Why Big Red Diary?

a few days off…

Well, I think I deserved it; forty domaines and almost 500 wines in the Spring Edition – in 24 hours over 8,000 visitors checked in to check it out – thanks to them! The summer issue will be a bit thinner on the wines tasted – but still over 300 I think, but will have more profiles.

Not many notes around here but that’s not the same thing as keeping up-to-date 😉 We had visitors for a week, in the process managing to get through four or five bottles of Gilles Bouton’s St.Aubins, a couple of bottles (each) of 97 Bouchard Père Le Corton and 02 Jadot Vosne Petits Monts. Then there was a 08 Dubreuil-Fontaine Beaune Montrevenots and 97 Daniel Rion Nuits Vignes Rondes both of which which frankly excelled – isn’t it great when somebody with no background in wine says “is it supposed to smell of shit?” Anthony would have been proud! Then there was a selection of 02 Alsace grand crus whose names slip my memory and the empty bottles have now been consigned.

Anyway, by way of escape on Monday while everyone was reading the spring edition, we chose to go somewhere cool; Kleine Scheidegg at 2061 metres – it was only 27°C there!

Some pics…

pierre ponnelle 1996 bonnes-mares


1996 Pierre-Ponnelle, Bonnes-Mares
Medium plus core of relatively young looking colour. The aromas are deep, a little raisined plus soil and a low level forest-floor note. Full, slightly fat, silky-smooth texture – roll the wine around in your mouth and you will eventually feel some tannin which delivers a lick of bitter-chocolate flavour in the finish – a hint of astringency too. The acidity starts in a very understated way, but peaks in the mid-palate, decaying in tandem with the high-toned flavour. On the first day this wine is certainly flirting with me, but behind the smile is a strict upbringing – I don’t expect a virtuoso performance before it’s twenty-one – but it has potential! Day two and this is very composed and chic; a strong mineral note reminds that it comes from the soil – despite being dressed by Chanel – super.
Rebuy – Yes

comte liger-belair 2008 vôsne clos du château


For comparison; the cork of Louis-Michel Liger-Belair’s 2008 next to the tiny cork of the ’85 Richebourg.

2008 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Medium colour. The nose soars with a perfume that has roses and an impression of stems – I remember he said their were none – so I check again; “trust me!” he says. Oh well – it’s lovely anyway. Transparent, elegant, lithe and beautifully focused. I have an impression of the floral notes in the mouth too. There is no ‘oomph’ just understated intensity. Very lovely and hard to appreciate where all that new oak has gone!
Rebuy – Yes

any excuse…

francois-gros-richebourg-leflaive chevalier

Or this could be titled, how to avoid oxidation – and fail!

Although I intend to have some good drinking in my dotage, I generally drink more modest stuff at home; bourgognes, villages and premiers – perhaps only a grand cru once or twice a month. Actually half the wines I drink don’t feature in these pages because they are habitual house wines – whites in particular. Yet any excuse to make a change.

I finally finished this week a project that entailed 120 thousand words and visiting over 100 domaines since the end of July last year – but I can’t give any more details this year I think. Now I can concentrate on the Spring Report (oops…) and open a couple of bottles to celebrate. The first one is Leflaive’s 2005 Chevalier-Montrachet; I didn’t really plan to open one before 2020 but I’ve heard p.ox reports. The other has been in the cellar for three or four years, from only a single barrel of 1985 Richebourg from François Gros. Let’s see!

2005 Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet
Medium golden colour. The first notes on the nose were – ouch – of Jerez, I left the bottle for five or six hours. On returning there’s merely a suggestion of that oxidative note, more to the fore is dense core of aroma that smells of old oak and some suggestions of mature aromas. Full in the mouth, flavour growing in the mid-palate with cool acidity; the flavour is intense and very long, some creamy and toffee elements too – though it’s not particularly moreish. Day two it’s a little (not lots) better, still with a hint of oxidation. Day three there is none, perhaps the colour is also more yellow than gold. Now it has creamy depth with a hint of lanolin (normally I expect this on 15+ year-old wine). In the mouth it’s full and powerful a hint toffeed and still maybe not the greatest mid-palate flavour – but for the first time I’ve topped up my glass. So, this Chevalier is in an awful place right now. Accepted there were sherry aromas when opened, and even on day two. But no-one tasting this wine on day 3 would say it was premoxed, it has become cleaner every day; it was on the same level after 72 hours (open) as after 48 – just that rather frumpy presentation that many 05s show.
Rebuy – No (Probably! – anyway it’s too expensive now)

