Why Big Red Diary?

pretty as a picture

7:15 a.m. Basel, 'Middle Bridge'

7:15 a.m. Basel, 'Middle Bridge'

I just thought it looked quite pretty on my way into the office this morning…

harvest 2009 update from domaine fourrier

A double update – from both Vicki and from Jean-Marie!

Many things have already been said on the web about the 2009 Vintage, and it is already being compared to the 05 vintage. We have attached some temperature and light, and rain charts which show the differences between the 2005 and 2009 which show that of course no vintage is the same. Jean-Marie actually sees it more as a marriage of the 99’s and 05’s. Still at the end of the day it is a vintage in it’s own right and a very exciting one too!

The grapes at harvest were beautifully small, so much so that some tiny ones which were no bigger than black currants fell through the grid of our sorting table and we recuperated them and put them in the vat! Already on the 2nd day in the vats the colour had changed to a bright pink, very unlike the last couple of years when we had to wait 2 or 3 days for this to happen. Fermentations, once they got going have been very quick and produced lots of heat, so we had to be very careful not to let them get too hot. Pigeage this year was not for the faint hearted, given the amount of mass solid compared to mass liquid. It has been known in the past few weeks for two very fit (strong) men to take around one hour to pigeage any given cuve. Even our porters in the vineyards were saying that they couldn’t remember a year where the cases were so heavy.

Finally, I can’t remember the last time I have seen JM smiling quite so much on the sorting table during a harvest! I have attached some photos to show you why!
Vicki Fourrier

The Growing season was absolutely perfect, with rain when we needed some and sun the rest of the time, the funny things is sometime you have nothing to say as all the conditions was right, the last month before picking was made of warm days and cool nights, so all the ingredients to have some great fruits.

Fruits at the harvest had the perfect size with lots of millerandage quite a lots of the berries had the size of Blackcurrant, so I insist on the fact that it’s not just the yield per hectare but also the ratio skin to juice which is more important for natural concentration.

The very unusual thing was how wild was the natural yeast to ferment this yeast, like if they’ve was as happy as the vigneron to find such great grapes!

All those tiny grapes released their sugar and more acidity later during the fermentations to give a last kick of extraction before the vats finished fermenting in a concert of Aromas.

After pressing our first vat today and tasting the first wine, I can just say that if we had a big smile on our face during the winemaking, tasting the result under the press has got me very excited indeed!

The only negative thing about 2009 is to put 2008 a bit to quickly in the shadow.
Jean-Marie Fourrier

site tidying…

discovering burgundyPart of the long-term updating of the site is to bring more and more of the content under the site (content) management tool. As per my previous note, the transfer of the ‘reports’ keeps moving at its snail pace of progress. Today 2003, much of 2004 plus 2007/8/9 reports are now ‘migrated’ (done!).

Yesterday I made a similar move with the ‘reference’ section that’s titled ‘discovering burgundy’ – it’s now here. I filled in a couple of the holes, but the content is largely as before – so what benefits? Well the benefits are all mine – if I add a new page in a particular section, all the others are updated automatically – I don’t need to adjust 25 pages to reflect the addition. I think they call it progress!

maison ilan – update

Things have been very busy at the winery lately. With all the fruit in
tank and fermenting I have been focusing on tasting, testing, punchdowns
and of course more tasting. I decided to use a fair amount of whole
cluster on the Morey half way because I was curious about doing it, the
otherhalf because my destemmer broke. Luckily a new destemmer came about
an hour after I went from hand destemming pergatory to whole cluster
just 2 clicks before madness.

I decided also to be quite quick to initially punchdown and then to not
be overly pushy with the must and just quickly get to once a day
punchdowns. This of course raised eyebrows in the winery with my mates,
but the results are brilliant.

