Annual Laurels

Concours des Vins de Chablis – 2021 vintage…

By billn on January 16, 2023 #annual laurels

Chablis-2021-PalmaresAs every year in mid-January – the Concours des Vins de Chablis was held over the weekend – this the 37th edition.

Following on from Guillaume Barion, last year, it was Jasper Morris who this year took the reigns as head of a jury that consisted of 71 tasters.

The task was a simple one – taste 259 wines and decide who should get a medal 🙂 It was the 2021s under the magnifying glass – except where they looked at the 2020s for the grand crus. Here (right) you can find the summary of the medalists released this morning – in French!

Enjoy!

The trophies for the ‘young vigneron(ne)s’ 2022…

By billn on December 18, 2022 #annual laurels#degustation

Starting with a first tasting in October and culminating with a final tasting in the days leading up to the Beaune wine-auction weekend, the winners were revealed at a dinner, this year held in Chassagne-Montrachet. This was the 34th such tasting and focused on wines from 20202. The official results were sent out last week – so enjoy – in French!

While I’m here – there was yesterday’s disappointment in the wine-department.

1996 Penfolds Bin 389
A wine that I’ve always been waiting to ‘come to me!’ When released, everyone said that this was a great 389 and I assembled half a dozen of them for the longer term. Pricing was £14-15 but you could often find them discounted for closer to £10 – I shudder to think what they would cost today. All the previous bottles were ‘okay’ but never singing, never special. This was this particular wine’s last chance from my cellar. A super cork – hard to extract but it came out in one piece with a satisfying ‘pop!’ Less than 1mm of wine colour had travelled the length of this cork – super! Except that this bottle was completely oxidised – I poured it down the sink. Apart from one (half) bottle that I remember finding a small crack in the glass, I have never had a red wine under 40 years old that was oxidised. I still have a tissue-wrapped 1996 Bin 707 – it’s maybe time to rid the cellar of that too!

(The 2018 Chablis that replaced the 389 was excellent – more on that tomorrow!)

The 162nd Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction

By billn on November 23, 2022 #annual laurels#events

Last Sunday, the sale of the 162nd edition of the Hospices de Beaune wine auction – the oldest charity wine auction – delivered a total of €31 million including all the auction fees.

The last two years’ sales, which were affected by covid-restrictions and covid-postponements, were but a memory on Sunday as 700 people packed into the sales room in Beaune. Not only was the room full but the telephones were buzzing too – Sotheby’s indicating interest from 30 different countries – interest that endured for the whole 7 hours of the sale.

I could tell you that it was only a modest 8% increase* in the price of a barrel versus last year – but in Hospices de Beaune-land that’s nearly another €3k per barrel – and 20 years ago €3k was the average cost of a barrel at the sale! Of course, this is a charity sale that benefits all the healthcare users in, and around, Beaune and Nuits St.Georges – and so it was a great result for the local hospitals and care homes. The headline amount of the sale was simply a massive record a) because it was a very healthy volume – almost as high as the 2018 ‘record’ volume – but with prices that have doubled since that particular sale.
*But more like 12% if we were to include the ‘star lot’ – the President’s barrel…

This sale included two new cuvées: Corton Grand Cru cuvée Les Renardes, with 13 barrels sold for a combined total of €700,756, and Beaune Blanc 1er cru Clos des Mouches Cuvée Hugues et Louis Bétault with 5 barrels sold for a combined total of €235,440.

If the general market was looking for some softening of burgundy wine pricing – here was not the place to look. The wine merchants of Beaune were caught between a rock and a hard place – of course, happy for the hospital but also asking themselves how they will sell-on the wine from barrels they bought for themselves. Five barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet Cuvée Dames des Flandres sold for €324,000 each, not only more than double the pre-sale high estimate but also a price level usually reserved for the special charity barrel of the auction. In a show of solidarity the wine merchants of Beaune came together to purchase this special barrel – the Pièce des Présidents:

Louis-Fabrice - President's Barrel 2022
Image courtesy of Maison Louis Latour

2022 Pièce des Présidents
The special charity barrel of the 2022 Hospices de Beaune wine sale was sold for €810,000.

This barrel was bought by Maison Louis Latour and Maison Joseph Drouhin, with the support of the FNEB – the Fédération des Négociants-Éleveurs de Grande Bourgogne. The Latour and Drouhin families came together to dedicate this barrel to the memory of Louis-Fabrice Latour who passed away in September. The two families agreed in advance that they would pay €700k for the barrel with the members of the FNEB electing to top up that amount to cover the higher hammer price. The sale proceeds for this barrel always go to charities independent of the local healthcare system, charities which change each year – in 2022 the proceeds will go to the Princesse Margot Charity and the Vision du Monde Charity.

