New on Burgundy Report

By billn on August 02, 2022 #reports

Just as a heads-up, a new Burgundy Report is online. Here.

The image above also references stories in these diary pages in the last days too.

I hope there’s something interesting for you.

Thursday is holiday touring for me – no wine visits – but there will be some in the car for emergencies 😉

Armand Heitz | Le Cellier, Pommard

By billn on August 02, 2022 #degustation

I took the chance to visit Armand Heitz’s ‘Cellier’ in Pommard. You pay a modest fee to taste, but you are tasting commercially available wines direct from the producer – a very good producer, at that. I tasted a mix of 2020s and 2019s – but all bottled and available in this shop.

Decent paid-for tastings in the Côte d’Or are rare but here’s one I can wholeheartedly recommend…

2019 St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chiens Red
Have the monopole of red from here – in this vintage
Broad, airy above, slightly heavier in the depth. Silkier and much more impressive in the mouth than the nose suggests. Saline – wide, and lots of layers to this flavour. That’s a very good wine…

2020 Pommard 1er Clos des Poutures
The domaine’s monopole made with 50% whole clusters with about 20% new barrels
The whole clusters are more visible here but it’s still a very good invitation. Supple, silky, layered wine. I love the energy and growing intensity. That’s a really top villages – bravo!

2020 Volnay 1er Les Santenots
A négoce wine.
A nose of airy width and finely growing perfume. More structural and open in the mouth – that’s very classy – I love the energy here. Depth of flavour too. You could drink it now but better in 3-5 years!

2020 Pommard 1er Rugiens
From ‘haut’.
Spiced, perfumed aromatics from the whole clusters. Rounder but nothing over-generous or fat here. Wide, seamless finishing – great, great finish – and simply excellent wine.

Les Whites:

2019 Meursault
A négoce wine that’s a blend of more than one parcel.
A nicely direct nose, not so deep or high-toned but attractive all the same. Hmm, there’s a relaxed style to this that does make me think of Meursault, layers, mouth-watering and even vibrant finish – what a great finish again.

2019 St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
Wider, a fine intensity to this riper fruit. Vibrant and mineral counterbalanced with some ripeness of fruit but never too much. Holding a strong, long finish. More than very good wine…

2020 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Morgeot
From Petit Clos, there Tête de Clos is bottled separately under that name.
There is power here but it is delivered with restraint. Wide, extra mineral, fine texture. Here is a quality wine, the finish extended by slow-moving waves of finishing flavour – very impressive…

2020 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er 1er Maltroie
That’s a super nose – cushioned, more airy and fine perfumed – personally I like this more. Gorgeous, seamless wine – apart from the mouth-perfume I could see this as Meursault-Perrières. It’s a beautiful wine – bravo!

Chablis 2020 pyrazines – mea-culpa

By billn on August 01, 2022 #degustation#ladypyrazines

Mea culpa because I feel remorse that I should have emphasised this even more in my reports:

I did, however, warn you (my subscribers) with my chapter “The small sting in the tail of 2020 white burgundy” and subsequent discussion in my January report – but, truth be told, like this summer, the situation has moved on from an occasional mosquito bite to something of a wasp-problem…

It’s not quite the hornet’s nest of a problem that we saw with the reds of the 2004 vintage – these 2020 Chablis remain, essentially, drinkable – but if you are sensitive to this chemical then you will be, like me, in a state of constant distraction.

2-Methoxy-3-isobutyl-pyrazineIn my January trip to Chablis, I visited 64 domaines and found a little more than 10% of the wines to be tainted with ‘the green.‘ In March I returned and visited another 20 domaines and this time I would say that more than half of the domaines had some green wines. Last week in Chablis I tasted a couple of grand crus that were free of the taint in January but that’s no longer the case. In my January report, a number of winemakers suggested the possible reason for these pyrazines.

Right now, I would say that almost all 2020s that I am opening at home are starting to show these notes – an evolution that recalls what happened with the 2004 reds. The problem is widespread across the Auxerois – red and white – but not (yet!) 100%.

In the Côte d’Or I have noted in my reports some reds with plenty of pyrazine – isolated in general so with a significantly lower occurance than (I initially found) in the whites of Chablis. Of course, those reds were tasted back in my October-December tastings but recent bottles remain fine. I haven’t noted any greens – that I can recall – in the whites of the Côte d’Or or further south in Chalonnaise/Mâconnais.

That’s about it for now – but I would most definitely taste before I buy today – your possibilities for that will vary…

Clive Coates RIP

By billn on July 31, 2022 #sad losses...

Clive CoatesClive Coates, wine-buyer turned wine educator, author and critic, died in Hospital 1 week ago.

The first news trickled out only on Friday – I waited for further corroboration before offering a small note on Twitter.

Clive was open and generous, starting his wine journey in the lesser appellations of France before majoring on Bordeaux – Burgundy came later – but Clive became a reference on the subject.

Clive was particularly a reference for wine-buyers; I still have all the copies of his (roughly!) monthly periodical ‘The Vine‘ starting from his reviews of the 1995 Burgundy vintage until he closed his publication and retired to a house near the hills of Beaujolais.

