From their excellent ‘Science’ series, here is a well-written and information-packed, but not too long(!) read. Enjoy:
I read Christie’s recent posting with a sense of deja-vu – it was less than a couple of hundred words in their summary of Domaine Rousseau, and it was also far from identical – but I think the resemblance is stark.
1. Christie’s this week:
“In 1951 Charles Rousseau found himself at Victoria Station in London clutching two suitcases: one contained his neatly pressed shirts and trousers, and the other was stuffed with bottles of glorious burgundies form (sic) his family’s vineyards in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin. He visited his sole foreign client, a director at the British Broadcasting Corporation, before pounding the pavements of London, peering through shop windows to see if they sold wine within.
The bemused wine merchants smiled kindly at him and his wines before wishing him well on his way out…”
2. Me in 2005 and 2016:
“To that end in 1951 he found himself in London’s Victoria Station, two suitcases by his side. He first visited that very rare thing – an existing ‘foreign’ client – a director of the BBC, before setting about visiting as many companies as possible who might have an interest in his wines. He mainly chose his targets by looking through their windows to see if they already sold wine!
It was tough; his targets were happy, if rather bemused, to entertain Charles in their offices…”
I’ve pointed the similarities out, without response.
In French, from Marie-Antoinette Szczypiorski of the the French wine publication, Bettane et Desseauve, following the team of Chandon de Briailles in Corton Clos du Roi…
Wine Searcher have been off my article radar for a while now – rarely offering something to pique my reading lust, but there are two in two days this week:
- Burgundy: Breeding Ground for Unicorn Wines
Worth reading, but always with the ‘Yes, but…’ in the back of my mind. For all the blah, blah about pricing – people should note that for the top three wines (price-wise) in Don’s list – combined – there are probably less than 600 cases in the whole world each year – with all my connections, I might be able to assemble one or two of them per year – bottles, not cases! For 99.99999% of people who may read this article, their name is not on the list – including, usually, me… In the real world, when a bourgogne starts at €20 and a villages at €40 – now that’s the real problem to think and talk about…
- Running the Numbers on Rudy’s Fake Wines
Stuart is well-placed to offer thoughts on this, having got caught up in the world of the White Club – seemingly well-extracted from that, he has some thoughtful analysis…
A few things I’ve read in the last days:
- Opinion: We all need to get over our Burgundy obsession. Now.
- The financial risks of chasing scarce Burgundy wines
You need a subscription as well as deep pockets for this – but I’m sure the Jayer buyers are not even a little interested in the concept of ‘low liquidity‘ – bizarre at it sounds in the context of wine!
- Clonal selection to blame for premox, says Laroche winemaker
Of-course that’s a bullshit headline from the team at DB – clonal selection potentially being a contributing factor, as opposed to being singled out for a stupid headline. There is much to debate here though – I’m one of Grégory’s biggest fans – he makes stunning Chablis at Laroche and I love his personal label for Irancy – but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything – we sit in completely different camps when it comes to DIAM for instance. Thought provoking quotes, nonetheless…
- 10 Burgundy Pinot Noirs for Your Cellar
For an interestingly eclectic choice of wines…
The best thing I’ve read for a long time – it’s definitely worth broaching the second paragraph and more! Thank-you Andrew Jefford. Also a big thumbs up from me for the book he mentions; ‘Climats et Lieu-Dits des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne‘ – it is my most-used reference – the book resides on my writing table…
[Edit:] Whilst the following ‘headline‘ is nothing more than clickbait hyperbole, it is related to the article of Jefford, and does at the very least beg the question as what types of wines will be being produced in Burgundy in another 20 years, climate change as we currently experience it, is probably more problematic for the chardonnay than the pinot…
I’ve been saving a few up for you – here’s about 2 week’s worth:
- Jefford on Monday: The Chablis difference
Short but punchy. An unusual presentational approach to Chablis – I would say reasonably successful too – well-done Andrew. There’s been a sad (relative) absence of Burgundy content in Decanter since Tim Atkin was made ‘Burgundy critic’ and contributing editor – for instance their very late copy on the Jayer auction (not from Tim) that sounded just like a re-hash of the PR that was mailed afterwards by the auction house. Tim is filling the hole left after William Kelly’s short tenure – though William was still there for longer than me 🙂 – hopefully we will see more from this platform soon.
- ‘One in ten vines are diseased:’
(In French) A short piece that emphasises the issues affecting the cultivation of vines – globally too. 2016 was particularly bad in Burgundy due to the incredibly difficult first half of the growing season – much higher mortality was seen – particularly from ESCA – some areas peaking at 10% losses. The calmer growing season of 2017 and 2018 (so far) has seen lower mortality – at least from casual observation…
- Double Robots – you were warned!
(In French) Two reports looking at the future of vineyard management. One with a general purpose rechargeable robot – the Bakus – and another design for doing the weeding. I think a machine with more relevance to Burgundy’s small plots would probably have to be smaller, and it will be a while before there are Tesla-style charging points at the entrance to vineyards – they are the future – but then so, maybe, will be tractor hacking!
- Beaujolais to be part of a united ‘Great Burgundy?’
An interesting piece from Harpers. I have no doubt that, within a certain time horizon, this will happen – but today is too early. I discussed with an insider and they had an interesting observation; “Our experience concerning marriages between different regions is that tie-ups between two partners don’t work if one partner is dominant.” Let me put more meat on that bone for you; a marriage of equals works best. Burgundy is at a peak in their commercial cycle – prices at never seen before levels, mainly driven by demand-supply imbalances despite great quality. It’s also true that Beaujolais is the most dynamic of regions right now, but coming from a deep low in their economic cycle – and they have much more work to do. Effectively, a ‘marriage’ such of this is going to need a little more time for equality – a success-factor that’s been noted by both parties.
- Alternatives to Burgundy, from Burgundy:
The Los Angeles Times with that perennial opportunity to talk about relative values in Burgundy. There’s much (deserved) emphasis on the aligoté grape and (less deserved) on Passetoutgrains – there are super examples of the latter, but usually in very small quantities – at least from great producers like d’Angerville – and yes, that was a tip 🙂
- Burgundian Graphic Novels?
I include this one, purely for the nice portrait of Emmanuel Guillot – I still regret not having my camera to hand when we were discussing in his kitchen, and he was drinking tea from his Star Wars mug!