Why Big Red Diary?

guy castagnier’s 1999 clos de la roche

1999 Guy Castagnier, Clos de la Roche
Having tried the 97 and 98 in the last 10 days it seemed only fair to open one of these 99s too. I bought a couple of 6-packs way-back-when, and I may have already finished one of them – this the first from the next case.
The nose is far from forward but has very fine and pure fruit of great direction. It’s the same on the palate – a joyous line of crystal-pure dark-red, mouth-watering fruit with super persistence. My first glass empties very quickly. Subsequent glasses have aromas that sometimes betray a faint whiff of brett – then they are clean again – maybe time to start drinking these then – and why not, this bottle was emptied the night it was opened – usually the best of signs. Super wine.
Rebuy – Yes

Plus some wines recently tasted blind with (mainly) Grand Cru company – the grand crus will appear in my April Report – notes as written before seeing the wines:

2005 Robert Denogent, Pouilly-Fuissé La Croix Vieilles-Vignes
White 1 – Older colour. The nose has a sweet vibration and a suggestion of oxidative development – but it remains a great invitation. More direct over the palate than the nose suggests, but still with an engaging blend of fresh and sweet. Quite narrow into the finish. Eventually a super nose and a more modest palate – apparently mature and delicious but not profound – from the Mâcon?

2015 Buisson-Charles, Meursault 1er Les Cras
White 2 – A young nose, wide, not so deep but clearly this is a very inviting and fine wine. Supple, deep, a little oak – quite young and rich, plenty of minerals and long. Excellent and young – Chassagne 1er? After being told I could clearly smell the ginger spice on the nose, silly me – oh well.

2015 Buisson-Charles, Meursault Vieilles-Vignes de 1945
White 3 – A sweeter and more mature core of aroma. Wide, melting flavour, richness but with great mouth-watering balance. Long – super again – a great set of whites here. This has tension – from Puligny? Even when revealed, I couldn’t see the ‘Meursaultness’ but I could still see great wine – I rated it higher than the 1er cru!

2015 Buisson-Charles, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Hautes Coutures
Red 5 – Bright, fresh and very much younger aroma than previous bottles – with fine pure kirsch notes. Wide, pure, very fruity – a baby. Lots of volume, good concentration, very fruit forward but with balanced acidity. Long and super but a grand cru? I don’t think so…

2003 Bourgogne-Devaux, Pommard
Red 6 – Wide, vibrantly deep red fruit aromas, less pure than the last due to some residues of oak. More richness of texture, more concentration, much more maturity of flavour. A good older wine – – also probably not (a good!) grand cru.

the 2018 vintage so far…(!)

Thunder, lightening, heavy rain and even the occasional rainbow in Morey St.Denis this afternoon.

Well, it’s already April, and we have passed the the poisson d’avril so maybe it’s safe to ask about 2018…

I was with Charles Lachaux in the torrential rain this morning, so I put the question to him; ‘Given the cold, ice and snow of February and March, is 2018 a little behind the average growth-cycle today?’

Well, we have definitely seen plenty of rain so far this year, but I would rather say that we are neither early or late, I see a traditional, normal, vintage so far. With a normal summer we would be harvesting somewhere between mid and late-September. Of-course, with all this rain we are only going to need a few days of 20°C-plus and the vines will explode with growth…

Yep, the start of the year has, indeed, been been very wet:

weekend corkscrew work – week 13 2018 – part 2

I think it’s important never to be under-wined. For that reason, given 7 of us, I thought 3 magnums plus two bottles should have been enough – but it seems we were a sober lot – one bottle of white was only half drunk – though it was anyway time for the reds – and there was plenty of wine left in the first red magnum too when we called time. The 81 Corton Rognets will have to wait for another venue!

Gilles & Romain Collet Cremant de Bourgogne Brut
Other bottles recently drunk at home have been based on the 2015 Chablis vintage, this, however, is based on the 2014 vintage. From memory there’s no less sweetness than those bottles. Everybody – including me – said ‘yum!’ Delicious, and inexpensive too.
Rebuy – Yes

The 1999 Sylvie Spielmann, Engelgarten Riesling had a very young colour and lots of freshness. Quite complex and a little creamy in the finish – it would have benefited from a little extra concentration – light but not inconsequential. Tasty wine. The 2014 St.Urbans-Hof, Piesporter Goldtropfchen had much more concentration and depth of flavour – it was much the sweeter of these two wines too. Very delicious wine.

