Entries from 2023


By billn on October 27, 2023 #in case you missed it

A small compendium of interesting notes form the last couple of weeks:

  • The generous 2022 vintage (around 1.75 million hectolitres, or just over 233 million bottles) has enabled some stocks to be replenished and/or orders to be met pending availability. Export sales continue to grow. Export volumes are down slightly, after a good year in 2022, but remain higher than in the pre-Covid period (2019): +5.3% in volume (first 6 months of 2023 / first 6 months of 2019).
    BIVB Press Conference 10 Oct.2023
  • Within 3 months, nearly 33,000 visitors have passed through the doors of at least one of our 3 sites. Beaune boasts more of 70% of visitors, with a total of 5,000 all told; Chablis and Mâcon attracted around 4,000 visitors each. A large majority of visitors – a full 80% – were from our region or elsewhere in France; and of the 20% of visitors from abroad, a majority came from either Belgium or Germany. The busiest days, apart from the inaugural weekend, were on the long weekend of 15th August and the European Heritage Days weekend in mid-September.
    Also the BIVB Press Conference 10 Oct.2023
  • A short ‘interview‘ with Sylvie Esmonin
  • London’s Bourgogne Week will be held on January 10 at Lindley Hall. “The focus will be on the lesser-known Regional and Village appellations, an important theme that addresses customer demand” – apparently the grand crus no-longer are interesting 😉
  • A new video covering Viré-Clessé

Beaune’s Domaine Albert Morot changes hands…

By billn on October 14, 2023 #the market

Domaine Albert Morot

For as long as I can remember – certainly 15 years – whenever anyone asked me ‘who from Beaune makes the best Beaune wine?‘ my answer has been unchanging – Domaine des Croix and Domaine Albert Morot.

Of course these are two different styles of winemaking but they are honest and well made – one shows a bit more oak and the winemaking is a bit more traditional – but both offer a wide range of 1er crus and both have wines that sing after 10 years.

I’d heard the rumours from a friend before this year’s harvest but it was confirmed to me when I visited the domaine to taste their 2022s on Wednesday this week; I was greeted not just by Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry (right) – who I’ve known for about 20 years – but also Pierre-Jean Villa (left) of the Rhône – who you may remember from Decelle-Villa.

Pierre-Jean had quit his partnership with Decelle already a few years back but has returned with a bang as the face of the group that has bought Domaine Albert Morot. They promised me a press release for Thursday when the acquisition would become official – I’m still waiting for that but thought it timely to post this.

Geoffroy did the 2023 harvest but hasn’t been involved in the fermentation of these wines – but will remain at the domaine until the end of January.

Pierre-Jean explained “The plan is; you know it’s a domaine only with 1er cru wines, so we intend to have entry wines too – Bourgognes Rouge and Blanc. Apart from from a couple of wines – at least from 2022 – where we will, as was traditional here, bottle before Christmas – the rest of the wines will get longer elevage with bottling in the Springtime.

I believe that they are already planning updates to their marketing image/labels etcetera and we will see where this leads. I wish luck to all…

When I have their communiqué I will update these details

Another ICYMI – high priced wine-ethics

By billn on October 05, 2023 #in case you missed it

This is a tough one, isn’t it?

I always review wines in the same way – is this a great Bourgogne? Or is this a great grand cru? I never tell you that a particular wine is worth a special search unless it is on another level to ‘the average’ – even ‘excellent’ doesn’t cut it! Despite that, over the last few years, the cuvée of Romanée-Conti has consistently got my thumbs up – even at the latest price. From memory, the 2020 was close to €3,000 a bottle – assuming you were allowed to buy even a single bottle from one of the official importers.

The (grey) market price for that bottle is already 4-5 times the initial purchase price – and who knows the price in a restaurant! Because 500 cases for the whole world are clearly insufficient to meet the clamour to buy.

In a different life, I have bought and drunk Romanée-Conti, I think the 2000 vintage cost me only 800 Swiss francs or roughly €500 at the time – but my earnings allowed me to do this. Today, even the entry price is beyond my personally imposed buying limit – but, given my age and the ‘above average’ size of my cellar, the volume of my personal purchasing has shrunk to such an extent that I’m, anyway, no longer on the list of ‘allowed’ buyers.

Now we come to the use of the word ‘ethics.

