So that’s what it’s called – I had always assumed that it was just the physical side-effect of opening that 5th bottle…
In this case, Beaune – but what better representation of a Leproserie than the magnificent building on the outskirts of Meursault. Next time that you eat at Le Soufflot or Goutte d’Or – take 10 minutes to walk around this splendid relic of a building.
- The Maladière de Beaune: “In the shadow of the Grand Hostel Dieu, many other hospitals existed in Beaune. One of the most important was the Maladière, an institution in charge of one of the most feared diseases of ancient times: leprosy.“
Featured Image courtesy the archives of Beaune
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
This is a tough one, isn’t it?
- Can you ethically drink Romanée-Conti?
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…
- 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?
It’s a while since I posted an ICYMI – years! – but the desert of interesting new articles has recently been punctuated by a few that are of interest – in no small way aided and made more entertaining by the comments of such arch provocateurs as Guffens and Essa – look out for that sly fox’s (Patrick Essa) comments in one of Benjamin Lewin’s articles!
- Is Aligoté the Future of White Burgundy? – Benjamin Lewis
- Burgundy Diary 2023: Vintage Extremes – Benjamin Lewis
- Burgundy Looks to its Old Age – Vicki Denig
- Burgundy will drop and it will fall on the Mâconnais – Patrick Schmitt
Whilst tasting in Beaune this week, I met a saint.
This particular saint – let’s call him Vince – has had a colourful recent history but has now fully returned to his day job.
Vince (right) heralds from 1940s Beaune and his day job is to sit in the cuverie of a winemaker for 1 year, occasionally to be transported on the shoulders of locals – typically in freezing, wet, January weather. His home address changes each year when he moves to a new cuverie. But in theory, he’s there to make sure that pest, pestilence, frost and hail do not beset the vineyards of Beaune. Some years he’s less effective than others!
Vince got caught up in some local difficulties around 2002. Apparently, two of Beaune’s winemakers had significant disagreements, the upshot being that one of those winemakers could ‘no-longer find‘ Vince. This was obviously a bit of a problem for locals who didn’t want pest and pestilence etcetera, etcetera, in their vineyards – and of course for those other people who simply enjoyed raising Vince onto their shoulders in cold and rainy January processions. Eventually, in 2005 a new Saint was employed – also let’s call him Vince-2 – to take on 1940s-Vince’s rôle.
After about 15 years, 1940s Vince was found – it was a miracle!
But now there were two Beaune Vinces – what should be done? Eventually, it was decided that 1940s Vince should return to the full-time rôle of wet and cold January processions and trying to keep on top of the weather – oh, and the pests. Don’t, however, feel sorry for 2005 Vince – he also found a full-time job – he now smiles at all the visitors in Beaune’s Musée du Vin!
Pouilly-Fuissé has been in the news in the last weeks because the INAO have recently agreed to an upgrade of status – to 1er Cru – for 194 hectares of vines starting from the 2020 vintage. What all of those articles fail to note, is that the French Ministry of Agriculture has not yet signed-off this change. Whilst it’s unlikely that the minister in charge will forget, without a timely signature, the wines of 2020 still won’t be allowed to wear a 1er Cru label. But as I said, enough about Pouilly-Fuissé!
There are many locations across Burgundy that are looking to polish their image with an eye-catching 1er Cru or Grand Cru makeover; amongst them are Nuits St.Georges, Saint-Véran, Pouilly-Loché/Pouilly-Vinzelles and of course Marsannay too.
None of these are short processes, each taking at least 10 years. Probably the Nuits St.Georges attempt to raise the vineyard of Les St.Georges to Grand Cru may be the most well-known but it’s also an application that has hardly moved in terms of status for a couple of years now. Where there has been some progress is in Marsannay and Saint-Véran – the most visible progress, however, is in Marsannay:
AOC Marsannay only pulled itself into a regional appellation in 1965 (Bourgogne-Marsannay), taking the next step by becoming a communal (or village) appellation in 1987. The lateness of that first date is a reflection of what was planted throughout the vineyards of Marsannay during the 1930s – the time of AOC – and that was gamay!
Compared to many other Burgundian villages – certainly villages that produce predominantly red wine – Marsanny is rather well-to-do – just look at how big their church is – comparable to Pommard but much bigger than Volnay or Monthélie. This reflects the wealth that was generated by being in the catchment area of Dijon and so being the primary supplier of wine to the population of that city. The variety was gamay and it could be cropped higher than pinot noir and still produce something serviceable. Of course, there was pinot noir planted here too, but it was only after 1945 that the major conversion to planting pinot began.
We are probably at least another 3 years away from seeing actual Marsannay 1er Crus, but some changes have already been enacted: About 80 hectares of vines that could previously produce only Bourgogne or Marsannay Rosé will now also be allowed to produce Marsannay Blanc and/or Rouge – like the rest of the appellation – there remains some hectares that may only produce AOC Marsannay Rosé. This reclassification was confirmed in March 2020 and retrospectively includes the 2019 vintage. The first real change to labeling – also applicable to the 2019 vintage – will be the change of name for Bourgogne Le Chapître – it will jump to a village AOC – so Marsannay Le Chapître.
In terms of Le Chapître, I think this a fitting recompense for wines that have always shown a certain class!
The interwebs in the last days have been full of images (below) against a major proposed change by the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) and I had many conversations with winegrowers in Chablis about it last week too. This is only a tiny example, but I tasted a number of Bourgogne Côte d’Auxerre, Tonnerre and Epineuil last week – the warmer vintages really having given these wines an impressive lease of life – yet here we are with a proposal that will revert them to – well, what exactly?
Their current designations are of regional wines (i.e. Bourgognes) with geographical precisions – there are 14 of these geographical Bourgognes1 including the new Bourgogne Côte d’Or label – so how many may be junked?
So much for loyal and constant use… This will run and run!
But what the INAO taketh with one hand they giveth with the other – the proposals would allow swathes of Beaujolais to be classed as ‘Bourgogne’ – clearly taking the pith here as gamay is not Bourgogne, only Côteaux Bourgogne… 😉
1The 14 ‘Geographical Bourgognes’ are: Bourgogne Chitry, Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise, Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois, Bourgogne Côte d’Or, Bourgogne Côte Saint Jacques, Bourgogne Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Bourgogne Épineuil, Bourgogne Hautes Côte de Beaune, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Bourgogne La Chapelle Notre Dame, Bourgogne Le Chapitre, Bourgogne Montre-cul (or Montrecul or En Montre-Cul) and Bourgogne Tonnerre.