Why Big Red Diary?

a relief for etienne and co…

Of that I’m completely sure…

“In 2006, Kurniawan took 250 shares in a partnership created to buy several prestigious vineyards on Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, including some parcels of Beaune premiers crus and the Vosne-Romanée cru Malconsorts. Kurniawan’s shares constituted 22.73 percent of the six-person entity, named Etienne & Partners. The shares entitled each holder to dividends in wine from the vineyards, managed by Etienne de Montille, 53, scion of the Volnay-based de Montille family.”
The Wine Spectator

a few pics…

Taken on Tuesday…

oops – a (pinot) history lesson…

I just have to agree. Articles are not just made from the 3 books in front of you. If I similarly mess up, I hope that people will quickly put me on the straight and narrow…


With all due respect, the history of Pinot noir here is incorrect and reflects what was written in the early to second third of the 20th century. We now have historical proof that this grape was cultivated by the Romans 4th century (as discovered near Gevrey Chambertin in the last 5 years) from Burgundy to the Black Forest. It’s religious ties go way back before the Cistercian order was even created, it irks me that this type of information is held for fact when many new discoveries have been made since. The DNA research alone puts the grape in It’s indigenous regions way prior to the Roman invasions. Basing articles and courses on entirely out of date information is doing no service to the wine community.
Peter Wasserman
20 February

fine, thirst-quenching auxey – without duress(es)


But first, I digress: There’s a lot of rubbish been published over the years about St.Aubin or Auxey-Duresses being the cheap/insider’s/specialist white burgundy wine replacement for the expensive wines of Puligny or Meursault: It is an old chestnut, or fall-back, for people who really didn’t know their burgundies quite as well as they should. I often equated such writing to laziness – in the 1990s anyway, when it was something of a pipe-dream!

Truth be told it used to be a rare vintage that brought the same richness of texture or flavour to these wines of verve. Or, at least that used to be the case, but the run of phenolically ripe vintages – call it climate change if you wish – that we have seen over the last 15 years or-so, has really cemented reality to the previous urban myth that Auxey-Duresses or St.Aubin could be important/correct choices in their own right – with some ‘equivalence’ to Meursault or Puligny. There are even vintages today where St.Romain occupies the old place of St.Aubin – despite the effects of extra altitude. Of-course that means there is ever-more material in the wines of the traditional heartland of white burgundy too, but acid-balance is also a much more important consideration for thos wines today than it was in the 1990s. To-date, ‘too rich’ has hardly been an issue for the wannabees of the Côte de Beaune.

It’s the drinking of a ‘simple’ villages wine, like the one that follows, that causes reflections such as this post! You could call it a sort of – ‘look how far we’ve come!’

2010 JC Boisset, Auxey-Duresses Les Crais
Here is a fine, almost textured nose with cream-edged lemon – oak, but not too much oak – nicely fresh. Very silky, modestly mineral but with a fine intensity of growing flavour – a richness of texture here without any suggestion of heaviness. Lovely silky width in the finish. A long, slightly contemplative, massively satisfying wine – and it seems to be the last of my six-pack. All with ‘normal’ cork seals, and all have been fine. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

comte liger-belair q&a

Actually, my pic! 12.06.2015

Adam Lechmere’s good q&a with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair in Wine-Searcher:

Louis-Michel perfectly encapsulates biodynamics for me in his description – it’s not about blind dogma following, rather being assiduous in what you do…

a long, long weekend…

Hetton in the Yorkshire dales.

We finally got home yesterday, even though our return was supposed to have been on Monday. In that time we enjoyed Betty’s café, a UK curry, the nice lunch of the previous post, various scones, fish and chips, my mum’s lovely wedding, a missed flight that resulted in an extra night in the UK and finally back home. I slept well!

Now attacking a mail and typing backlog – and without (yet!) milk for my coffee too – ouf!

notes from a lunch…


I’m fortunate to have a bunch of friends in the UK who quickly convene for a tipple or two if I can be ‘in the area.’ This was our second gathering in lest than 12 months – and what a good one too – a unrushed 4.5 hour lunch. From memory the next day:

