Why Big Red Diary?

do you smell corks?

My advice, is that advice, like exercise, is not absolute – it’s about what works for you.

I’ve more than once read articles from (let’s call them) opinion-formers, who state quite categorically that cork sniffing has absolutely no use, and is, charitably(!) nothing more than an affectation – I beg to differ.

It’s not 100% certain, but my reckoning it’s 95% certain that when I open a bottle and sniff the wet-end of the cork, if it smells of TCA, then my wine will be corked. Simple!

Yesterday’s Lafon probably increased these odds to 95.01%. The cork came out whole and in good shape – but it didn’t smell ‘correct’ – I was sure there was TCA. The wine in my glass, straight from the fridge – as it’s still summer – had some beautiful red fruit on the nose, but also an accent of something – something unwanted – in the background. As the wine in the glass slowly came to room temperature, the fruit became ever-better, but that background note, comparatively, grew more. The wine was corked – moderately – but corked. I could drink half a glass, cold, but still whilst wrinkling my nose – unsure. But there was a threshold where the cork-taint became clear – then it was over. Sometimes what’s in glass is unclear, but usually the cork doesn’t lie.

So, don’t do what others would have you do, do what works for you…

As an aside; rightfully I should be even more annoyed with a corked wine that I’ve had in my cellar for 20 years than a recent purchase – right? But it doesn’t seem to work that way – each one is a similar loss. Okay, I’ve never (yet!) opened a corked Romanée-Conti…

michel lafarge’s 2005 beaune grèves

2005 Michel Lafarge, Beaune 1er Grèves
Following the 2005 DF Volnay from yesterday, here is my other goto 2005 for gauging how those tight 2005s are performing – I started with a full case of each, bought for precisely this exercise.
If the Volnay was showing good signs of blossoming, this remains very-much on a younger footing. The nose has a depth, indeed a weight of deep and herby dark-red fruit – but there’s certainly more aromatic volume than it showed before. In the mouth there’s impeccable balance and really super intensity. This wine needs aeration but shows lots of energy – it’s impressive – but at the same time it’s a very young wine. On the positive side this is significantly more giving that in previous years. Super stuff that is, at least, now showing how good a young wine it is. Super, and drinkable at last, but no signs of maturity.
Rebuy – Yes

dubreuil-fontaine’s 2005 volnay…

Ignoring for a moment that this wine is in my glass, for two other reasons, I’m happy to see that this wine has become very tasty – 1) because it’s always been a very tight wine and 2) that it hopefully augers well for all those other ‘tight’ 2005s!

2005 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Volnay
Such a bargain this wine – it has a large proportion of 1er cru in the mix for a very modest price – so a shame then that this 2005 has been so unyielding – until now. The nose has an attractive and sleek red fruit – it’s very inviting. Sleek is a useful word to describe how it shows in the mouth too – but then it opens with energy and complexity – at last! This is very tasty, with plenty of freshness, silky texture and great red-fruited intensity.
Rebuy – Yes

On the negative side I’ve drunk half a case to get to this stage, on the positive side I’ve still six more! Plus there’s the bonus that I might not have to be so reticent with other 2005s – which would be good – given that I’ve 40 mixed cases! 🙂 I think it’s time to try another 05…

a new label – bourgogne côte d’or – and why it matters…

There are many ‘Bourgogne’ labels, but the new one – Bourgogne Côte d’Or – is much more specific in two respects; 1) Geography and 2) what’s in the bottle – it can only be pinot noir or chardonnay.

Harpers were the first (that I’m aware of) to break the news that the long discussed label of Bourgogne Côte d’Or is finally approved. You can read most of the details of what will be allowed, in that link.

But what does that mean for you and me? Well, it should be a very good thing; it won’t make a bit of difference to the Bourgogne Pinot Noirs that you have been buying, nor will it change things much at well-known domaines – though they may, if they feel the need, take this new label – see the comment from Philippe Charlopin in the linked article.

Now it is instinctive to think that a Bourgogne Rouge comes from ‘Burgundy’ and that it is made from pinot noir. You would be forgiven for also assuming that ‘Burgundy’ means that the grapes come from the Côte d’Or – and for growers in the Côte d’Or this is overwhelmingly so – but for the bulk of Bourgognes this is overwhelmingly not so – this is where it will make a big difference – it will bring extra clarity.

What the hell am I talking about?

The Maisons, typically of the Côte d’Or have, for a long time, been playing a tough game with their neighbours in Beaujolais, trying to restrict their southern cousins’ use of the Bourgogne label. Those cousins would, after all, be competition. But at the same time, behind the scenes, those same maisons have been some of the largest buyers of Beaujolais wine – gamay wine – for their vast quantities of Bourgogne Rouge. It’s no secret but it’s also, for obvious reasons, not something that they publicise, i.e. that Bourgogne Rouge can contain up to 15% gamay from Beaujolais – so it shouldn’t ever be a surprise when your cheap Bourgogne smells like Beaujolais! Actually, this gamay can come from anywhere in Yonne/Côte d’Or/Chalonnais/Mâconnais/Beaujolais – some 50,000 hectares of vines are eligible – but Beaujolais is usually the king of cheap. By comparison, the ~1,000 hectares that are ‘allowed’ for this new Bourgogne Côte d’Or label sound much less generous!

