Why Big Red Diary?

weekend wines, week 1 2019

1996 Guy Castagnier, Clos St.Denis
A cork that broke into many pieces – just about recoverable
My last one of this stinked – brett amongst other things – this was way better! A smooth and pure dark-red fruit on the nose – in fact just that – a nice line and shape, but primary – at 22 years old! The palate was reasonably concentrated, nicely silky but like the nose – oh-so young. Given the forward but still balanced acidity I’m not sure what vintage I may have guessed – still a bit sharp for 2005 – but equivalently young. No maturity here – but delicious – all was drunk the same night. And it was a stable wine too – no bretty development – the last sip was as good as the first.
Rebuy – Yes

Now you mention 2005s…

2005 Bertagna, Chambolle-Musigny Le Village
Another terrible – broken in the middle cork – at this level of annoyance, I’d prefer DIAM! Not recoverable either, even with an Ah-So, it ended up in the neck so I quickly decanted through a filter.
Well, what do you know – more depth and certainly more aromatic complexity – perhaps even maturity – than the 1996. Go figure. It’s a dark complexity that is visible in the flavours too – perhaps a little oak-derived. But a wine with more volume and more maturity than the CSD, complex though less finely textured. A great and cushioned wine for the label – Chambolle has always been my sweet spot for 2005s. Great Villages! Another wine that didn’t last the night (but not the same night!)
Rebuy – Yes

a little chablis colour…

A small break in the clouds this afternoon, after a grey morning – I’ve been asked if I’d rather be in London for Burgundy Week – what do you think…?

2017 Red Burgundy Report – the ‘Grands Maisons’

Quite frankly, 2017 is the most complex, the most variable, red wine vintage that I’ve ever tasted.

The 2017 Vintage Grands Maisons Report

In December 2018’s Burgundy Report there are over 440 wines for you to add to the last two months reports – so that’s already more than 1,800 wines from 110+ producers in the October to December 2017 vintage reports.

With the visits for my Chablis 2017 report starting tomorrow (January 2019 Report) and Beaujolais 2017 visits in the February 2019 Report still to come. Nobody else brings you such a wide perspective of Burgundy!

I hope you enjoy – here.

a few wines to get back into the swing of things – week 1 2019

2006 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
A golden colour, but not so deep – it looks fine! Hmm, it smells fine too! A little toast, fresh width and fainter sweetness. Weight in the mouth, a freshness that easily carries a richness of extract – growing wider, mineral, concentrated – such lovely texture. Excellent, mineral, length. Beautiful shape, more mineral than tasty – but still yum!
Rebuy – Maybe

2007 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
Plenty of energy on this nose, just a little more appealing than the 2006. Ouch – that’s great – but only just. Many lower wines in 07 can be like battery-acid, this avoids that, but it’s still not a wine for the acid averse. Complex, tasty and with so much zing – just drink is somewhere calm! I love!
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
A more cushioned nose, faintly sweet, almost a sweet apricot aspect. A hint more age than the 07, but whilst there’s plenty of acidity, this is less driving than the 2007 – it’s the most balanced and delicious of all these wines so-far – still vibrant, indeed electric in the mid and finish. I maybe love this even more than the 07!
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
Hmm – a fresh nose but with a depth of toasty notes – this needs a litter air. I’m expecting some fat, some richness, but no – fresh, mineral, balanced – yet without an obvious acidity like the last two wines. It seems that this is balanced more by its minerality than its acidity. Open, classy, great texture and importantly delicious – something that to an extent the 2006 lacks.
Rebuy – Yes

I admit that I’m tempting fate, but I’ve never had a sub-par bottle of Alex’s Dents du Chien. Maybe I should pull out the 2004 and 2005 that I have somewhere!

