By billn on April 07, 2020 #degustation

Having already done a 2002 and a 2003 before the 2005 last week, but not quite being able to force myself to open a 2004, from the image above, I suspect you may still be able to spot my coming (cunning) plan.

This was squarely interrupted by the 2006 from Mugnier being totally corrupted by cork taint – the cork was smelly on its own, but the wine – pooeee! – but yes, there will have to be more beef bourguignone! I didn’t have another 06 ready – in the fridge, it’s already 20°C here – so jumped straight into the 2007. The 2008 will get its cork popped tonight – so notes on the next 4 later in the week…

something(s) from the côte st.jacques…

By billn on April 04, 2020 #degustation

2018 William Fèvre, Chablis
Secured with diam 5
To open with: A nose that’s just a little tight to start, but obviously saline and lime-style fruited – there’s the suggestion of structure. An hour from opening and the citrus is friendlier and brighter and wider. In the mouth a lovely acidity for the vintage, proper Chablis structure and finishing minerality. A wine that gets better and better with air – even better on day 2! Bravo, but what a baby! if you are lucky enough to have some 2017 it’s more drinkable than this today.
Rebuy – Yes

And what about 3 wines from the Côte St.Jacques?

2002 Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos des Varoilles
A nose of smoky width – I have the impression that there was a bit of toasty oak here when younger. Time gives this a bit more fresh energy and depth of aroma – a fine invitation. A direct wine in the mouth – lovely energy and vibration of flavour, but hardly medium intensity. Very tasty and seemingly still quite young. Modest intensity for a 1er cru but tasty wine all the same.
Rebuy – Maybe

2003 des Chézeaux/Berthaut, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
In lower volume vintages their Lavaux St.Jacques is blended with their Cazetiers – as here.
The nose is a little fuller and more complex, lots of depth and no smoke – this is a lovely invitation and one that becomes ever-more floral. A surprisingly nice drive and energy here for the vintage, not far behind that of the 2002 from Varoilles, there’s the sweetness of fruit of 2003 but also with width and depth of flavour. Slowly and deliciously mouth-watering – I was right to order a case of this after tasting the wine young – 5-6 more of these beauties still await…
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Pierre Bourée, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos St.Jacques
A rare wine, but one with a nightmare cork; first welded into place, then two-thirds breaks off. The remaining third eventually comes out though not before I’ve completely drilled through the middle of it with the corkscrew…
The most colour of these three wines. The nose starts a little lactic and with a suggestion vanilla too – obviously there had been plenty of aromatic oak to start with this one. 20 minutes after opening this has a width of very impressive aroma – cushioned, complex, and oh-so inviting – that’s excellent! Fresh, wide, mouth-filling and mouth-watering too – finishing with a mix of sweetness, salinity and mineral salivation – oh yes! Less lush than the 2003 but perfect for the cep risotto! Bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

‘getting through’ the weekend with…

By billn on March 30, 2020 #degustation

2009 Ardhuy, Corton Clos du Roi
Less colour than the Renardes. Here there’s a little obvious whole-cluster in the aromatics and presumably, that’s the reason for the lighter colour. The nose, actually, is a little diffuse and in all the time it’s open, never really has any kind of focus or compelling aspects – good but not great. In the mouth, it reflects a little the nose – there’s a good balance and none of the harsh finishing oak of the Renardes from a few days ago, but in terms of interest, whilst this is easier to drink, the Renardes is easily the most compelling of this duo. Given the initial tasting, much more of a disappointment than the Renardes was.
Rebuy – No

