Why Big Red Diary?

The others tasted…

wine testing

No slurping or spitting!

This is a compendium of wines that were drunk with food, friends and family, between September 2011 and October 2011 – actually that’s not many; just a few weeks and too much travelling…


2009 David Clark, Bourgogne Au Pelson
Does my nose deceive me? This smells of stems – not entirely smoky, more the slightly herbaceous version – it’s better if you keep it below 18°C. Very good freshness, intensity and length too but the flavour although there is some sweetness also has a borderline ripeness about it. The finish is very good. Although I don’t find stems ‘criminal’, this wine is far from it’s drinking peak today – based on my experience of other stemmy cuvées (I’m assuming that there really are stems within) this will have a great perfume, but only from 2014…


1983 Robert Arnoux, Nuits St.Georges
Medium colour, quite some browning. The nose is clean to start and all about soil, soil and more soil – with time we have a deep sweetness and a subtle undertow of musk. A little tannin bubbles below the surface and the flavour grows and grows in the mid-palate – really good intensity and plenty of sweetness too. I think this has a really good mid-palate complexity and with just a hint of creaminess too. Slowly lingering on beautifully judged acidity – medium-plus length – tons of enjoyment here; this is the archetypal melting old burgundy with tons of sediment at the end – completely yum!
1969 Thonas-Bassot, Chambolle-Musigny
Older bottles of villages wines are not quite a lottery but the odds of having a great experience are similar to tossing a coin, even when well-stored. We tossed well. This time the cork was removed in one piece; the aroma was disjointed and dark to start but in the glass you needed only ten minutes for it to transform into a beautiful musky, sultry, almost velvety dark red fruit – you had to be there! In the mouth there was both volume and dimension, sweetness and good length. A clean and very tasty wine indeed – I wonder if my second bottle will be so good…
1995 Dujac, Morey St.Denis
Medium rusty-red. The nose is a blend of stemmy perfume – and at this age it really is perfume – and a higher-toned fresh plum fruit that flirts with a floral dimension; it’s quite lovely and keeps drawing me back for another sniff as the fruit changes to cherry and even recurrant with time. In the mouth it doesn’t quite have that melt-in-the-mouth texture that you get with a perfectly matured wine, but there’s freshness and a structure that remains bright, indeed almost stern. The acidity is just about perfect, being the baseline for a beautifully understated but fine finish. Such a shame that I have only three or four more of these.
2009 Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Les Longeroies
Medium-plus colour. The nose has an intensity that majors on a fine and clear raspberry note. In the mouth this reminds me of a 2008 with a sweet-and-sour approach; fine sweet fruit with a powerful acidity that offers impressive balance. There is a nod to the vintage with a modest mid-palate padding that also shows a hint of cream to the flavour. Like the 09 Ladoix 1er of Ravaut, this has nothing of the facile nature of many 09s – very impressive wine, and one that is worth a special search. It may ‘only’ be a villages wine, but it will amply reward 15 years in the cellar, yet, I have the impression it will never be other than generous despite its coiled intensity. Certainly worthy of a 1er cru label. Yum.
1985 Michel Voarick, Pernand-Vergelesses
What a nose; this jumps out of the glass, deep, musky, sweet, probably still plenty of dark oak – if you’d been told it was a Richebourg you wouldn’t be disappointed – not until you put it in your mouth anyway! The nose writes a cheque which the palate will never pay; there is a little fat and a nicely sweet lingering acidity that flows into the medium-plus finish. There is just a hint of tannin still and also some dimension to the mid-palate flavours. Overall this isn’t too bad but I’m left with the impression that I’m mainly sampling quercus, rather than Pernand. Fun and very much alive, if not quite my pre-eminent style-choice, yet it would be churlish of me to say anything other than ‘chapeau!’

2008 Jean-Claude Bachelet, Puligny-Montrachet
Medium yellow. The nose is fresh though with a ripe slab of yellow fruit at the centre-stage. In the mouth this has a slghtly oily, fat texture – absolutely not a negative with such a buffer of very good acidity. There is understated power and a very good energy, particularly I like the gooseberry flavoured finish. Fine Puligny villages
2008 JC Boisset, Côte de Nuits Villages Le Creux de Sobron
The name is clearly a mouthful – fortunately the wine is very good mouthful. Ripe but fresh fruit on the nose – quite forward. In the mouth this has plenty of energy and fine acidity which could turn a little mouth puckering in a couple of years, but today it is just joyous. There is a little mid-palate muscle and good intensity too. A line of mouth-watering flavour lingers in the finish. Yum – and an absolute bargain…
2008 L&A Lignier, Fixin Champs Vosgers (blanc)
Medium yellow. The nose is faintly sweet with an undertow of flowers and maybe a hint of sulfur. In the mouth this has a lovely bubbling acidity – I remember the 08 being borderline tart – bright and pretty but with a nice sweetness and extra width of flavour in the mid-palate. Lingering on a mouth-watering note. Many Fixins seem to me rather too savoury in their youth and whilst interesting, I wouldn’t be filling my cellar with them. This one avoids that ‘trap’ and begs a top-up to the glass. Yum.


