Entries from 2019

the tastevinage majors of 2019…

By billn on November 19, 2019 #annual laurels#degustation

For the second vintage, the tasting panels of the Tastevinage have chosen their ‘majors’ for the year – their best wines tasted. This year they have reduced their list from the 20 that were chosen last year, to just 12 for this. There are some unexpected names in the list too!

For this ‘award,’ the twelve were chosen from the 1,215 wines that were submitted to blind taste in 2019:

2019 Tastevinage Majors

records are made to be broken!

By billn on November 17, 2019 #events#the market

It was roughly 19h45 when I quit the salesroom of the 159th Hospices de Beaune wine auction – the sale didn’t actually finish until about 21h15 as there remained the small matter of almost 100 more lots to get through, but the writing was on the wall – records are made to be broken.

As a starting point, there was less wine for sale in 2019 versus 2018 – this was simply a question of the lower 2019 yields – 589 barrels of 2019 going under the hammer, down from 828 in 2018, including 118 barrels of white wine and 471 of red. A lower volume, but the early word on the quality of the 2019 vintage was positive, however, tasting was complicated. Those who tasted earlier in the week loved the wines, but those who tasted from Thursday onwards, when the weather turned much colder, were met with tight, often dissociated wines – would that change the minds of potential purchasers?

It seemed not.

The dynamics of the sale are interesting to watch – the major buyers often starting the bidding, but with much discipline, rarely offering even €100 more for a barrel when outbid. Except for poor old Frederic Drouhin, where discipline goes out of the window for certain lots; Drouhin traditionally buy all of the Beaune 1er Cuvée Maurice Drouhin – though plenty in the room still bid against him – so his barrel prices slowly crept up to over €11,000 for a barrel – probably it’s a game!

And the barrel prices? The first wine in the sale is traditionally the Beaune 1er Dames Hospitalières and it really strated the ball rolling in strong fashion – €13,000 a barrel. Outside of ‘show lots’ – such as the President’s Barrel of Corton for €260,000! – the prices were still often double the 2019 bulk prices. Despite the low volumes, reds were selling for nearly 8 percent more than in 2018 and the whites going for a ripping 18 percent more (with 100 lots still to go). So with the volume down by nearly 30%, I didn’t really expect the total from last year to be challenged – but it was looking closer than I expected. Prices have, on the whole, risen every year since 2016, though many 2019 prices still lag behind the exuberance of 2015.

I asked one of the most important purchasers (volume-wise) of the sale, Alberic Bichot, if he was happy with the prices tonight, to which he answered, “I’m are very happy for the hospital!

And the weekend itself? The usual fare, an untold number of defenceless garlics were killed, merely to sit on plates with snails…

2018 and the curse of ‘phenolic ripeness’ – well, that was week 46…

By billn on November 16, 2019 #reports

week 46 visits

Weather for ducks in Burgundy this week – literally. Or perhaps penguins – some cars even sported a little snow on their roofs on Thursday morning – specially imported from the Hautes Côtes.

Good visits this week – even if not always good wines – the difference between the ‘fresh’ and the black, partly volatile ripeness (“we were looking for phenolic ripeness”) is stark but hyper-interesting. 2018 reds are really a remarkable vintage, also remarkably diverse. Some have absolutely nailed it, but others – even great names – sadly, have not……

Next up, I suppose there may be a wine auction this weekend!

2019 Beaujolais Nouveau

By billn on November 14, 2019 #annual laurels#beaujolais

160 wines blind-tasted in Beaujolais, 05 November 2019.

Of course, 2019 was another in the series, the trilogy, of warm years – but one with instances of frost. More drastic than the frost was a late-arriving hailstorm that on the 20th of August swept through the south of Beaujolais, cutting yields – in some cases drastically. The average losses were minus 30% – but it was Beaujolais-Villages where the most was lost, hence, the volume of ‘Nouveau de Garde’ has been significantly reduced this year.

I’ve previously laughed out load about the concept of Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau – Nouveau that you can cellar – so I will not bore you about that, not this time!

This year I embarked on a 160 wine gamayathon; I was certainly tired at the end, fortunately not emotional though! This year we even had 8 Nouveau of a different colour – rosé… That’s up from the 3 from last year that I didn’t taste(!) At this rate of growth we will have 20 in 2020!

What to expect and what’s really worth buying

So three quite hot years, generally that’s beneficial to the quality, but with three different results:
2017 – low yielding and probably because of that a really high quality in both the Nouveau and the Villages Nouveau
2018 – less low yielding, and that was the crux. Basic Nouveau was much more variable but the Villages Nouveau was more consistent
2019 – because of frost and hail, yields were cut, and for the consumer that has once more brought consistency and quality to the basic Nouveau category due to lower yields. I think only twice did I instantly say ‘No!’ and run from a particular wine. As for the Villages Nouveau – here was overwhelmingly more concentration and particularly intensity – the intensity of acidity – probably okay if you wish to cellar your Nouveau for 6-12 months, but I was looking for the balance for drinking now, and from this tasting that was relatively rare. As for the rosé wines – super, all of them – really a great source of easy, delicious drinking for the next weeks – or even longer – why not? Read more..

offer of the day – bruno clavelier’s 2017s

By billn on November 11, 2019 #the market

Another, hot off the presses…

Bruno Clavelier 2017:
With last year’s prices for the 2016s (from the same merchant) in brackets:

Bourgogne Passetoutgrains 2017 75cl 22.50* (Swiss francs)

Vosne-Romanée La Combe Brûlée 2017 75cl 80.00 (84.00)
Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes Maizières 2017 75cl 80.00 (84.00)

Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux 1er Cru 2017 75cl 120.00 (123.00)
Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts 1er Cru 2017 75cl 130.00 (137.00)
Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 1er Cru 2017 75cl 130.00 (137.00)
Chambolle-Musigny Combe d’Orveaux 1er Cru 2017 75cl 140.00 (147.00)

Corton Le Rognet V.V. Grand Cru 2017 75cl 135.00 (144.00)

These prices are not delivered but do include the Swiss 7.8% purchase tax.