2018 Chevallier, Chablis Cuvée Prestige
Unlike the base ‘Chablis’ from this domaine, this wine is cork-sealed, rather than Nomacorc. Ooh – a proper Chablis nose of freshness and a little seashore. The aromas are reflected in the flavours – good mineral freshness – that’s a proper Chablis, even in 2018 – well done!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 François Mikulski, Meursault 1er Les Charmes 1913
The cuvée of old, 1913, vines.
Anecdotally this had a high chance of being poxed, but no, it was fine. Deep, intense yellow colour, not really gold. The nose was pungent with saline citrus – almost an oily weight to the fruit. In the mouth, it was similarly intense with really great acidity – impressive stuff. Complex, with ginger and perhaps a faint oxidative ‘something’ in the flavours, but this is great wine, the intense citrus flavour is seemingly quite peppery – no question, and one of the best whites of the year.
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgurs des Dents du Chien
I found this wine a little heavy, almost ponderous when young – what a change!
The nose is wide, fresh, floral, multi-dimensional stuff – eventually with a little salted-caramel in the mix too. Structural, open, no fat, but still a layered depth to the delivery of vibrant flavour. Sweetly wide but always with a mix of delicacy and intensity – never a suggestion of heavy. What do we have here? It’s even better than the Mikulski – that’s two nights in a row with the bottle emptied! Bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

Netflix’s ‘Uncorked’ made me do it – cellar finds:

1996 Penfolds, Bin 389
I watched Netflix’s Uncorked this weekend, and there was a reference to the Bin 389, ‘the baby Grange’ and with this weekend’s cellar tidying – guess what I found? I’m still not ready to open the 1996 Bin 707s, but why not one of these?
Not the density of colour that I remember from 15 years ago – the (14%) nose a little spirity and with plenty of prune and plume – fresh and interesting prunes all the same, and the depth growing and widening with aeration. A little fat and a lot of silk to the texture – there’s still a small grain of tannin that slowly comes to the surface. A hint spirity in the middle again, but here’s an impressively mouthwatering flavour and one that finishes with such a force of spice; cinnamon, musk, who needs La Tâche? Impressed, though it would be even better without that spirity character…

recalcitrant renardes…

By billn on March 26, 2020 #degustation

Ardhuy Corton Renardes

Blind-tasted, this was a very highly-rated wine back in 2013 – another from Ardhuy actually won the tasting – I’ll open that one on Friday.

2009 Ardhuy, Corton Renardes
This has a great nose; starting faintly creamy (lactic), with deliciously inviting dark cherry plus a note of violets that slowly evolves, becoming ever-more intense. Wow, that’s silky, at the same time it’s intense, with layered, beautiful, fruit. There’s structure too, but for all that is disappointing me today – it seems like there’s a bit of bitterness from the oak that’s still hanging on in there. Aromatically fabulous, but the palate is far from accomodating today. Maybe it will be ready at 15? Or 20? Today, half a great wine. If I look back at my note from 2013, this wine has hardly changed…
Rebuy – Maybe

weekend wines – week 12 2020

By billn on March 24, 2020 #degustation

The variety of Burgundy in 3 bottles:

2013 Comte Liger-Belair, Nuits St.Georges 1er Aux Cras
Like Louis-Michel’s 2013 villages Vosnes, there’s a little reduction here – but here it’s on a much lower level than those wines. The wine starts round – both the aromas and the flavours – I find a surprising amount of fat and depth here. This wine needs about an hour of aeration to deliver the more classical aspects of this vineyard – more flowers, less fat and an excellently developing line of flavour – here is the structure that I’ve been waiting for but not at the expense of texture – and it’s why I buy this wine. If you are tempted to try one of these, decant. Really super…
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Clotilde Davenne, Saint-Bris Vieilles-Vignes
Now here’s a little more colour than recent wines. The aroma is of more impact but also invitation than the young Saint-Bris of Gueguen, last week. In the mouth too – broad, well concentrated, deliciously flavoured with good intensity to boot. Here is a delicious wine that’s far too easy to drink – at its apogee? Maybe – the bottle drains far too quickly!
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Thillardon, Chénas Coup Double
The name is a nod to the young twins of Paul-Henri Thillardon.
Modest colour. A nose of easy invitation – red-fruited with a suggestion of flowers too. Ooh – that’s a palate to sink into – easy, open but still with depth of flavour. It’s a sweet wine like many from the vintage, but it’s never intense, always cushioning. Love…
Rebuy – Yes

