Why Big Red Diary?

mid-july burgundy vineyard update


“I know it’s only July, but frankly I can’t wait for this vintage to be over. We were proud to have survived the growing seasons of 2012 and 2013, but 2016 is on another level. The harvest will not be better, very few grapes and a massive competition to buy grapes too – probably at prices that will make the bottles unsellable – it’s also probable that some producers and maisons will go out of business – it will just depend on their banks.”
A Beaune grower yesterday evening…

Extra Work
Weeds have been big problems this year – growers don’t recollect them growing so fast before – it’s clearly a vintage for weeds. There is also much extra work in training and pruning; those vines affected by frost growing more like bushes and needing particular care so that there will be something to prune to allow fruit in 2017! It’s interesting to see some occasional plots in the Beaune 1ers that seem to have been abandoned – straggly growth and lots of weeds as high as the vines – here there are of-course no grapes after the frost – some people are either prioritising – or have already given up!

After the (unreported) hail of the 24th June took out some of Gevrey’s Lavaux St.Jacques, there was more (unreported) hail in Chassagne last Wednesday (13th July) – both were localised and weather reporters simply cannot track these storms.

July usually sees the last treatments before domaines go on holiday, but the vineyards are busier than usual. Some are trimming their vines – and quite late versus most years – and others are still treating against the threat of mildew. The weather for the last 5-6 days has joined in the fight against the mildew – there’s been a drying north wind in that time – but the damage has already been done. The northern vineyards of Champagne and Chablis have been decimated by mildew – “If you thought the hail and frost was bad – you should see what the mildew has done.” an owner in both Beaune and Chablis told me on Monday.

The Côte d’Or has suffered much less than Champagne and Chablis, but there is plenty of dew each morning and this isn’t going to help protect against oïdium. Normally you have either mildew or oïdium, but not both – but in a vintage like 2016 the producers are not counting what chickens they have left – indeed they are praying that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far from mildew to oïdium.

The heat
It seems almost churlish to invoke ‘heat’ when we’ve had such a generally cool vintage – but yesterday it was 33°C in Beaune and today it is forecast to be over 36°C. The heat itself isn’t really the problem, rather it is the sudden arrival of such heat without acclimatisation by the vines – “It’s the spikes in temperature are the problem. After the frost, and the mildew, those grapes that survived will probably get roasted today…

Sometimes I’m really surprised how upbeat some producers can be – when not talking about their vines. But did I mention that storms are (again) forecast by Meteo-France for the Côte d’Or later today……(?)

weekend walking in burgundy:

It was a perfect weekend for walking, getting a little hotter each day. For the first time this year, there is more ‘definition’ in the vineyards as the vines are trimmed and more regimented – I love this time of year!


Northern Beaune 1ers

A little Gevrey-Chambertin

camille giroud & chezeaux/ponsot – weekend stuff – week 28…


Despite the temperature closing in on 30° this weekend, my boss said – No, it has to be red!
So here you go:

2012 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Lurets
Hmm – the nose is not the best – it’s not bad, but I’d want more purity from my Volnay – here the fruit is very powdery – stopping short of musty, but for the whole night, stable, powdery. In the mouth – no problem. Sinuous, dark red and pure fruit with lovely energy. The shape of this wine in the mouth is really lovely – it drinks (oops – drank!) very well.
Rebuy – Yes

2013 Chezeaux/Ponsot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
I hate these seals – or at least the attempted removal of them – I don’t think I’ll ever stop saying that, but the wines have always been fine!
Hmmm – dreamy pure fruit – ripe fruit – you might easily think it was from a vintage like 2009. In the mouth there is fine energy but again, despite the easy-drinking beauty of the fruit, it is very much a ripe, almost cordial fruit. Too easy? Maybe for Chambolle 1er, but certainly too easy to drink today – it is gone in double-quick time. Hopefully by age 10+ there will be more real interest, instead of simple, if appealing, easy drinking fruit.
Rebuy – Yes

(my) failed p.ox watch!


Given my rotten 05 Puligny Caillerets, I decided to pop another M&M 05 to see if it was an isolated incident. As you can see – and (as you prefer) call it old age or blindness – but only after I’d poured this, did I realise that I’d actually pulled out an 07, not the 05!

