Warning – Opinion!

independence – not!

By billn on December 27, 2020 #warning - opinion!

Here am I, one day from quarantine freedom, though with one-less mother-in-law due to covid.
(Disclaimer: not the only mother-in-law I’ve had!)

Rather than writing about winemakers and their wines this morning, I’m looking at obviously shoddy ‘journalism.‘ I’m not even taking exception at what has been written – only that the author is in no position to write it for an audience who are presumably (well what do you think?) assuming this to be an independent piece of work – as opposed to shilling for wineries whose wines they sell. This sort of thing makes it rather shit for those of us who try to be independent, and even (god forbid) actually buy – with our own money – from wineries whose wines we like and recommend to others!

Not my typical Sunday, but don’t worry there will be some wines on these pages too 🙂

world heritage, with no world?

By billn on December 02, 2020 #warning - opinion!

Climats Association - UNESCO

I note, today, a press release from the association of climats – the body that was responsible for the work achieving UNESCO World Heritage Site status for much of the CĂŽte d’Or. I understand their perspective but it still saddens me:

*The Association des Climats du Vignoble de Bourgogne has alerted the State ‘services’ to the damage caused by the plans to install 18 wind turbines, 180 meters high, on and around the site listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and of its landscape preservation zone called the buffer zone. These projects threaten the authenticity of the landscapes of the World Heritage site, by making these wind turbines visible from the registered site. Certain villages of the CĂŽte d’Or and emblematic panoramas such as the hill of Corton, the hill of the 3 crosses in Santenay or the cirque du bout du monde de Saint-Romain would be threatened. An impact that the World Heritage Committee could also take a dim view of…

*My translation…

It seems to me that this is blinkered in response and lacking nuance – or perhaps also understanding. Would they prefer that countries concentrate on fossil fuels in preference to renewables? Or is this simply ‘there are better places for this‘ ie not in my backyard? If the former, in the future we may no-longer have world heritage sites…

Of course, that’s entirely my own opinion and many will disagree with me…

Value in Burgundy?

By billn on July 09, 2020 #warning - opinion!

Nick Jackson MW made a suggestion for producers per village. I found some great suggestions but also some reliance on négoce wines and relatively high priced producers too:

There’s definitely a homogeneity of pricing in Vosne, Meursault, Puligny & Chassagne that’s hard to avoid, but by going some way off the ‘beaten track‘ of producers I came up with a counter-suggestion – but what do you think? Remember I’m trying to capture ‘value’ so great quality and a good price.

PS I tried to associate producers with the village in question but be based in the same village. I made a mistake with Fougeray de Beauclair – they are based in Marsannay, not Fixin – but I had anyway included them for their Fixin Clos Marion!

text of the day – a biodynamic critique…

By billn on June 14, 2020 #a bit of science#warning - opinion!

The problem with biodynamics: myths, quacks and pseudoscience
Linked here

A post (above) that’s worth spending a little time over.

I try to avoid discussing Steiner, the man, for exactly the reasons that this author has enunciated. I do believe that there are some aspects of (let me shorten it to) ‘BD’ that, perhaps, science has yet to catch up with, but I wholeheartedly concede that the general critique levelled by Joshua is incontrovertible.

There were great wines before biodynamics – even in the ‘chemical era’ of the 1960s-1990s – though far fewer than today. I believe that organic approaches to viticulture have improved sustainable grape production radically. How much of that is down to BD is a moot point, certainly far, far, less than the recent benevolence of the climate and wine pricing that allows producers to experiment and not always aim for the highest allowed yields.

The ‘DRC Fallacy’ is something of a given, as one should note that not all great farmers are great winemakers – and vice-versa – the great names (labels) happen to combine both aspects. Save for certain ‘hard to explain’ rituals (including burials!) BD is essentially very close to organic farming. For that reason alone, I’m quite happy that more and more people are taking note. That’s possibly my philosophical side speaking but from the perspective of intellectual rigour…

restaurants & the elephant in the room…

By billn on May 13, 2020 #the market#warning - opinion!

It’s true of course – how could it be any different? Without restaurants – either ordering or potentially closing for good – the wine-producers of all regions have currently lost a significant part of their client-base. At this point, only Burgundy seems to be openly discussing this and that’s why they have the headline.

Major retail channels are not making up for lost sales.” Again, of course. The orders that have been placed by hotels and restaurants, less than 2 months ago, will not have been re-allocated yet, it’s too soon.

Nobody knows how the restaurant scene will look 2 years down the line, but typically it is the older, more coveted, domaines that have higher exposure to the restaurant trade. The ‘slack’ of unsold/un-ordered wine could easily be taken up by the consumer channels for these sought-after domaines – just look at how buoyant the online sales are during ‘lockdown’ – but it’s the unpaid bills from restaurants that won’t reopen, or who need to ‘re-finance’ – that’s the much bigger elephant in the room…

echĂ©zeaux – or grands-echĂ©zeaux – what are the differences?

