Why Big Red Diary?

something for the weekend…


Ah, I remember when it was easy (financially!) to buy wines like these…

Quite a nice selection this weekend. I also like the fact that you never ‘know’ beforehand (with any certainty) what the result will be – who would have called that the Cathiard would be the support-show for the other two…

1995 Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 1er Malconsorts
Quite a deep colour. The nose alternates between pretty, older tones of dark roast fruit and something more of beef-broth – alternately nice/less nice. Good concentration of flavour still with a weight of tannin structure – plenty of shape to the tannin but they are not unlikeable. The flavour is good and quite long. This was a case that I bought through Sotheby’s about 2000 for £150 – that’s probably the price of a bottle now – but this vintage is a good drink, but not a great drink.
Rebuy – Maybe

1996 Guy Castagnier, Clos de Vougeot
Medium, medium-plus colour. Round and open nose with sweet plum and faint spice – this is very inviting. Sleek, smooth and with a little fat plus beautiful acidity and a very fine line of flavour. I’d say this is very ready and very, very tasty. Super wine – with a haunting finish. Excellent!
Rebuy – Yes

1999 Gilles Remoriquet, Vosne-Romanée 1er Au-dessus des Malconsorts
Medium-plus colour. The nose is an absolute joy of pure red fruit and some padded, faintly spicy support – easily the most attractive of these three wines. Here is both the joy of consuming and the sadness that only 7 more bottles lie in my case! As a package, this is still a little behind the Clos de Vougeot – though it does smell even nicer. The structure is a little firmer and younger – indeed clearly adolescent – but it remains a wine of velvet tannin and remarkable mid-palate width of flavour. A beauty.
Rebuy – Yes

pics from the road…


the chalonnaise shuffle…

Bouzern, Rully and plenty of trees with haircuts today.

the other montrachet…

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of beaurocracy when it comes to wine ‘place-names’ especially when it’s a very important place-name. The place-name in question is Montrachet, but surprisingly the Côte de Beaune was the second place to start using this name – it is thought – because back in the 13th century the Cluniac monks already had a different place called Montrachet…

The Cluniac Montrachet is near St.Gengoux le National just over the border from the Côte Chalonnaise in the Mâconnais. This single hillside vineyard, and the monks’ vaulted cuverie above it, are pretty much ancient history and ruins now. The hillside covered by this lieu-dit extends 100 hectares, but such is the problem with frost here – every second vintage loses at least half the crop – that 80 of them produce only cereal today. But a dozen hectares still have vines, and are commercialised by the Cave Cooperative de Buxy!

As you can see from the label, everything is done to distance this Montrachet from the other Montrachet. The emphasis is that it is ‘only’ a lieu-dit, indeed a Clos – a 100 hectare Clos? But now we all know where the real, original Montrachet lies, and this one probably costs less than 10 Euros in the Cooperative shop ;-)

2013 Vignerons de Buxy, Mâcon-Villages Lieu-dit Clos de Mont-Rachet
A very pretty and high-toned nose with focused lemon notes and a faint salt. Fine, wide, mouth-watering flavour and with lovely intensity too – mouth-watering with sweetness of flavour. A wine that really begs you to take another sip. I tasted 25 wines at the coop, and this was about the best one!
Rebuy – Yes

And a few pics from today – a mix of Givry, Montagny and, of-course, Buxy…

a little more mercurey…

Not so sunny today – still the omellette (with everything including chips) in Mercurey’s L’Atelier is worth a stop!

finally made it…

Such a shame – living in Switzerland but this is the first day I’ve managed to ‘properly’ ski all year – in the second week of a virus too, so each long run was followed by much panting for breath. But it was worth it.

My leg now seems healed so I can look forward to next year’s season – I really don’t think I’ve time for more this year- tsk!

a weekend selection…

A fine selection from the cellar this weekend.

One of my favourite 2011s from Nicolas Rossignol – no-wonder his twitter ‘handle’ is ronceret! The Grands-Echézeaux is the 2005 – the purchased fruit of domaine René Engel – the last grapes that he tended – a very primary baby but with tons of potential.

The Savigny from Le Grappin is just a very easy drink, the Fixin has been at peak for at least 3 years now – I wonder how long it will go…(?)

old buildings and good grub…

Old buildings eh? A leaky radiator in the apartment – typically it leakes in the middle. Who know that these old radiators are mad up of sections – you take them all apart, remove the broken bit and then re-assemble!

Still, it took 36 hours and the weather was damn cold!

It’s taken far too long, but I finally got to La Lune in Beaune this week – it’s been open for the best part of of a year too – but a mix of good and quite brilliant menu items that are all modestly priced. We washed it down with a bottle of David Moreau’s Côte de Beaune Villages – a wine that’s basically Santenay and totally tasty!

with a little help from drugs ;-)

Really hard to get out of the door this morning – some virus was giving me a headache – or maybe that was the lack of sleep – probably both! But a beautiful day and the paracetamol slowly kicked-in. I was amazed to see a number of lizards basking in the sunshine today – already in February!