2007 Mischief and Mayhem, Meursault 1er Les Charmes
Much lighter colour than the 05 Caillerets. Fresh, forward and embracing aromatics – this is really inviting. In the mouth – wow! If you are acid-shy then you might find this a little challenging, but this is a super-intense and fresh wine yet with fabulous construction and weight too. Still very much a baby – it zings across the palate and I loved it!
Rebuy – Yes

new(s) from inter beaujolais…

Inter Beaujolais* is the ‘southern‘ equivalent of the BIVB. Yesterday they announced some changes:

At their Extraordinary General Meeting on July 13, the members of Inter Beaujolais endorsed the appointments of Dominique Piron as President and David Ratignier as Vice-President. Every two years these positions switch between ‘traders’ and ‘growers’ – we now enter the grower’ phase.

Dominique Piron, 66 is a grower from Morgon and David Ratignier, 46, is a grower in Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne. For the full announcement, in French, click here.

*The Interprofessional des Vins du Beaujolais was formed in 1959 and has responsibility for the 12 Beaujolais appellations. This encompasses an area of ​​16,000 heczares in 2 départments (Rhone and Saone et Loire), producing roughly 100 million bottles per year, representing nearly 2000 winemakers, 12 wine cooperatives and over 150 Maisons de négoce.

weekend stuff – week 27…

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What a modest (quantity) weekend – clearly I was also still drinking the ‘dregs’ of all those other bottles 😉

2006 Chenu, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Aux Clous
Like last week’s 06 villages, there’s a certain attractive phenolic aspect to this wine – more for the flavours than the aromas – but it’s really that – attractive. Fresh red fruit with more sweetness and vivacity – lovely complexity too – versus the villages. This drank beautifully for 2 days – very yum!
Rebuy – Yes

Good as the Chenu is, the next wine is from another planet!

2009 Chandon de Briailles, Volnay 1er Caillerets
A wine no-longer in the CdB portfolio – and that’s a shame, because this is fabulous. It retains a modest nod to the vintage – ripeness for sure – but the clarity of both the aromatic and the flavour is simply first class. Gorgeous wine with a herby, intensity of concentrated extract in the mid-palate. Simply a fabulous wine! I must be more patient with my remaining few bottles!
Rebuy – Yes

pre-weekend p.ox


Following the bad 05 Caillerets, I decided to keep with a 2005 theme before the start of the weekend – with mixed results:

2005 Jomain, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Combottes
Not just deeply coloured and ‘over-the-borderline’ oxidised, it was corked too!

2005 Jomain, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Perrières
A little lighter in colour than the last wine – if not by much. The nose starts with an apple-y note, but becomes clearer and finer in the glass. A nice line of flavour with a fresh intensity for the ride. 2005s are very often a little dense, but here is enough energy and flavour complexity to overcome the density. Tasty – and drunk over 3 days (the fridge in-between) with fine stability. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

I think I will extend the 05 exercise into next week – there’s no point keeping them if they are ‘off‘…

shame – 2005 puligny caillerets…


Well my last 2005 (Bougros) was just sooooo good, that having also found a bunch of these (2007s too!), I decided I had the right material for Wales vs Portugal…

2005 Mischief and Mayhem, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Caillerets
Ouf – now that’s deeply coloured… The nose rotates between states of apple cider, a vendanges tardives style and an aroma redolent of a wine from the Jura. It’s big, sweet, long and complex, with exotic fruit but with oxidative overtones too. Nothing for it – I decanted it and left it in the refrigerator for 1 hour – fortunately I had started early 😉 Early or not, this wine was completely stable – even 3 hours later, it hadn’t budged an inch. Nothing for it; where’s the cork-screw?
Rebuy – No

2008 Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin La Brunelle
The Roty starts all smoky and with a little gunpowder reduction too – slowly there’s a fine, slightly cushioned and certainly attractive fruit. Modest of weight but fleet of foot and with super delicacy to the flavour. For the football, maybe I should have taken something more ‘obvious’ and easy – this demands some attention, but in the best way…
Rebuy – Yes

