Domaine René Engel – the sale…

By billn on June 16, 2019 #the market


The view is spectacular from the coffee room of the Hotel Beau-Rivage in Geneva – looking across the ‘bay’ of Lake Geneva – this hotel, long the home of expensive auctions from the likes of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Antiquorum – is, for today, the home of Baghera.

As previously noted, Baghera have a coup – from my perspective no less of a coup than their large sale of the remaining family stocks of Domaine Henri Jayer – today we are here for the wines of Domaine René Engel, once-more the remaining(?) family stocks of a famous Vosne-Romanée domaine.

I was too young to be a buyer of Jayer when the wines were released, but not so for Domaine René Engel, wines I’d bought from the 1995 vintage; mainly Grands-Echézeaux a) because the price was so reasonable given how delicious the wine was, and b) because my friends bought the domaine’s other wines – so I could drink their other cuvées and they could drink mine!

Of course we lost Philippe far too early – all were shocked – and without any ideas for succession the family sold the domaine to Château Latour (Pinault) for a ridiculously high price – though today that sum seems so cheap – and that was goodbye to Domaine René Engel after the grapes on the vines were sold to Albert Bichot in 2005.


Just a few early thoughts: Today it seemed a smaller gathering in the salesroom – vs the Jayer sale where I was also present – but who knows how many bidders were waiting on the phones. But for a single producer sale of 1,157 bottles in 168 lots with vintages from 1921 to the final 2004 vintage, it seems to me that the family did quite well – the sale totalled 1.8 million Swiss Francs (hammer) “reaching the pre-sale high estimate.”

A taste of the bidding:
Lot 1 – 12x Villages Vosne 2004 – 5,000 swiss francs
Lot 5 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2003 – 2,800
Lot 9 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2002 – 3,400
Lot 10 – 12x Villages Vosne 2002 – 6,500
Lot 13 – 6x Villages Vosne 2001 – 2,200
Lot 15 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 2000 – 3,500
Lot 20 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1999 – 4,200
Lot 22 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1998 – 2,200
Lot 25 – 3 magnums Villages Vosne 1996 – 3,500
Lot 53 – 12x Vosne Brulées 2003 – 9,000
Lot 68 – 6x Vosne Brulées 1999 – 9,000
Lot 69 – 6x Vosne Brulées 1998 – 4,500
Lot 81 – 12x Echézeaux 2004 – 13,000
Lot 81 – 2004 Echézeaux 12 bottles – 13,000
Lot 82 – 2003 Echézeaux 12 bottles – 12,000
Lot 103 – 12x Grands-Echézeaux 2004 – 20,000
Lot 113 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2002 – 13,000
Lot 115 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2001 – 11,000
Lot 117 – 6x Grands-Echézeaux 2000 – 13,000
Lot 120 – 12x Grands-Echézeaux 1999 – 30,000*
*I stop with this one – just as a placeholder – I bought this en-primeur, in-bond, for £41 per bottle – or 1,130 swiss francs for 12 as was the exchange rate in those days – nice that I found 6 in the cellar last year, but this 26 times growth of value pales when compared to that of Apple stock over the same period – that’s why wine’s for drinking, not speculating: “A mere $100 investment in the company’s stock at the beginning of 2002 would have grown to more than 95 times the original investment by mid-February 2019

flowering – still much to do…

By billn on June 11, 2019 #vintage 2019

I did a little touring in the Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune yesterday, and all these images of flowering vines that have been on Instagram and Twitter for the last 10-12 days tell only a small part of the story.

The Côte Chalonnaise has some precocious areas where the flowering is close to finished – but generally, we are not yet half-way through. In Bouzeron the aligoté is further behind – some parts not yet having started flowering – even the east-facing parts, and certainly not the west-facing!

The Côte de Beaune is pushing a little more, but most places seem more mid-flowering than finished – those latter areas, like in the Chalonnaise are the most precocious, but far from common. So the heavy rain of the weekend and even some light rain on Monday was unwelcome but sometimes it’s like that!

