Why Big Red Diary?

yesterday was a rock day: solutré & vergisson

Hot work, followed a short storm, then a nice dinner. I thoroughly recommend the views from the top of Solutré – though I didn’t get too close to the edge 😉

Beaune: today is a cloud day…

[launch] üllo – wine purification?

ullo-1Or maybe better – ‘sulfite removal’!

I had some PR puff about this, and normally I avoid gizmos such as this, like the plague, but as a former research chemist I was interested in what the process might be.

From the website and the linked Kickstarter page it probably works like an ion-exchange resin – i.e. similar in mode to the standard filter that you may use to make your water a little more palatable, assuming you live in a hard-water area; here in Europe Brita water filters are one of major brands.

If the video is anything to go by, the filter works amazingly fast – so I expect it’s a mock-up – but I’d be really interested to see how ‘selective’ this ‘solution’ is, or whether it neuters the wine in any way. I also expect some blockage (blinding) due to the sediment in older wines – but maybe sulfites are not an issue with older bottles, so (in this case) the gizmo isn’t required. I’d also be interested to know how much volume, and of what type of wine, is required to ‘exhaust’ a filter – for instance sweet wines have much more sulfite to preserve them.

A fair question, though, is ‘how many people are really affected by this?’ I’m aware, anecdotally, that many are, and particularly for those who drink white wines, though in today’s market for ‘healthy living’ I’m sure this has great potential for sales, regardless of whether they drink Richebourg, Sauternes or Yellow Tail. Let’s see.

I assume though, that the company won’t be using the following data in their marketing campaigns, much as I know some people also have problems with dried fruit!


cooler and, at last, wet…

It hasn’t rained in Beaune since the 15th June, but today at 09h35:


today, mainly chassagne…

a bit of meursault yesterday evening…

harvesting – but will that be in september or august?

 Oïdium today in the Côte de Nuits…

The harvest date: Some people are mentioning the 5th of September as a potential harvesting date, which is entirely possible, but as of today, it’s still too early say whether the 5th of September will be the start date, or the finishing date!

We seem to have the potential for a record early vintage, or just a modestly early vintage – though there’s still time for even that to change.

The weather has been so dry that:

  1. The vineyards look resplendent…
  2. There is no rot to be found anywhere….
  3. But it’s becoming very stressful for the young vines – those suffering the most having yellow leaves nearest the ground, it’s really time that they were allowed to drink
  4. The humid conditions of 2014 allowed fruit flies to multiply late into the season – so-far it looks like that won’t be the case for suzuki and friends in 2015. Fingers crossed!
  5. The dry heat hasn’t stopped the oïdium though. Usually the pinot noir is more robust than the chardonnay to this problem, but not so in 2015, indeed, this year, the problem is currently most prevalent in the Côte de Nuits, mainly in the Nuits to Morey vines. Right now, this is the single-most important issue for most vigneron(ne)s in that area.

Of-course it’s been a hot year so-far, but as veraison (except a few outliners) is hardly underway, the weather has not yet decided if this will be a cool vintage or an année solaire – cooler weather and maybe storms are forecast for the weekend, but afterwards more hot weather is indicated. Any meaningful rain will be welcomed with open arms, particularly in the Beaujolais and Mâconnais where they didn’t get the same soaking in early and mid June as the Côte d’Or. But, a little welcome rain combined with the hot, but not too hot weather, could see the first chardonnay already being picked by 25th August!

Oïdium excepted, the vintage still looks on course for a good one. The potential yields, despite great flowering conditions, seem good, but not on the high level of 2009. Those vines heavily hailed in the last years, not surprisingly, have a poorer fruit-set, particularly the older vines. Many growers in the Pommard to Beaune axis are talking of possibly 20hl/ha – of-course if it rains a lot, then the grapes will expand and add weight (yield). But honestly, many of those growers will happily accept 20hl/ha!

Note: There are some roasted looking grapes to be seen (there was a photo in my diary yesterday) but look more closely, and they seem not to be the result of sun-burn, rather the result of chemical (sulfur) treatments in the heat of the day, rather than in early morning or late evening. Heat, direct sun and sulfur powder is a bad combination!

last sun in grands-echézeaux…

I’d planned to go for a run yesterday evening, but at the last minute there was an errand – so it was a run to the Côte de Nuits – in the car!