Almost secondary to the spirit of this purchase is the barrel itself: a blend of three of the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune’s terroirs on Corton, including Renardes, Bressandes and Chaumes. The cooperage of Maison Louis Latour produced the barrel.

A few stats

The hammer total for the 162nd Hospices de Beaune wine sale was €29,788,500 including the Pièce des Présidents; €28,978,500 excluding the Pièce des Présidents. Vintage 21 and 22 totals (Sotheby’s) include the President’s barrel – the earlier years’ values (Christie’s) are stated without including the President’s barrel. All the figures are ‘net,’ so without the respective auctioneers’ commissions.

VintageSale Total € millionsPrice per barrelNumber of barrels
2005€3.79 million€4,803789
2009€4.99 million€6,250799
2015€11.3 million€18,880575
2016€8.4 million€13,833596
2017€13.5 million€16,657787
2018€13.95 million€16,850828
2019€12.28 million€21,823589
2020€12.76 million€21,677630
2021€11.68 million€33,223352
2022€29.79 million€35,974802

2022 Beaujolais Nouveau – as good as it gets!

By billn on November 08, 2022 #annual laurels#beaujolais#degustation

The 2022 vintage:

2022 Beaujolais NouveauThe 2021-2022 winter was long and, compared to most of the recent years, relatively cold. Frosts were commonplace until the beginning of April so probably because of that, budburst – in the second half of April – was relatively late. At this time, the domaines were already noting a lack of rain in the vineyards.

May was a warm and dry one: 50% less rainfall than normal plus more sunshine than usual – it was the warmest May on record since 1959.

The vines grew quickly and flowering took place in ideal, if early, conditions. Despite the dryness of May, there was sufficient rain in June to avoid issues with the vines even if the quantity of rainfall remained much below the average. It was in July that (not just!) the Beaujolais saw successive waves of hot weather – again lacking rain – it was the driest July for 33 years with 8mm of rain instead of an average of 68mm! This meant that the sanitary conditions of the vines couldn’t have been better.

The harvest was very early – from the middle of August! The hot weather had reduced the amount of malic acid in the grapes but concentrated the amount of tartaric acid. Despite a little more rain in the area of Beaujolais Villages, the wines were concentrated and volumes were modest, so unlike in 2020, it was rarely possible for domaines to ‘take advantage’ of the volumes on offer – so there is a consistency in the concentration and ripeness in these 2022s.
Many thanks to the team at Château du Moulin à Vent for some of their vintage insight.

The best wines:

I just hope that you have some chance to find such domaine wines. Last year my local (Swiss) coop had only one, which was bottled just for them – no producer info – and that was probably just as well because it was rubbish!

Whilst there were few ‘great wines’ in the equivalent tasting of 2021s, last year, those that were, clearly stood out from the crowd. In 2022 it was more difficult because the average quality was very consistent and as high as I have seen it – in this respect it reminds me very much of the 2019 vintage. From 100 wines there was one that was corked – the second bottle was fine – and only one wine where I directly said ‘NO!’ – I wouldn’t put this one in my mouth a second time!

Any complaints?
Actually, yes! Why so many heavy, statement, bottles? – ‘Prestigious cuvées?’ This is Beaujolais Nouveau for God’s sake. WTF!?

4 Great wines:
Dominique Piron: Beaujolais AND Beaujolais Villages
Domaine de Colette, Natur’Elle de Colette, Villages
Domaine des Nugues Villages

12 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais:
Jean Yves Sonnery
Anthony Charvet, Beaujo Beau
JM Aujoux, La vie est belle
Frédéric Berne
Domaine Perthuizet, Gégé
Trenel
Château de L’Eclair
Domaine des Prévellières
Julien Bertrand
Brossette Paul André et Fils
Agamy, Domaine du Solémy

8 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais Villages:
Château de Vaux De Vermont Yannick
Vignobles Jambon, Pure
Domaine Péchard Tano
David Berougon
Jean-Paul Dubost, Beaujolais Lantignié
Domaine du Clos du Fief
Château de Pougelon
Jean Yves Sonnery, Cuvée Elégance

Click on ‘Read More…’ below to see the full notes for 100 wines in the order that they were (blind) tasted:
Beaujolais
  Read more..

birthday weekend

By billn on October 17, 2022 #annual laurels#degustation

I may have taken a couple of days out of my Burgundy tasting schedule but as you might see, not all of Burgundy was taken out of my days 😉

