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les bottles de la weekend (week 20)

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Vincent Audras, ‘Verigoude’ Viognier (Beaujolais)
The producer thrust this bottle into my hand, after I told him I’d prefer just to taste just his reds – ‘try it over the weekend‘ he said. I’d already mentioned that I wasn’t the best person to review Viognier, as it isn’t to my taste – but you can’t beat persistence 😉 As I expected very, very floral and rich both aromatically and on the palate too. I have no more to add! (I see no vintage reference, but believe this to be the 2015)

2012 Château Bonnet, Moulin à Vent ‘Vin de Grade’
Now this smells lovely – it tastes great too. There’s an opening touch of vanilla on the nose, but not the palate – this is gone after 15 minutes – so then I’m happy. Fine dark-fruited freshness and a very tasty wine – three people polished it off in no time – super!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 d’Ardhuy, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumes
Dark coloured, an equally dark but seemingly tight, fresh nose. Very lovely, silky flavour with lots of concentration and intensity – yet delicious and balanced – this was drunk even faster than the Château Bonnet – super again!
Rebuy – Yes

portraits of a few southern burgundians…

Visited in Beaujolais last week. All profiled in the April Burgundy Report, though that’s (of-course) after the rather late, to be published, March Burgundy Report!

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images from the beaujolais this week

Not super-warm despite many of the pics, yet it was a fresh and bright week in Beaujolais. There were a couple of evening storms with strong wind, rain and a little thunder and lightening, but no damage – more storms are forecast for Sunday onward, though. If the growth of the vines had been a little bit more forward – saw another 10 days worth – and not yet trained, then the wind would have done quite some damage by breaking off many shoots – but it wasn’t much of a problem this week.

Here, some images captured during my week:
 

a few bottles… (weeks 18+19!)

A little remiss of me, but here are two week(end)s worth of bottles:
 


In no particular order:
2010 Rebourgeon-Mure, Beaune 1er Vignes Frances – brilliant/excellent!
2010 Rebourgeon-Mure, Pommard 1er Les Arvelets – even better! Again brilliant/excellent!
Le Grappin, Rosé de gamay – very tasty, finished in 2 weekends!
1996 Wynns, John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon – I thought 20 years should be enough time to wait – I would say that was borderline; still some oak, massive wine – not easy to take the third glass 😉
2005 Pierre Labet, Beaune 1er Coucherias – Impressively concentrated fruit-cordial wine. I didn’t know I had these – but 3 more await, and they will be enjoyed. It didn’t smell as nice on day 2 – so (note to self) drink in 1 day!
2010 Camille Giroud, Bourgogne Cuvée L – From magnum. Not quite as good as the 08 from magnum just now, but really a floral and concentrated honey of a wine. Another two years and it could easily be as good as the 08 is now…
Le Grappin 2011/2012 Savigny mix – The reds and whites performed exactly the same; the white 2011 Savigny has lost the phenolic edge and is drinking beautifully right now – the 2012 white savigny has more of a phenolic/structural edge – wait another year for that one, maybe two. The reds perform exactly the same. The 2011 villages Savigny is soft, easy and delicious, the 2012 has more crisp structure – all are fun to drink though.
2014 Fleurie, Les Trois Pucelles – just bought out of interest for less than 10 swiss francs. It’s a supermarket bottling with no producer info. It tasted good – surprisingly good. Equal to many good bourgognes, better than a lot…
2006 Chateau de Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin – this tasted not bad when younger, now it lacks sweetness and there’s some astringence from the tannin. I don’t recommend that you search this one out – they are doing much better things now…

The next two needed to be enjoyed together – my two adieu bottles to Charles Rousseau and Philippe Roty:
2000 Armand Rousseau, Chambertin + 2000 Joseph Roty, Griottes-Chambertin – The Rousseau is fresh and direct, lots of energy and complexity here – can it really be a 2000? Move to the Roty and you have more weight, more vestiges of oak, plenty of complexity and weight of texture – it seems more concentrated. Move back to the Rousseau and it’s ‘wow’ fresh and complex – clearly better – move back to the Roty and it’s bigger and more impressive – clearly better! What a fabulous, pairing to compare and contrast – each sip from the other is better than the last – in a different way. Probably the Rousseau is better for the future, but today, this comparison was the quintessence of burgundy brilliance…

The weekend Griottes – the good the bad and the ugly:
2000 Roty – as above (the good)
2002 Chezeaux (Leclerc the bad) Smells and tasted ‘stewed’ – super weight of flavour (but stewed) and a good sweetness, but this really should have been drunk when it was young and tastier – poor…
1993 Ponsot (the ugly) – unbelievably corked…

