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fighting the frost in the côte d’or…


Above, via Regis Rossignol in Volnay…

For the past week or-so, the Côte d’Or has been relatively protected from the frost seen in other parts of Burgundy, indeed the wider France. But this morning, starting before 5am, groups of vignerons in multiple villages, began lighting bails of hay, in and around their vines, with the aim take the cutting edge from the frost. Some individual producers are trying to keep air moving with helicopters.

It’s the first time I’ve seen such a team ethic here in Burgundy and across multiple appellations. I’ll be out in the vines to see how this is working – but the vignerons might need to order more hay – it could be that a similar event is required overnight tonight too! Of-course the fight in Chablis has hardly stopped for over a week now…

new burgundy report online…

March 2017’s Burgundy Report is now online for subscribers – I hope that you enjoy!
Thanks to all…

weekend wines – week 16 2017

2015 Dampt Frères, Chablis 1er Beauroy
Pale lemon yellow. A sumptuous nose of freshness and fine citrus notes – going quite deep – really an invitation. Bright, fresh – steely even, but with density and intensity. The flavour begins to fade rather quickly but then holds a modest but very long, mineral and mouth-watering finish. Lovely texture and very tasty wine. We enjoyed this very much.

2002 Camille Giroud, Chambertin (Mag)
To celebrate the new Beaune apartment. I wonder where all those 1990s and early 2000s wines from Camille Giroud ended up – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one at retail…
A relatively modest colour. The nose is a wow – deep, just a little dirty – in a good way – and just so alluring. The palate is not the largest but it is simply a delicious roundness of fresh, mouth-watering flavour. Given that this was a magnum, there remained some wine for day 2 – just a little less interesting aroma, but really just as good on the palate – delicious wine. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 V & D Berthaut, Fixin 1er Les Arvelets
There’s only one small thing to complain about here – the attractive wax top shatters and makes a mess all-over the place!
Medium-plus colour. The nose is not the biggest but has a fine and pure freshness of fruit plus faint flowers – young and pure. More volume in the mouth but with fine and growing intensity. Really wide, here with a little tannin – but lovely, mouth-watering flavour too. Long and very tasty. You but delicious wine – and even a tad better on day 2 – unlike the Chambertin!
Rebuy – Yes

2000 Bouchard Père et Fils, Volnay 1er Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot
Oof! What a stinky nose. The palate has good volume, depth of flavour and a seemingly impressive mid-palate and finish – but – it’s a terribly corked wine – only pouring down the sink is good enough for this wine – yuk!

the frost – a quick look at chablis…

I got up early today to visit Chablis – an 08h30 producer appointment before tasting a range of wines from Irancy (2015).

I often encountered temperatures of 1-2°C whilst on the autoroute, but nothing lower – the skies were clear blue and the sun was shining.

As I approached Chablis I could see that it was just about the only place with some overhead cloud – but I noted it wasn’t the usual white-grey, it was brown-grey – it didn’t take me long to work out that this was the accumulation of the smoke from all the vineyard candles that are used to guard against the frost – there was no wind, so the smoke simply stayed put.

After my visit in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, the direct route back to Chablis took in the Chablis 1er Cru of l’Homme Mort – a cru that for many years made up a percentage of many Fourchaumes. It was now 09h30 but I was greeted by the water-cannons still working in the vines – I decided that it was time to get wet! What was instantly clear was that, in this location, if the vines weren’t getting a good soaking, then they were brown and already lost to the frost – those covered by the cannons looked normal and green. Driving further round to the grand crus, clearly here the preferred protection was the aforementioned candles, allowing the vines and earth to stay dry – which endows 2-4°C more protection from the frost.

Having discussed with Frédéric Drouhin on Saturday, I had the chance to ask a couple more producers what they though – both were non-commital, and had a very similar message;

Clearly some places have lost at least 50%, and a little rain in Maligny and Lignorelles at the start of last week means that those areas were much more sensitive to the frost. But the difference between the plots are so marked that it won’t be before the end of the week before I have a decent idea, myself, what is lost and what is saved. I need to see how some of the opposing buds come through this, and we have cold and wet forecast for the end of the week – so it’s really not over yet!
 

a little sunday afternoon volnay…

16°C in the shade – but definitely not in the sun!
 

a little sunday morning beaune…

A little remparts and the town centre – quick mobile phone snaps…
 

this week’s frost (part deux)

Last night in the Côte d’Or there was nothing to report – unlike the devastation in my Swiss domicile – not just vines but the fruit industry too. The corridor to Burgundy – the Jura – is likewise terribly affected.

Here in the Côte d’Or, the last days saw lit candles in the vines in Volnay and St.Romain – I hear that there was damage in both Savigny-lès-Beaune and St.Aubin, but for the moment I’ve no more info. There has been a relatively strong north wind and the vineyards were very dry so damage has been relatively minor. The Hautes Côtes have seen at least -4°C and some vignerons re-purposed the ‘chariots’ used for burning the pruned material, making fires from pulled out old vines – they say that they definitely save some buds.

I caught up with Frédérick Drouhin this morning in Beaune’s market and asked him how it was for him in Chablis, where it was colder than here. The grand crus were of-course well-protected, but losses in premier crus were ‘not too bad’ – say 10-15%, and the villages wines had lost more like 30% – “But it’s not yet over” he counsels…

Anyway, to brighten the picture, there was the produce of Beaune’s market in the sunshine this morning – the strawberry aroma was fabulous – though it looks like there wont be many from Switzerland this year!
 

weekend wines – week 15 2017

I’m late getting these out – what with moving apartment and-all!