On Friday, the only place in Switzerland that wasn’t rainy was Ticino – so we took a trip to Lugano and Morcote – pizza for lunch! We returned via Luzern’s Wilden Mann restaurant. Saturday with family, starting with an impeccable Montrachet – so young with firework reduction and still some creme brulee. Then followed the 1962 Nuits 1er Clos des Forêts St.Georges. This dates from the time, before l’Arlot, of Domaine Belin. When Axa bought Belin, the old cellar of Belin wasn’t included in the sale. For some time the cellar, containing many wines from the 1960s, resided with Domaine Louis Max in Nuits – where a name change appeared during covid times. I have an appointment to get a bit more info on what’s afoot with Louis Max (by another name…)

Anyway, about 10 years ago I asked, chez Louis Max, if I could buy some 1962 Clos des Forêts and they said they would get back to me. It turned out that not all the old bottles were in the best shape, but they decided to put two (and a bit!) good ones together, with a dab of sulfur, and make a magnum – well, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity! And you know what? 10 years later it was brilliant. All the concentration and sweet depth of flavour that I’ve found characterises the 1962 vintage – only the first couple of sips suggested a faint oxidation – and then it was gone. It’s a simple measure of whether a wine is good or not – it was drunk to the last few millilitres of its earthy sediment – and only 3 of us were drinking! Brilliant – simply a joy!

And the winner is? Yes, it’s Jon Wyand, again…

By billn on April 27, 2022 #annual laurels

You have to hand it to Jon Wyand, winner of the 2022 Errazuriz wine-photographer of the year competition. Or more correctly the “PinkLady®Food Photographer of the Year – category Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year” – I hope it’s a big trophy to fit all that in, and his name!

But seriously, Jon is just so consistent. He has an eye for possibilities with his camera that I can only applaud. I love both his still lives and the ease of his subjects in his portraits – his winning shot this year is a combination of both – captioned by the BBC as ‘Winter prunings gathered in the vineyards of Corton Hill in Burgundy’ it is a photo taken by Jon before 8am in December, in Bressandes…

You can find the wider BBC report here.

Jon Wyand - gathering the prunings in Corton
Image courtesy of Jon Wyand

Results from the 36th Concours des Vins de Chablis

By billn on January 20, 2022 #annual laurels

Guillaume Baroin tasting Chablis 2020This annual event took place last weekend. They have stopped inviting me to be part of the jury as I always decline – with already 3 weeks of tasting in Chablis in January I’d never be home if I stopped to do this at the weekend too 🙂

The jury chief this year was Guillaume Baroin – with whom I make a number of tastings each year. Image right of Guillaume in action – from the BIVB.

As each year they largely taste the most recent commercial vintage – in this case, the 2020s – but they always wait an extra year for the grand crus. So it was the 2019s for the gcs.

The results have been published (in French) and I include a link to the pdf of the results, below.

Enjoy this link

And the winners of the 2021 Young Talent Trophies were…

By billn on November 26, 2021 #annual laurels

Young Vigneron's trophy, 2021...
The first selection process in October…

Always an interesting exercise with the winners selected each year during the same week as the Beaune wine auction:

Wines from the Mâconnais:
Franz-Ludwig Gondard from Domaine Gondard-Perrin
For his Viré-Clessé Tradition, Viré-Clessé, Le Belvédère, and Viré-Clessé, Le Clos de Chapotin

Wines from the Côte Chalonnaise
Quentin Joussier, Domaine de l’Evêché
For his Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise édition limitée, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise, Revillier, and Mercurey, Les Murgers

Wines from the Côte de Beaune
Chloé Baillard-Chevalier from Domaine Chevalier
For her Bourgogne Aligoté, Ladoix Blanc, and Ladoix Rouge

Wines from the Côte de Nuits
Benoît Chevallier from Domaine Benoît Chevallier
For his Bourgogne, En Lutenière, Vosne-Romanée, and Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru, Aux Boudots

Wines from the Chablisien
Pierrick Laroche from Domaine des Hates
For his Petit Chablis, Chablis, Les Châtillons, and Chablis Premier Cru, Les Butteaux

Wines from the Grand Auxerrois
Bastien & Carole Mathias from Domaine Mathias
For their Bourgogne Epineuil, Bourgogne Epineuil, Côte de Grisey, and Bourgogne Tonnerre, Côte de Grisey

Wines from the Beaujolais
Jean-Louis Poulard from Domaine Poulard
For his Morgon Signature, Morgon Dame Noire, and Chiroubles Petites Côtes

2021 Beaujolais Nouveau – the ‘combative’ vintage

By billn on November 11, 2021 #annual laurels#beaujolais#degustation

2021 Beaujolais NouveauOr primeurs as the French, so often, refer to them. 100 wines, tasted blind in deepest Beaujolais, 02 November 2021:

– Inter Beaujolais – the marketing board for the Beaujolais region – describe the 2021 vintage as combative.

– 2021 was a complicated year in terms of both the weather conditions and the amount of work needed in the vines by the winegrowers. The second half of August and the month of September, however, made it possible to retain decent quality grapes, even if the quantity was reduced.

