Why Big Red Diary?

the season to be jolly…

robert arnoux 1997 vosne-romanée 1er les reignots


1997 Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Reignots
The nose starts broad and faintly of dark oak – slowly a pungent, dark, coconut cream begins to fill the glass, only very slowly are the granular, spicy notes one expects of Vosne to be found. In the glass this starts with a silky texture and a slightly bright though smooth acidity – which is the main component through the centre of the wine and into it’s finish. As the wine warms in the glass the finish first pads out with some of the dark flavours that match the nose. Over three hours this wine remains steady as a rock; acid led but not too much, with a freshness and stance that belies the vintage. I would say this is still very-much young and primary, it is certainly excellent in the context of the vintage.
Rebuy – Yes

The Red Wines of Burgundy, Mark Savage (1988)

red-wines-of-burgundy-mark-savagePublished by Octopus Books

Following on from Christopher Fielden’s White Burgundy, 1988 seems a good vintage for books. This is, of-course, the sister book to Jasper’s The White Wines of Burgundy also of that year.

Yet again I seem to have picked up, quite unintentionally, a signed copy – at least this time I don’t need to change my name to Ian!


  • This is a hardback book of indeterminate size – almost, but not quite, A4 – with less than 80 pages of content.
  • A couple of minimalist maps are provided to give you a basic idea of geography.
  • The forward is by Simon Loftus – how I wish there were more books by him. The content of the book is split into three sections;
    1. Burgundy and its Red Wines
    2. A Buyer’s Guide
    3. Through the Vineyards

  • Included in the content is a description of not just the Côte d’Or, but also the reds of the Yonne, the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais and Beaujolais.
  • Mark writes well and has the insight of somebody with a long history in the trade. Particularly in this book I found his snapshot of Beaujolais to be highly informative. Likewise, much of the early chapters like to compare and contrast what is done in Beaujolais with the same in Burgundy. Beaujolais may not be (officially) part of Burgundy anymore, but this is certainly material worth having.
  • This is clearly a book of its (1988) time, still asking the question ‘should burgundy be a big powerful wine(?)’

In more detail
Just a selection of quotes that I found interesting.

p10: But few can hope to drink really great Burgundy even once a year: in a lifetime, such wines may be counted in single figures. It is rare stuff indeed.

Personally I hope it’s not that rare – maybe we have much better quality now…

p22: In recent years there has been a good deal of justified grumbling about the quality of red burgundy. Are production methods at fault, or is it simply that a misconception exists as to the true character of the wine?

p25: Merchants’ wines receive more treatment at every stages of their elevage than do growers’ wines, and it is this extra handling which is so dangerous when dealing with naturally fragile wines from the Pinot Noir grape. If there is a single reason why consumers should think twice before buying négociant’s wines, it is that they may simply have less character.

Here there is also a good description of the role of the courtiers.

p29: Rule #2: Beware Bargains: There is never enough good red burgundy to go round, so no quality producer will ever have to discount his wines.

p34: As for basic Beaujolais, most of the best wine is now sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, and because this market is so competitive, it is usually easy to find drinkable wines at a relatively low price, especially in a good vintage.

p46 (discussing Vosne): In practice, the winemaking style of the grower is of more importance than the difference in the soils.

p60: I used to think that like was too small to drink Santenay! Fortunately, I was able to revise my opinions after tasting some splendid wines…

p66: Too often, Mâcon Rouge tastes like an indifferent vin ordinaire and its right to Appellation Contrôlée seems based more on historic reasons than on any inherent quality in the wine itself.



alain michelot 2009 nuits 1er champs-perdrix


Another from Alain Michelot and frankly, just as good as the first!

2009 Alain Michelot, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Champs Perdrix
The nose is quite different to what I remember of the Chaignots – different vines so a good thing – certainly higher toned though perhaps a little more diffuse because of that. This is quite full, with plenty of tannin – yet the fruit comes through very well indeed – super-engaging personality. I think this excellent.
Rebuy – Yes

attack of the ancient pyrazines (and some old pierre bourée)


Having bought a collection of old Bourées at auction, I have the following batting average:
1966 Nuits St. Georges – excellent
1983 Charmes-Chambertin – disappointing
1972 Gevrey-Chambertin – too balsamic
1978 Monthelie – a remarkable curate’s egg:

1978 Pierre Bourée, Monthelie
The cork comes out in one piece – no mean feet in these older Bourées – the bottle glass has a blue shade to it; clearly a bit unscientific but I’ve never yet had an off wine from a blue-shade bottle! Very good, relatively young colour. The nose? Well it’s rather particular; in-fact blind this is a 2004 with at least a 6/10 ‘score’ for pyrazines. Underneath is a pretty depth of still croquant, sugared strawberry fruit with the faintest suggestion of stems – as an occasional bottle, I’m quite happy to put this in my mouth! There is weight and sweetness to the red fruit with fine if understated acidity – overall a very smooth ride. There is some taste from the pyrazines – mainly in the mid palate before the flavour slowly decays in the finish. I have to say, pyrazines aside this is quite some wine – for those with low sensitivity I expect they would absolutely love this bottle – certainly I find it interesting and still drinkable: Indeed quite a remarkable bottle.
Rebuy – No Chance

