tonnerre and a hole?

By billn on August 07, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

Fosse Dionne Tonnerre week 33 2020

After a Chablis lunch this week in Les Trois Bourgeons – originally a sort of sister establishment to Au Fils du Zinc – we decided to take in the big blue-green hole of Tonnerre, better known as the Fosse Dionne:

Tonnerre, depending on your perspective, sits majestically within an amphitheatre of hills – one side full of vines – or alternatively, you could say that it sits in a hole.

Much larger than Chablis and described as a small city of character by the local tourist office (which was closed!) I have to say that the old town has a wonderful collection of 17-19th century architecture with two great gothic churches, Saint Peter’s at the top of the hill being particularly impressive. Sadly, much of this old part of the town is unoccupied and in a terrible state of repair. There are so many wonderful buildings that you might consider as renovation projects, except that it’s likely that your neighbour’s house will fall down before you are finished – taking yours with it!

The fosse is indeed worth a visit – it’s only 15 minutes from Chablis so ‘why not?!‘ But the old town of Tonnerre is currently something of a hole itself – I left feeling sad for the place…


Of-course, there was some Chablis too:

2020 – the state of play…

By billn on August 04, 2020 #vintage 2020

Veraison 04 Aug Fixin Clos des Perrières
Veraison 04 Aug Fixin Clos des Perrières

Of-course, it’s normal.

There was a bit of emotion with the tempest of hail that hit Nuits on Saturday, so it’s always better to wait 3 or 4 days before considering the full effect. And the effect seems to have been limited. The storm itself – thankfully – seems to have been centred on the town of Nuits itself. Some vines have been hit, but it’s predominantly a few puncture wounds to leaves and the occasional berry that has some impact damage on the southern side of Nuits. It was reported that the damage was all the way to Premeaux, but that wasn’t the case, the hail stopped quite close to the housing of Nuits – I’ve no info on damage to the north of Nuits but most villages actually remained dry.

And July? The average temperatures have been within a degree of a ‘normal’ July but there has been an almost record low of rain and many more hours of sunshine than the average. The sun has certainly managed to shrivel some of the directly exposed grapes, but unlike those few hailed berries around Nuitswhich have the time to dry completely, the sunburned grapes rarely fall to the ground so need more work to triage. The final treatments have already been made, so whilst growers might like a little more rain, they will happily so ‘no’ if it entails a storm. The projected harvest date remains one of the earliest on record and will be a function of both individual viticulture and attitude!

In Beaujolais, the harvest date is projected to be a little later than in 2003, but still the second earliest since data recording was properly established in 1992. Much further to the north – the sauvignons of Saint-Bris need another couple of weeks to be anywhere close to showing their maturity, but in general, like the rest of Burgundy, all is clean in the vineyards and the yields look modestly generous.

Some vines from today in Nuits 1er Les Procés:


By billn on August 03, 2020 #degustation

Yes there have been some!

I simply let the photos pile-up whilst going walking in the Swiss hills 🙂 My short reminisences:

1998 Gelin, Fixin 1er Clos Napoleon
Here was a wine with few friends when younger. The fact that I bought a case cheaply in 2001 and still have 7 or 8 bottles speaks volumes – yet today, this is engaging and no-longer ‘hard’ experience. Actually, I enjoyed it more than a little. Yum – time can be a great healer!
Rebuy – Maybe

2007 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers du Dents du Chien
Deeply coloured but not even a suggestion of oxidation to either aromas or flavours. Deep, complex, mineral and with a surprising ‘fatness’ to the texture for a 2007. Not as engagingly complete as the 2006 currently shows, but this was a complex and brilliant finishing wine that is only just starting to unlock some of that age-related complexity. Really excellent!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 G&P Ravaut, Ladoix Les Carrières
Here’s a wine packs both an aromatic and flavour punch. There’s something very 2005 about this density of aroma and flavour – but it’s a wine that’s also completely open and rather involving. Really a great villages – chapeau!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Clotilde Davenne, Saint-Bris Vieilles-Vignes
Screw-capped. A deep lemon-yellow colour. The nose has a touch of mint and a really fresh invitation to drink. Deep, beautiful, almost a pineapple carpaccio flavour profile. Non-standard versus a chardonnay but completely delicious. Super wine again!
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Camille Giroud, Corton
A forward and open nose, yet a little too meaty and sweet for this palate – no delicacy here. The nose would not have been a problem if the palate had delivered something different – but again, it’s something of an uncouthly sweet experience in the mouth. Clearly a phase as this wine was very tasty a few years ago. I don’t have many more, but will anyway probably wait 5 years or so before trying again.
In this instance Rebuy – No

