The Market

still travelling, more news on mortet

By billn on December 18, 2006 #the market#travel

I’ve left New York behind and find myself in Philadelphia – well the airport Marriott anyway, and it’s definitely not grubby! The bar of the hotel throngs to quite a number of people cheering an (American) football team, on (as far as I can see) 6 TV screens in the bar area – maybe it’s a local team – turns out it’s Philly vs the NY Giants. Downtown Philadelphia looked like it might be quite nice with the sun setting on its tall glass buildings, but all I saw was the cab-ride from the quite impressive train station to the hotel ($46 just in-case you need to budget).

Regarding the domaine Denis Mortet, it seems it is all-change again: The excellent Claire Forestier is once-more without portfolio as the 24 year old Arnaud Mortet is now assuming the full-time role of technical director, his mother Laurence, will continue to manage the administrative side of things. I hope that Claire will find a more ‘stable’ role soon – unless of-course she is intentionally following the (helicopter piloting) path of the flying winemaker!

burgundy – the home of pinot noir

By billn on December 17, 2006 #the market

bivb burgundy advertisingApparently the ‘Brits’ like to name wines by their varietal. I’m not sure who came up with that statement, or how it applies to Chablis, Châteauneuf-du-Pape or ‘claret’ for instance, but someone was convinced enough to pay for a series of adverts in ‘lifestile magazines’ and the ‘colour supplements’ of the weekend newspapers in the UK and Ireland in the last months of 2006.

Apparently the campaign “helps to simplify the Burgundian appellation system and so makes the wines more accessible to the British, while serving as a reminder of the unique quality conferred by terroir.”
bivb burgundy 2007 event guide
Perhaps the money spent by the BIVB would have found a better home researching a solution to the white burgundy premature oxidation syndrome…

Much more useful from our friends at the BIVB is their guide to the Burgundian wine festivals of 2007, detailing almost 80 wine-related events throughout wine-growing Burgundy in 2007. It’s bilingual (French and English) and can be found in the regions tourist offices, hotels etc., etc. The same information can also be accessed through the BIVB’s website.

Tha Fabian Cobb seems a very cynical chap when it comes to this stuff – much more so than me…

christies change gear for the hospices de beaune

By billn on November 24, 2006 #the market

It seemed to me that in 2005 the selling ‘machine’ of Christies (at theit first attempt) did not really get into full gear for the sale of the 2005’s; prices were average and the wines should be excellent – perhaps Christies needed to get into the swing of things.

This year, for the 2006’s, the reds will (typically) be inferior to 2005 – note that I don’t say bad, just not as good – and the whites will simply be a different style, very good, but not necessarily ‘better’ than either 2004 or 2005. Despite this, the prices for the whites reached amazing heights vs the last two years and the reds were ‘in-line’ with the prices for 2005.

Two things to say: first, the pricing no longer (did it ever?) reflects the vintage quality – at least vis-a-vis other vintages – and second, let’s not get too concerned about it, because this is anyway a charity event. Clearly though, Christies were this year much more efficient at bringing private buyers to the table – perhaps this heralds a slow marginalisation of the négociants – at least as buyers – who knows(?) Perhaps not when I see that Maison Albert Bichot (alone) bought 104 barrels on behalf of themselves and long-standing clients.

Two reports follow; the first from the Decanter site here, and the more detailed and particularly recomended report from Jancis’ site here.

merchants and faulty bottles – some advice…

By billn on November 12, 2006 #degustation#the market

corksI don’t often whinge – I think!

When it comes to corked wine, my average is only around 4% detected – close to, but at the bottom-end of the rates from most studies – so I don’t consider myself a hypercondriac.

My approach to merchants when I have a bad bottle is simply to point out the problem and in a friendly-way ask (where possible) for a replacement, no histrionics, no emotion. The level of professionalism that merchants display at this juncture usually defines the longevity of your/my relationship with them – that’s my experience anyway. Those that can swiftly achieve the replacement, without fuss – I don’t need an apology as it’s clearly not their fault – tend to be my main suppliers, those that cannot are quickly ‘discarded’.