Saving your 2004s?
If so, for what reason?
The pyrazine note of this Monthelie is as clear as a bell, and also as fresh as any 6 month, or now six year-old, 2004. I can no-longer grope at straws by expressing the wish/sentiment/dream that pyrazines fade with time; research already indicated that pyrazines are stable and here is a 33 year-old which seems to amply confirm that data. It really doesn’t matter what the source of this aroma and flavour is, in character it is essentially identical to that exhibited by 2004s. I sold half my 2004s around this time last year – I think I may have kept too many…

2007 guillot-broux macon-cruzille les genièvrières


2007 Guillot-Broux, Macon-Cruzille Les Genièvrières
The nose has slightly more than ample brioche notes, eventually the notes go deeper and sweeter improving complexity though not at the expense of impact. Large-scaled flavours, where, to start with, the acidity plays a subtle supporting role – still there is tons of creamy complexity in the mid-palate and finish. This is a wine that transitions from impressive to VERY impressive once it is paired with food; the acidity now seems more supportive and the fruit has a clear sucrosity. Very very impressive despite somehow retaining a Maçon character.
Rebuy – Yes

alain michelot 2009 nsg 1er les chaignots


2009 Alain Michelot, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Chaignots
Rather deep colour. Ooh – now that’s nice – beautiful fruit here, maybe even a hint of gooseberry. Full in the mouth, with a not too generous helping of tannin plus very pretty fruit that seems a mirror of that on the nose. Simply a very tasty wine indeed.
Rebuy – Yes

do you want to own vines in the côte d’or?

beaune-champs-pimont-saferWell do you?

That’s a hard question to answer in the current market. I provide for you here a window to a relatively ‘cheap’ entry into the world of premier cru pinot noir (Chambolle-Musigny would cost you 5x the amount), but the financial transaction and subsequent model will make sense to relatively few of you I think.

Anyway, our starting point is the current ‘offer‘ via the SAFER website.

In effect you would pay €184,000 (plus an 8.5% ‘fee’ for SAFER) plus €3,500 for 0.43ha of Beaune 1er Cru ‘Champs Pimonts’ – nicely situated fifty year-old vines, though don’t ask me how good the plant material is – but even as the owner, you cannot do very much with the land, because with this purchase you also grant a ‘fermage’ agreement to the Dufouleurs so that they can carry on as before. Fermage is a long-term rental agreement, usually renewed every 20 years, and as a non-accredited winemaker, you or I would have little chance to change things, but as the new owner of the land/vines, you would, of-course receive a rent, currently worth 4.4 barrels per hectare which makes 1.93 barrels in this case. 75% of this would be ‘paid’ in bottles – representing approximately 400 bottles – the remaining 25% in cash, i.e. currently €794.

So assuming you could also convert your bottles to cash, your annual return on this investment would be only about 1.6% – though comparable to the return from many banks’ deposit accounts, but also, from some perspectives, a better chance of preserving your invested capital. This latter point is largely what is driving new investment in the Côte d’Or; not the traditional business models of buying the land and amortising the costs of the land through selling wine over 10-20 years, because the land is too expensive for that today, but rather the preservation of the value of (some) capital as part of a diversified investment portfolio – it is fair to say that it is a minority of people who can plan and invest in such a way.

Anyway, assuming you have a spare €200k which you would like to ‘preserve’ and don’t feel worried by phylloxera biotype B, this could be the thing for you. But I hope you like the incumbent’s wine, because I doubt they would let you take your rent in grapes, or specify how you might like the viticulture to be done in your rent’s 2 rows of vines…

Ooh, I almost forgot; just because you have the cash don’t for a second think that it’s a done deal. The opaque organisation that is SAFER might just consider you not fit and proper purchasers, and if so, that’s that!

2009 marc roy gevrey clos prieur


2009 Marc Roy, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Prieur
Ooh – deep, ripe fruit, perhaps a hint of cola, actually more than a hint. In the mouth I find this has quite nice acidity, intensity comes in tandem – the flavour is long too for a villages. Clearly the fruit is very ripe and the tannin has a little rasp to the texture – unlike both the 2008 an 2010. Tasty, and certainly I prefer the flavours to the aromas, but overall I’d much rather drink the 2008 today – I expect also in 10 years but I’m happy to have the bottles to allow for that possibility
Rebuy – Maybe

alain burguet 2009 vosne 1er les rouges du dessus


It had to happen; a 2009, from a good producer, which I can’t recommend…

2009 Alain Burguet, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Rouges du Dessus
Very high-toned aromas, indeed close to volatile. In the mouth there’s some good tannin that has just a twist of astringency, yet, again, I have the impression that the fruit is rather medicinal and seems a match to the nose. I hope this is an off bottle because it is far from my taste, even before taking into account the price asked…
Rebuy – No

bouchard père & fils 2008 beaune 1er du château

2008 Bouchard Père, Beaune 1er Beaune du Château
Gradually there are some higher, floral tones and eventually a few flashes of tobacco too, but mainly this has a deeper register of dark fruit buttressed by equally dark oak. Round, plenty of sweet depth, just a little cushioning, balanced by close to perfect acidity. There’s plenty of flavour here, but I really can’t find the ‘Beaune’, and that’s because such a large part of the flavour profile is the sweetness of dark oak. Despite that oak, this has quite a measure of elegance – this is a lovely wine – but it needs to shed a lot of non-grape derived flavour before it becomes a lovely Beaune.
Rebuy – Maybe

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