Entries from 2023

Early July update – Vintage 2023…

By billn on July 11, 2023 #vintage 2023

Dropping some bunches in Montrachet...
Dropping some bunches in Montrachet…

What a year we are having – so far…

From flirting with frost – though practically without damage – followed by a slow, almost leisurely start to the year’s growth. The first estimates for harvesting suggested mid-September – maybe later – but the speed of growth has, by far, outstripped those early projections.

The flowering dovetailed with very good weather conditions – the previously cool nights (always under 10°C) warming up significantly during this important period. The yields and formation of the grape clusters was excellent in the pinot though for the chardonnay there was some coulure – though still, the chardonnay had plenty of crop. The pinot with more time looks very uniform but with rather large bunches…

So many vignerons commented to me that the June weather resembled more that of a normal August but with the benefit of regular, largely not too heavy rain – a little hail was experienced around Vosne to Chambolle on the 19th June but it was minor and versus the apparently large yields in the pinot, could be considered inconsequential. The lasting concern remains that of storms. Sunday 19th July seeing some hail in the crus of Beaujolais – more than experienced in the Côte de Nuits but still not a large drag on the yields – and there is time for the affected grapes to dry and drop to the ground – which is already the case in the Côte de Nuits.

For now, there are no concerns about drought; to date, there has been a little more rain in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune.

Returning to the theme of yields, many domaines are discussing green harvests and some have already begun. Most domaines prefer to wait until veraison before cutting any grapes – seeing what the forecast storms may bring – but veraison is iminent. I’ve seen one image of veraison already today – which is a timing similar to 2007 and 2022 – but the major colour changes will be in another week…

So what does all this warm weather – estimated to be 3°C above the average for the month of June – punctuated by ‘enough’ rain, mean for the harvest? Mid-September harvesting will now be a rare thing. Many domaines are suggesting starting around the 5th September for reds and a few domaines in Meursault are keeping a sharp watch but also preparing to be ready for the last days of August.

What was once – in the context of the last 10 years – expected to be quite a late harvest, is now looking to be another quite early one. A relatively clean one too (for now): oïdium is the major worry in hotter, drier, vintages but, perhaps, due to sufficient rain, the concern about this particular fungus is on a lower level than most other recent vintages.

Julie Balagny – adieu…

By billn on July 06, 2023 #asides#beaujolais#sad losses...

Julie Balagny

I heard the sad news over the weekend but waited for confirmation before writing anything. Julie Balagny, vigneronne of Moulin-à-Vent has recently died.

Her home was nestled in the hamlet of Les Thorins. A house whose door would usually be wide open – even if she was not at home – which happened to me more than once when she forgot that we had an appointment! But, in her stead, there was always a dog, a cat, or maybe a chicken, to greet me. Memorably, there was once a young lamb – making a great impression of a dog – except for its voice.

Julie was a free-thinker and very much a non-interventionist winemaker, sometimes to the extent that she might fall foul of fellow AOC winemakers and choose to label her wines as Vin de France. But the wines of Julie reflected her character – honest and frank – they were low-intervention wines, modestly coloured but immodestly full-flavoured. Her 2021s were superb – if you want to pidgeon-hole a style, similar those of the Thillardon brothers – it was just a shame that there were so few of them in 2021.

This is a big loss to the diversity of production in Beaujolais and I will miss her very much…

Burgundy’s Cave de Prestige 2023

By billn on June 22, 2023 #asides

Since 1971, and from Chablis to Mâcon, the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) has been selecting cuvées to illustrate the wines of Burgundy all around the world and to be used during the BIVB’s promotional and training activities. Tuesday 20th June 2023 was the 52nd awards ceremony for what has become known as the Cave de Prestige.

Cuvées from 97 Cellars, Maisons and Domaines were selected for the 2023 list – 48 of the producers were relative newcomers, i.e. appearing for the first time or making their return after missing a few presentations. In total, 168 wines were awarded the ‘Cave Prestige’ label after being chosen through more than one jury of tasters, representing 19% of the wines submitted. About 15,000 of these bottles will be purchased for use in the BIVB’s promotional activities for the next 12 months, activities such as:

• Masterclasses in France and abroad, at press dinners, and educational tastings organised by the BIVB’s press service.
• The Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne as part of its training activities
• PR events with partners such as the Cité Internationale du Vin in Bordeaux, VIP visits etc.

You can find the full list of 2023 winners – and their wines – here.

This presentation lasts about 2 hours so there is never the chance to taste all the bottles. The last couple of awards evenings that I attended, I started with whites – which typically meant that I never got started on the reds! So this year I did the reverse!