The prices are, perhaps, still quite high, but it’s still a pleasure to be able to type lower prices!

offer of the day – louis jadot 2018

By billn on November 10, 2019 #the market


As always, from my local, Swiss merchant. First the 2017, 2016 and then the 2015 offer prices in the brackets to compare, and — means not offered)

Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2018 75cl 64.00* (59.00, 59.00, 55.00) (Swiss Francs)
Beaune Clos des Ursules Monopole 1er Cru 2018 150cl 133.00 (123.00)

Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2018 75cl 85.00 (79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Grèves Grand Cru 2018 150cl 175.00 (164.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2018 75cl 85.00 (79.50, 79.50, 79.00)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2018 150cl 175.00 (164.00)

Chambolle-Musigny Fuées 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (85.00)
Chambolle-Musigny Baudes 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (85.00)

Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018 75cl 149.00 (139.00, 138.00, 128.00)
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018 150cl 303.00 (283.00)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2018 75cl 155.00 (149.00, 145.00, 138.00)
Echézeaux Grand Cru 2018 75cl 209.00 (159.00)
Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2018 75cl 209.00 (—, 188.00, 169.00)
Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru 2018 75cl 288.00 (—, 269.00, 259.00)
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2018 75cl 328.00 (—)
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2018 75cl 349.00 (339.00)
Musigny Grand Cru 2018 75cl 798.00 (795.00)

Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru 2018 75cl 89.00 (89.00, 89.00, 88.00)
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2018 75cl 158.00 (148.00, 139.50, 119.00)
Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 298.00 (285.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 376.00 (348.00)
Montrachet Grand Cru 2018 75cl 549.00 (—, 499.00, 428.00)

*Prices delivered, but without the 8% Swiss purchase tax…

No softening here – though there is certainly some restraint in the pricing of the Musigny…!

week 45 visits #2018BurgundyReport

By billn on November 09, 2019 #degustation#travels in burgundy 2019

Back home for a very short weekend before taking the road back to Beaune tomorrow evening.

My last visits for the ‘2018 whites’ report are now made, and I’ve already started the transition to building up the list of red domaines. As a teaser for the forthcoming reports, you can see the mugshots of this week’s unfortunate victims!

a bottle or two…

By billn on November 08, 2019 #degustation

Just to show that I haven’t been ignoring my responsibilities these last couple of weeks – here’s the majority of bottles pulled from my own cellar in that time. I hold almost no notes in my head, but the basic impressions remain:

The Armand Volnay was 2017, actually a sinuous and delicious drink already.
Vocoret 2015 Chablis VV – more muscular again but über-mineral and it sang of Chablis.
Longère 2017 Beaujolais Blanc – Nos 2 Elles – rich and ripe yet each glass seemed better and better – a rare delicious BJB!
2007 Lafon, Monthelie 1er Les Duresses. This has really opened since I last looked – blossomed, even. Complex, very Volnay aromatically, just a little structure on the palate but no sharp edges, no rigour – drinking very well!
2015 Nicolas Rouget, Chorey-lès-Beaune – This had a lovely freshness, it drank superbly well for the appellation. Nicolas the (one of the) son(s) of Emmanuel of Flagey. If I understand correctly, this may have been a bit of an experiment, hence, not bottled under Emmanuel’s name, but now I think Emmanuel uses his own label.
2017 David Duband, Côte de Nuits Villages. Fabulous – simply great CVDN Villages. Plenty of colour, life, richness and freshness combined – bravo wine!
Chateau Rougeon Aligoté Arénites 2018. Easy fresh, tasty wine.
2015 Françoise André, Chorey-lès-Beaune Tue-Boeuf – another 2015 Chorey, more the standard fuller profile of the wines from here but completely delicious right now!
2012 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Lurets – wow – such clarity, such elegant aroma – great wine!
2007 David Clark, Morey Les Porroux – what a young wine! Concentrated, still tannic, a baby, but a good one with plenty of material. Still young!
2002 Chézeaux, Griotte-Chambertin – well, I was shocked that this was so fabulous – why – it was the Leclerc version and my experience of their older bottles is moderate at best, but this was fabulous – old oak, mushroom but clean and great!
2007 Alex Gambal, Chambolle 1er Charmes. Another hit, round, ripe, but complex and engaging – another hit for sure!
2016 Vézelay – the St.Vincent cuvée produced by Croix Montjoie – my last bottle, the one before was corked. Bright, energetic, citrus, engaging. Simply delicious.
2008 Chézeaux/Ponsot, Chambertin. All my older Chambertins have had a problem of one sort or another – all down to the corks – but this has the plastic ‘cork’ – it was fresh, really fabulously complex on the nose and in the mouth – elegant rather than powerful – but what a beauty to drink. It captured our hearts!

Burgundy Report

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