2002 des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er La Romanée
The first from a pack of 3 magnums.
Rather a smoky nose – there are vestiges of oak on the palate too – I assume that this was significantly marked by its elevage when younger. Now it retains those accents, but has freshness, width and an attractive complexity. Not earth-shattering wine by any means, but a more than adequate wine – the small glasses didn’t help matters, but when you are away from home, you can’t control everything! Good.
Rebuy – Maybe

Despite being a resident of Bern for a few years now, I was never in the Munster – you really get to feel the history as you look over the wooden pews with the crests of families that have used those seats for generation – and you can see where the old crest has been replaced with a new one as the ‘owners’ of those seats change over the generations – but not the seats themselves! A couple of pics from the Alpine Museum of Bern too – one, of the Jungfrau was captivating in the viewfinder of my phone – completely 3D!

last week’s icymi

A few interesting things I spotted of the course of last week:

  1. Domaine Olivier Merlin: Corinne and Olivier Merlin’s 15 hectare domaine with vines in the Mâconnais and Moulin à Vent has new personnel. Sons Paul and Theo Merlin, both winemakers, have joined their parents – their first vintage will be 2018.
  2. Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux: By Jamie Goode. I might already say ‘risen’ rather than rising, but all good(e)!
  3. Domaine François Gaunoux: By Ed Zimmerman (in Forbes). Really an iconoclastic domaine with very impressive wines – despite zero oak – just let them breathe. Profiled in these pages last year.
  4. When London goes mad – Burgundy Week: By Jancis Robinson.


weekend corkscrew work – week 13 2018 – part 1

2007 Alex Gambal, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
The nose starts with a little reduction – the flavour too – but it doesn’t need much time to dislodge that. There’s not the same concentration as the 2006 Marechale from mid-week, but there is a more open, airy, and complex bright flavour/aroma package here. Today this is a much more attractive proposition in the glass – lovely stuff. Day two, the last half is just purring, showing a hint more oak but also a fuller and rounder shape with pure delicious flavour – excellent!
Rebuy – Yes

2015 Nicolas Burguet, Bourgogne Aligoté
Info on this domaine in the next (March) Burgundy Report.
Medium lemon-yellow colour. An attractive width of aroma, not so much depth. Round but still with lots of freshness, directly delicious and with an added creamy complexity in the citrus finish. Just delicious wine – the type that suddenly you find that the bottle is empty – how did that happen?
Rebuy – Yes

1997 Chezeaux/Ponsot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Unlike the 97 Griotte from here (opened a couple of weeks ago) this long cork has no notes of oxidation – likewise the wine, Showing beautifully mature notes, if not the initial dried leaves impact of the Griotte. You could call the wine a little troubled – as it’s cloudy – but it was plucked straight from the case without any time standing, so who knows if it’s the wine or my clumsy handling. Air brings a very attractive sweet and pure red cherry core to the aroma, and an almost smoky minerality. Plenty of mouth-filling volume – sweet and with good drive from the acidity, ending with slow waves of flavour moving into the finish. This is a super drop! Like the cork, nothing oxidative about this particular bottle even 1 hour after opening. Fabulous, ready, Chambolle.
Rebuy – Yes

frohe ostern

Cléo from Läderach…

A happy Easter to one and all – may all your bottles (and chocolate bunnies) be good ones!