When I recommend wines, it is done so purely with quality in mind. Simply put, that’s because everybody’s concept of value is different – you cannot have a benchmark yes/no ‘value’ for wine for people of different backgrounds – even when a bottle may cost more than most people pay for a car! Ethics is a barbed word and it implies yes/no or black/white – and life is not a binary choice. Describing drinking Romanée-Conti as unethical would suggest that the search for the best (in any walk of life) should be cancelled. So what then of the vineyard? Should it be uprooted? If so, does that mean that Musigny or La Tâche would be next? The logical extension of this would be that Burgundy should blend everything and only produce Côteaux Bourguignone…

The search for the best in any endeavour is costly, be that cars, watches, HiFi, computers Hermes bags – you name it – and yes, wine. In all things, it is about personal choice. I have my own – personal – rules but ethics is an unhelpful word – it is one to avoid…

Just a few (week 39) weekend wines…

By billn on October 03, 2023 #degustation

Weekend, week 39, wines

2009 Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin La Brunelle
I’m yet to meet a 2009 that I love – certainly the ones that I bought – but this wine is getting nearer and nearer – I’m hoping that it’s only a matter of time!
A silky but slightly dumb, round, nose. In the mouth, there’s also some ripe roundness to the shape but the flavours have more sense of purpose than the aromas. It could indeed be a wine from Gevrey and it has a fine texture too. Well concentrated though possibly still 3-4 more years away from offering something properly interesting.
Rebuy – Maybe

2021 Famille Chasselay, Éphémère
A pale colour – described by the domaine as Blouge! This is a fermented blend of layered gamay, chardonnay and pinot grapes with elevage in an amphora with no added sulfur. Served cold from the fridge.
When tasted at the domaine more than 6 months ago, I loved this. This was my first bottle that I opened and my guests loved it too! Pale colour – pink indeed. Fresh crunchy fruit aromas with the same across the palate – energy and deliciousness – and with only a faint hint of sweetness. Delicious, moreish, wine!
Rebuy – Yes

2019 Olivier Pezenneau, Brouilly Combiaty
Lots of colour. Decent enough freshness overlays a breadth of glossy dark fruit – but without the extra ripe character of many Brouilly of recent years – nice! Cool, direct, sinuous wine – the flavour expanding over the palate with dark cherry and a little licorice – always with a nice energy to both the flavours and shape of the wine. A lovely drink – and another winner from Beaujolais in 2019!
Rebuy – Yes

2017 Clotilde Davenne, Irancy Paradis

By billn on September 25, 2023 #degustation

Clotilde Davenne 2017 Irancy Paradis2017 Clotilde Davenne, Irancy Paradis
This time, it’s a nicely robust cork.
Medium, clean red colour – it’s only the wines with some césar that show any depth of colour in 2017. The nose offers a little warmth of red berry and just a suggestion of flowers – easy – but an invitation all the same. The palate is a broad wave of red fruit with a stonier leading edge to the flavour – like cherry stones. There’s a burst of flavour as you head into this finish and then a little, modest, finishing bitters to keep me in order. Tasty wine, and an easy wine to drink – a very pretty pinot…
Rebuy – Yes

rubbish corks…

By billn on September 24, 2023 #degustation

2005 Lejeune Bourgogne2005 Lejeune, Bourgogne
It’s at least a couple of years ago but the last bottle of this was super – a rare 500ml bottling of which, way back when, I availed myself of a whole case. On this particular occasion (bottle), it was obvious that I was faced with a very spongy cork who would most-likely have some ‘dimensional integrity‘ issues – and so it was. A few minutes later, I managed to get all the pieces out of the neck without losing any. How did the cork smell? Well, no TCA – good! – but within the sweetness of fruit the aromas of brett mingled too. I tried to drink a glass – the rest of the wine putting up a good show – but the performance was overly dominated by the brett. I’m far from the most sensitive to this issue – but this was comfortably beyond my personal limits – the wine went down the sink. Over a certain age, it is often said that there are no good wines, just good bottles – well, this was neither of those.
Rebuy – No – hopefully some of the remaining bottles fair better…

A few harvest-finishing wines in Beaune…

By billn on September 22, 2023 #degustation

arlot dujac voillot lignier

Just a simple evening of four winners shared with Marko de Morey et de Vosne… 🙂

1993 Joseph Voillot, Meursault 1er Les Cras
Plenty of colour but not a hint of oxidation. A width of really appealing wet wool, sweet citrus with white chocolate too. Silky texture. The flavour starts direct but broadens with a ripe citrus and slightly chalky impression. Holding with creamy, ripe yellow, citrus – that’s delicious – what a wine – unfortunately my last of these!
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Dujac, Morey St.Denis 1er Monts Luisants Blanc
For my taste the 2007 and 2021 of this were great whites – period – not just great whites for the Côte de Nuits!
Good light colour. Vibrant, wide but there’s also plenty of richness to this aromatic – exotic fruit with a little caramel too but tons of overt complexity. In the mouth the acidity is fine but the fruit is also rich. A wine of power – not to mention 14.5% alcohol too. Time in the glass makes this ever better – the oak still evident from the salted caramel flavour-profile – the salinity ever-more prominent with air. For my taste, slightly behind the ’93 for balance but so complex and still so young too.
Rebuy – Yes

1996 Arolt, Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Forets
Lots of colour. The nose is full and shows plenty of bloody iron, graphite and the perfume of the clusters too – this is lovely. Silky, wide, with super acidity but always balanced. A wine that seems to shrink in the finish but then hold very long… Some iron flavour again and lots of complexity. A wine to contemplate and far from an acidic 96 – indeed it’s a beautifully balanced wine – yes!
Rebuy – Yes