Here the wines that I managed to taste in the available time:

2023 Cave Prestige

BIVB Cave Prestige 2023
And the winners are:

In ‘blue’ the wines that I would unhesitatingly buy…

2020 Patriarche, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Poulettes
Easy, open red fruit. Impact and good intensity from a growing concentration. Some oak plus graphite minerality wrapped in a good texture – very good.

2020 R.Dubois et Fils, Nuits St.Georges
More depth of colour. Narrow but here’s a nose of silk. Mouth-filling +/- great scale for the label. Framed with some fine-grained tannin – less structurally seductive vs the last but with a super energy – in fact I’d wait a bit longer for this one – but the finish is excellent, in fact, a bit more persistent!

2020 Albert Bichot, Nuits St.Georges Château Gris
Only faint high tones escape the glass but there’s plenty of depth with some implied aromatic silk. Broad, energetic, very faintly grained with tannin – just a hint of pine needle and a finish with some creamy oak stil showing. The last notes clean and tasty!

2020 Clos des Poulettes, Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Poulettes
A more vertical nose – the depth slightly metallic but still bloody and attractive. This does have a very modest pyrazine flavour but that gives an extra complexity. Very good!

2020 Faiveley, Nuits St.Georges Les Montroziers
A faintly spiced width from this more compact nose. Hmm – I really like the combination of mouth-filling volume and silky texture – high-toned fruit for this wine. The finish is super – if you want to drink Nuits on the young side – from this group here this is an easy choice – excellent wine, indeed a really top villages.

2020 Seguin-Manuel Vosne-Romanée Aux Communes
Higher toned complexity, slightly powdery red fruit too. Easy, open but mouth-filling wine – fluid wine – becoming a little more strict from the middle to finish – but in a good way. That’s lovely.

2020 Beaumont, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles-Vignes
A breadth of higher tones. Incisive, direct – frank even – great texture and a super mouth-watering style. You will note some impression of oak but this is an excellent, intense, villages wine.

2020 Beaumont, Morey St.Denis 1er Les Millandes
Even more aromatic volume than their Gevrey VV, the high-toned oak apparent here too. Super shape, velvet texture – so clearly a step up. The oak is still present but thats another super wine – an impressive finish here!

2020 Roux Père, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Noirots
A narrower but more fine, pure nose – beautiful red fruit clarity. Fluid, nicely concentrated – like the nose a wine of red fruit clarity. Subtly generous in the middle and finishing flavours. Super again!

2020 Guy & Yvan Dufouleur, Fixin 1er Clos du Chapitre
Here is some colour! Concentrated aromatics, faintly savoury, perhaps with some modest pyrazine. Yes certainly there’s pyrazine in the flavours! Large scale and faintly grained – the finish intense but the greens take away some of my interest – which is a shame, because otherwise, that’s a great finish.

2021 Huguenot, Marsannay Montagne
Ooh – the smoky oak is still rather dominating this nose. In the mouth we have fine scale and a super texture with just a faint dryness of tannin on the end of the tongue. Slowly mouth-watering with a little generosity right at the end.

2021 Albert Bichot, Fixin
An easy but silkily attractive red fruit nose – only of modest intensity. Given the nose the nicely incisive and fresh start to this wine is a bit of a surprise – but this is a delicious and juicy thing. A super finish here. That’s a great villages.

2021 Besson, Givry 1er Les Grands Pretans
An airy and attractive width of red fruit. Broad with good energy – a juicy wine thats framed with a fine grain of tannin – but not drying. Good, almost steely finishing flavour. Thats lovely wine.

2020 Belleville, Mercurey Champ Ladoy
High toned, interesting and dark, metallic, almost bloody fruit. Mouth-filling energetic wine – I like the style – surely a little oak adding to the mix but this is a big, tasty, mouth-full of wine

2020 Château d’Etroyes, Mercurey 1er Le Grand Epervier
Higher toned – more open, more silky red fruit nose. Energy and intensity. There’s a grain of tannin here plus a suggestion of oak but this is really very tasty wine!

2021 Suremain, Mercurey 1er En Sazenay
Higher toned, airy. In the mouth, there is a good scale and a tasty, high-tone presentation – very good.

2021 Albert Sounit, Mercurey 1er Clos des Montaigus
Again an airy, more silky, depth of red fruit. There’s a little dark-oak accent to this fruit but this has some generosity and quite some structural sophistication. The flavour is slightly darker red – probably because of the barrels but is delicious.

2021 Catherine & Claude Marechale, Volnay
Pretty high-toned red fruit. Supple and quite concentrated, there’s structure here too. Thats a super medium-term wine. Yum!