By billn on April 30, 2020 #warning - opinion!

grands echezeaux
In another place, I gave my answer to the differences, or positioning, of these two AOPs. Here are my thoughts – but what do you think?

You can see all of these spellings on labels, the most common is that last one, so that’s what I’ll use: Échezeaux, ÉchĂ©zeaux, Echezeaux or EchĂ©zeaux.

    Grands? Well, one is indeed bigger than the other – but the reverse of the naming:

  • Grands-EchĂ©zeaux, 9.14 hectares, on modestly sloping limestone ground – practically flat versus EchĂ©zeaux – north of Vosne in Flagey-EchĂ©zeaux
  • EchĂ©zeaux, 36.26 hectares, on a limestone and marl terroir – multiple slopes, dips, altitudes, full-sun and part shaded – also north of Vosne in Flagey-EchĂ©zeaux

Grands-EchĂ©zeaux does usually seem to be the ‘grander’ wine when you taste after EchĂ©zeaux, but older producers suggest that the prefix ‘Grand’ is not used as a form of one-upmanship versus EchĂ©zeaux, rather that it describes the much longer rows of vines than seen in the more ‘parcellated’ EchĂ©zeaux – so they say…

Of-course the structural character of Grands-EchĂ©zeaux is very different to EchĂ©zeaux and I see this as probably due to its proximity to the Clos de Vougeot – the wall of the Clos often seeming an arbitrary separation between the two – it’s probably not unreasonable then that DRC hold that their Grands-EchĂ©zeaux is perhaps the longest-lived of all their wines. That said, their EchĂ©zeaux is not a bad keeper either – I remember Jasper Morris kindly giving me a sip of the DRC ’59 EchĂ©zeaux from a bottle that he’d enjoyed at lunch in BB&R that day with Burghound (in roughly 2008) which was robust and young – their BB&R own-bottled ’57 Bonnes-Mares was the more drinkable/open of those two that day(!)

In young Grands-EchĂ©zeaux, when not drowned out by oak (a common problem), I very often find an almond aroma that I never find in EchĂ©zeaux, and an EchĂ©zeaux is, to me, more classically ‘Vosne-like’ than Grands-EchĂ©zeaux – again, perhaps, due to Grands-EchĂ©zeaux’s proximity to the Clos. It’s easy to consider EchĂ©zeaux a second-rank grand cru in the context of Vosne-RomanĂ©e (yes, I know, it’s in Flagey…) but a single tour of a dozen or more young EchĂ©zeaux often has me in raptures – or, indeed 28 of them! Considering the size of the vineyard, EchĂ©zeaux shows much more consistency in quality (if not style) than other large grand crus such as Clos de Vougeot or Corton.

Styles can confound everything – of course! Lots of whole-clusters – or not. Tons of new oak – or not. Elegant or powerful – etcetera… I’ve tasted every year since 2000, and I do think that the DRC EchĂ©zeaux has been consistently in the top half-dozen EchĂ©zeaux every year since at least 2005 – but that simply means that I like their stylistic choices – though it can be a close-run thing with other domaines…

I’m ashamed to say that I never bought any of his Grands-EchĂ©zeaux, so can’t comment on those, but for those lucky enough to still have some, I think Nicky Potel got extra-special juice from ‘somewhere’ in 1997 – his EchĂ©zeaux is one of the wines of the vintage – and it’s now starting to blossom fabulously – it’s currently much more interesting than his 1999…


By billn on April 22, 2020 #a bit of science#warning - opinion!

This is an excellent read – thanks – a ‘hat-tip’ – to @bkpinot

I would only quibble with this:

“The only mention in English that I am aware of through the 70’s was Michael Broadbent’s mistaken use of it as a term for dirty or unpleasantly earthy wine.”

I would say not mistaken. Many old winemakers (ie older than 70) in Burgundy reference the term (terroir), in their youth, as implying rusticity — a ‘peasant’ wine, ‘unruly’ wine — ‘earthy’ indeed, more so than referencing site specifics. As much as anything, with the rise of marketing, you will find the rise of the current usage of that word. The meaning/context of words often changes over generations — just look at ‘gay

the hot and cold of it…

By billn on April 17, 2020 #annual laurels#warning - opinion!

A new page of data for you to pour over…

“It’s a shame that we lack data for 1945, and even more so, 1947, but what’s striking is that the majority of the hottest days on record are still from 2003 – 1947 would likely have offered competition! All of the top 10 hottest vintages are post-2000 with six of the seven hottest vintages all post-2011 – 2003 being the seventh! Even 2014, which I consider to be the last of the classic red vintages – ie not super-sweet – is the 5th hottest year in our list!”

are malos bad?

By billn on April 16, 2020 #a bit of science#warning - opinion!

Like this, another interesting ‘malo’ article this week – similarly themed too, casting malolactic fermentation as a bad-guy. But Burgundy won’t take it to heart!

Burgundy Report

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