Why discarded? – That’s easy; there’s a big difference between ‘fault’ and ‘responsibility’. There is no blame attached to a bad bottle, but in a commercial transaction there is a responsibility to supply product (any product) that is fit for purpose – if it’s faulty it needs replacing. One ‘specialist’ merchant in my country of domicile points to the fact that their low (merely average) pricing does not allow for replacements – tant pis pour toi – they no longer have any business with me.

There are grey areas (of course) like when I had a bottle very recently with two winemakers; the bottle was clearly corked. I made my normal request and had the following experience:
“Do you still have the bottle?”
“No, I opened it in Burgundy and chose not to drive 260km back to Switzerland 4 days later with the faulty bottle and its contents” (which is anyway still 150km from the merchant’s location – I wonder if I was expected to post at my own cost an already opened bottle?)
“okay, I’ll have to check what we can do with my director – because this is an expensive bottle” (€90)

We anyway agreed, without further comment on what the ‘director can do’, that I would pick-up the replacement at a tasting. I got the bottle, but also with a note saying that I would be charged at 50%. Hmm. I have not yet made a fuss, because I have not yet been billed. It is also quite possible that I would have had 100% refund if I had been able to produce the bottle and its bad contents – though this implies a certain lack of trust and definite logistical issues. For now I will keep my powder dry, but a similar such occurance will certainly be the last with this merchant.

Personally speaking, only a portion of my faulty bottles will ever be replaced, as I only see it in the young wine when tasted at my first purchase. Once the bottles have lain in my cellar for more than a year – even if the problem is TCA (which will have been there since bottling) – I become philosophical and tend to agree (possibly wrongly): tant pis pour moi!

I think I’m very fair, I know that some people would say overly-so (?)

a new manager at domaine bertagna

By billn on October 30, 2006 #the market

christophe vial bertagnaChristophe Vial is the new estate manager at Domaine Bertagna in Vougeot, he will be assisted by the new vineyard manager Arnaud Lecoeur and cellarman Denis Rozat.

For the last five years, Christophe Vial was cellar-master at Domaine de Montille in Volnay. He now takes over from Claire Forestier who left the domain in March and is now to be found at Domaine Denis Mortet. Christophe’s replacement at de Montille is Gaétan Marchand who was a cellar-master at the Domaine de la Vougeraie in Premeaux.

Swings and roundabouts!

Bans des Vendanges 2006

By billn on September 18, 2006 #the market#vintage 2006

The info we’ve been waiting for:

  • Côte de Beaune : 18 September
  • Côte de Nuits : 20 September
  • Hautes-Côtes de Beaune et de Nuits : 23 September
  • Châtillonnais : 15 September

Around Auxerre (Yonne)

  • Crémants de Bourgogne, Saint-Bris : 11 September
  • Irancy : 16 September
  • Vins du Vézelien : 18 September
  • Chablis : 16 September

The weather has been pretty good; clear skies, sunshine & 28°C for much of September (above average) and only two days with a little rain – half the September average – but then we’re only halfway through September! Anyway I’m hoping to be getting my hands dirty at the triage table this weekend so will send updates as we go.

Two additional snippets of Burgundy-related info:

  1. Following a 21% increase in volume for the last quarter of 2005, worldwide export figures for the first six months of 2006 confirm Burgundy ‘s top form, with a boost of 12% in volume and 11% in value compared to the same period last year. Even more noteworthy, is the progress of Crémant de Bourgogne : where despite low volume, exports rose by 22% in volume and 60% in value from January to June year on year, continuing the trend started in 2005 when exports of the region’s sparkling AC took off (source : BIVB).
  2. On the UK market, volume exports of wines for the period January to June 06 show a 4% increase on 2005 (+1% in value). For Crémant de Bourgogne volumes, the uplift is 13% over the same period (source : Douanes Françaises).

Burgundy Report

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