2020 Nuiton-Beaunoy, Volnay 1er Chanlins
Clarity and depth – thats a rather good nose! Mouth-filling, with plenty of intensity – there’s some oak showing here too but this a fine wine of both energy and sweet finishing flavour!

2021 Baptiste Guyot, Monthelie
Some attractive high tones here. Fresh attack, with just enough cushion. Direct and pretty, though also with some proper middle structure. The finish is direct and with lovely clarity – a simply super finish.

2021 Catherine & Claude Marechale, Beaune Les Bonnes Feuvres
Nicely complex, high-toned notes – that’s very attractive. Round in the middle, some structure but also with very tasty darker red fruit. Slowly fading. Very good…

2020 Denis Carré, Beaune 1er Les Tuvillains
Hmm, that’s a nose with both depth and interest – very nice. Mouthfilling, fine energy though today with plenty of finishing bitters – keep to 3-4 years before returning.

2020 Françoise Andre, Beaune 1er Reversées
Silky but also concentrated aromatics. Concentrated wine, with energy too though broad finishing. There is tons of material here and it’s never harsh – more a longer-term wine than many and simply excellent, potentially a great one!

2020 Françoise Andre, Beaune 1er Belissand blanc
Finishing with a white one!
Clean, very slightly lactic, with almost a little coconut complexity. Freshness, energy and concentration – growing more intense as it melts over the palate. A delicious wine!

Cité des Climats et Vins – Beaune

By billn on June 18, 2023 #travel

Cité-BeauneI previously visited the new outpost of the trilogy of Cités des Climats et Vins in Chablis – where I praised the human scale and architecture of the operation. I was unsure if I would be so positive towards this large erection on Beaune’s outskirts, but my first impressions did, indeed, tend towards the positive…

I visited for the opening ceremony on Friday 16th June – there were many people – aptly, many vigneron(ne)s. In fact, so many people that I chose not to follow the crowds through the exhibition halls – something for me to take in on another day.

Many were the worthy speeches outside the building, even the key of Beaune was presented to Benoît de Charette, president of the Cité des Climats project – this key described as ‘the key to paradise, not the key to the mayor‘s office,‘ said Alain Suguenot – the mayor! The speeches started with a large throng of listeners – but as the minutes passed the crowd thinned – not due to any perceived dryness of the discussion but rather the dryness and heat of the direct sun – places in the shadows quickly becoming a premium.

The modernity of the building itself, in my opinion, jars with the long history of the region but, as you will see, has some positive aspects: Not least its situation in the Parc de Chartreuse as it is now called – once a lost corner of land between Beaune and the Autoroute – and you can always visit one without the other.

Parts of the park looked a little sad on this hot sunny day – many of the plantings had turned brown due to lack of rain – but the views from the building can hardly be bettered. Particularly from high up. From the windows of the 4th floor, you have a broad vista, starting from the south with village of Volnay perched on the hillside, to the hills of Pommard to (directly ahead) the unfolding three hills of Beaune and then Pernand and Corton to the north – even the hills of the Hautes Côtes in the distance. A view worth drinking in – maybe with a lightly chilled Beaune blanc! In particular, it was interesting to walk down the ‘cork-screw’ (or is it the worm of an ancient wine press?) which wraps the exterior of the building – for it is a real walkway.

Liking the architecture – or not – is a personal decision, but for Beaune itself, this is clearly new a monument. I’ll let you know, in due course, my thoughts on the exhibition spaces…

For all the three locations – Chablis, Beaune and Mâcon – the latter where I’m yet to visit – the plan is for these locations to host about 180,000 visitors per year. There’s nothing wrong with having ambition!

The blind pinot challenge!

By billn on June 15, 2023 #degustation

The levelling, or should that be the humbling, of blind tasting. Actually, no shame here, I simply (erroneously) assumed that all the wines were Burgundian!

Yesterday evening’s guilty parties!

I was just told they were 2021s, maybe with a 2020 and from village to GC level. My instant blind reactions:
1 bland nose, austere palate
2 nose only a bit better but with super middle and finishing flavour
3 similar to previous but with more intensity to the fine finish
4 paler, slightly bland perhaps as its oak is a bit more visible
5 aha – here’s the GC – the first with a quality and clarity to the nose and more depth of flavour with a superior finish
6 darker still – pungent but pyrazine green nose. In the mouth powerful, clearly the 2020 but too green for me – no!

You could say that I was surprised when the bottles were revealed as there were some wines not living up to their reputations. But mainly I was surprised because all – apart from the last – could have been 2021 burgundies!

Premier Crus for Fleurie?

By billn on June 06, 2023 #beaujolais#degustation#warning - opinion!