So what you might have instinctively expected to find in your Bourgogne Rouge, you will actually find in the Bourgogne Côte d’Or – though it’s fair to say that this ‘progress’ for the consumer has taken a very long time to come!

The take-home message is to keep buying the great stuff that you always have, but don’t be surprised if the label changes in the next vintages. But if you want an extra saftey-belt for your Bourgogne buying habit, then the Bourgogne Côte d’Or label will be the one for you – but it will of-course be more expensive than wines ‘cut’ with cheaper Beaujolias…

weekend wines – week 33 2017

Dinner with friends on Friday, so no note-taking, just a ‘hazy’ memory jotted down a couple of days later…

The house prosecco got the evening moving before changing gear with Chandon de Briailles’ 2007 Charlemagne which was golden coloured, smelled a little of oak, nuts, honey. The mouth showed power, muscle and again a little oak but great balance though a suggestion(?) of oxidation. Great wine, but perhaps showing a tad older than its 10 years. I’ve 2 more, so I’ll use one at Christmas to decide if the last is a short-term drinker or no.

The 2009 Chandon de Briailles Volnay 1er Caillerets was a rented vineyard at that time but unfortunately they no-longer have the contract. This was decanted, as previous bottles needed lots of air – I think it worked. Transparent, mineral and intense with beautiful clarity of fruit – you’d be hard pressed to guess that it came from 2009 – super!

Next up was the 2009 des Chezeaux/Ponsot Chambertin. This wine is often described as being a modest intensity Chambertin, but clearly it had more concentration, dimension and complexity than the Caillerets that it followed. Really great fruit – worth the Ponsot tariff? Not for my money, but for the Chezeaux label (exactly the same wine) then yes indeed. Not mind-changing Chambertin, but a great wine all the same.

There was a need for more wine 🙂 So I pulled out my last bottle of the 1991 Savour Club, Chapelle-Chambertin – and the best for last! This clearly had the best, most robust cork of these 1991s, it was also the only one of the last 3 or 4 bottles that was clear and bright in the glass. Actually the nose was a little behind my last bottle, but it was a tour de force in the mouth – complex, robust, great intensity and a peacock’s tail of flavour dimensions – great wine!

To revive the palate the next two days, two from Camille Giroud:

The 2010 Camille Giroud Bourgogne Cuvée L showed gorgeously floral aromatics that also carried over onto the palate – transparent and beautiful though missing a little mid-palate sweetness(?) Not as good as the magnum opened during Christmas 2015, but a great Bourgogne all the same.*

Finishing on Sunday with the 2007 Camille Giroud Corton Le Rognet – a wine that started with very modest aromatics, if deep. The palate shows another level of interest and complexity – really showing brilliantly today – like many 2007s. Muscle but with some cushioning texture and mouth-watering sweetness if long-lasting flavour. Excellent!

*’Bourgogne’ in name only. The few vintages where a cuvée L was produced saw all the lees from all the cuvees – Santenay to Chambertin – blended and then left to settle in tank for another 6+ months before bottling – so really its a blend of villages from Maranges to Marsannay with all the 1ers and grand crus included along the way…

rebourgeon-mure’s 2010 pommard 1er clos micault

2010 Rebourgeon-Mure Pommard 1er Clos Micault
Last time out, this was so über-delicious that it bested the domaine’s 2010 Grands Epenots, since then it has tightened a little, though it’s still a fine and moreish wine, just not quite at the same peak of drinking as before. The nose remains bright, berry red-fruited, with just a little extra depth of aroma for padding. Fresh with a really fine intensity of red berry fruit before the flavour opens out more and more in the mid-palate. Lasting flavour too. Versus its youth, unsurprisingly, this has lost a little of the padding that made the wine so complete only 2-3 years ago, but fear not, there’s everything here for a proper mature wine in another 5-10 years – we’re just entering the ‘intermediate’ phase with many 2010s now. Still yum!
Rebuy – Yes

the new restaurant in gevrey-chambertin…

New in Gevrey, the Table d’Hôte Lucie & Thomas Collomb – finally the building work is done at the Rôtisserie du Chambertin 🙂

Plenty of moody pics – fortunately I never found the service at all moody! I’m looking forward to (eventually) visiting here. Whilst I’ve always found plenty of people in their (superb!) Bistro Lucien, I’m (only mildly) surprised that they are adding more competition for themselves – maybe they weren’t sufficiently catering for the ‘high-rollers!

4 million…

I’ve only just noticed that, last week, Burgundy Report passed the 4 million visitors milestone. And that’s only since I changed the site software – sometime in 2006 – not since the beginning of the site in 2002. I’d celebrate with a drink – but it’s breakfast time – later… 🙂

2 x pv

That’s PVs, not PBs – older muscles keep finding a new route to blocking the latter – but the PVs were good medicines!

