Why Big Red Diary?

just a few whites from this week…


Drunk slowly over the last 4 days, with a little Volnay here and there. The first two being part of a selection opened for tour-guests which also included a Puligny Champs Canet and a Bienvenues plus more Volnay 😉

2012 Olivier Leflaive, Bourgogne Oncle Vincent
A bit of toasty reduction fades to reveal a hint of phenolics but a basically pretty and direct aroma. In the mouth there’s good texture and really plenty of concentration and intensity – width of fresh and involving flavour. Well done Oncle Vincent!
Rebuy – Yes

2012 Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet
A bit of toasty reduction once more. As it fades this becomes finer and finer with a very pretty and fresh complexity. In the mouth the texture is marginally finer though there’s certainly no more intensity than the Bourgogne shows – but – there is a much more impressive, complex flavour – you can almost point to the individual notes. This is simply more delicious. Really super-tasty wine. Excellent!
Rebuy – Yes

Both the Leflaives held up perfectly for 3 days – I thought the Puligny (aromatically) not as good on the 4th day, but remarkably the Bourgogne was still going strong. The bottles were left in the garage at a (maximum!) of 2°C in Bern this week, so needed to warm in the glass!

2006 Louis Chenu, Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc
I found it in the cellar and my first thought was that it would be ‘past it’ – but… The nose is fresh, indeed a bit phenolic, the flavours too but with the nice, impressive, mid-palate complexity that maturity brings. Fresh and alive, but not really tasty in the same context as the (admittedly brilliant) Puligny. However, 3 hours after opening the bottle, the wine is holding up very well, and the slightly austere phenolic references have softened a little. The mid-palate flavour remains excellent, better than you could expect from the label. The rest is modest, but a welcome glass none-the-less. Probably all those phenols kept this wine from oxidation’s door.
Rebuy – Yes

a weekend duo…


2009 Ramonet, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Modesty coloured. A warm but welcoming aroma here – nicely detailed red fruit and not ‘too warm.’ Nicely textured with decent balance and a sweetness of fruit. Not a wine for dissecting, rather to lubricate discussion – works very well in that context. Tasty too!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Joseph Voillot, Pommard 1er Pezerolles
Ooh! – that’s pretty! There’s comely dark fruit encased in an almost glossy silkiness – it says ‘drink me!’ Round and mouth-filling, but without overt, distracting volume. A beautiful depth of flavour that really holds in the finish and even adds some violet flower notes. Tannin? Pommard structure? No, not really – it’s just too well-balanced for that. Just an über-tasty wine!
Rebuy – Yes

week 47…

A few producers in the bag from this week…

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a nouveau wine – and it’s a beaujolais…


Today is Beaujolais Nouveau day isn’t it?

Well, this is nouveau to me! This is a hybrid fermented – so part carbonic maceration, part ‘burgundian’ fermentation, i.e. with destemmed grapes. Here from a 3.5 ha domaine bought by Albert Bichot last year. Personally I prefer my BJ at least 10 years old as I’m no great fan of the aromas of carbonic maceration – and certainly not banana! This wine seems a great compromise…

2014 Domaine de Rochegrès, Moulin-à-Vent Rochegrès
Deep, bright fruit, a little carbonic in style but moderated by a complexity of fruit. Round with a core of mouth-watering and finely intense line of flavour. Fine texture here with a lovely finishing fruit flavour – bright yet layered finishing. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

my weekend two, from the hill…


2005 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton-Perrières
Deeply coloured. The nose has depth and width; sinewy dark red fruit that plumbs deep bass notes. In the mouth there is muscle to match the sinew, but there are also layers of ripe, intense, but never jammy or roast flavour. This is excellent and is showing well today. A wine that will easily reward another 30 years of great storage, but is also no shame to drink today – indeed it was delicious!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 JC Boisset, Aloxe-Corton 1er Les Valozières
Almost as deeply coloured as the Corton, but, as it should be, a little younger shade of red. The nose is fresh and complex, even a little floral lift too – yum! In te mouth this lacks the weight of the last wine but has great, mouth-filling, shape. A complex and giving wine that offers a sweetness of flavour without the sometimes cumbersome weight of this cru. Excellent. A lesser wine than the 2005, but no lesser drink… Very yum!
Rebuy – Yes

a loose moose – but not for long: faiveley, dufouleur and some musigny…

DSC08799Due to the multiple news headlines of the weekend, you would be forgiven for having missed it, but this month, for the first time in many years, a chunk of Musigny changed hands.