Bérêche Champagne – a lovely thing, and it got better and better. slowly losing a hint of oxidative flavour – yum!
1995 Dujac, Morey-Saint-Denis – Hmm, lovely complexity of aroma and flavour – yet I’m a hint disappointed – I though this Clos de la Roche should be a little better – then I realised that I ‘only’ opened the villages. Okay – it’s pretty damn good then 😉

wandering around the côtes this weekend

DSC00257-1A mix of rain, cloud and sun – it’s immediately 20+°C when the sun breaks through – otherwise we are stuck in the 12-15°C rut – and it feels much colder than that when the wind blows. The weather is still a little bizarre though, this morning it was a little less than 2°C in the vineyards of Beaune – probably less in the Hautes Côtes…

Honestly the vines are ‘all over the place’ you can really see the lack of consistency when you walk in the vineyards; there are big sprouts of growth here-and-there, surrounded by a much smaller average growth of leaves. The first, larger shoots, are those who survived the frost, the latter is the new growth (recovery) from the previously dormant buds. I’ve never seen such higgledy-piggledy growth in the vines.

Taking the road by Criots Bâtard-Montrachet towards Puligny Tremblots, and this is a very badly affected area – really there is very-much more new growth here, with an occasional sprout of growth from the un-frosted buds…
 


Also very easy to spot between Nuits and Vosne, on the hillside above Nuits 1er Crus Bousselots and Chaignots is a little ‘heavy-remediation.’ The soil has been scraped back, a new supporting wall has been added and the rock broken up. It seems they are now waiting to roll the 20-50cm of soil back over the newly broken-up rock substrate. I’m not clear if this is the last part of Aux Thorey or the tiny Champs Perdrix 1er Cru, but it looks like the style of work done by Boisset – though they normally build a prettier supporting wall! But I’m still guessing it’s Aux Thorey:
 

Lastly – (edit) – while we had some big rainstorms in Beaune on Friday afternoon, it was much worse for our friends in Chablis; even more rain and some hail has certainly left it’s mark. It’s too early for more detail, but the pictures speak for themselves…
All picture are culled from a couple of Facebook posts from Potins Chablisien & Tonnerrois plus Domaine Daniel Seguinot – they are not my photos…

the effects of frost in marsannay (and wider)…

DSC00235Right: Pictured today in Marsannay Les Grandes Vignes – compare it to the picture at the top of the page – that’s what the growth looks like (this week) in an average year!

It was nice and warm just over a week ago in the Côte d’Or, but this week the weather is back into winter mode – well, winter 2015/2016 anyway. It’s been cool and wet for a few days now – 10-14°C – that really is the same as much of November to February. Marsannay also had two days in the last week with only 2°C in the early morning – pinot needs an average of 12°C over the day to grow. For the last week it probably hasn’t done much growing!

Sylvain Pabion, winemaker at the Château de Marsannay – who own 28 hectares of vines in Marsannay – says “Marsannay has been one of the villages most affected by the frost. Depending on the plot, as much as 90% has been lost.”

Two years ago I saw the first flowers in Meursault on the 21st May – so that’s unlikely to happen before June this year.

Right, you can see a mix of normal buds, not frosted with their latent flowers, you can also see the new buds, replacing those that were frosted. The way the weather is going, it could easily be another October harvest – and for the first buds – which would certainly put paid to hopes of harvesting something from the second buds. More importantly the next two weeks will show whether there is life in the cordons or not – if the only new growth is from the old wood rather than the cordons, then this is largely sterile, so there will also be no grapes in 2017! One grower shared with me “You know when there’s hail, after the initial shock we jump into the vines to save what we have, but this year we will still have to work the whole year in the vines, already knowing that in some cases there will be no harvest…”

Charles Rousseau (1923-2016)

Remembering that great character, Charles Rousseau. He was always an ambassador for the domaine that wore his father’s name, remaining on hand, in his office, chatting with all visitors, despite having long stopped working in the barrels…


Armand Rousseau
It has been said that if you want the safest route to a fine bottle of Chambertin, or Chambertin Clos de Bèze, then make sure that the label says…

Charles was keen to extend the domaine’s trade outside their small number of private clients. To that end in 1951 he found himself in London’s Victoria Station, two suitcases by his side. He first visited that very rare thing – an existing ‘foreign’ client – a director of the BBC, before setting about visiting as many companies as possible who might have an interest in his wines. He mainly chose his targets by looking through their windows to see if they already sold wine!
It was tough; his targets were happy, if rather bemused, to entertain Charles in their offices, but anyway they already bought their wine from Drouhin or Patriarche! The top-level négociants in this age were Drouhin, Faiveley, Bouchard Père and Thomas-Bassot – “Jadot was not yet regarded in the top-rank.” Unlike the domaine, the names of those London merchants have pretty much disappeared; Ward & Martinez, André Simon, Christopher & Co., Dolomore, JH & J Brooke, Bonne Portes and the Soho Wine Co. With a smile, and the hint of a wink, Charles says “You know, over the next 10 years or so, one-by-one they all appeared in my office, asking to buy the wines”.
Domaine Profile (2005)

