Why Big Red Diary?

r.i.p anne-claude leflaive

It was reported that Anne-Claude Leflaive died during the Easter holidays – Jeremy Seysses being the first to publicly relay the news as far as I know. Purely by chance, I drank her 2011 Mâcon-Verzé the day before – and it was perfectly delicious.

Within 2 hours of Jeremy’s tweet, I was asked by one website if I could write a small piece about her – but I declined – not because I thought it a little shabby and rushed, though maybe I did a little – I much prefer something a little more considered and discreetly later – but the real reason was that I didn’t feel qualified. Although I’ve tasted at Domaine Leflaive at least 7 or 8 times, it’s always been with Pierre, Eric or Antoine – of-course I’ve shaken the hand of Anne-Claude a number of times, but I didn’t really know her; she said little and always stayed in the background. Of-course, I don’t need to know her in order to appreciate the way she has significantly remodelled a great old domaine – magnificently, and with real purpose too. All vintages offer the potential for disappointment, but Anne-Claude has ensured that Domaine Leflaive have all they need to be at the pinnacle of Puligny, indeed the pinnacle of Burgundy. I wish those that take up the formidable reins of Domaine Leflaive all success.

Although people differ on what ‘type’ was the cause, everybody seems sure that Anne-Claude succumbed to cancer. Some say that she was also trying to treat her cancer in a more biodynamic way – cancer is cruel and Anne-Claude was only 59 – but if this unequivocally principled approach made Anne-Claude feel better, even if only spiritually – then good for her.

I will find an appropriate time to toast her!

magical castles (on the heathrow flightpath…)


And Liz was at home…

a yorkshire lunch

Tuesday 14th April @ Sous le Nez in Leeds

A few old pals got together; 3 from Yorkshire plus a proud Lancastrian and an innocent bystander from Switzerland!

We didn’t have a theme, and I was handicapped by only having the wines that I thought might be ‘useful’ during our stay – still – not a lunch to forget! All the wines were served blind and revealed before the next one…

1997 Salon – this was something of a beauty – I had the impression of maturity but also with perfect balance – I guess there’s no rush!
2010 Jadot, Beaune 1er Grèves – my wine and immediately it was clearly very dark in the glass. It smelled of honey and faint oxidation. To be (a little bit!) fair, this wine showed some signs of improving in the glass, but patience wasn’t what this lunch was about, despite some very enticing mandarin flavours!
2010 Louis Max, Corton-Charlemagne – Also my wine. Quite a powerful and mineral aromatic and much more cut and precision than the last wine – fresh enough and good too!
2005 Paul Pernot Bienvenues-Bâtard Montrachet – Powerful wine, but balanced wine and with a really excellent mid-palate complexity – clearly Grand Cru. Fresh and very good. I can’t remember what I guessed.
2004 Comtes Lafon, Montrachet – clearly we are not worthy! I actually guessed it was something rather grand, probably from Lafon – but more due to knowing the provider than anything from the wine. It certainly didn’t suggest either Meaursault or Puligny to me but it was fresh, balanced yet rich and with a brilliant length. Just a little too much barrel caramel on both the nose and finish (for me) but très aristocratic and a very good bottle to boot!
1982 Jean Gros Richebourg – I guessed the year but not the aoc. Just a hauntingly beautiful and floral nose – simply beguiling. Plenty of interest on the very balanced palate – though note quite the utter gorgeousness of the nose – overall, a great wine!
1986 Confuron-Cotetidot Clos de Vougeot – my wine. It’s something of a big bruiser this wine – just a little bulky on the nose and the palate, but clearly with GC weight and complexity. An interesting, indeed good wine – but not that special.
2000 Armand Rousseau, ‘Clos des Ruchottes’ – I don’t remember what I guessed – 1992 I think – but I was anyway wrong. This is simply drinking beautifully now in a measured, balanced way that has you thinking of a warm vintage but older. Simply lovely.
1999 François Gay, Ladoix – Actually this was just a back-up wine I brought, and it had a bit of gunflint on the nose that I’ve not noted in previous bottles, so the nose wasn’t quite up to scratch, but for what it is, it’s still young and quite brilliant – but on this table, très modest…

A big thanks to all who contributed – I can’t envisage that small bracket of the 2004 followed by the 1982 being surpassed this year – but who knows! 😉

malham cove…

About 40 minutes after the hail!