Multiple were the tastings in his living room in Chiswick where I often asked stupid questions – only to receive enlightening answers. Afterwards, we met in many tastings in Burgundy, Clive always remained approachable despite becoming harder of hearing. I sadly lost touch in the covid years – how quickly 3 years pass.

He was only 81 and he will be missed. The education and joy that he brought to a generation of enthusiasts is incalculable…
*Image, initially, with the permission of Clive when he first reviewed my book – I subsequently find that the originator is Michel Joly – apologies to him for using his image, it’s not clear (to me) who had the copyright…

Chablis 2020 – trouble at’ mill – weekend 29 2022…

By billn on July 26, 2022 #degustation

weekend 29 2022 wines

At the risk of boring you, the hot weekend weather demands a cool bottle – or three – of Chablis. Unfortunately, this was a very unsatisfactory bunch. I feel a note to subscribers coming on – of the mea-culpa type – these 2020 pyrazines are becoming more and more invasive…

2020 Chablisienne, Chablis 1er Montmains
This was a bravo wine – pre-bottling – why else would I have ordered a dozen of them(?)
A nose of impact and good freshness but also of green-citrus skin and pyrazines. The palate is nicely structural in shape – those green-citrus bitters and energy are abundant but so are the more pyrazine style of flavours too. Ouch! So far, all bar one of my 2020 purchases – all of which I (obviously!) thought pyrazine free – are far from pyrazine free…
Rebuy No Only 11 more to go…

2019 Eleni & Eduard Vocoret, Chablis Les Pargues
Wine of the weekend but from a hobbled field! The problem with this wine today is the strongly visible oak – creamy, almost vanilla. Blind, I’m sure I’d be drinking something from the Côte de Beaune. If I’d wanted something from the Côte de Beaune that’s what I would have chosen, not a Chablis! On the other hand, this is delicious, perfumed, wine it’s just that the oak is wearing today. Wait for 3 years and I think it will be transformed…
Rebuy No

2020 Oudin, Chablis
A favourite producer – but! The cork was a little smelly but the tight nose seemed free of TCA. A muted aromatic, more of yellow citrus than the wine of the Chablisienne and only a faint suggestion of pyrazine. Tight, structural wine giving almost nothing away – but as it warmed in the glass the reason was apparent – faint TCA. After 3 such wines I cut my losses and instead of searching for a 4th bottle, I made some tea!
Rebuy – No

weekend 28 2022 – plus some wine…

By billn on July 18, 2022 #degustation

Niesen view...

I don’t need to tell you that it’s hot – and tomorrow might reach 40°C in Burgundy – but at the weekend I was able to enjoy brunch atop the Niesen with its 2,362 metres of altitude – to be honest, I needed a pullover! For a place that I love so much I’m astounded that it’s nearly 4 years since my last visit – where did the time go during the covid-period?

Unsurprisingly, I’m a big fan of the mountains and particularly enjoy running the trials – that was until 3.5 weeks ago when I rolled over my left ankle at quite high speed – head in the clouds, eyes certainly not on the trail. That was me limping – and definitely not jogging – for a time. I just completed my second comeback jog today and think I’m now okay for alternate days of running. If there was anything ‘fortunate’ about my injury, it was the timing – I did this deed on the last possible day that I could cancel (for free) my hotel for the mountain race that I’d trained for in Sedrun on the 9th. I was the 7th-fastest old person (ie over 50) in the race last year and running the same time this year would have given me 5th place – I was in better shape this year – apart from, it seems, my eyes 🙂 Anyway, I can’t wait to get back into those hills…

But there was also wine:

2020 Gauthier, Chablis Vieilles-Vignes
Crunchy, structural, slightly green – but tasty as always – this house cuvée…
Rebuy – No

2019 N&G Fevre, Chablis Vieilles-Vignes
Not more concentrated than the last, perhaps slightly less structural too – but more directly tasty without the small hint of green. I like this a lot – as could be seen how quickly the bottle was emptied!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Nicolas Rossignol, Pommard Les Vignots
Medium coloured – and the colour’s starting to show a little age too. That’s a very appealing nose – almost touched with elegance despite a small graphite mineral accent. Even more elegance, and here is some silk to the texture too. The small note of graphite is also showing in the finish. I like the shape of this – it’s elegant yet has some proper structure. A delicious middleweight wine – yum!
Rebuy – Yes

From the frontline… 2022 vintage update on Bastille Day…

By billn on July 14, 2022 #vintage 2022

Over the past week, the temperatures have been roughly ‘average’ and the wind has been steady. Weather that has not been particularly favourable to the onset of veraison yet it has started, without pause, anyway! In many plots – not just the early ones – you can already find the first veraisoned berries and twitter/instagram is full of the images – even for the whites!

Of course, last week’s ‘average’ temperatures have made way for more sustained heat this week and a forecast that’s not dipping below 30°C – indeed nearer to 35°C – for the next 10 days. Heat spikes are expected, with peaks that could reach 38-40°C, even in the shade. Given the volume of rain in the last 3 weeks, it’s unlikely that the vines will shut down – some vigneron(ne)s claiming that it wouldn’t matter if there was no more rain between now and the harvest – others remain more circumspect.

