My third of three weeks of visits – so over 60 domaines’ wines tasted from (predominantly) the 2018 vintage. Next week starts all the typing – online in a little over a month!
Thanks to all the domaines!
Online now – I doubt that there’s a more authoritative report to find. Over 650 wines tasted for subscribers.
Lucky with the weather this week. While home in Switzerland was buffeted by the wind and rain – occasionally the thunder, lightning and hail too – the Beaujolais Alps were a much nicer place to be; sometimes sunny, hardly rainy or windy – I was lucky with the weather. My thanks, of-course, to the winemakers that hosted me. That’s two weeks down, one more to go – so you can guess where I’ll be next week again 😉
Plus a few pics from out-and-about during the week:
Saturday – a nice day for a walk with a borrowed dog!
A modest ‘effort’ at the weekend – just enough to keep from a dry palate!
2016 Jean-Marc Pillot, Montagny 1er Les Gouresses
After more than 650 Chablis in January, this nose shows an obvious richness and roundness of sweet oak, but the palate was altogether more taught, finishing mineral and fresh – plenty of intensity and completely delicious wine. Simply excellent for the price – yum!
Rebuy – Yes
2011 Camille Giroud, Santenay 1er Clos Rousseau
There were always some barrels of this that seemed close to grand cru in standard – but never the whole blend, that said, this was singing; fresh, aromatic, a certain sweetness and deliciously flavoured. Round, slightly airy finishing flavours but the mid-palate had plenty of tasty depth – a wine that was drunk faster than it should have been – excellent!
Rebuy – Yes
Hot off the press: Boris Champy, after leaving Clos du Lambrays, has just announced that he’s taking over the domaine of Didier Montchovet in the Hautes Côtes.
Apparently Didier, one of the first in biodynamics in Burgundy, had no succession at his domaine and together with Boris, they decided that this was the best way to continue the domaine. Hopefully more info later in the year – first-hand.
Domaine Montchovet, Key facts
– Created in 1984 by Didier Montchovet
– 12 ha mostly in Nantoux, Beaune and Pommard
– Certified Organic and Biodynamic viticulture (Ecocert/Demeter)
– 4 employees
– Website: www.montchovet.fr
I’m reminded of more than one conversion I had with the former winemaker in Morey St.Denis, David Clark. His 2004s and 2011s were not immune to the pyrazines of those vintages, and in the absence of other theories that convinced, he seemed pretty comfortable with the idea that the ladybirds/bugs might be the responsible party.
David was (probably still is) an incurable the inventor/engineer, proposing that maybe the solution was to wash the grapes before they hit the fermentation tanks – he was pretty sure that the environment of the cuverie would harbour enough yeast strains to get the fermentations done, assuming that those populations on the grapes themselves might be washed away. Some other winemakers seemed less convinced of that latter point – but given not many ladybugs since 2011 – it’s a thought that has faded.
I note that in some vintages, Bouchard Père et Fils has ‘sort-of‘ their own grape washing approach; letting the first part of the first press wash away as it contains all the dirt accumulated on the grapes. But an automatic wash for the grapes it isn’t.
Enter the most recent vintages chez Château Thivin; an Italian friend of Claude Geoffray has been using such a washing system for grapes that go into their local bubbles. Claude decided to give it a try. The grapes are hit by high-pressure water before travelling over a vibrating table to remove the larger drops, then a high-pressure air-flow to dry the grapes. “It doesn’t just get rid of the insects,” says Claude, “In the most recent vintages there has been no rain, so the accumulated treatments of the summer are undoubtedly still present on the grapes – copper, sulfur, etcetera.”
Claude confirms that his recent fermentations have been fine – ‘normal‘ – whereas most producers in the last vintages describe fragility in their fermentations, and a couple have even suggested to me that it could be the accumulation of copper still on the grapes that bears some responsibility. Claude is still waiting the analyses of the chemical levels in his ‘wash-water,’ but it’s fair to say he’s been very happy with the results; “It was clear that many of the grapes had an accumulation of something from the vintages that didn’t taste nice before washing – after they were fine.”
For the moment, Claude and the team at Châateau Thivin may be the only winemakers using this tool in France – but with results like this, it seems a modest investment in quality – even without ladybugs!
It was 13°C when I left Switzerland for Beaujolais at 5 am this morning – it was 13°C again when I got back to my hotel at 19h45 this evening – but in the middle, it had peaked at 18°C. Now I do remember 23°C last February, but that was the second half of February – when people were pruning vines in t-shirts – but this is so much closer to January!
So, I’d expected rain, but the day got steadily brighter and sunnier – they suggest gales in the night and maybe even snow in the next couple of days – welcome to our weather!
There were also some weekend wines, of course! Now it might look a bit odd, taking 2 bottles of Castagier’s 1997 Clos de la Roche, but as you may have surmised, there was a problem with the first bottle’s cork! On the positive side – yes there was one! – I tend to eat well when there’s a corked bottle, usually, the unspeakable wine ends up as the base for our house variation on Beef Bourguignone – and the Clos de la Roche did make a really great sauce! The second bottle was very good on its own, in a glass! It would be a rebuy at the old price of 60 Swiss francs! The 2010 Pommard Epenots from Rebourgeon-Mure was also lovely but a stricter 2010 that didn’t appreciate following the sweetness of the Clos de la Roche – so mainly was drunk on day two – very complex, lots of depth to the earthy flavour and lovely balance and energy. Give it another 2-3 years for being fully ready – excellent wine that I’d also buy again at the old price. Then were the two Chablis 1ers from 2018; both good – the Seguinot-Bordet the more flighty and higher-toned, the Vorcoret the more concentrated and more overtly Chablis at this early stage in their life. Both delicious and rebuys at today’s prices (shock!)
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