– Begun in mid-September, the harvest took place in rather cool conditions. This freshness, which characterised the end of the grapes’ ripening period, is visible in the wines.

– The wines in 2021 have moderation in mind – at least compared to the other recent vintages – they are lower in both alcohol and weight of phenolics – their tannic structure. The wines have been quite fairly described by Inter Beaujolais as ‘tender and fruity.’

Overall, just over 100 samples were presented for this 2021 showing of Beaujolais Nouveau – which is a big drop from the number of samples (160+) proffered in recent vintages. Why? Simply, it was the 2021 harvest volumes; generally hit by frost at the start of the year and more locally in the south – where much Nouveau is produced – by some hail too. Whilst the official harvest volumes are not yet available, the harvest was generally down by about 25% – more in the south, less in the crus of the north – and that was the principal driver here.

I note that in this vintage the wines were showing much less ‘fruit-forward’ in style than their siblings in other recent vintages. I find a number of excellent wines but I have also noted many, many fewer ‘bravo’ wines than in other vintages – only 3 – but it would be remiss of me not to point out the very short timeline from harvest to my tasting glass this year – certainly much less elevage than was afforded to the earlier harvests of the previous 5-6 years.

2021 and the most recent vintages:

I’ve done this tasting since the 2017 vintage, and whilst the recent quality from Grower Nouveau has been on a much higher level than I can ever recollect – and with much more consistency too – 2021 is certainly a step back in terms of concentration, if not their acid-driven intensity – 2021 brings a lighter style which works much better with the Beaujolais Villages wines – 6-12 months of patience is not mandatory in this vintage. I have noted many fewer ‘Bravo!’ wines than in other tastings but there remain many excellent, quite delicious, wines:

Vintage 2017 – a warm, clean, early vintage – one hailstorm excepted – but low yielding. The best wines were excellent and the quality was consistent
Vintage 2018 – a warm clean and again an early vintage but with many higher-yielding places where the producers allowed. I observed significant quality differences in the samples – I largely attributed this to big swings in yields.
Vintage 2019 – another warm vintage with harvesting a little later but because of both frost and hail, yields were cut. The best wines were of high quality and the consistency was intermediate to 2017 and 2018.
Vintage 2020 – a warm clean vintage with consistently below-average yields. The best wines, once again, show high quality and a consistency that’s at least as good as seen in the 2017s. The wines are relatively powerful and well constructed, the ‘villages’ wines generally need a little patience but are consistently excellent – a vintage you can blind buy domaine wines!
Vintage 2021 – A vintage of frost, hail in places, and much lower yields – the cooler, wetter weather requiring more grape triage but this resulted in wines that are clean and attractive with good acidity – perhaps more elegantly proportioned than the most recent vintages with a stronger spine of acidity rather than tannin to support them.

Link to previous tastings. I like this tasting – not particularly for its length or nouveau specificity but rather because it’s quite an accurate snapshot of how, in general, the next vintage will show when released in another 6-12 months…

And in the order tasted, my ‘excellent wine‘ picks for this year?

Of course, all were tasted blind:
2021 Frederic Berne, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Collin-Bourisset, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘à ta cuvée à la con’
2021 Vins Aujoux, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Le Cochon Chic’
2021 Père Benoit, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Tchin’
2021 Domaine de Solémy, Beaujolais Nouveau Vieilles-Vignes
2021 Jean Loron, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘Tradition Vielles-Vignes’
2021 Famille Girin, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Domaine de Loyse – Cellier de St.Jean d’Ardières, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Château de Pizay, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Henry Fessy, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 P Ferraud et Fils, Beaujolais Nouveau
2021 Famille Chasselay, Beaujolais Nouveau ‘La Marduette’

2021 P Ferraud et Fils, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Vignobles Jambon, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Pure’
2021 Pierre Dupond, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Seconde Nature’
2021 Château de l’Eclair, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Château de Chatelard, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Vintage’
2021 Cave du Château des Loges, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Les Trois Madones, Sans Souffre’
2021 Domaine de la Madone, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Pérréoneissime’
2021 Domaine Burnichon, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
2021 Besson Père et Fils, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Tu m’fais tourner la tête’
2021 Les Jeunes Pousses, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Préambule’
2021 Château de Lavernette, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Le Jeune’

And the medals for those lonely ‘Bravo!’ wines – the best of this tasting:
2021 Jean Loron, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘In Jules we Trust’
2021 Manoir de Carra Sambardier, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau Vieilles-Vignes
2021 Manoir de Carra Sambardier, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ‘Dame Nature’

Here’s hoping that you can actually find some of these!

Click below to see the full notes for over 100 wines:

Beaujolais
  Read more..

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