We will have to wait for the proper fruit-set in another 1-3 weeks to have the best idea on yields after the spring frosts…

a weekend wine – week 23 2019

By billn on June 10, 2019 #degustation

L&A Lignier2008 LA Lignier, Clos de la Roche
The recent 2008 Charmes-Chambertin from here was a bit of a disappointment – perhaps not easy to produce as there was only 1 barrel – but this is simply magnificent!
Plenty of colour and what colour – it could be a 2012 or 2014 – it’s just so young looking. A vibrant nose, one that emits a radiation somewhere between raspberry and red cherry – this aroma is such a great invitation. Fresh, mouth-filling – absolutely full of energy and intensity – so long, so delicious – bravo! Power, freshness but balance too. Great wine, in a great place right now, even if it’s without any overt maturity!

audras 2009 juliénas presitige

By billn on June 07, 2019 #degustation

Audras Julienas2009 Vincent Audras, Juliénas Prestige
Lots of colour here – and younger colour than the previous 2010 from Mikulski! The nose starts really rather uninteresting which is in stark contrast to the palate which is bold, energetic and sweetly ripe-fruited. An hour is needed for the nose to open – then we see (smell!) subtle but dark fruit and a more forward graphite style of aroma. As the nose begins to open, the sweetness of the wine equally seems less jarring – with fine, mouth-watering, width and a little, very fine and ripe, grain of tannin. Not really much ageing here – a wine of freshness (altitude!) to match the ripe fruit. Excellent, still young and delicious!
Rebuy – Yes!

a 2010 mikulski

By billn on June 06, 2019 #degustation

francois mikulski

2010 François Mikulski, Volnay 1er Santenots du Milieu
The first nose has some dank, admittedly quite attractive dark oak notes – they hang around for 20 minutes or so before offering a nicely incisive dark-red fruit with a suggestion of cream. In the mouth, this is simply delicious: Succulent dark-cherry fruit with a fine rush of acid-led energy. The finish is long and mouth-watering with a faint but attractive lick of tannin to accent the dark fruit. Drinking fabulously right now – but no rush. Bravo!
Rebuy – Yes!

a little le grappin…

By billn on June 04, 2019 #degustation

2012 Le Grappin, Beaune 1er Boucherottes
A nicely deep colour, but perfectly transparent. Just a touch of floral perfume over close to black fruit – clean and inviting aroma! Mouth-filling freshness – open and energetic with still just a lick of tannin. A super mouthful of dark-fruited clarity and energy. Really excellent wine that you can certainly enjoy now or keep another 5-10 years if that’s your wish – yum!
Rebuy – Yes

weekend wines, week 22 2019

By billn on June 03, 2019 #degustation


Week 22 – pff! – that sounds like we’re already getting close to half-way through the year!
I’ll have to find a few good wines for the next days as my cold is fading to almost nothing, but for now…

We had weekend guests, so plenty of stuff was opened that has already been in these pages a few times in the last months, but new(ish) was:

2017 Alain Geoffroy, Chablis 1er Fourchaume
Oh yes – clearly a fun Chablis from the first of the nose to the last of the finish! The nose is fresh, citrus and saline – a fine invitation. Good zip, and a flavour-energy combination that drives well into the middle and finish – really a nice line of acidity here. So Yum…
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Jean Foillard, Morgon Côte du Py
From Magnum. The colour is bright and freshly red but of only medium depth. The nose a little saline and whilst no faults, far from an invitation. The palate was simply lovely. Very comforting red fruits of sucrosity and energy – towards strawberry in fruit style. Light but very rewarding – drunk to the last drop by an appreciative crowd. Simply excellent despite the dumb nose.
Rebuy – Yes

2008 David Clark, Vosne-Romanée
Now here’s a wine that’s absolutely ‘on song‘ on all fronts today! The nose has depth and interest – another wine with a strawberry style to the fruit. Silky in the mouth with just a suggestion of fat to the texture and great energy without ever pushing too hard as some 2008s do. Delicious wine – also drunk to the very last drop.
Rebuy – Yes

2000 Thomas-Moillard, Bonnes-Mares
Deep colour. A nose that’s fresh, clean and packs a punch of deep, iron-inflected dark fruit. In the mouth this is still rather muscular – it’s a young wine – concentrated but without fat. The mid-palate intensity and length and complexity of the finish are really something to behold. You should still wait 3-5 years, but this drank well, if in a ‘no prisoners’ manner, unlike the ease of the previous two reds.
Rebuy – Yes

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