During the harvest it seems things went too slow and rain was always
tapping on our backs, the fear of berry burst and dilution of flavors
seemed to be my fear alone withthe more seasoned producers (read:any
Burgundy experience at all) were much more calm and content. Now on the
other side of harvest it all went too fast. I took pictures amidst the
sticky grape sorting and bin lifting but was it enough?

Looking at my clean tanks and clean floor it barely looks like someone
did anything here, what a loss. As clearly there is much more to ths
winemaking process than what shows when it is all cleaned up. Working
for someone, for someone else’s wine is so very different than making
something with your name (our daughter’s name) on the bottle. There is
of course a level of pride in doing a great job for someone else that I
have always had. However the situation where you have no one else to
correct for your errors and no one tells you what to do or that you are
mad for doing something makes every step far more painstaking.

Well, there is much more work still. I will be sure to update.


2006 louis chenu père et filles savigny 1er aux clous

chenu_clousI have to say that this wine is even better now than when I first tasted it – or at least my memory of it! I suppose that means I’ll have to ensure I get my orders in for a mixed case each of 2007, 2008 & 2009…

2006 Louis Chenu, Savigny-lés-Beaune 1er Aux Clous
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. Lovely, soft red fruit with a depth that keeps pulling your nose to the glass. Slightly plump texture, wide and clean, pretty red fruit with a even a little more dimension in the mid-palate. ‘Just right’ acidity, some velvet tannin, if you search, and a good finish. Class in a glass, a very lovely bottle.
Rebuy – Yes

gros frère et soeur 98 bourgogne hautes côtes de nuits


I thought I’d give the ‘bourgogne theme’ one more day…

1998 Gros Frère et Soeur, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Medium-plus ruby-red. The nose starts a complete jumble of dark wood, similarly dark fruit and some spice – fortunately it knits together rather well in only about 20 minutes; creamy spiced deep red plums and macerating cherry – not quite how I expect a bourgogne to smell, but it’s very, very nice, and frankly it gets better and better. Fresh and still quite astringent in its ‘attack’, yet the dark fruit mirrors the nose with some creamy packaging. Quite intense and, all-in-all, quite impressive in a burly Nuits sort of way. I was ready to dismiss it early-on, but clearly that would have been at my own loss! Definitely needs another 3 or-so years to mellow the astringent tannin – though it’s far from in the ascendant when taken with food – but it’s velvet tannin so ought to be worth waiting for.
Rebuy – Yes

return of the green meanies – from a white 2004…


Until I opened this bottle the concept of the green meanies (coccinelle, mirepoix, green, can’t smell anything or whatever suits you) was merely anecdotal to me in the context of white burgundy, and that despite such a luminary as Christophe Roumier telling me they were there for all to find. Anyway, until now I never noted it in whites, indeed I loved early-opened whites much more even than I did the reds…

2004 Françoise et Denis Clair, St.Aubin 1er Murgers Dents du Chien
Last tasted April 2007 it was quite okay, today there starts a hint of mirepoix but it’s wrapped in a little cream so it’s far from offensive, it’s there in the finish too. Right now it’s been open for 30 minutes and aromatically it’s much more pronounced yet somehow mollified by the lemon/cream that partly moves it towards a mushroom note. The finish is much stronger tasting, but the sweet/acid of this wine carries the flavour much better than a dry red would. I left half this bottle for day 2 – the aromas are now more about white burgundy than the ‘2004 character’, the flavour in the mid-palate is, however, a consistent theme.
Rebuy – No
So, a first time for me. It’s blindingly obvious to find, yet it seems to me that an 04 white can handle the character much better than an 04 red…

maison leroy 95 bourgogne


1995 Maison Leroy, Bourgogne
Medium ruby-red with and edge of salmon pink. Sweet raisin, slightly resinous aromas, eventually a beacon of pure, red berry fruit. In the mouth there’s a warm red fruit base and very good acidity – the texture is plusher than you’d expect for the label. There’s still some grain to the tannin and even a hint of astringency. The finish is medium at best, but overall this is a compelling wine that I’m convinced if served to you blind, you’d be guessing higher appellations. This wine starts with both aromas and flavours of maturity bvut they fade to more primary elements so I’ll try and leave my remaining bottle at least another 5 years.
Rebuy – Yes

deux beaux (monts that is…)


