Why Big Red Diary?

tasting beyond the limit…


It’s not without peril this wine-tasting thing.

Yesterday was a modest day from the perspective of ‘number of tastings’ – I had just four appointments, one in the morning and three in the afternoon. But it was far from a modest quantity of samples:
Tasting #1 – 31 wines
Tasting #2 – 31 wines
Tasting #3 – 38 wines
And tasting number 4? Well, there was no number 4 – I had to cancel it. I was feeling quite alcoholically light-headed at the end of tasting number 3. Of-course I was spitting, not drinking, and I’ve done 100 wines before without this effect – but 2015s have more alcohol than most vintages, so I guess that may have been a contributing factor.

But there are various factors to consider; firstly I probably should have driven anywhere – though I did drive 2 minutes to Beaune’s Grand Frais – or rather its bakery – to take on some stomach ballast. I felt much better after. But I really wouldn’t have done a professional job at rendezvous number 4, and certainly shouldn’t drive after yet another 20 wines.

So how do those reviewers who make 8-12 visits per day a) drive safely and b) not suffer from alcohol-related medical issues?

Still, the excess of major Côte d’Or tastings finishes for me in a couple of weeks. Then, after a short tasting holiday, I’ll be doing the same again in Chablis in January and then in Beaujolais in February 🙂

tuesday – 2 côtes…


Just a few pics from Tuesday. Chilly but the Christmas lights are on in Beaune – so that’s a nice balance 🙂

a chilly monday…

oof – it’s chilly this week.

The skies are blue, and whilst it was a modest 7°C yesterday, the north wind was ‘to the bone’ – today it was more like 3° in the morning (after -2°C overnight in town) – it definitely doesn’t feel warmer 🙂

my favourite comment of last week:

I was worried about putting air-conditioning into a 250 year-old cellar, because then I have the power of god – as I decide when it’s winter or not.
Jean-Marie Fourrier

offer of the day – le grappin

Not from a merchant this time, as Le Grappin sell direct. But you can see their offer here.

No afilliation, et-cetera, but you can find my report and notes on their 2015s in my last (October) Burgundy Report – here.

just a few bottles from last week/end – week 46


Of-course it was something of a week of spoiling ourselves – almost exclusively in the company of Marko de Morey and his wife, celebrating his 60th birthday. I’m not the biggest fan of conspicuous ‘trophy bottle’ pictures, but they are made to be drunk – and drunk they were 🙂

Just a quick run-down:

The 1990 Veuve-Cliquot was a much more oxidised style than is my preference, but was fresh and certainly complex, though for me personally, I stop short of saying ‘yum!’ The 2002 Albert Grivault Meursault Clos des Perrières followed, and that was a wine in great shape – a hint fat but layered complexity and super length. A really excellent bottle, and – yum! Then there was the 1993 Domaine Faiveley, Mazis-Chambertin, A surprisingly supple and easy wine – considering that it was a) 1993, b) Mazis-Chambertin and c) Faiveley that we were drinking, it was amazingly unstructured grand cru wine. The cork was almost completely soaked through with wine – perhaps this was the reason. Nice wine, but nothing of a), b) and c)…

Our second sitting began with the Taittinger, already a few years from release, and this was very tasty wine indeed. There followed our major disappointment – dark brown and totally oxidised 2001 Lafon, Meursault-Perrières – totally undrinkable – and before anyone asks, it was bought on release and removed from professional storage only 2 weeks before opening. The 2003 René Engel, Echézeaux was, however, very drinkable indeed – full, warm, not much tannin to speak of – a lush, ripe, opulent wine that shows the vintage far more than the domaine’s Grands Echézeaux of the same vintage. Lunch the next day allowed also the 2011 Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée Malconsorts – rather modest of nose but it rolls over the palate with ever-wider flavour and fine interest – a really good wine.

Our last sitting, and our ‘piece de resistance‘ began with 2001 Pierre Morey, Bâtard-Montrachet. If Marko had any trepidation following the performance of our last 2001, he didn’t show it – and neither did the wine! It’s still a very toasty-oaked nose and still with a trace of reduction – presumably the oak contributing to the dark colour, but there was clearly no oxidative aromas or flavours. The palate started great and just kept getting better – despite the oak, Super wine. and I’d say still a youngster. the 2007 Pierre-Yves Colin-Mory, Puligny-Champs Gains was light coloured, super fresh and beautifully penetrating. Perfect, young 2007 – I love 2007s when they are like this! PYCM was followed by the 1998 Roumier, Bonnes-Mares – simply a magical wine and probably the best I have drunk this year. The nose was dark-fruited, precise and with more than a hint of graphite-style minerality. In the mouth it was fresh, darkly-fruited wine of rare clarity and energy – simply fabulous. It was almost embarrassing how quickly the 4 of us drained the bottle! To finish, Jean-Nicolas’s 1998 Méo-Camuzet, Vosne-Cros Parantoux was a super drink, but one that struggled to hold its head high after the Bonnes-Mares; the nose was faintly lactic/bretty. The palate was much redder-fruited, riper-fruited, and whilst it had a very nice complexity in isolation, when paired with the BM, it seemed broad-brush and couldn’t begin to compare to the thrilling clarity of that wine. Probably we should have taken them in the reverse order – and yes, it was also bought on release and kept in storage like the Meursault-Perrières and Bonnes-Mares – but hey! I’m still not complaining 🙂

the (ex) tree of aux reignots…

 A superb pic, courtesy of fellow Burgundy tour-guide, Sue Boxell.