a few recent wines to isolate with…

By billn on March 21, 2020 #degustation

2017 François Carillon, St.Aubin 1er Pitangerets (Red)
Like many from the south of the Côte d’Or in 2017 – no more than medium colour. Aromatically, here’s a lovely core of sweet and attractive red fruit – swirl long enough and I even think we have little violet flowers in here too. I like the energy very much here, it’s also a wine with a satisfying but not austere structure. Mineral finishing. This is very satisfying wine – I like it a lot.
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Clos de la Poulettes, Côte de Nuits Villages Chardonnay
A bounding puppy of energy here. A wine with a certain attractive sucrosity to balance the energy – both aroma and flavour. It’s an endearing wine, with its forward pineapple-style flavour, though by the third glass(!), maybe I’m starting to tire of it a little. Still, a big and tasty mouthful of wine that delivers a fine quality for a good price.
Rebuy – Maybe

2002 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Monts
Of course, it’s a direct comparison with the 2002 Hudelot-Noellat Suchots from a few days ago. This wine is the less complex, easier-going sibling. The nose is inviting and reasonably complex – though far behind what you can find in the Suchots. In the mouth, however, this is a wine that’s much more readily attractive due to an extra sweetness of fruit. Clearly less complex but a tasty wine that’s more moreish than the Suchots at this stage – it’s completely ready. I remember Jacques Lardière telling me that Petits Monts was only a ‘second division’ Vosne 1er – maybe the fruit that he had access to? – but in this comparison, he’s got it right. But this is also the more drinkable of the two at this age. A small amount of wine left for day 2 was less interesting – so drink all on day 1!
Rebuy – Yes – at the old price!

2017 Céline et Frédéric Gueguen, Saint-Bris
I think that it must have been our apero of cheesy-biscuits, but here’s a wine that began in an anonymous way – little flavour or aroma from opening. After about 20 minutes it was either opening, or we were becoming more open to the wine. Modest sauvignon character with a little mint. Fresh with good energy. A tasty wine, though still a slight wine. Refreshing and interesting all the same – also good value wine too!
Rebuy – Maybe

hudelot-noellat’s 2002 vosne 1er les suchots

By billn on March 18, 2020 #degustation

Hudelot-Noellat Les Suchoty

2002 Hudelot-Noellat, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots
Here is a good depth of colour and – what a nose! Wide, it pulls you in, so complex; leaves, tobacco, smoke, fine fruit – age – no, maturity! Fine energy in the mouth, complex too – reflective of that great nose. After the vintages of 2015-2019 you’d be forgiven for thinking that this lacks a little sweetness – but it’s completely classic and ‘ready.’ A wine I enjoyed very, very much. Excellent stuff!
Rebuy – Yes – at the old price!

staying healthy – but now it also gets complicated…

By billn on March 16, 2020 #degustation#travels in burgundy 2020#warning - opinion!

Much is down to chance, but you can also try to be sensible.

Last week in Burgundy, the Grands Jours de Bourgogne was sensibly cancelled. 600-1,200 people per venue, pressing to get near to their favourite vigneron(ne)s, pouring, slurping, making the wine as intimate as possible with all the wet parts inside their mouths/palates – then probably worst of all, in an explosion of vapour, body-fluids and wine, spitting into the large communal spittoons. It’s not just for the peacock in them that many in the trade wear red trousers! So it was clearly the right decision.

Of course, in what should have been a bumper week for trade, Beaune was dead. Plenty of parking – and the restaurants less than one-third full – the hotels less full than that.