It was originally agreed by the parties that news of this transaction should come out after the Hospices auction, but it seems that nobody told the winespectator.

Anyway, Dufouleur Frères were parting with a small piece of the Musigny jigsaw, and Erwan Faiveley (today, right) was waiting with open wallet.

The two producers have long had links, indeed their cuveries sit next-door to each other in Nuits St.Georges.

Domaine Dufouleur Frères:
I’ve profiled these young producers before, and I found their 2010s and 2012s were very promising – the 2013s less-so [Subscribers], but the ‘2013 problem’ was a symptom of the succession to come. And here we have the rub. François-Xavier Dufouleur told me yesterday (at the Hospices auction) that they sold because:

  • “We (the family) did not sell by choice but because of succession”
    (It was the death of Jean Dufouleur, owner of the vines, that triggered the transaction. He had 14 potential ‘inheritors.’)
  • “We decided to sell to a local and quality oriented producer, and for that, refused some higher financial proposals”
  • “We also obtained, by exchange, about 1 hectare of Nuits & Nuits 1er cru vines (Vignerondes), which helps to confirm our anchoring in Burgundy”

Domaine Faiveley:
And really, Faiveley are overwhelmingly a domaine today. Erwan Faiveley has been unstinting in taking every opportunity to buy-up expiring domaines – Billaud-Simon in Chablis was the last one, about 12 months ago. Let’s be honest, this transaction is certain to have been of higher monetary value than the €1 million paid for Château de Puligny’s 0.03 hectares of Montrachet, in spite of the villages and 1er cru Nuits parcels taken by Dufouleur in lieu of some cash.

Have Faiveley unlimited cash? Well, that’s a good question. We should be aware that Faiveley have, very recently, sold a significant part of their family railway engineering company to US company Wabtec. Erwan notes “It’s a merger and we keep a significant ownership interest, and we also have seats on the board – but we were also able to take some cash from this transaction.” Just as well, as they also have a new cuverie project in Nuits, which begins at the end of this year. They won’t need much additional space for the produce of these vines in Musigny though. I would suggest, given that such vines don’t often change hands, even once in a generation, that if you have the opportunity, and you have the means to pay, then you should not hesitate. The vines are (potentially) yours forever, just like the first vines the Faiveley family ever bought; their Nuits 1er (today) Les Porets, puchased in the 1830s…

But at least to start with, there is a small divergence of opinion:

An interesting quote from my domaine profile (2012):
“We are lucky to have a lot of things, and yes, we have 0.1 ha of Musigny – just 500 bottles – but it is on the limit of the vineyard next to Les Argillières – which is just Chambolle villages. Actually this Musigny is no gift for the domaine as people have such high expectations, but maybe the plant material is not the best, or it is just its position, but our Clos de Vougeot is usually better – so it’s a bit frustrating!”


Today’s quote from Erwan Faiveley:
“The Musigny vines are in really good shape. We already did some repiquage last week. Really, we are very happy with the work that the Dufouleur team have done with these vines in the last years.”

Of-course, Faiveley is now selling, not buying!

I’m a strong proponent of the phrase – it’s not what you pay for something, it’s what you do with it that counts. Dufouleur had no record in producing a small cuvée Musigny but Faiveley have. Indeed, Faiveley are so good at it, that they even need a lock for their bespoke Musigny barrel’s bung (right) – currently big enough for 150 bottles.

It remains to be seen ‘how good are the produce of those vines’ once Faiveley start in earnest – and they already forecast producing only 60% of the number of bottles that Dufouleur used to. We will see, soon enough, how good that plot is.