1979 Robert Ampeau, Volnay 1er Les Santenots
I don’t usually decant older wines, but my ham-fisted attempt to remove the cork ensured that plenty of pieces dropped into the bottle – so I filtered through an unscented tissue into a decanter. The aromas were soil, soil and more soil – perhaps damp soil too – I initially thought brett but it blew off, so probably wasn’t. Given 20 minutes a very nice, almost creamy red fruit started to show itself – given one hour, this was very pretty indeed. The palate transformed a little less; always silky and with just a little fat for weight, the acidity was the only thing that seemed to change – moving from a little spiky to nicely smooth with aeration. Was a lovely wine, not too robust or rustic – a nice birthday vintage bottle for one of our (younger!) group.
2008 Jean-Claude Bachelet, St.Aubin 1er Derrière la Tour
The nose starts with quite a lot of sweet toasty oak, eventually there’s a higher toned sweetness that’s not particularly oak-based. Given time (totally blind) I could be convinced by the aromas that this a white wine, with a Meursault-style gingerbread note in evidence. In the mouth the first impression is of a rather thin wine but there is quite some intensity welling up. Good acidity with a faintly sweet medium finish. In the end this is a very tasty drop, but also a highly stylised drop of wine that talks of barrels, not of St.Aubin – it could be from anywhere – well not quite anywhere but you get my drift; all of which leaves me disappointed.
2008 Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Similar in colour to the villages, but the nose has more depth and dimension – there is an almost jellied quality to the black and red fruit – very lovely – heavier than the villages but not overweight. In the mouth there is likewise more dimension and impact, but there is no fat or padding to distract – such lovely acidity, and tannin that I had no inclination to search for. Nothing in the slightest ‘facile’ about this ‘Charmes; intensity, some minerality and an overall package that captivates. Bravo!
1985 Cave des Dauphin, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos St.Jacques
The first task was successful – the cork came out in one piece. I poured a little and the colour was pretty good, and clearly as I swirled there was some viscosity – the glycerol clinging to the side of the glass. The first aroma was of soil but it was very quickly joined by dark molasses – very clean though. In the mouth this wine exemplifies why I see 1985 and 2009 as close cousins – there is depth, good flavour, ample sweetness and in this case a little glycerol-enhanced fat – what more could you want? Well maybe just the merest hint more acidity, but it’s nit-picking really! There’s still a little tannin if you search for it and a brown-sugar dimension to the finishing flavours. Clearly an ‘easy’ wine, but equally one that’s very easy to like and enjoy.
1974 Joseph Drouhin, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Amoureuses
Clean, bright medium coloured, clear at the rim. The nose has depth, initially with a hint of must – I’ll come back to it. In the mouth this is clean, indeed has cleansing acidity but without being tart. It seems linear and a little dilute – only in the mid-palate does it begin to unfold and deliver waves of decently intense flavour. By now the nose has tidied up and there’s a hint of pyrazine, but it’s more coal than coal-tar and adds an interesting dimension, another hour on and it smells fabulous with perfect red berries over a faintly musky base. So, this is silky and subtle, but with clean and long-lasting flavours and just the right amount of ‘sweet’. It is a very elegant lady who has retained quite some of her good looks – I really enjoyed spending the evening with her!
1995 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Ile des Vergelesses
Medium, medium-plus colour. Just like the 2008 of this wine there’s a hint of musky vanilla to go with a lovely red fruit. Initially there is fat and a lovely balancing acidity – nothing of the harshness of many from the vintage – quite some intensity of red, slightly sweet raspberry fruit too. I’m very impressed by how sophisticated this is. Day two and it’s still a little musky, but the vanilla is gone, it’s also starting to show something more common with other 95s; whilst there’s no rustic or harsh tannin, the intensity of the mid-palate flavour is just hinting at the stridency of others from this vintage. All I can say id drink-up and be impressed; frankly it won’t put many tasters off on day two either. I’m happy that 11 remain in the cellar; a majority of which I’ll probably drink over the next five years, but just a few will be worth trying past their 30th birthdays…
1959 Roger Moreau, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos St.Jacques
Deeply coloured – still. The nose has a little oxidation – wait 20 minutes and it is only a memory; still hints of pure fruit from a largely understated nose. In the mouth you have the same as the nose – some oxidative flavours that entirely cure themselves with about 25 minutes in the glass. Full, round, good texture and still an underlay of great structure. Plenty of glycerol mouthfeel that gives an opulent impression. Could I guess it was from Gevrey? – no I couldn’t, did it spoil the enjoyment of comparing two wines with fifty years between them? – certainly not!
2008 Thomas Morey, Santenay 1er Cru Grand Clos Rousseau
Deep colour. Forward red and black cherry – shaded towards black with some background herb. In the mouth there’s balance but ebullience too. Plenty of punchy fruit-led flavour – again a dark shade of red – but far from rustic. Juicy, nice acidity. I must confess, a bottle that was finished rather quickly. Fine value wine here.
2009 Domaine du Pavillon, Volnay 1er Les Santenots
Medium-plus colour. Deep, dark fruit with floral top notes and a hint of mineral – limited width but great top to bottom dimension. Full, rounded and quite sensuous; not too sweet and there is good buffering acidity. Dark fruit tones and a velvet tannin that you have to search for. Long lasting on a mineral note. More challenging than the Bouchard ‘baby Jesus’ today and a better wine for it – the future can look after itself. Super wine and something of a bargain.
2005 Potinet-Ampeau, Volnay 1er Les Carelles sous la Chapelle
Deep color. The nose starts with very little, but bit-by-bit opens with fruit that’s very 05; intense, certainly ripe but still pure, uncooked fruit – it’s very nice. Mouth-filling but without obvious puffery, just intense, clean and lithe muscle. Good finish – open and captivating. Yum.
2009 Gaston & Pierre Ravaut, Ladoix 1er Le Bois Roussot
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is an interesting thing – this reminds me of a 2005, I think that’s my first time ever with a 2009! Concentrated fruit – essence of raspberry – some high-toned, slightly alcoholic notes and dried herbs. Cool and concentrated with plenty of acidity, though far from too much. The flavour lingers on a (very) dark red fruit note. Relatively narrow in the mid-palate but with decent intensity, only a medium-plus (or so) length, but overall this is a quality wine – and did I mention the price…(?)
1995 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux-Monts
Medium-plus colour. The nose here is of just faintly roasted, spice-edged deep red fruit – not roasted enough to be off-putting but enough to be slightly sub-optimal for me – but it’s wide and involving and rather forward too. In the mouth this has a concentrated, velvet texture that if you really roll the wine around in your mouth becomes slowly a little astringent – but that’s your choice! Full flavoured with plenty of intensity and a very good underlying acidity – there’s almost a hint of almond flavour in the finish, bitter chocolate too, which is probably barrel-derived – but eventually majors of a mouth-watering mineral note. Highly drinkable despite a nose that punches you, rather than seduces you.
2008 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Lavières
After the Bachelet, here is also some oak, but rather than a smothering sweetness, it’s delivered with a spicy element that is more than amply buffered by a growing, crooning floral aromatic – perfect violets. The last drops in the glass offer a beautiful ‘come-hither’ red fruit. In the mouth there is sweetness, but the acidity urges you into the mid-palate where you have the impression that the wines bursts further into life. Long with a mineral end-note. I might buy a magnum or two for rainy day – if I’m not too late!
2005 Joseph Voillot, Volnay 1er Brouillards
Medium colour. A kind of candied sweetness mixes with red fruit and eventually a beguilling floral aroma – lovely. This wine has thinned-out, plenty of acidity but intensity too and an impression of extract. Still very drinkable but not the gorgeously cushioned drinkability of its first few months in bottle. This remains a great Brouillards.