To date, it appears that 2022 is at the same stage of growth (earliness!) as 2011, 2007 and also 2018 – which is to say 2.5 weeks ahead of last year and just a few days behind 2020. The current dryness is keeping all of the usual maladies in check and despite hail and frost (etcetera) this year, the average yield is looking rather high…

And for your fun you can look at the before and after photos of the soil at the bottom of Gevrey’s Clos Saint Jacques – first after June’s heavy rain and then after ‘preparing’ the mound of soil to return up the hillside:

more weekend wines – week 27 2020

By billn on July 13, 2022 #degustation

more weekend wines....

Even stretching into the start of week 28 😉

2019 Raphael Chopin, Beaujolais Funambule
The no sulfur cuvée of declassified BJV
A year ago this was so impressively delicious and juicy – a bravo wine. A year down the line it’s still delicious but just a little less juicy so showing more finishing sweetness. No faults, just a bit less ‘bravo’ – still a very tasty wine!
Rebuy – Yes

And because of the hot weather, plenty of Chablis:

2020 Wengier, Chablis
A wine with the merest hint of the characteristic 2020 pyrazines – but there is more to find in the flavours. Structural and this is a punchy wine of some class. Very drinkable despite the green notes – if I was less sensitive to the greens it would be a definite rebuy for its proper Chablis minerality and punch – but I am, so…
Rebuy – No

2019 Alice & Olivier de Moor, Chablis Clardy & Rosette
Oof – now this has a more obviously bracing acidity than the 2020 (despite the reverse ‘averages’ of the vintages) but my palate quickly makes the adjustment to get with the flow of this super wine. So mouth-watering with great Chablis intensity. That’s a really excellent 2019 – and completely delicious.
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Céline & Frédéric Gueguen, Chablis Cuvée 1995
Not the oldest vines of the domaine but made as a separate cuvée as it’s the birthyear of both Céline & Frédéric!
After the previous two wines, here was a sense of calm – both aromatically and in the flavours too. We could be cynical and presume that to be the high yields of the vintage on full display – yet – here is a wine with good concentration and just a little extra citrus bitters as you head into the finish. Easy-drinking Chablis but still a worthwhile drink. For what it’s worth, I also find the 2019 Côte de Beaune whites are currently more interesting drinks than their 2018 counterparts.
Rebuy – Maybe

2012 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny
The first bottle from this 6-pack. 2012s (in general, not just at de Vogüé) were brilliant, pre-bottling, with their fine structure and mega-appealing clarity of flavour. Then the vast majority tightened and were obviously for the long-haul. It’s nice to see that some wines might be re-opening:
Lots of colour. The nose has a bit of oaky funk about it but it’s also very forward and welcoming – air reducing the oak a little and accentuating the smaller complexities – that’s a great start. In the mouth I’m reminded of the structural shape of the vintage – I like! – but also the impressive middle and finishing energy on display from this ‘mere’ villages (yes, it does contain some 1er grapes.) Some was left for day 2 and the obvious clarity of the flavour has not been dulled, nor are there any unwelcome developments like brett. I am very happy with this first bottle!
Rebuy – Yes

offer of the day – bruno clair – 2020s

By billn on July 10, 2022 #the market

From my usual Swiss merchant. In brackets, where offered, are the previous prices of the 2019s, 2018s, 2017s and the 2016s, — indicates not offered:

Domaine Bruno Clair
Marsannay Blanc 2020 75cl 35.00 (—, 28.00, —, —) * (Swiss Francs)
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2020 75cl — (—, 145.00, —, —)

Marsannay 2020 75cl — (34.00, —, 32.00, —)
Marsannay Les Grasses Têtes 2020 75cl 49.00 (42.00, 39.00, —,—)
Marsannay Les Longeroies 2020 75cl 49.00 (42.00, 40.00, —, —)

Savigny-les-Beaune Les Jarrons 1er Cru 2020 75cl 53.00 (49.50, 48.00, 48.00, —)
Savigny-les-Beaune La Dominode 1er Cru 2020 75cl 69.00 (—, 59.00, —, —)

Vosne-Romanée Perdrix 75cl 2020 99.00
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes 2020 75cl 149.00

Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Fonteny 1er Cru 2020 75cl 130.00 (119.00, 119.00, 105.00, 115.00)
Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er Cru 2020 75cl 160.00 (145.00, 145.00, 139.00, —)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2020 75cl 249.00 (228.00, 215.00, 189.00, —)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2020 150cl 518.00 (476.00, —, —, —)

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2020 75cl 395.00 (335.00, 335.00, 298.00, 325.00)
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2020 150cl 810.00 (690.00, —, —, —)

Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2020 75cl 395.00 (335.00, 335.00, 298.00, 325.00)
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2020 150cl 810.00 (690.00, —, —, —)

The prices are always high for this combination of producer and merchant – but this remains a favourite producer of mine…
*As always with this merchant – there’s an additional Swiss purchase tax of 7.7% to add, but then the prices are delivered…

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