I appear to have had decent luck avoiding the p.ox with most of my whites, but like Wales, tonight it wasn’t to be…

bouchard père’s 2005 chablis bougros


The other day, I found my last bottle of this whilst ‘rummaging!’ Bouchard don’t have any holdings in Chablis, separate from those of William Fevre – so this is actually a Fevre wine, sold into Switzerland by somebody who obviously didn’t have the exclusivity on William Fevre! 🙂

2005 Bouchard Père et Fils, Chablis Bougros
I assume that this is still a négoce wine, despite Fevre being the source. Wherever it comes from, the colour is much lighter than I might have worried about – certainly younger and lighter coloured than this weekend’s Gambal 2012 Dents du Chien – a fresh, weighty wine indeed. It’s a squeaky-clean and very inviting nose – it could be a 2012! Weight of extract, a little fat, but also fine minerality and freshness – here is a slightly fat finishing grapefruit/agrume flavour. This tastes fabulous without ever delivering the extra dimension that 10 years might endow – a baby – a very pretty baby indeed – but unfortunately my last baby. Brilliant!
Rebuy – Yes – without hesitation.

2016 – the annus (growing season) horribilis – – –

Bourgogne Aujourd’hui put a article together that follows the low points of the vintage so-far (in French) at the end of last week, a week when the Rhône was badly hailed. Here. (or if you prefer a google translation, here.)

Episodes of hail are almost going unmentioned in a year such as this; Friday 24th June there was a big rainstorm in the Côte d’Or that afternoon – the same storm (presumably) that hailed Fleurie(++) on the same day – only by speaking to an owner did I find out that parts of the Côte d’Or were also hailed; their parcel of Lavaux St.Jacques being completely lost. Presumably this group of owners have no Facebook presence to announce this particular loss to the world – or have given up!

Currently, most of the Burgundian growers are spraying, and then spraying again against mildew – not entirely successfully – we have seen more treatments this year, so-far, than in the whole of 2015. Then there are the grapes; the heavy rain of Friday 24th came towards the end of flowering (some was already finished) and it seems that it did cause some further yield loss with indications of small or aborted grapes be reported to me.

In Burgundy 2016 it seems that when it rains, it really pours…

weekend stuff – week 26…


Of-course I need the excuse to open more bottles, so this weekend I chose (again) the football excuse 🙂

1995 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Beaux-Monts
My last bottle was a little bretty, but this is very fine. A deep, almost textured nose, pretty, sweet spice – just lovely. Sweet in the mouth too but with lovely freshness and dimension of complexity. Comforting and simply delicious!
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Chenu, Savigny-lès-Beaune
Fresh crunch fruit on the nise, some more herby aspects too, but attractive. The palate mirrors the nose, crunchy red fruit and an under-ripe element that turns to an attractive sprig of fresh mint – the combination is rather nice – particularly so when you consider the low price of this wine – I’m sure it was less than €10. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

1991 Jaboulet-Vercherre, Echézeaux
The last bottles from this half-dozen were poor – no better than bourgognes – so I thought ‘why not a bourgogne‘ with the football. Cold, this wasn’t bad, there was a little more depth and weight of texture than I remembered – such a shame then, that the nose was rather bretty. It tasted acceptable, but didn’t smell acceptable…
Rebuy – Still No!

2012 Clothilde Davenne, Saint Bris Vieilles Vignes
The list of Saint Bris that I would actually drink has doubled – to two! This is lovely, and far from a simple varietal wine. The nose is fresh with a certain sweetness; sauvignon but still sweetly attractive. In the mouth this has fine freshness and weight and a beautiful sweet acidity in the finish. Very tasty indeed! (My other ‘drink’ is from Goissot)
Rebuy – Yes

2012 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers des Dents du Chien
Quite a deep colour, but the nose is more about sweet toast and caramel – honestly more than I would want, inviting as it is. Slowly, slowly a fresher, pretty aroma begins to come through. Plenty of weight on the palate, a good intensity of acidity too – sweetly edged with a suggestion of the caramel from the nose. Tasty wine, and one that will hopefully have a little less barrel with more time in the cellar.
Rebuy – Maybe

a little canton bern this weekend

Thun… :

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