*The Fleurie appellation is located in the heart of the Beaujolais Crus and overlooks the Saône valley, the AOC Fleurie is backed by a chain of ridges. It culminates between 225 and 475 meters above sea level and flourishes on 840 hectares of vines. The soils are mainly made up of more or less deep and decomposed pink granites which give Fleurie wines a finesse and an elegant structure.
Check out: Fleurie & Fleurie Maps

*As per InterBeaujolais…

Fleurie - Clos de la Chapelle des BoisFor about 10 years now, the ‘Cru Fleurie’ – ie the local association of winegrower/makers – have been involved in collective action and studies with the aim to ‘encourage winegrowers to further improve the quality of their wines and highlight their terroirs in order to reclaim their wine history!

During this period, resources were allocated to both cartographic and geological studies – you have a link to the resulting maps here – this work carried out by the Rhône Chamber of Agriculture in collaboration with the Sigales pedological study office with the aid of InterBeaujolais. The result, with the (above) linked maps, certainly makes it possible to more fully appreciate the diversity of the soils in Beaujolais – granite is not always granite! Further research has included historical price positioning plus a survey on the cultural practices and know-how of the winegrowers.

On Tuesday, March 28 2023, a general meeting was held for the Fleurie Cru and the Beaujolais vineyards. The winegrowers of the Fleurie Cru voted for an update to their specifications plus a list of climats that should be presented with all the collected historical information to the INAO for a Premiers Crus classification. *’Out of more than 70 voters (representing 60% of the surface area of the AOC), more than 85% of the winegrowers voted for the following:

The updated specifications include the following commitments:
– A yield of 52 hl/ha vs 56 hl for the Fleurie without mention of 1er Cru
– Marketing of their wines on September 1st following the harvest vs the current February 1st
– A first harvest after the 5th leaf – it is allowed in the 3rd vintage even for grand crus in the Côte d’Or!
– A minimum degree of 11.5° vs the current 10.5°
– Chemical weeding is prohibited for vines planted at greater than 120cm spacing

The 48 climats of the cru were classified according to the following objective criteria:
– The use of the locality in harvest claims
– The claimed area vs planted area of the locality
– Valuation of vintages
– Tasting notes
– Contemporary literature
– Historical literature
– The cartography

The winegrowers of the Fleurie Cru wish to propose for Premier Cru classification the 7 climats having obtained the best scores in their voting, i.e.:
– Les Moriers
– Poncié
– Les Garants
– La Madone
– La Roilette
– Grille Midi
– La Chapelle des Bois
These 7 localities currently represent 27% of the appellation.

The dossier containing these infos will be presented to the INAO. This is typically a very long process before (or if!) any changes come to fruition – 10-20 years! – with much horse-trading and even the likelihood that the INAO (in exchange) will wish to declassify some parcels from the AOC of Fleurie.

My personal position is that the crus of Beaujolais are effectively (already) the equivalent of premier crus because of the pre-existence of Beaujolais-Villages eg Beaujolais-Lantignie (and many others) and an obvious step up in quality. I would be happier if the energy of the growers was focused on making the very best wine possible as opposed to tinkering with the rules and classification of their climats – yet! – Yet, it is also entirely possible that the improvement in quality that they are searching for and the investment in the best production facilities that can underpin that may only be widely achievable if the can earn a few more euros per bottle and need the influence of a 1er cru label to achieve that. You might say something of a chicken and egg situation…

Click on ‘Read More…’ below to see the notes for 40+ Fleurie wines in the order that they were (blind) tasted this Springtime:
  Read more..

A 2023 vintage update from the côtes – and my garden…

By billn on June 02, 2023 #vintage 2023

Let’s start with the important stuff – my garden!

The irises are later this year – no surprise – sunny weather in the last weeks but still rather cold in the nights – only in the last week have the overnight temperatures risen to something of a seasonal norm. A few flowers are still missing but it looks like a similar timing to 2019 (iris vintage) in my Swiss garden…

Now to Burgundy:

Like at home, the nights (until quite recently) have been cool here too, but the sunshine has been pushing the growth. We have recovered a few days – despite zero rain in the last 10 days or-so – so it’s a vintage whose stage of growth is now 4 or 5 days ahead of 2019 and just a little behind the vintages of 2014, 2015 and 2017. The vignerons are speculating of a harvest commencing around the weekend of 09-10 September.

And there have been the first flowers in the last few days too – so we can expect mid-flowering in the chardonnay next week and maybe a few days later for the pinot noir.

And some of the iris in question:

2023 Irisis

Burgundy Report

Translate »

You are using an outdated browser. Please update your browser to view this website correctly: https://browsehappy.com/;