1998 Chézeaux/Ponsot, Chambertin
Well the quick summary would be that this was almost a waste of a bottle. I remember Laurent Ponsot telling me a few years ago that his wines shouldn’t be judged before they were twenty years old – more recently he updated that to 25-years – he had probably tasted this wine just before we spoke!
The nose is fresh but narrow; celery, a considered, almost spiced but certainly understated dark-red fruit aroma. Fresh, clean lines over the palate with a depth of black-cherry fruit, almost black-olive ‘fruit’ – this is a wine of line and freshness, not a wine of weight or concentration. I drank it, all of it, with a certain, measured, enjoyment, but certainly not enthusiasm given the label – or the price-point! Certainly not worth the price of entry today, your mileage may vary in the future…
Rebuy – No

my christmas magnum opus

Of-course with a little help from my friends…

You already met the 1981 Nuits, earlier in my posts, so:

2010 Alain Geoffroy, Chablis 1er Beauroy
Light, very young colour. The nose is pure, saline, seashore – perfect. Nice zing and intensity – pure and delicious flavour – the finish a little short/inconsequential – but a prefect condition, perfect quaffer that everyone loved – easy!
Rebuy – Maybe

2010 Camille Giroud, Corton-Charlemagne
My 2017s in 75cl all died more than 3-4 years ago, but this is pristine in magnum format.
Certainly a darker colour, still a suggestion of oak but a powerful lychee-style tropicality, yet rippling muscle, and fine energetic drive to the concentrated flavour. Honestly, this is such a baby – a delicious baby – but maybe drunk 5-10 years too soon. Hard to tell with some of these wines – eh?
Rebuy – Yes

1998 Faiveley, Corton, Clos des Cortons Faiveley
I thought that Erwan Faiveley was having some fun when he described this cuvée as ‘approachable’ – I thought to myself ‘approachable in what – a full hazard suit?’ but this frightening combination of cuvée and vintage is indeed quite drinkable – but it’s still 10 years too early in this format!
A nose of cool fruit, blood, a certain celery-style herb – but very clean – there’s no brett or anything like that. In the mouth medium bodied but with a good intensity – very young, practically primary flavour but zero astringent and I must say, a nice texture. Baby wine – it drank well over nearly 3 days, but like a ‘too young’ wine.
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Alex Gambal, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Amoureuses
I have some of this in magnums from 2006 and 2005 – it’s still too early to prise a 2005 from the cellar I think…
Medium-plus colour. The nose has an easy quality to it – appealing, but far from the invitation of an Amoureuses. Tasty wine, of good shape, modest intensity and even quite good complexity. Simply a good wine. I was expecting more – luckily the premium for this label was very little in those days. Tasty but not special.
Rebuy – No

2013 Nathalie & Gilles Fevre, Chablis Les Preuses
I decided too early to open any of 2012, 2014, 2015 or 2016 but maybe 2013 would be worth it! Loved the silver-coloured wax capsule.
Hmm – a big aromatic here, a little apricot and lychee, but also a saline suggestion too. In the mouth, big energetic wine with plenty of sucrosity – it’s completely delicious – though you may be hard pressed to spot it as a Chablis – blind. But loved by all.
Rebuy – Maybe

2008 Camille Giroud, Bourgogne Pinot Noir – Cuvée L
L for lees – the blending of the remaining lees at bottling for all this producer’s wines – bourgogne, villages, 1ers and grands crus – then left a number of months more to (best as possible) settle. Clearly this needed more than the 5 days I gave it – it was never clean and bright!
Fresh – open, younger but complex nose. Open, good intensity – fresh-flavoured – actually very delicious in an open and easy style. Not perfect clarity, but a shape, a definition, that reminded me a little of Cortons. Very open, very tasty – I guess I’m lucky to be the only person with magnums 🙂
Rebuy – Yes

2017 Red Burgundy Report

Quite frankly, 2017 is the most complex, the most variable, red wine vintage that I’ve ever tasted.

The November Burgundy Report

For subscribers – 50 individual reports now online online covering the (mainly) red domaines.