2000 Hudelot-Noellat, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Beaumonts
Medium ruby-red. The nose starts with musky, dark oak, a good thirty minutes is needed for most traces to fade leaving a nice, faintly spicy effect over red fruit – very pretty. Plenty of sweetness from red fruit that has a very nice depth. There’s still a lick of slightly astringent tannin and acidity that is balancing if ultimately slightly sharp. A nice wine that needs more time than many 2000s, but some way behind the Clavelier 00 Brulées of some weeks ago.
Rebuy – Maybe

2007 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Beaux Monts
Medium cherry-red. The nose starts with ultra-young barrel-type fruit aromas, Slowly it beds down to good red fruit with a very understated spice background and eventually lovely red berries. Fresh, slightly plump red fruit that finds an additional if understated mid-palate dimension, relatively fine tannin and a lingering finish. Not much power here, but fine and elegant. Very pretty.
Rebuy – Yes

nicolas potel 99 maison dieu bourgogne vieilles vignes

We need more bourgogne – maybe one tomorrow too 😉

1999 Maison Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Maison Dieu Vieilles Vignes
Medium, medium-plus colour. When first opened there’s a dark waft of oak supported by some bright cherry. Time in the glass makes the oak fade and the fruit come more to the fore, soft, sometimes powdery but very pretty red-cherry fruit. More than decent concentration for a regional, good acidity and balance. The tannin is mainly resolved though there’s still a little velvet-style texture. The finish is mouth-watering, sweet and red-coloured. The longer it was open, the better it tasted. Very nice indeed.
Rebuy – Yes

harvest roundup

So, a few updates on resources for the Harvest 2009:

Mark has managed to extract pictures from his daughter’s pink Fuji, so, added to his first and last posts are galleries from his experiences.

There has been a really good commentary here from Cynthia. Finally, I can deliver you the full set of ‘polished’ reports from the Domaine de la Vougeraie:

pdf01- mardi_8_septembre_2009

pdf02- mercredi 9 septembre 2009

pdf03- jeudi 10 septembre 2009

pdf04- vendredi 11 septembre 2009

pdf05- samedi 12 septembre 2009

pdf06- dimanche 13 septembre 2009

pdf07- lundi 14 septembre 2009

pdf08- mardi 15 septembre 2009

pdf09- mercredi 16 septembre 2009

pdf10- jeudi 17 septembre 2009

pdf11 – vendredi 18 septembre 2009

pdf12 – samedi 19 septembre 2009

a return to taste: de montille 06 bourgogne

It’s been a long time since I posted, and I think there have been too many “harvest” entries and not enough slurping – so here is a TN for you.

It may have been the occasion – a pique-nique en famille – or merely the fact that this bottle was a gift (and therefore free of intellectual investment on my part) – but this one simply delighted, and delighted simply. Highly recommended, and adds its modest weight to my personal view that 2006 is going to turn out to be a very pleasing vintage for the lover of red burgundy – a vintage I continue to buy for my personal cellar.

2006 de Montille, Bourgogne Rouge
Pale bright cherry red, with a broad paler rim showing pinkish still. Bright but slight, spicy cherry, nose. Fresh youthful and rustic, it makes me think of rolling in hay. Mouth entry is pure and sweet, but very small. Nice flavours – very fresh red fruit and spicy, bubblegummy, earth. The mid-palate shows good acidity and grip but no real size, and then it ends. Not quite clipped, but certainly short, though in a way that leaves you wanting more, rather than dissatisfied. Not a serious wine, but just the ticket for a picnic or a roll in the hay.

A week or so later we tried a bottle of the 2004, which was a different kettle of ladybirds. Not one to drink now, but I will hold and hope.

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