORK: The 1st Thursday of each month
Wine and cheese: Thursday 1st June – 6.30 p.m
Wine and street art: Thursday 6th July – 6.30 p.m
Organic wines and vegetarian nibbles: Thursday 3rd August – 6.30 p.m

Scenographic tour : every Sunday – 10.30 a.m
The time modeller by Thomas Volatier: Tuesday 15th August – 3 p.m

Little excavators: Saturday 3rd June – 2 p.m

Everyone on site: Saturday 3rd June – 3.30 p.m

AFTER-WORK: The 1st Thursday of each month
Wine and cheese: Thursday 1st June – 6.30 p.m
Wine and street art: Thursday 6th July – 6.30 p.m
Organic wines and vegetarian nibbles: Thursday 3rd August – 6.30 p.m

Scenographic tour: 24th and 25th June, and every day in July and August – departure of the visit at 10.30 a.m. or 4 p.m
The architecture of the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne: Sunday 2nd July and Sunday 6th August – 10.30 a.m
The time modeller by Thomas Volatier: Sunday 23rd July and Sunday 20th August – 10 a.m


Tales of the Climats: Wednesday 5th July – 10 a.m
The Climats as a pop-up map: Wednesday 12th July and Wednesday 23rd August – 3 p.m

The secrets of fossils!: Wednesday 19th July and Wednesday 16th August – 3 p.m
Create your own birdhouse and bird feeder: Wednesday 26th July and Wednesday 9th August – 3 p.m
Build your own shield and create your coat of arms!: Wednesday 2nd and 30th August – 3 p.m

The beauty secrets of grapes: Saturday 24th June – 3 p.m
Wine and perfume: Saturday 8th July – 3 p.m

AFTER-WORK: The 1st Thursday of each month
Wine and street art: Thursday 6th July – 6.30 p.m
Organic wines and vegetarian nibbles: Thursday 3rd August – 6.30 p.m

WORKSHOPS AND WINE TASTING COURSES given by the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne
New – Wine tasting courses 45’ : every day
New – Training course Bourgogne Grand Crus : Saturday 8th July – 9.30. a.m
Stroll and taste among the vines : Saturday 22nd et 26th – 4p.m


For its inaugural summer season, the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne in Beaune is introducing a photo season, to help visitors discover photographers with unique and varied styles! Exhibitions are free and with unlimited access during the Cité’s opening hours:
Eléonore Parc: from 1st to 30th July
Côte d’Or Pix: from 1st August to 3rd September

For programme details and prices, go to:

Blind or not blind?

By billn on July 13, 2023 #degustation

1952 Morin Nuits 1er Les Cailles
Great, good or bad – I feel I’d be wasting this bottle by putting it in a blind line-up…

Referencing this recent post – there was a comment (and linked study) from reader, Siddharth Dasgupta – particularly relevant to the potential for inbuilt bias whilst tasting.

It’s something that you have to be aware of and I know I do sometimes find myself making apologies for small issues – relevant at the time of tasting – but perhaps not relevant in the context of an anticipated maturity window for wines of known (higher) potential at maturity – blind tasting is largely in the moment. So a few thoughts on my perspective:

Blind tasting has its place and it’s a great place for grounding – indeed challenging – your expectations but from my perspective, the whole idea of Burgundian hierarchies and appellations and climate and lieux-dits – not to mention the vintage effect – makes for the extra anticipation of drinking a Chambolle – or a Musigny! It is exactly this anticipation and how the wine compares to the construct that I have prepared in my mind for the wine and the vintage that is the most fascinating to me.

Of course, I may be more inclined to forgive some aspects of an expensive wine due to the reasoning cited above or I may be in another camp – one that will be less tolerant of issues – particularly outright faults – but it’s exactly this construct that can also highlight, indeed emphasise, my disappointments. Renown and your personal expectations can be a double-edged sword – and a sharp one at that!

Maybe my fortunate position as not just(!) a taster of thousands of wines per year – I like drinking them too! – gives me a different perspective to that of the average drinker – I’ve already tasted at more than 370 domaines since the 2022 harvest. But for me there’s even more pleasure and interest in comparing a wine with my expectations than the discovery of something blind – but both are important – it’s simply a question of the ratio of one to another.

Or how about coupling the two? – what about 20x Echézeaux from a single vintage? – That sounds good to me!

Early July update – Vintage 2023… Part 2

By billn on July 12, 2023 #vintage 2023

hail - 11 july 2023I didn’t expect – or rather hope – to be making this short addendum but such is the life of farmers.

Storms were forecast – violent too – but it came to pass that there were a lot of hailstones – and images of golf-ball-sized hailstones too coming from across the Côtes d’Or and Chalonnais yesterday evening. For now, it’s dry and cloudy.

I’ve seen pictures of damaged grapes but no pictures of stripped vines – the growers that I’ve spoken to indicate patchy damage – 0-20% – perhaps and more generally 5-10% in the southern Côte de Nuits – Gevrey seems to have, largely, escaped.

As usual in such cases, I’ll wait some days for sombre reflection so that the emotions have chance to cool and become more objective. At this stage, it looks like it could have been much worse in the Côte d’Or and fortunately for Chablis, they had no hail. I’m still waiting for feedback from the south of Burgundy…

Burgundy Report

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