1999 Salon: I previously loved the 1997, though I found this not to that level. Very tasty, beautifully balanced, involving wine, but not the same feeling of ‘special’ vs that 97…
2006 JC Bessin, Chablis 1er Fourchaume: Light colour, fresh ‘could only be Chablis’ nose. Wide in the mouth, real saline minerality, a hint of flavour richness. Pure, young (still) Chablis. (Mine)
2005 Ramonet, Chassagne 1er Boudriottes: Much deeper coloured, but nothing too evolved. Big, rich, almost monolithic in the mouth – but flavour-packed – I correctly guess the vintage, but have no clues to the village – that’s 2005 for you!
2009 Coche-Dury, Meursault: Quite a strong vanilla-oak component on the nose – otherwise I’m at a loss. But isn’t this grand in the mouth – a fine beam of acidity, a taughtness, with just a little flavour richness in the mid-palate to finish. I guess an 07 Puligny 1er. Great wine for today – massively great – except it doesn’t even whisper of Meursault, to me…
1996 Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge: What a beautiful, inviting nose – one that I would say ‘is ready’. Modest intensity in the mouth,, but fine acidity and a lovely, complex width of semi-mature flavour. Clean and perfect in every modest respect. Yum! (Mine)
2002 Engel, Vosne 1er Brulées: Lighter coloured than most, a little cloudy too. The nose is sub-perfect due to some volatility, yet, super-engaging and complex – it begs you to drink. Complex, balanced and (this bottle) apparently ready to drink. A pleasure. I forget my (wrong) guess.
1999 Potel, Volnay 1er En Chevret: Deep colour. The nose is dense, powerful but also ungiving – really it’s rather young and tight. In the mouth there is a super, balanced concentration – perfect texture too. But like the nose, this is tight and relatively uncommunicative. Honestly, I wouldn’t touch another for 5 years – a performance that leaves me disappointed. (Mine)
The next two served together:
2001 JJ Confuron, Romanée St.Vivant: Deep colour. A tight, almost cheesy nose – sub-attractive! In the mouth, however, this has poise, texture and concentration – a good line of flavour, yet like the Potel is rather tight and unyielding. I see a ton of potential here, but very little ‘delivery’ today. I think I guessed an 02 Clos de Vougeot.
1999 Cathiard, Romanée St.Vivant: Here the nose is easily the more attractive, if still a little tight. The flavour unwinds across the palate in much more attractive fashion too. This is a wine that slowly but surely opens – I’m never sure that I see the full wine, but what I see I like – a lot. (Mine)
1993 Château de Chorey, Beaune 1er Teurons:This had been decanted – a bottle from the Tour d’Argent cellar sale. Modestly coloured but a fine and engaging nose of red fruit and more modest notes of maturity. A fine line of acidity here, beautifully delineated red-fruit flavour. Just super wine – I twist the cards as far as 1993 Côte de Beaune and then stick.
Then two whites with cheese:
1995 François Jobard, Meursault 1er Genevrières: Here is a lovely floral and fine, yellow fruited nose, just a little volatility as a spoiler. Clean and sleek in the mouth with lots of fine flavour dimension, almost a gravelly texture too. Very tasty wine and at this stage I really don’t remember my guess!
2002 Roger Belland, Criots Bâtard-Montrachet: Deeper colour, and some dirty/toasty oak on the nose, but proper white burgundy nose – nothing advance. Powerful in the mouth – perhaps unruly but with a clear grand-cru finishing width. I marginally preferred the previous wine, but after more than 4 hours, again, I don’t even remember if I had a guess 😉

So, only two relatively disappointing wines for me, both reds and only due to their unready/tightness – they were (my) the Potel and (shame!) the first RSV. Congrats to all the fresh whites – not a single whiff of oxidation around our table – just enthusiasm!

obelix in richebourg today…


week 06’s weekend wines…


Saturday, with more Gueguen 2014 Chablis as the chaser 😉

2011 Nicolas Rossignol, Volnay 1er Les Santenots
Santenots can be a big, meaty, concentrated and tannic. This is a pussycat – round, open, layered and very, very tasty wine. Just perfectly balanced and in delivery too. Very yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 des Croix, Beaune 1er Les Pertuisots
A fine but slightly narrow aromatic – the fabulous violet florals of its youth seem absent though. In the mouth, like the nose it seems narrow, but then opens out wider and wider in a really complex and engaging mid-palate. Modest to start, really something in the finish. A wine for the future.
Rebuy – Yes

le cha-cha…

Thursday/Friday’s CHA-CHA wines – CHAblis and CHAmbertin:

2014 C et F Gueguen, Chablis
Super wine – classic chablis with just a little extra richness of flavour in the mid-palate than I might expect from a villages wine. Sinuous, fine acidity, moreish. And so was the second bottle 😉
Rebuy – Yes

1998 Camus, Chambertin
A polarising producer, because the wines are never quite at the highest performance level; but, if you look only at the value they offer – €/glass – the wines are, in my opinion, usually super. Direct, this bottle cost only about €25 in 2003, even today the latest release is well under €60. The nose was involving and a little virile. Expansive on the palate, not harsh or with troubling (1998) tannin. Just a great drink that we were all sorry to see finished – and it cost less than €25. Not a great Chambertin, but not a poor Chambertin either, and for less than many, many 1er crus. This is entering it’s plateau of enjoyable maturity – I think it will hold for the next 10-20 years – that’s maybe longer than me 😉 Whilst we can all reflect on the loss of ‘potential’ this was simply a great wine for the price. Value, more today than ever, has its place. I’m must thank that I followed my palate, rather than convention – so there are still 3 more in the cellar!
Rebuy – Yes

week 05 2016 – the 2nd of february’s volnay visits

This week’s rogues’ gallery 😉

burg 16

Domaine Pascal Mure
Domaine Buffet
Domaine Christophe Vaudoisey
Domaine Regis Rossignol
Doamine Jean-Marc Bouley
Domaine Albert Boillot
Domaine Montagny
Domaine Alain Billard
Domaine Perrin
Domaine Didier Delagrange
Domaine Rossignol-Cornu
Domaine d’Angerville
Domaine Roland Mure
Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur

alain billard’s 2009 beaune 1er aigrots


Not so much a tasting note, as an appreciation note!

As part of this month’s Volnay project (all the producers in the village!) I met with Alain Billard who lives and vinifies in Volnay, but his ‘tasting/selling’ room is actually the other side of the hill in Monthelie.

Like all the producers I’ve visited, I’ve tried to concentrate on their Volnay wines, even if they do have Rugiens! After tasting his excellent Volnays Alain suggested something ‘a little older’ and asked me what – I stumped him by suggesting the Beaune, his vines neighbour those of Lafarge. It turns out he has very little stock but found this bottle – I thought it excellent. Indeed I thought it so good I said I’d buy it for my evening apero – he refused cash and pushed the bottle into my eager hands.

I decided to run before dinner and apero – it was a modest 50 minutes up and around the ‘mountain’ of Beaune. As I walked the last 400m to my apartment (so being moderately less sweaty on arrival) I met a friend and asked them – ‘fancy a coffee – or a wine?‘ 45 minutes later there was no more wine – that’s all you need to know – a really super wine from a lovely, unheralded producer. Yum!

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