Worth the effort…

Mainly Mercurey…

today’s Beauneblick…

Ouf – accounts. I finished January’s at any rate today…

Of-course it’s important to get out – even with a stupid chesty-cough – particularly when there’s a nice colour to the waning sunlight ;-) Playing here with an old manual focus lens – I chose the ones that weren’t too badly focused ;-)

Tomorrow I’m off to Mercurey.

Views of Beaune today…

Mutually Assured (scoring) Destruction (shorthand – 99 points!)

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Copyright Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Atkin, Pierre Vincent? I’ve no idea either ;-)

As a numerical shorthand, scoring wines has some place when faced with a large list of potentials for your glass. I have never been an advocate of the seemingly self-important, faux-accurate scoring implied by the 100 points system but I accede to this utility.

I do sometimes score – but my 0-2 points system, plus the ‘3 for your favourite’ – a system I use in my blind reports when there are multiple tasters, but that’s something everybody can understand: 0=don’t like, 1=like, 2=would buy, plus your overall favourite =3. But 99 points?

Call me an inadequate taster, but without some initial calibration, the first wine could just as easily for me be 90 points or 91 – well actually not – the problem is that the goal-posts move almost annually. A great wine is always a great wine – those high-lighted by Tim (in Pierre’s ‘happy-post’) are indeed great wines – BUT – 2013 is a very good vintage, but it’s not an outstanding vintage. Those wines in an outstanding vintage should be more than 1 point better, but unfortunately he’s already run out of room…

Are these 99 point wines almost on a par with the greatest ever made? – by definition wines of 100 point perfection – of-course they are not, even if they are very fine indeed, hence, the scores are false! It’s hardly Tim’s fault; with obvious hard work he has slowly transformed from an ‘opinionated’ to ‘a knowledgable’ to (more importantly) an ‘insightful’ writer about burgundy’s wines, but he’s opted to be part of a system of appreciating scores – ‘score-creep’ that’s mandated by only the highest scores being useful for sales or the self-promotion of domaines, i.e. only those who gave the highest scores later seeing their names propagated. From what I’ve seen, this is now endemic for ‘southern-hemisphere’ critics but it is now very obvious in ‘old-world’ critique too. Just compare Burghound’s scores for the 1999 vintage with the same for 2004 (the latter being the least successful vintage since 1994) – his average score in 2004 was higher! Burghound started, to my reading of the situation, perfectly scoring versus the template of what good, very-good, excellent wines should be – let’s say 85, 88 and 90. The trouble for him was that other reviewers went higher. I believe that Burghound was quickly forced to go higher – just my 2 cents of opinion – but it’s symptomatic of the problem as I choose to see it.

I see it often but it’s worth underlining – there are no regional ‘bourgognes’ worth 95 points – actually (in theory!) it is an exceptional grand cru that reaches this zenith – perhaps a dozen young wines in a great vintage might merit 96+ but even the very best – let’s say only for the sake of argument, Romanée-Conti – reaches perfection, and then only in the rarest of vintages and with considerable bottle age. I’m prepared to believe that a few of the (real) 602 bottles of 1945 RC could have be so-described. But 99 points for a wine that’s not yet bottled? I think we all know the answer to that one…

For the record, I also highlighted Pierre’s Bonnes-Mares as a ‘do not miss’ wine in my report, but on that day, it was much more dynamic that the Musigny…

Just for the record, let us try to remember what the 100 point scoring was once supposed to reflect:
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a weekend quartet…


1990 Michel Juillot, Corton Perrières
There’s clearly a little age in the colouring, but nothing brown. The nose is modest but sweet, with a little deep fruit compôte. In the mouth there’s a little fatness to the texture – some weight too. Overall a wine that is balanced and drinks easily but is modest of flavour, energy and character. Tasty enough, but some way from the expectations set by the words ‘1990 grand cru.’
Rebuy- No

2010 Christophe Ferrari, Irancy Le Paradis
Of-course, there is not the weight or fatness of texture of the last wine, but here is all energy, character and flavour you could wish for – ebullient, fresh, pure pinot nose and up-and-down energy and a certain darkly fruited complexity. Clearly ‘thin’ after the 1990 but with way more flavour and character.
Rebuy- Yes

2009 Chézeaux/Ponsot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Here the nose starts a little out of sorts – I assume its a type of savoury reduction, but 30 minutes later it’s fine and fruity. The flavour, right from the start is round, succulent, and of beautiful ripe fruit. This is adorable/drinkable – indeed I felt it unfair to goto bed and leave any in the bottle – sometimes you have to do these things!
Rebuy- Yes

1976 Thomas-Bassot, Nuits St.Georges
Ouf! This started magnificently. The nose a wonderful, almost an textured, thick perfume of roses and deep, roast fruit pie – simply gorgeous. The palate also had fat and silk and roast but reasonably fresh fruit. This wine went downhill quite quickly though, taking on a some oxidation of both aroma and flavour – but those first 10-15 minutes were a bit of a wow!
Rebuy- No-chance – but I have a couple more!

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