All the seasons in one day in Malham – of-course!

bolton abbey / devonshire arms

The Devonshire Arms is a very nice location and with a great restaurant and cellar too – and the occasion? – a birthday.

Our usual sommelier was absent and so half of the bottles I outlined couldn’t be found(!) but the service and friendliness remained impeccable. For the record, the very well priced Mugneret-Gibourg 1999 Vosne-Romanée was drinking very well 😉

whitby, mainly…

But with a hint of Robin Hood’s Bay and a suggestion of Filey…

one or two(!) weekend wines…


A bit of a corky weekend, unfortunately!

2009 Alex Gambal, Bourgogne Chardonnay – Actually quite a good bottle. Powerful and ripe à la 2009s but with balance and lots and lots of flavour – yum!
Rebuy – Yes
2010 Gilles Bouton, St.Aubin 1er En Remilly – Fresh clean, citrus nose. Lovely in the mouth – fresh and very moreish. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes
2010 Gilles Bouton, St.Aubin 1er Dents du Chien – hmm, the nose is less interesting. And the reason? Just a faint cork taint note in the finish – still, everyone is drinking it happily. So be it!
2010 Jadot, Beaune 1er Bressandes (Blanc) – A big whiff of creme patissière but this is such a tasty wine – fresh but eminently devour-able – everybody loved it!
Rebuy – Yes
2000 Fougeray de Beauclair, Fixin Clos Marion – the first bottle is strongly corked – yuk – but bottle 2 is fine, warm, balanced and very tasty. I think I’ve almost drunk up this case now – but it was a great buy!
Rebuy – Yes
2008 Jean-Noel Gagnard Santenay 1er Clos Tavannes – Tasty, tasty wine. Hmm – really tasty!
Rebuy – Yes
1996 Michel Juillot, Corton-Perrières – this smelled okay when first opened, but is slowly grew some cork-taint aromas. The wine underneath wasn’t really much more interesting than a decent villages – but maybe that was the cork talking…

today, more mâconnais – a-go-go…

a busy day in the mâconnais…

As you can see, today was quite busy:


patchworks, repeats and aubert…

The 18-20°C of the last days has disappeared under the clouds and the spitting rain today – about 5°C for the record. But the vineyards still have that great patchwork impression as the different domaines plough – or not, and prune – or not, at their own pace.

The lunchtime menu du jour contained andouillettes today – as part of my total immersion, I take them without hesitation – the last couple of mouthfuls even tasted pretty good (it seemed) – but boy did those flavours repeat and cause reflux 5 hours later during a modest jog – sacre-bleu!

Finally, a link that you really should make some time for: Aubert de Villaine in conversation – definitely worth 1 hour of your time! https://t.co/Fj18Nh9F2C

busy alex…

Christophe Buisson and Alex Gambal sign at last – pic from Alex.

Hmm – what a good story:-)

This deal took a very long time to finalise, but now ‘Domaine Alex Gambal’ is exploiting the following:

Appellation Surface (ha)
Chassagne En L’Ormeau 0.13
Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie 0.20
Batard Montrachet 0.18
Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres 0.30
Puligny Montrachet 0.83
Aligoté vers Melin 0.60
Auxey Duresses Rouge 0.55
St. Romain Rouge 0.97
St. Romain Blanc 1.69
Haute Cote De Beaune Blanc 0.33
Bourgogne Rouge 2.47
Bourgogne Blanc 0.37
Volnay 0.49
Pommard Les Lambots 0.21
Beaune Clos du Mont Désiré 0.46
Savigny Les Beaune 1.01
Chorey Les Beaune 0.46
NSG 1erCru Les Argillieres 0.32

late afternoon views from above beaune…

Visually the weather has been the same all week – but today I was in a shirt and shorts – and that was before jogging up to the ‘mountain’ of Beaune!

20°C today – lovely – and just a little cherry-blossom too. I love the delineation of the vineyards right now – you can make out almost every one of different producers’ plots in Beaune Grèves…

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