Travels in Burgundy 2021

New Beaune Hotel…

By billn on November 27, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021

New Beaune hotel in the works...

Having mentioned the Hotel Le Montrachet this week, more centrally in the Côte d’Or, I can tell you that there is a new hotel in the works Beaune.

I’ve always loved this great old building a stone-throw away from the Hospices de Beaune but also always been saddened that it has lain empty and seemingly unloved – but for a few weeks now, things have been afoot.

I’d always assumed that the building belonged to the Drouhin family as it was connected behind their offices in Rue d’Enfer – so this week, when tasting together, I asked Véronique Drouhin about it: “Yes, it’s a building that is owned by the family but the work isn’t us. We’ve leased out the building to a company that is developing a hotel – there won’t be a lot of rooms, maybe 15-18 – a kind of boutique hotel I think. We’re really looking forward to seeing the place being used.

I’m also looking forward to a new place in Beaune, central and with plenty of parking in front. Hopefully, other absentee landlords will get the hint as there are too many great buildings languishing, seemingly forgotten, in Beaune today.

All change? – Seemingly not – Hotel Montrachet, Puligny…

By billn on November 24, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021

I’m indebted to Marko de Morey for finding a small article and putting it under my nose:

Hotel Le Montrachet

“COMO Le Montrachet”
“In Burgundy’s vinous heartland, the COMO Group has acquired the four-star Le Montrachet, a key property in the village of Puligny-Montrachet and the brand’s first French opening. The Group will work with Italian designer Paola Navone to thoroughly revamp the 18th-century property’s 31 rooms and suites, and the hotel will have France’s first Shambhala Retreat for ultimate relaxation. First phase of the renovations to be completed in 2022.”

The hotel remains my favourite location south of Beaune for a coffee-stop between rendezvous – actually for quality/price, anywhere in the Côte d’Or – and also for the occasional breakfast and lunch too.

Nothing seems to have changed for now – and I was there for my grand crème this morning too – but this weekend they close for their winter holiday – so no more visits in 2021!

in the week…

By billn on November 06, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021

I may have had a ‘day off’ this week, due to being totally bunged up and coughing, but my palate came back well at the end of the week – and likewise, there were a few nice pics to snap too.

Of course, you always see the best ones when you have no time to stop. Because of the latter I only got a couple in Mercurey on Friday when the sky was dark, the sun came out and the colours were not yet lost in the vines – it is what it is 🙂

all quiet on the western front(?)

By billn on November 03, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021

Beaujolais Nouveau 2021It might appear that not much has happened around here for the last week – but – I’ve been extra-busy but unfortunately not everything was wine-related.

Last Thursday was a very early start, driving to the UK for a family funeral, returning, equally early on Sunday. A result of over 3,000 km driven in a week. Unfortunately returning with a cold too.

Well, I’d hoped that it was just a cold but I decided to seek a PCR-test as the red-light, green-light of whether I could head to Burgundy. The light was green.

The green light meant a trip to Villefranche to the marketing home of Beaujolais to taste the 2021 Nouveau samples (right). In recent years over 160 samples had been presented to taste but this year only a little over 100 – they also had frost and hail this year! A report should appear here in the Diary in the next 10 days. At my request I tasted separate from other tasters as I was developing an annoying cough – and negative or not, I’m sure that they would have become a bit pissed off with that. My palate had been reasonably fine but I was completely fatigued by the time I returned to Beaune in the evening – the cough worsening and the nose starting to block.

I’ve been lucky, I suppose, because previous vintage tastings seem to have avoided the clash with bacteria or viruses – but not today – for the first time ever, I had to cancel all of today’s visits and rest up. From another perspective, that was quite lucky, because parking was at a premium in Beaune today – the whole of the centre was cordoned off while the street ‘cleaners’ attempted to collect the falling leaves. And the reason? Apparently, Monsieur Macron was talking Angela Merkel to visit the Hospices de Beaune before their next rendezvous, for lunch, in the Château of the Clos Vougeot – no sniffles there, I’m sure!

Today my cough has begun to subside and my nose has been at least 50% open. I haven’t cancelled any of my 5 visits to taste tomorrow – so wish me luck 😉


Fire! Fire! Fire! (prices…)

By billn on October 23, 2021 #the market#travels in burgundy 2021

Autumn fire in Maranges - the colour of Autumn
Fire in Maranges – the colour of Autumn, yesterday…

It was inevitable, I suppose, but the bare facts are:
2017 – a good volume of wine in both colours
2018 – another good volume – even more-so the whites
2019 – short in whites and less than average for reds too
2020 – okay for whites but short for reds again
2021 – a catastrophe in white and very short (on average) in reds too

I remember the first time I saw prices of €10k for barrels of Corton-Charlemagne and was shocked – well you can think more in the region of at least €40k today.

But the fanning of the fires in the 1er crus of Meursault and Puligny are to be expected – the 2021 yields often 10-25% of a normal year here – currently at least 30% higher bulk prices are being asked and people are still very much testing the elasticity of those prices. I think they will increase by a lot more when you take the example of Bourgogne (red!) Côte d’Or into consideration; last year it was under €1k for the barrel, this year because 2021 will be significantly short (though not as dramatically as in the whites!) the prices quickly hit €1.5k and now people are offering €2.2K – about €7.60 just for the juice without accounting for time, labour, bottles, labels, corks and capsules, wax if you must, distribution costs and local margins and so on. That’s how short the bulk market looks right now and there’s no rule to say it can’t go higher.

