in case you missed it

The kidnapping of St.Vincent….

By billn on December 01, 2022 #in case you missed it

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!

Okay that’s enough about Pouilly-Fuissé, what about the 1er Crus of Marsannay?

By billn on September 23, 2020 #in case you missed it


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!

Burgundy vs the INAO

By billn on January 29, 2020 #in case you missed it#warning - opinion!

Click above for the current response from Beaune

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.

icymi: a good, and growing, wine-science library…

By billn on May 17, 2019 #a bit of science#in case you missed it

The sulfur chemistry article is new – yesterday. I’m finding this a good resourse of well-presented, relatively accessible, wine science articles:

icymi – new in the côte dijonnaise

By billn on January 29, 2019 #in case you missed it

Côte Dijonnaise – click the link for more info.

Anyone who frequents Beaune will likely know the name of Aegerter for their wine-shop, but they also have a domaine and maison based in Nuits St.Georges; here they annually vinify more than 50 hectares worth of grapes from a diverse selection of terroirs in the Côtes de Nuits, the Côte de Beaune, Chablis and the Mâconnais.

Domaine Aegerter are, it seems, hoping to resurrect the old Côte Dijonnaise climat of Rente de Giron, where they have acquired two hectares of vines that they have planted with chardonnay. The first vintage will be available following the 2022 harvest.

Aegerter, are part of a band of vignerons who are hoping to establish a new AOP – the AOP Côtes de Dijon – or maybe that should be ‘re-establish’ – good luck to them!

icymi – week 47 2018…

By billn on November 24, 2018 #in case you missed it

Just a couple this week:

  • 2017_Burgundies_could_ease_sky-high_prices_ahead_of_Brexit
    Distilling a vintage into a few words is never easy – this is not so bad…
  • the-paradox-of-burgundy
    Oxidisation – a new word for me – but ‘banal: weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’ – well we’ve all been there, eh? This article is also the first time I even considered that Nathalie Tollot might be the ‘Florence Nightingale of vigneronnes’ – you have been warned…

icymi – week 44-45 2018…

By billn on November 14, 2018 #in case you missed it

A few articles of reasonable to great worth that I’ve assembled over the last week or two:

icymi – week 43 2018…

By billn on October 25, 2018 #in case you missed it

From a week where the first clouds are appearing (literally, not metaphorically) in Burgundy since, for like, weeks! Above, Chassagne village yesterday afternoon…

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