Updated: With feedback from Charles Lachaux.

For a long time, and particularly in early spring, the Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru of Aux Reignots could easily be spotted above Romanée-Conti and La Romanée – because towards the bottom of the 1er cru was an ‘amandier’ (almond) tree – full of white blossom. At its worst, this was just a tree on a hillside of vines, at it’s best, for a couple of weeks per year – as above – it was resplendent.

Well, there was a tree.

I was told by a third party that one evening in the late summer, about 18h30, that it was chopped it down. It’s not hard to guess who the somebody was, as the tree was on an un-planted piece (en friche) of Aux Reignots owned by Arnoux-Lachaux. Charles was quite open about this when I visited two weeks ago to taste 2015s. They now plan to plant this area to vine, an area that Charles Lachaux says has never before been planted with vines. They will make a ‘high-density’ planting which will eventually bring another barrel of wine.

One of Vosne’s very well-known producers confided in me – ‘Well it’s pretty clear why they cut it down in the evening, because if they’d tried to cut it down at ten in the morning, they would have been spotted and we would have tried to put a stop to it – after-all with UNESCO World Heritage status, we have to protect all the countryside. And you know they could have been more subtle about it, it’s easy to kill a tree..

But Charles tells me “The tree was cut at 9:00 am in full light, it took the whole day.

I actually prefer that Charles is quite upfront about this and chose not to be devious either in his timing or by resorting to poison.

But spare a thought for one of the tiniest producers of an Aux Reignots – Gilbert et Christine Felettig, who in a good year make 1 barrel of this wine. They have just designed a new label for their bottles of Aux Reignots – and it has the tree on the label…
Pictured last Friday…

(the organic) gevrey wine club…

No afilliation (et-cetera), but this looks potentially quite interesting, and it’s connected to the people who own/run the (very comfortable) Les Deux Chevres hotel in Gevery-Chambertin.


the 2015 white burgundy report

dsc01085-1Online today is my October 2016 report covering the 2015 white burgundy vintage.

In the usual place.

Less consistent than 2014, this is still a vintage with many rewarding wines. The report will give you some insight into the character of the vintage, where to exercise some caution and, of-course, the best wines are highlighted in the individual producer reports.

I hope you enjoy – no time for me to pause though – I’m overflowing with the next issue’s red burgundy domaine visits!

that hospices sale…

 Base image courtesy Christie’s.

The 156th wine auction for the Hospices de Beaune started in a sombre mood, beginning with a minute of silence in honour of the 28-year veteran of the Hospices, its former director, Antoine Jacquet, who recently and unexpectedly died whilst travelling and promoting the sale.

Thereafter, in-line with the massive crowds in Beaune, the usual momentum took over. I was surprised to see that Ludivine Griveau had managed to coax more wine out the Hospice’s vineyards in 2016 than in 2015 – 596 barrels versus 575. I don’t like to taste wine pre-malo, but those with some experience suggest that the 16s looked quite good – despite their suits of oaken armour.

The bidding wasn’t quite up to the fever-pitch of 2015, yet it was still the second-highest sales result ever – amassing almost €8.4 million – though this ‘second best’ result fell way short of last year’s €11.35 million. There was a little less exuberance over the star ‘President’s Barrel’ this year, which was bid up to €200,000, but by an interesting combination of Jean-Claude Bernard (of Beaune’s Hotel Le Cep) and Ms Yan-Hong Cao from China – Ms Cao also bought the President’s barrel at the 2013 auction. Last year’s price was €480,000 for the barrel, but the proceeds of that purchase was slated for the victims of that year’s terrorist attacks in Paris – so with 2016 and 2015 we are most-likely not comparing apples with apples.

The average price for a barrel in 2016 was €13,833 versus €18,880 in 2015 and €13,658 in 2014.

So, despite the global marketing might of Christie’s, and Jasper Morris replacing the retired Anthony Hanson, this sale showed (modestly) less exuberance than last year but still higher prices than 2014. Will that have an effect on the pricing of 2016s? Well, despite the sale recording average reductions of -37% for the whites and -26% for the reds, I would say that given the combination of the short-volume, frosted 2016 vintage, when coupled with mainly empty cellars, this year’s sale is nothing more than a side-show in the great market for burgundy wine…

sunday – perfect for an 8.5km walk around puligny…

Breakfast in Le Montrachet, followed by a beautiful walk today:

jancis on roy…

Roy Richards has seen it, and done it all – not only was he the first to start selling Comte Liger-Belair, he was even the first to (try to!) import Maison Ilan into the UK market.


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