To the side of the Grands Jours are also many other gatherings of vigneron(ne)s and private tastings, many of which that hadn’t been cancelled. I took a view as to what was, more or less, sensible to attend – this is, after-all, my job – it’s the only one I have! The Wednesday gathering of les Tontons-Trinqueurs in Nuits St.Georges didn’t quite meet my threshold – approaching 300 visitors and nearly 40 vigneron(ne)s there were simply too many people – such a shame as it’s a great group of producers. I appreciate that my threshold may be more or less stringent than yours – but as a diabetic, this was my choice. Later that same day was the tasting of the Punition Collective – another worthy group of producers – 24 of them, but only 13 from greater-Burgundy. I arrived early, didn’t taste 2018s that I had already tasted in the last 3 months, and was out in about 90 minutes before there was a bigger crowd – over 150 said that they would come to taste – by the time that I left, there were about 50 tasters. Of course, there were people that would greet only with a bump of elbows, but many were still in full-kiss-mode!

The next day I’d a private appointment – no-problem – or perhaps not – we were three, and one had been at the Tonton-Trinqueurs! In the afternoon there was a superb tasting by a bunch of Beaujolais producers; Thillardon, Desvignes, both Suniers, Ann-Sophie Dubois, Pauline Passot, Richard Rottiers, Claire Chasselay and others – on the open square next to Beaune’s Table du Square. I got there early – I was actually the first! I tasted just about everything that I hadn’t tasted in February – we were in the open-air and really there were very few visitors before 5pm – we had started at 3pm. Again a mix of elbow-bumping, handshakes and kisses…

My last appointment of the day was at the cuverie of Andrew Neilsen of Le Grappin – an interesting group of ‘smaller‘ producers. This tasting started at 4pm – I arrived at 5:15pm – I took one look – and the one photo above – and then left. Social-distancing? Not a chance! Way too many people in a very small place – nope – sorry but nope.

I had one last visit on Friday before I took the road back to Switzerland, one on one, and just one elbow-bump. That was surely okay! I was less happy with the sandwich that I bought at the bakery next to Le Grand Frais in Beaune before leaving – or should I assume bare hands putting sandwiches into a paper-bag to be fine? It was, anyway, probably also made with bare hands! But 3 days later I’m still fit 😉

Now it gets complicated though. With its cultural and geographical proximity to Italy, Switzerland doesn’t have one of the best covid-19 records, and countries that surround the Helvetic Confederation are now ‘closing’ their borders – that includes France. I had 28 different visits and tastings planned for this month’s March report – but so far I’ve achieved only 5. I have 9 more planned for next week, but it looks like I can’t travel to France next week – even if I, and my list of growers, are all fit. I have to hope that my subscribers are patient – it could be a long next 4-6 months.

Still, it could be personally worse; I could work for an airline or a restaurant – or even be sick!

more drinks…

By billn on March 11, 2020 #degustation

2018 Chevallier, Chablis
What can I tell you? – another delicious Bourgogne Blanc – actually more like half-price Bourgogne Blanc! Open, tasty, good freshness – even elegance – not the full Chablis experience but a nudge more than the Davenne of the last few days. Elegant and completely delicious wine – just a little less Chablis than normal – perhaps that will come with time…
Rebuy – Yes for bargain great Bourgogne, rebuy – maybe as Chablis – it’s not easy!

1997 Bouchard Père et Fils, Le Corton
A few years ago this wine went through a phase of herby almost corked bottles – 3 in a row – or maybe that was a run of poor bottles! But this wine is grandiose today! So floral perfumed – violet-infused with a little extra leafy complexity – a great invitation. There’s a sweetness to the fruit of 1997s that was surprising but comely at the time, but the wines of 2015-2019 might have you thinking that this is only off-sweet! In the mouth this has depth and density but delivered in layers of great flavour – I don’t really know what a violet flower tastes like – but probably like this – so deeply infused is the aroma in the flavours too. Simply a pleasure to drink – balanced and complex – gorgeous!
Rebuy – Yes

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