1985 François Gros, Richebourg
Bottle 79 of 320. The cork easily slides out in one piece – but what a disappointing looking thing – tiny compared to a villages cork from 08. Still, they say size isn’t everything! Medium colour – perfectly clear with just a hint of amber at the rim. Clean smelling, some dried leaves but no obvious fruit to start with, time adds some wet leaves and damp soil too. A narrow, soft and sweet entry but with good acidity and then suddenly there’s tannin in the mouth. Plenty of mid-palate flavour that seems to be molten essence of barrel and perhaps some minerality – much nicer than it sounds and is very complex and very long. The finishing flavours include in their complexity a hint of something volatile and also a hint of something oxidised. Far from seamless, but a wine that offers something new with every sniff and every taste. Lovely, but despite plenty of tannin, seems to be losing a little cohesion – if you have some of the the other 319 bottles I wouldn’t think that they will get better. On day two – despite overnighting in the fridge – too much oxidation for enjoyment.
Rebuy – No

So, the Chevalier improves just as the Richebourg fails – On one hand He gives and on the other He takes away. It wasn’t much of a ‘celebration’ really 😉

the taste of 2009…

Some good quotes – particularly Lafon. You will remember I raved; the best cellar of the vintage…

2008 & 2009 gilles bouton blagny 1er sous le puits

2009 Gilles Bouton, Blagny 1er Sous le Puits
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has a lot of sweet and easy 2009 about it, but eventually the cuvée’s dark herby aroma is present in the background. Rounder, sweet but with a good background of tannin and acidity, much more interesting than the simple start of the nose some minerality towards the finish too. A wine that really gains character in the glass.
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Gilles Bouton, Blagny 1er Sous le Puits
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is super, there’s the cuvée’s signature dark and slightly herby core, but above is a wonderful bloom of of high-toned violets an fresh black cherry. Seems rounder and more concentrated that the 09, just a litlle fat to the texture. A nice little extra dimension of fruit in the mid-palate. Lovely wine!
Rebuy – Yes

more volnay for champy…

Announced first (as far as I can tell) by Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator; Maison Champy have added a 1.25 hectare slice of Volnay to their domaine.

Full story here.

07 michele et patrice rion chambolle 1er charmes

The last time out the oak was dominating, indeed spoiling this wine. Twenty months later and it’s turned the corner.

2007 Michele et Patrice Rion, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Medium young red colour. Very pretty red fruit still has some vanilla padding but it’s now on an altogether manageable level; surprisingly I find the fruit very focused and interesting (given the vintage). Sweet fruit leads you into a round palate – acidity comes rushing through the mid-palate into the finish. Truth be told there’s still a hint too much oak in the mid palate and finish – it’s of a sweet vanilla-coconut complexion. That said, there is a really excellent length of flavour. A wine that’s heading in the right direction. I think it might be a knock-out when it reaches it’s tenth birthday!
Rebuy – Yes

ze bag

A cool present for the one you love 😉

2006 & 2007 gilles bouton blagny 1er sous le puits


2006 Gilles Bouton, Blagny 1er Sous le Puits
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose starts a little tight but shows a dark core of glossy fruit. Silky with a slowly building tannin – it remains subtle and has a bitter-chocolate edge. The dark fruit flavour grows in tandem and is really quite impressive in the mid-palate, it holds quite well too. Tight yet with clean lines and a decent depth of fruit. Very nice.
Rebuy – Yes

2007 Gilles Bouton, Blagny 1er Sous le Puits
Hmm, how very, very similar to the 2006. Not quite as tight, but a few redder fruit notes aside this could be the same wine. Medium, plus colour. Both dark fruits and red fruits on the nose – it’s quite deep but not wide. In the mouth the very same flavour perspective as the 2006; perhaps faintly less acidity but it’s marginal. Impressed.
Rebuy – Yes

2008 comte liger-belair vosne la colombière


2008 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée La Colombière
Medium colour. The nose for over two hours wears a background cloak of reduction yet the dark red fruit is easy to discern. Across the tongue it’s light and lithe with a fine layer of velvet tannin and an intensity that grows in the mid-palate. There is a little flavour of reduction too – even the last glass saved for day 2. I’m a little concerned by this reduction but frankly it did little to stop the wine being finished with great enjoyment.
Rebuy – Yes

pinot of a different flavour…

A nice article by Jancis. I was lucky enough to taste with Jim Clenenden at Domaine Ramonet last month – what a very nice guy. Turns out that in his youth he spent some time working and tasting his way through Burgundy…

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