The October and November reports together cover more than 1,360 wines – with the December Report, covering the major ‘Maisons,’ online in another week – that will be 1,800 wines. Of-course that’s before the 60 visits in Chablis in January bring at least another 500 wines from the vintage – then there’s the same in Beaujolais in February – it seems that there’s no rest for the wicked 🙂


christmas magnums

The format seems to much more christmassy and for sharing, so here’s the first this season.

1981 Maison Clavelier – Hospices de Nuits, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Corvées Pagets – Cuvée Saint-Laurent
A length of name that’s right up there with many from Deutschland! Noted, the label is only 75cl.
The corks starts to move very easily until it crumbles through the middle – a combination of Ah-So and normal cork-screw worm does the trick in multiple pieces though with hardly any ‘bits’ dropping into the neck. Browner colour but the nose is not particularly oxidised for the age of the wine. Actually it’s a more floral nose – aged for sure but not a hint of brett or leather. The flavour is easy and elegant – this is an elegant senior citizen of a wine – a touch of oxidation that shows only through some suggestion of balsamic, there’s no tannin to speak of as it has long-since been deposited on the walls of the heavy, older-style bottle. Tasty, easy – everyone loved. A good start..
Rebuy – No need (I have more :))

icymi – week 51 2018 – investment burgundy


There’s an obvious problem with this, and you can see that right from the bold title of the table introducing you to such delights – the table is by value, not by volume. Of-course a few of the wines in the table have decent volume too – Ponsot’s Clos de la Roche is not bad, 3.3 hectares and at a rough 30 hl/ha that’s about 13,000 bottles – a big cuvée for Burgundy. The Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart are even bigger cuvées – no surprise for grand cru (sometimes quasi) monopolies – even the Rousseau Chambertin is not so bad – but that’s where the volume stops, there are wines in this list that often produce 1-2 barrels – yes – 1-2 barrels. A table based on such things has no real perspective.

I do not deny the rise of worth of Burgundy, that would be a ridiculous standpoint, but today the chance of buying full 12-bottle cases, indeed 6-bottle cases of important wines shrinks by the year – it is already a few years since importers introduced the 3-bottle case, and there’s a queue for those too! I know that the superstars bring the headlines – DRC, Leroy – but at least DRC has some volume, Leroy is the typical poster-child of this ‘investment perspective’ – “The preponderance of Leroy in this adjusted top 10 and its strong price performance overall is the reason why it was ranked as the strongest brand in this year’s ‘Power 100’ list” – bombastic – no? They may have 0.5 hectares of the Chambertin that is noted, but they rarely produce more than a couple of barrels, indeed they produce only 1-2 barrels of many things, but no more.

A real indicator would be all the grand crus sold at major auctions, and their price tracked – of-course it would still be skewed by a big DRC sale, or single bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti sold for $0.5 million. But then there is at least a volume of transactions behind a number that you can track each year. Of-course I’m glossing over the fact that less than 4% of the Côte d’Or’s production is grand cru, closer to 1% if you look at burgundy wine as a whole. But when a single 6 pack of Leroy Chambertin (and there are not many of those) is traded twice in a year, but makes 20% less on the second occasion – it depends on who is in the room, bidding – does that mean that the market has tanked?

€9 coffee, €40 brunch – then back to beaune for pizza…

Wednesday was a rainy day, so we decided to hop on the train to Monaco – only €2.30 on the train – I decided that there must be some nice hotels or casinos where we could drink a coffee and pretend to be Mr and Mrs Bond – indeed there are – but the rain was firing down which made the experience sub-optimal!

Today we quit our AirBnB early for Beaune – but with a stop for brunch in St.Tropez – a mere €40 in the Café de Paris – lovely, creamily scrambled eggs though! Out of season there are still very big boats here, but the feeling is smaller, cosier and certainly prettier than much of the Côte d’Azur. Then we headed back to Beaune and real life – i.e. a pizza after 740 km in front of the steering wheel…

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