Edit: Friday 20 Nov.
It takes time to teeze-out occasional, additional details, but some of these are pertinent. I should add that the following doesn’t come from either of the parties involved in the transaction, and take the third point with a pinch of salt, if you want 😉

  1. Regarding the location of the vines: despite the implication(s) of some of my notes above, the vines are very well placed, next to those of de Vogüé and Roumier, right in the middle of the vineyard, though as noted, next to Chambolle villages at the top of the vineyard.
  2. There were indeed, a number of interested potential buyers.
  3. Euros 5.5 million for about 2.3 ouvrées (1 ouvrée = 0.04285 hectares) :-)

an hospices sunday…



Of-course, there wasn’t just the half-marathon in Beaune this weekend!

The auction, despite sombre reflections dedicated to those who lost their lives in Paris, started with full-blast bidding – over-exuberance? – perhaps. Security was certainly in evidence; without the right pass, or the right name to come to the door to your aid, you were not going to get your foot across entrance – and that’s just the way it has to be. There is a certain type of person that will always cause my blood to boil, and whilst waiting to get through the press door, here was one of them; somebody without any credentials was really pissed that he was being ‘held-up’ at the door – he didn’t seem to give a shit that 130 people died 36 hours before. I don’t care how expensive his shoes were – he was acting like a tosser…

The opening lots were sold for about 40% higher than the (already high) catalogue estimates. I saw barrels of Clos de la Roche going for €110,000 – that’s €375 per bottle – and that’s just to cover the hammer price; add at least 25% to reach the final price per bottle. Still, it’s charity, and it’s a lot cheaper than a Leroy, and (just) maybe the 2015s will indeed be monuments, but for anyone who lives by selling these wines, €600+ will be tough call. Likewise, barrels of Beaune were costing an unheard-of €10,000 – the Savignys not far south of that either.

Then there was the ‘President’s Lot’ – a barrel of Corton-Renardes that sold with a hammer price of €480,000 – I suppose fittingly bought by a (mystery) French buyer, as a portion of the proceeds will go to 3 charities, including the families of the Paris attack. Last year the President’s barrel went for €220,000!

At 8:00pm, when the last lots of Fine de Bourgogne were knocked down for a tenth of the price of the wines, the sale was over. In total the turnover was €11.35 million and the average price per barrel up by 37%. It seems the market is no-longer connected to prices in the auction – or at least we must very-much hope so. By 9:00pm, the chairs had already been cleared from the auditorium and most of the stalls around Place Carnot had been dismantled. Here is the press release from Christies.

By tomorrow evening, Beaune will largely be closed for the rest of the year…

week 46…

A few producers in the bag from last week…

1-burg 153

made it…


Multiple massages and heat patches just about did the trick – save for the (should know better) sprint for the line. I was in shape to do 5 minutes faster, but made a conservative start. A super day – and lots of emotion on the start-line as everyone belted out La Marseillaise…

tada! lights, action…

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has come a little too early for Beaune, but the Christmas lights (which went up, around town, in October) were switched on tonight!

Of-course, today is the first day of the ‘Les Trois Glorieuses’ – the weekend that marks the auction of the Hospices de Beaune:

clos de tart in the mainstream


Okay, I’m afraid it has to be in a yukky ‘luxury’ section of the mainstream news, but mainstream news it is, and that’s a rarity. Given the pricing of the wine, this categorisation as a luxury can hardly be quibbled with. Personally I’d much prefer it to appear in a ‘culture’ section; because here is something quintessentially French and with more than 1000 years of history. So be it, but ‘luxury’ adds a certain intellectual ‘baggage’ which will prevent some people from even wanting to turn that page.

It’s the smallest of domaine thumbnails by Victoria Moore, but certainly given the probable word-count constraints (the terror, not the terroir) of modern writing, this is a very nice job indeed. Merci!

want to buy 2015 hospices?

Time is running out if you do (of-course!)

I have this in my inbox today, and it is, I suppose, an easy (read cheap!) entry into the world of Hospices de Beaune wine – though you won’t get to see your name on the label 😉 Albert Bichot have, for the best part of 15 years (to my personal knowledge) been making great wine, arguably as good as any négoce in Beaune.

If you really must have your own name on the label, but hanker for an Australian to look after the elevage for you, drop me a line, as I may have a useful name for you 😉 just click on my name at the bottom of any page, send me a note, and I’ll put you in contact.

It goes without saying, I’ve no financial involvement of any kind with either the linked info, or any further contacts that I might suggest for you!!!

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