2011 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers du Dents du Chien
Like the 2007 quite some depth to the colour – and again nothing oxidative. Where this differs from the older wine, is a more exotic fruit profile and still some barrel-creaminess – there’s even the faintest suggestion of barrel reduction. Very drinkable but still some way from my idea of maturing white burgundy. Another 5 years should do it!
Rebuy – Yes

hail – for those who haven’t seen it…

By billn on August 01, 2020 #vintage 2020

It’s better to wait for a proper picture – but today’s ‘red warnings‘ of hail in the Côte d’Or were not for nothing:

June 2020’s report – now online

By billn on July 30, 2020 #reports

Lantignié soil
Lantignié’s soil – there’s even some organic material!
From Monday 15th June, the French borders re-opened for ‘aliens’ such as I.

Eventually!‘ I hear you say.

I’m in agreement – never has 13 weeks of absence seemed so long! It’s much worse for some of my US colleagues – they haven’t been allowed to return to France since their mutual borders closed in mid-March!

All things considered, I managed to pack in a reasonable schedule into those last two weeks of June: Visits to producers in the Côte d’Or, Mâconnais and Beaujolais plus a deeper look into Gevrey 1er cru of the Clos des Issarts and the hot ‘new’ label of Beaujolais-Lantignié.

The report went live – HERE – today. I hope that all you subscribers will enjoy it 🙂

July and some of August is, and will be, Puligny-Montrachet time, with a deeper look at the terroirs of Puligny with the winemakers (mainly) of that village…

these hills are made for walking – & even jogging!

By billn on July 29, 2020 #travel pics

Left or right?
Left or right?

All countries seem to be recommending taking your holidays at ‘home’ this year – and I’ve seen images of terrible queues in the Swiss mountains in the last couple of weeks, but it seems that we found a beautiful and only modestly visited area: Guarda in the Swiss Engadin. Back now – so I must finish my June Report for publishing before the month-end:

Images only with my ‘phone:’

adieu poncié-ponciago

By billn on July 25, 2020 #the market

Or at least the version of that producer who was part of the Henriot group.

I had known for a few years, since the time of the previous Bouchard CEO, that for the right price, Château Poncié in Fleurie was ‘available.’ It seems that at the end of June a deal was signed – it just became public at the end of this week:

Lyon entrepreneur Jean-Loup Rogé has just acquired the Château de Poncié, formerly Villa Ponciago. The largest Domaine of Fleurie* thus leaves the group of the Henriot family.

*40 hectares

The new team announces that it is fully committed to the objective of organic certification for the entire vineyard by 2022 – so not much change from the time when Joseph Bouchard was running things locally. On the cellar side, Jean-Loup Rogé and Marion Fessy – yes previously of Henry Fessy who will take on responsibility for the domaine – also intend to continue the work started during the Henriot era. “The wines are well vinified, straight, with good acidity, and show respect for the terroir. It’s a spirit that we like.

[EDIT] I hear that, at least, initially, Joseph Bouchard will be helping the new team get to grips with their new acquisition.

What with this and the (still available?) Château Ravatys – that would be a great combination for the ambitious 😉

visits week 30 2020

By billn on July 24, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020#vintage 2020

week 30 2020 puligny vignerons

My thanks to the vignerons who hosted me this week – all important producers of Puligny-Montrachet – if not all based in Puligny!

Versus last week, the water leak in the Beaune apartment is fixed – but more work is required – though I’m not sure when as it looks like there will be a small ‘vigneron vacation‘ pause in my visits.

veraison – two sides of the road…

By billn on July 24, 2020 #vintage 2020

Veraison is everywhere in the pinot – almost!

In Gevrey-Chambertin, it depends on which side of the Route des Grands Crus you look. Here are some images from yesterday afternoon and you can see that the lower side of the road – Charmes, Griotte & Chapelle-Chambertin – here there is lots of colour, but on the other side of the road – Latricières, Chambertin, Bèze, Ruchottes – you have to really search for a little colour – these latter vineyards are, for the most part, still ‘green:’

Burgundy Report

Translate »

You are using an outdated browser. Please update your browser to view this website correctly:;