A great example of the man in action – in his office!

a few swiss days…

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The last days in Switzerland have been quite nice – but oday there’s rain in Beaune. Back to the typing!
 

frost – a couple of informative notes:

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From Jasper Morris at Berry Brothers & Rudd
http://bbrblog.com/2016/05/06/burgundy-struck-frost-hail/

And from a merchant:
http://www.thomascalderselections.com/posts

Lots of good info, though with respect to the second link, Burgundy is not ahead of an average year, despite a relatively warm winter, because average temperatures were insufficient for growth in most of March and April – up until 1 week ago it was considered ‘average.’ Indeed, since then it has continued rather cool – I noted the first flowers about the 18th May 2 years ago – at this rate they may not open before the 18th of June! Which won’t be helpful for anyone thinking they might get crop from the newly moving ‘dormant buds…’

frost – 2+ – the côte de nuits…

As promised, I also toured around the vines of the Côte de Nuits on Friday and inspected vines ‘here and there’ along the way.

As-ever, it seems that the Côte de Nuits has the lighter of the frost damage – though I’m definitely talking ‘on average’ because:

  • Marsannay – most producers are desolate – it’s very bad here – plenty of reports of 80%+ losses
  • Gevrey – on the hillside it mainly looks okay, but occasional crus such as Fontenys are cooked. Clos Varoilles and La Romanée are not so bad, but it’s complicated, because one producer will report that their Charmes is 100% okay, another will point to about 20% losses – Chambertin and Bèze are equally hit and miss – mainly the lower sections had problems here.
  • Morey and Chambolle are similarly affected to Gevrey – mainly the lower vines having problems, but the crus not so much in Morey, more-so in Chambolle.
  • Musigny (Petits Musigny) and the kings of Vosne look hardly affected (see the pics) though I noted some crisped leaves between Echézeaux and Grands Echézeaux.
  • The real issue is that, like in the Côte de Beaune, it is the ‘bulk’ wines, those regional and village level plots that have been very badly affected. Really it’s too early to say, but in some places, like Marsannay, potentially well over 50% seems to have been lost.

Any improvements on ‘hearsay’ estimates will come only after fruit-set – so in about 4-8 weeks more…

Some are asking why candles were not used in the Côte d’Or to avoid damage – and ‘are they legal?‘ Well, yes, they are not particularly environmentally friendly, but they are legal. I even saw a nice ‘facebook picture’ of one producer’s square block of vines in Les Amoureuses, filled with candles. The problem is that nobody is ‘prepared’ to deploy them, and for two reasons:

  • Unlike in Chablis, there’s no automatic alarm system to wake everyone at 4am when a trigger temperature is reached.
  • Also, the last small frost damage (whites mainly) was 2010, you have to go back to 1991 for the last significant episode of damage.

So it’s really not on the radar of most producers – and just like in Chablis, it would be the important vineyards that were protected, not the vast majority. So really there would have been little difference in the volume of vine-growth that was lost.

The night in question (last Tuesday) was actually not that cold, rarely reaching as low as -2°C, but the ground was damp after plenty of weekend rain. If it had been dry, the vines would hardly have been troubled at that temperature…

Anyway, I showed enough pictures of singed leaves last week – so no more of those are required. From Friday:
 

not all doom and gloom today – some horsing about too

frost – 2

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I asked a couple of producers this morning if it was bad, or really bad, both said the latter.

Without doubt it is a very important event, though I’m sure it’s better to wait until after the fruit-set to see if 30% or 75% of the potential harvest is lost. But however we look at it, it’s a massive loss, which (so far anecdotally) is a loss shared equally between the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits – for once!

Whilst it’s still a tiny snapshot, I walked in a lot of the Côte de Beaune vineyards today:

  • Santenay hillside – looks 90%+ okay
  • Chassagne 1ers Morgeot and Maltrioe – some vines totally blitzed, other maybe lost only 25% of buds
  • Chevalier-Montrachet (lower) and Montrachet – the same as in Chassagne
  • The bottom of Meursault wasn’t good, the bottom of Perrières, including the Clos des Perrières, looked okay.
  • The top of Volnay and Beaune looked not bad, the bottom of both was not good – Grèves included in that.
  • Bottom of Corton on Pernand side, not good
  • Mid-Charlemagne (below the cross) looked fine, likewise mid-Bressandes too.

From what I looked at, the top vines did better than the bottom vines, but a couple of vignerons told me it was the reverse in some places. The leaves ‘burned’ by the frost are obvious – already silver grey and crispy dry versus the green of healthy leaves. Pinot often looks okay, probably because it is a little behind chardonnay in the growth cycle, but there were also pinots with tiny but clearly frosted buds…

I will be charging around the Côte de Nuits tomorrow…
 

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