2006 L & A Lignier, Morey St.Denis 1er Cuvée Romain Lignier
A width of finer, cleaner, deeper aroma – less exciting today than the more mature Arlot but all the same, inviting. Directly more tannic and acidic than the 96 – there’s a surprise – but this is still fine textured wine and it’s long finishing too with more finishing width than the Arlot. Wiry and tannic, yet deliciously impressive – structurally it’s still something of a baby – I’d happily wait until it’s 20th birthday to try another.
Rebuy – Yes


By billn on September 20, 2023 #in case you missed it

  • A little Clos des Lambrays info
  • Tastevinage – the ‘LAUREATS’ of the 112th Tastevinage Blind tasting are in – here!
  • Each year, on the 4th weekend of October, Auxey-Duresses and its neighbour Melin open their cellars to the public – with a free shuttle bus between the two villages:
    Tasting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., October 21 and 22. You buy a glass for €5 allowing you to taste in all the cellars marked with the “Coup d’Œil, Coup de Cœur” logo. There will be food (and other) stalls and a cooperage demonstration by the Billon cooperage
  • Not a rosé! If you can’t afford the wine of Comte Liger-Belair – what about its rose?

The 163rd Hopsices de Beaune Wine Auction

By billn on September 19, 2023 #events#vintage 2023

163rd Hospices de Beaune wine auction

The 163rd Hospices de Beaune wine auction will be held on Sunday, November 19 2023, in the Halles de Beaune from 14h30. The sale is emblematic of the region and, in particular, of Beaune. The domaine of the Hôtel Dieu covers an enviable 60 hectares of vines, the result of 600 years of donations which have traversed the centuries under this ownership model.

Today was the first of a number of press events for the forthcoming sale, held in the Hotel Dieu itself. Here I offer you some of the vintage notes of Ludivine Griveau – given the geographic extent of her 120 parcels, her insight is first-class:

Vintage Comments by Ludivine Griveau:

“We worked through 12 days of heatwave in this harvest. The heterogeneity is impressive – some cuvées we are treating like those of a heatwave vintage – but others not – even from the same appellation. 12.6° is our starting point up to about 13.4° – all natural. You could even sometimes find rosé grapes but also shrivelled. Right now, I have the impression that I have multiple vintages in the cellar – it’s a difficult vintage to define at this early stage.

“This was the third year of our certification to organic viticulture. Not a conversion to understate with 60 hectares spread over a wide geography and 120 parcels! A year with 11 treatments – which is quite a lot – but only with contact products based on copper and or sulfur. Our treatments were roughly every 7 to 9 days. We plan to label the wines AB in the 2024 vintage.

“The winter was not so cold and it was rather dry – there was a deficit of rain. No frost. Spring was much wetter and cold for April with less sun than average. The summer had a number of storms and 11 July brought some hail – significantly for us in Meursault Les Genevrières. From the perspective of the vines, it was still a little too dry. The vine growth started quite heterogeneous including the flowering that followed too, despite quite good flowering conditions. The growth that followed was associated with a high pressure of maladies – oïdium and mildew – that’s why we had 11 treatments.

“Our harvesting started 6th September in the Mâconnais, finishing the last of our vines on the 19th (today!) in the Côte de Beaune including some St.Romain. Because of the heat, we started harvesting early in the morning and finished early too – we needed a refrigerated truck at the winery to ensure that we could work with cool grapes.

“It’s historically, still a very early vintage. We can say that it’s a vintage with plenty of fruit – this for the second consecutive year. Averagely clean – we did green harvesting in 9 of our 60 hectares – not something we’ve done for at least 15 years in the domaine. Triage was severe – in the vines and then again at the winery. We started harvesting with the chardonnay and it was the whites that got through the harvest-time heatwave the best. In both colours, we had beautiful fruit but also not-so-beautiful fruit – that’s why we had to be so selective. 50 hectares were harvested in just 9 days. The colours and polyphenols of the reds are extracting very easily, such that there are many parallels to 2022 and whilst we had a little more volume of grapes than in 2022 we will make less wine – that’s because of the severe selection and using no stems. Our volume of whites will also be slightly down due to hail in our Meursault Genevrières.

“The ancients used to say that if you have a year with a lot of verjus the year that follows will be generous: We had lots of verjus in 2022 and we clearly have a generous 2023 – but in 2023 there’s very little verjus!”

The Pièce de Charité:
The most prestigious barrel in the sale.

Ludivine confirms that they already know what wine will be in this specially crafted barrel – but they are not yet saying!

This year the barrel is the result of a partnership between the cooper Cadus – producers of 18-20,000 barrels per year – and the family suppliers of an oak from the Vibraye forest – a family that have owned and worked this particular forest since 1510 – almost as long as the Hospices has existed. Vibraye is situated between Le Mans and Orléans. The oaks from this place are being used in the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris where the requirement is for trees with 15.5 metres in length. One (special) tree had a length of 19.5m – it is the remaining portion of this roughly 220-year-old tree that has been used to make the barrel.

Burgundy Report

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