I took some pictures about 9:15pm with the last rays of the sun, mainly in Grands-Echézeaux – and despite all the images on the interweb, no sign of veraison yesterday – here anyway. One or two late sprayers were dosing their vines with sulfur and copper – I assume to avoid the peak heat of the day, these seemingly preferring to spray before bed, rather than at 5am!

only bottles, no writing…

1-Camera Roll

Yes, the house-moving has been a bit of a pain, but just to prove that I haven’t also been avoiding refreshments…

one (special) day in the climats…


Yesterday was a celebration of the successful entry of ‘Burgundy’ into the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. If you have seen some/most of the coverage since this was announced on Saturday, you will have mainly noted that Champagne, also a new ‘inscription’ has taken the headlines, and that only the last paragraph mentions Burgundy.

Truth be told, it’s really a sub-set of Burgundy, one that we Anglo-Saxon’s refer to as the Côte d’Or, but the locals will quietly correct you and say that the inscription is actually for the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits – and in this instance, the definition used was Chenove to Maranges – inclusive. And the ‘grounds’ for inscription?

  • To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  • To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.

Beginning in 2007, it’s been a long road to achieve this local enhancement of ‘status’ – if it was ever required – and make no mistake it has been both resource intensive and requiring strong leadership. Clearly Aubert de Villaine was the symbol of the bid concept, but not merely a symbol, he was a driver and tireless promoter; his goal now achieved, don’t be surprised if Guillaume d’Angerville takes over what will inevitably now become a more symbolic rôle. One major positive of the successful UNESCO bid will be the greater attention to the fabric of the vineyards themselves – many have ramshackle walls and boundaries, sometimes shored-up with ugly daubs of concrete – I think (and hope) that maintenance will now be more ‘considered’ – after-all, ignoring weather traumas, the inflow of cash into the cellars of Burgundy has never been higher…

I had a special day of visits yesterday, arranged by the BIVB, to the most emblematic corners of Burgundy (sorry, I mean the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits!) – fundamental showcases of the cultural fabric of the region – and in much more bearable temperatures too; let’s say 28°C. We finished with a press conference and a garden picnic with a band and then fireworks in the grounds of the Château de Meursault – about 3,000 other people joined in the celebration too!

A day to remember!

99 volnay clos des ‘xxx’

DSC06312 (2)

Age shows the difference! My two wines from the Elégance de Volnay:

As young wines, i.e. the first year or two from release, this Potel was qualitatively on the same level as the Lafon Santenots and the d’Angerville Clos des Ducs – I really can’t say that anymore. Today the Potel is wild, complex and interesting, but also a little rustic – but the d’Angerville is a wine of grand cru interest and a fabulous silky texture – differences that really weren’t apparent when young. I didn’t bring a bottle of the Lafon to compare, because I know I have only 1 more…

1999 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Clos des Chênes
Hmm – this smells good: complex, faint forest floor yet still with fine fruit notes too – super complexity. In the mouth it’s rather young, still showing plenty of grainy tannic teeth. Tasty wine and long too – in isolation a very good wine too – unfortunately for this bottle, it wasn’t drunk in isolation…
Rebuy – Yes

1999 Marquis d’Angerville, Volnay 1er Clos des Ducs
Aromatically this is similar to the Potel – complex, a little earthy development but with flashes of fine fruit too. In the mouth – wow – still young, direct and intense but with a cool sophistication and the purest of silk textures. Ouf! Gorgeous. Special wine.
Rebuy – Yes

relocation, muscle ache and 99 volnay (as a starting point…)


It was a quiet week in this Diary – eh?

Not so for me, in general, the above was my transport for part of the week. Full-power house-moving this week, and the refrigerated truck was just for my wine relocation. Although all my wine would have (just about!) fit into the truck, apparently I was not allowed to fill it with more than 1.5 tonnes – so I had to split the journeys. One trip to Bern and another slightly bigger parcel for a trip the Beaune – and fortunately no complications by customs/douane/zoll along the way – phew!

Did I say phew? Maybe phew what a scorcher – and getting warmer every day. I did note one design fault on my truck – yes climate control for the load, but no air-conditioning in the cab – oh-well only 3+ hours to Beaune with a coffee stop!!!

I can honestly say that I had a few aches afterwards – one case at a time (I’m something of a weakling) up the stairs from the cellar, up the steps into the truck, then back down the stairs for the next. Then reversed for the offload – fortunately in Beaune, the ‘reception’ was a little more professional – two palets piled impressively high, wrapped in saran and then transported to the cellar by forklift followed by lift – I gave thanks…

Friday was about catching up with a the wall of email, and today, Saturday is a very relaxing day – almost without muscle pain! Tonight the there is there is the dinner of the ‘Elegance de Volnay‘ the weather is warm with a medium breeze, but fortunately, unlike last year, all is calm…

I’ve two 99s lined-up to take to the dinner, I’ve just opened them and they seem fine; Potel’s 99 Clos des Chênes and d’Angerville’s Clos des Ducs. I’m anticipating ‘YUM!’

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