Obviously, the people making Bourgogne Côte d’Or with merchanted grapes/wine don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of (more than) doubling the price of their bottles – so some fingers may get burnt – I do remember one vintage where a major seller was losing money on every single bottle of Petit Chablis that they sold. Likewise, it’s unlikely that the (majority of) white 1er crus will be able to sustain 30-50% prices increases at their end customers – but this elasticity has yet to be fully tested. I do think that the price-elasticity of the grand crus will take this in their stride – certainly for the better-known producers.

We will be watching!

in the côtes this week

By billn on October 20, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021

This week in Beaune the weather’s been quite nice – in fact with beautiful blue skies yesterday – It’s been ideal for the producers for pulling out dead vines and making the holes for replanting. But tonight the rain is forecast.

I’m making visits to taste the 2020s (mainly) in the Côte de Beaune – all I’m missing at the moment is the chance to get out and do a bit of jogging – tomorrow’s a long day with three big ranges of wines in my 5 visits, so I’m not holding out much hope for any kilometers. At least I got in a bit more than 7km yesterday evening, finishing at close to 4 mins/km – so I’ll take that after a bit of ‘mountain running’ last week!

The colours of Autumn…

By billn on October 12, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021#vintage 2021

Santenay - 12-Oct-2021
Santenay, late afternoon today…

The colours of Autumn are coming – here is a little Santenay and Chassagne (Morgeot) from today. The colours of the pinot a little more vivid and partly golden in the area around Volnay and Pommard – but not bad here either!

week 39: the last harvesting days, @louvre_lens & some wines

By billn on October 04, 2021 #degustation#travel pics#travels in burgundy 2021#vintage 2021

week 39 wines...We’ve just returned from a (necessary) week in the UK – so my harvesting this year was cut a little short – that said – my home team in Beaune still managed to finish in September, just!

The major part of the harvest was completed on Saturday (25th) and their Paulée followed on the Sunday. Their last parcel to be picked is always some vines high in Pommard – Les Vaumuriens – often 3-4 days after the rest of the harvest due to the altitude of these vines – but this year they were picked not for full maturity, rather they were picked to avoid the heavy rains that were forecast at the end of the week – 12.5° was not a bad result though and capped 10 days of harvesting for the team.

Apart from our Charlemagne that brought in 30 hl/ha, most of the rest were between 15-25 hl/ha. The Charlemagne was saved by 3 nights of using candles to counter the worst of the frost – at a cost of ~€5,000 per hectare per night – and the domaine owning just over 1/3rd of a hectare here – so that was at a cost of €5,000. Given a price of over €100 a bottle for this grand cru, that’s less than 5 cases of wine so a cost that could easily be absorbed but you can see how quickly that becomes uneconomical as the bottle price reduces.

The team were making their first ‘decuvage’ today and whilst it’s clearly a vintage where the triage was paramount, they are happy that it was done well as the latent wines taste good with no detectable taints.

Below, I include the notes of a few wines that were, mainly, drunk in the UK.

On the way back to Burgundy from the UK we decided to stop at the Louvre-Lens Museum. It more than breaks up the journey, it’s a super location – free to enter but, should you wish, you can make a donation – with a packed restaurant too which, next time, I’d like to try. The next stop was for a few plates of tapas in Chablis’ Why Not – here a bottle of Tribut from the list – more on that below. Finally, to Beaune to sleep and take in the very rainy Sunday!

1998 Guy Castagnier, Clos de la Roche
Not bright and clean but still an inspiring nose – on of purity of fruit and a decadence that implored me to drink – so I did. Deeply flavoured, beautifully fresh – just a little muddled in the long finishing flavours today. Probably to start drinking up but still with plenty of pleasure.
Rebuy – Yes

1996 Leroy SA, Bourgogne
Less depth of colour vs the Castagnier – but clean and bright – actually not so old looking. Complex, a little spice – racy red fruit too – another good aroma. In the mouth, I find unexpected concentration and depth of flavour. This is very, very good. Of course, simpler than the grand cru but with great personality and flavour. Great Bourgogne – bravo – luckily a few more remain at home!
Rebuy – Yes

2019 JC Fagot, Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles-Vignes
An impressive provenance – which I’m not allowed to reveal – that’s why JC had only one barrel – but it’s a beauty. Richly aromatic – ripe but pure – a certain impression of salinity too. In the mouth, the salinity is replaced with a slightly minty attitude to equally rich flavour – not a bruiser by any means though. Beautifully constructed wine – simply excellent.
Rebuy – Yes

2016 Laurent Tribut, Chablis
Ordered from the wine-list – and I’m a bit disappointed by this one – I suppose it serves me right for not being sufficiently adventurous as I’ve had a few of these and they have all been great. This wine, however, has a slightly apple-y hint of oxidation to it. Direct from the fridge (I took the rest home) you will barely notice until the wine starts to warm in the glass after which it’s as clear as day. Sub-standard vs all my previous great bottles.
Rebuy – No – though previous bottles were great.

2018 Château Rougeon, Bourgogne Passetoutgrains La Chapelle
Predominantly (72%) Gamay
What a simply delicious wine – from top to toe – aromatically interesting, beautifully textured, long and deliciously flavoured too. Great Passetoutgrains – bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

Some images from the week:

Burgundy Report

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