2014 Rebourgeon-Mure, Bourgogne Chardonnay
Only a very faint yellow colour. The nose has freshness and equally modest flashes of citrus. In the mouth there’s fine direction and energy – indeed almost getting to mouth-puckering – but not quite. If the sun is shining, and you want something fresh, modestly proportioned but with a little bite – oh, and modestly priced – this is for you. Enjoyed!
Rebuy – Yes

2013 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Beaune 1er Montrevenots
I love both this producer and this vineyard – so this was always going to be a slam-dunk. Great fresh fruit – but with a certain aromatic depth. In the mouth there’s a little acid bite – but certainly not damaging – and a fine cherry fruit of textured depth. Actually there’s a certain extra depth here that also reminds me of this producer’s Ile des Vergelesses – that’s a compliment! Really lovely wine!
Rebuy – Yes

2015 Santini Frères, Beaujolais Villages
Sometimes it is absolutely clear, even before you start, that some things can’t go wrong; 2015 Beaujolais, nice packaging and a litre bottle to boot! It does exactly what it says on the label – big wine with energy and tasty fruit – actually a slightly meaty side to this fruit – but for this label there’s nothing to detract from another pour. Great weekend drinking!
Rebuy – Yes

gossip, lambrays…

Only tittle-tattle, of-course, but I understand after buying the domaine, that LVMH had an internal candidate lined up for the job at Clos des Lambrays – contracts were done, only waiting to be signed. Reading between the lines, there might have been an obvious problem – their first choice wasn’t French! Quelle horreur! I’m not quite sure at what stage they may have noted their error.

Internal candidate? Well, let’s not forget that LVMH have a very nice winery in a significant rugby-playing nation south of the equator! I heard this from somebody who was also approached by the head-hunters for the Lambrays rôle…

frost – a close call in the côtes


April 2016…

To be honest, I hardly remember frost in Burgundy – I began tasting here in 1997 (the 1996s), and I’ve rarely seen much – but there was a sense of deja-vu to this week’s weather forecast.

Typically, back home in Switzerland, I brought out my non-hardy plants last week after literally weeks without rain and often-times temperatures above 20°C – this week whilst in Beaune, there are weather warnings back in Bern, already some snow and -6 to -8°C forecast for Thursday and Friday night – there go the plants! It could also be the second year running that the second half of April sees colder temperatures than much of the deep winter. Note that most of the Côte d’Or is close to two weeks ahead of the growth schedule of an ‘average’ year – so potentially there is as much growth to lose today, as there was at the end of April last year.

In Chablis yesterday evening there was plenty of damage as temperatures dipped below -3°C. Here in the Côtes it rarely got below -1°C and there was virtually no damage reported – last night at-least – it’s not yet over. The water sprays and ‘candles’* were out in action in Chablis – but many areas are unprotected and saw loses – it was worse in the Châtillonais – between Chablis and Champagne – here were much bigger losses. It would have been worse-still had there been any rain to speak of in the last week or two – any damp exacerbates the effect of the frost such that plants might survive -3°C in very dry conditions – but succumb to -1°C when wet/damp – chardonnay at least, pinot is less hardy…

I asked one producer from the Côte de Nuits ‘So if you already knew that on Friday evening the vineyards would touch -5°C, could you actually go out and protect your vines with, for instance, candles?’ Their answer:

The problem is that we have 15 hectares, so you can multiply that by at least 3 or 4 to come to the actual number of parcels – it’s actually physically impossible for us to be in all those parcels to light candles as required – not even taking into account the cost of doing so. Ideally if you’ve great relations with some fellow producers, you could let them be responsible for one vineyard while you take responsibility for another – and so on. Frankly, such cohesion and organisation would be a remarkable thing!

Fingers crossed for the next days…

*‘Candles’ really doesn’t give you a true idea – rows of 5 kilo cans that have more to do with petrochemicals, with dark smoke – not a bit like the domestic candles in your house – and environmentally friendly they are not…

good neighbours!

I eventually moved apartment in Beaune today – it looks like I have good neighbours 🙂
Lots of memories of the old place – which I first visited in 2003 – but today starts a new chapter.

Still a lot more painting to do though 🙁

Boris Champy – the new man for Domaine des Lambrays…

Boris Champy in action, right…

It is official this week – ultra-athlete Boris Champy will be the new face of Domaine des Lambrays – taking over the role of Thierry Bruin as he moves into his retirement.

Boris, who hails from a family of vignerons in Champagne, studied in Bordeaux and worked for the Moueix Family (Petrus, Trotanoy et-cetera) then had a 10 year stint at Moueix’s Dominus in California (1997-2007). In 2008 he joined Domaine Louis Latour in Beaune, and whilst we can forever-and-a-day discuss the wine-making at Latour, under Boris the viticulture was brought up to the highest possible level. Boris will be replaced at Louis Latour by Christophe Deola, production director since 2011, previously responsible for bottling, dry goods and Latour’s cooperage – Christophe is both a Viticultural Engineer and Oenologue.

Regarding Domaine des Lambrays, I asked Boris if he was happy or sad to have missed all pruning at Lambrays – “Well, it means I’ll have to wait for the 2018s to call a vintage 100% my own” he countered!

And for those of you that don’t know, Boris is a cyclist, marathon runner, ‘ultra-trailer’ and an Ironman triathlete – in his ‘spare time’…

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