1978 Bouchard Père et Fils, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Pucelles
Golden. No hint of oxidation on the nose; there is some impact but it’s a little foursquare, hints of lanolin escaping from the glass. In the mouth – now we’re talking – good acidity and a lithe impression of restrained power. Decent length too. Belying its 33 years – this is lovely old white burgundy.
2008 Pierre Boisson, Auxey-Duresses 1er En Reugne
Pale yellow. The nose is high-toned, faintly floral and has a nice energy about it – perhaps a little sherbet but not too much so. In the mouth, acid and intensity are my first thoughts – but it’s a rather invigorating acidity – plenty of energy and fun here. Kept cool, this absolutely the perfect aperitif for now. Wait 12 months and you might be wincing. Lovely today, but don’t delay!
1984 Yves Boyer-Martenot, Meursault 1er Les Charmes
Golden. Hmm now this also shows no oxidation and has a little spicy honey on the nose. There is less direct impact versus the Pucelles, but the acidity is just a notch better and more impressive still is the way that the flavour grows in the mid-palate – many dimensions. This is first class old white burgundy. Yum!


1983 Pierre Bourée, Charmes-Chambertin
Medium colour, again with plenty of browning. The nose starts in a very tight way; some savoury notes but little else to latch onto. Very slowly a raspberry perfume with clear stem references begins to evolve. The first mouthful is of a perfectly balanced, if rather thin, wine. There is a little rasp from what remains of the tannin – it’s a nice touch of character. There is eventually an interesting extra dimension, and some intensity, in the mid-palate – this is not a food wine, it’s flavours are engulfed by just about anything. Without food there’s just enough sweetness, but overall, it’s hardly worth the effort. After the 66 Pommard of last week, this is something of a let-down.

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