1995 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Ile des Vergelesses
Good colour, not overtly aged. The nose begins in very attractive fashion, with a silky smooth width of spiced red fruit. Despite a good-looking and robust cork – only 60% saturated with wine – the the first flavours suggest an accent of oxidation, but subsequent glasses don’t show it at all – I assume that must have just been the wine in the neck(?) The wine is smooth and tasty with fine balance, though not particularly extra-special in any way. Just a pretty middle-age wine. One third is left over for day two and it’s just a little more balsamic in style – very drinkable – but not as good as day one.
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Chandon de Briailles, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Ile des Vergelesses
A little deeper in colour. The nose, unsurprisingly has a younger fruit and is more primary – just a little tightness to start with. In the mouth this has more volume, a little less smoothness but definitely a more persistent and intense finishing flavour. Really another level of mid-palate and finishing flavour, yet less balanced and certainly less easy to drink than the 1995 – to start. One-third stays in the bottle for day 2 – and what a change! Balanced, younger impression, just delicious wine – here for the first time with a small accent of whole-clusters. Delicious and with real depth too – Right now I’d suggest decanting – the aeration really made a difference!
Rebuy – Yes

weekend wines – week 32 2017

Three super wines this weekend!

2014 Château Pommard, Pommard Clos Marey-Monge
There’s no doubting the ambition here; a new bottle design (shape), and an impressively wide, if Screwpull unfriendly neck, then there’s the new label design. It doesn’t stop there, there’s the oak too:
A good depth of colour, and a nose that’s creamily, spicily oaked – but with attractive and inviting dimensions of aroma. Frankly, cold (from the fridge – it’s summer!) this smells oaky and it tastes even oakier – but let it slowly warm in the glass and it relaxes. There’s a little fine-grained tannin – but with no astringence – and there’s an attractive sweetness to the fruit too. Cold I would have said way over-oaked for the material in the bottle, but at a correct temperature – say 16-18°C – this simply tastes like a young wine of good potential. It’s even a wine that finally becomes relatively easy to drink, yet with fine flavour dimension. Patience is required, but this is excellent Pommard – I’d even go as far as to say – yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2007 Chezeaux/Ponsot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
The last vintage with ‘real’ cork.
Rather a modest depth of colour and just a little age to that colour too. The nose has lots of depth – without reduction – silky fruit, like a plum tart with a cherry topping – time in the glass and the notes are becoming higher-toned and more precise – lovely! Wide, lush but fresh, a little saline and certainly nicely mouth-watering in the finish – and what an impressive length of finish! Good dimension of attractive but never ‘simple’ flavour. Like most 2007s, this is drinking very well now. I’m reminded that after tasting 2007s in barrel, I described them as 2000s but better – and how good have the 2000s been for the last 5 years? I’m still more than happy with that characterisation – after a sticky, tricky start the 2007s are now coming good!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Henri Naudin-Ferrand, Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Rouge ‘Orchis Mascula’
I remember this wine from 5 years ago when it showed a gothic level of stems – it really wasn’t a thing of beauty – fortunately, time has done it many favours.
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has lots of depth, no reduction, and still a little steminess, but with no aromatic astringence or discord – more a floral aspect and a suggestion of connected pyrazine. In the mouth this has come on leaps and bounds; there’s a rush of fresh, and sweetly mouth-watering, flavour, still a little grain of tannin. This wine is, today, simply delicious while still showing its stylistic roots – bravo!
Rebuy – Yes
This latter wine is so much more enjoyable than it was 5 years ago – and interestingly, the back label suggests that it should be at its optimum between 2008 and 2012. For this 2005, wrong. It is just so massively better now than in 2012 – at that time it was certainly interesting, but definitely not delicious!

a beaujolais harvest update…

Saint Amour, 24 July 2017.

(Translated) From Inter Beaujolais:
Ripening takes its course in the vineyards of Beaujolais: On average we are 15 days ahead of the maturity progress in 2016 – veraison (grapes changing colour) appears to be closer to early vintages such as 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2015.

Overall, the sunny and dry weather since the Spring has both pushed the development in the vineyards and helped keep a remarkably good health, such that fewer treatments have been needed this year. There is some ‘water stress’ due to lack of rain, which will be a volume-limiting factor in many sectors. If we add to this the impact of hail in northern Beaujolais, we are heading towards an average volume harvest.

July has been very dry, leaving small berries, which provides hope for a good concentration of juice and phenolic materials.

great offer today…

I don’t, as a rule, give names and links to offers, because it’s a little ‘too’ commercial for this site, I prefer to give market indications without naming the merchants, but this is simply a great offer:

I really rated this Clos Vougeot in my vintage write-up chez Prieur, and this is a throwback to pre-2005 prices! Of-course those are Swiss francs and you have to live in Switzerland, probably…

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