another 2006 – mugnier’s nuits 1er clos de la marechale

2006 JF Mugnier, Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos de la Maréchale
What a rubbish cork – so spongy that the worm of the corkscrew pulls right up through the middle – at least I could put a straw down the middle!
Deep dark fruit on the nose though modest in intensity – aeration adds width and a little more redness to the fruit, eventually a suggestion of creaminess too. Wide, a little tannin, more layered and structured flavour than the 06 Monthelie, with licorice in a direct and slightly saline finish. A good but recalcitrant wine – it showed better when young, and I’ve no reason to think that it won’t show better in the future too. Like the last 06, probably better to look at other vintages right now…
Rebuy – Yes

lafon’s 2006 monthelie les duresses…

2006 Comtes Lafon, Monthelie 1er Les Duresses
The nose and also the rest of the wine began rather unauspiciously – aromas of meat and a burly, unfriendly flavour profile. Three hours brought some modest reprise – if I opened another, I’d put it in a decanter. ​The transformation on day two (overnight in the fridge) is impressive. The nose is now of attractive, deep fruit. The palate also less compact and more open and enjoyable. Not very interesting on day one, quite good on day two. I will wait a few more years before approaching again.
Rebuy – Maybe

tastevinage v101 – the results

You may have noted some pictures of snow in this dairy, and for that reason I missed this 101st Tastevinage tasting. But for those of you who follow them, here are the wines that ‘won’ Tastevinage labels last Friday.

557 wines were presented to 220 tasters, and 181 wines were deemed good enough. You can find the 181 here.

beaujolais exports grow

For the second year in a row, exports of Beaujolais have grown.

Figures compiled by Business France from French customs data show an increase of 5.7% in volume and 7.8% in value for the year 2017 versus the same in 2016. 40% of the production of Beaujolais is now exported.

Europe accounts for 35% of all exports by volume and 29% by value, growing in 2017 by 11% in volume and 14% in value versus 2016.

The five largest export markets today are, in order: the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom followed by Canada then China + Hong Kong (together) – this is the first year that China/Hong Kong have entered the top 5, having overtaken Belgium to do so. Of these markets, only Japan showed a reduction in sales – but it was an important 7% reduction in the second largest market outside of France, it is because of this reduction that the United States now have pole position.

the doctor’s baby ruchottes – fragrant, beautiful wine

A wine made from the produce of young vines in Ruchottes-Chambertin. The domaine replanted half of their 0.64 hectare Ruchottes-Chambertin parcel in 2000, the original vines had been planted in 1950 but were not very productive. So this ‘Gevrey-Chambertin’ was the first cuvée of the new vines – from the ‘traditional’ third flowering.

In the first few vintages the wine was declassified to a ‘villages’ label. It’s the best part of 5 years since I last opened one of these and only a couple remain in the cellar – and that’s clearly such a shame! The 2002 and 2005 of this were such great buys despite the high price of entry for what seems ‘just’ a villages wine – unlike the wines in 2003 and 2004, both of which disappointed for the price – it seems that those young vines were more easily compromised by the difficult growing seasons. This bottle once-more emphasises that the half-dozen that I bought from the 2002 vintage simply weren’t enough!

The label for the product of these young vines transitioned from a villages to premier cru in the 2007 vintage, but there was still a Ruchottes-Chambertin produced during these years, only the fruit of the section replanted in 2000 was made into a separate cuvée. From the very low yielding 2012 vintage the young vines were blended with the old – and they have stayed that way ever since.

2002 Dr. Georges Mugneret, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium, medium-plus colour. As pinot goes, here is a wine of barely middleweight aroma and flavour – but what aroma and flavour! The nose has a depth of floral perfume that easily out-points the fruit. In the mouth it’s silken and again so floral, just a hint of finishing oak flavour but it’s such a sweetly delicious wine that there’s hardly a sin that I would not be willing to forgive. Simply outstanding. A performance like this suggests that this wine has entered an early phase of absolute drinkability! Fragrant, beautiful wine…
Rebuy – Yes

Given how fabulously this showed, I was almost tempted to pull out the domaine’s 2001 Clos de Vougeot – but for (just) long enough, I thought better of it!

weekend corkscrew work – week 12 2018

A weekend away, not control over the glassware. The whites showed great, less-so the reds…

​2009 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers des Dents de Chien
Half golden. The nose starts with a toast, ends with a riper fruit. In the mouth this has youth and freshness – much more-so than I would have expected – I wouldn’t guess directly 09. The fine texture is almost oily and aniseed inflected in the finish. Such a baby – I’m more delighted than surprised as I’ve at least half a dozen more. Super wine, and long too!
​Rebuy – Yes

2013 Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Champ Canet
Lots of reductive toast to start, then there’s a little noisette, finally a depth of ripe grapefruit with a little crême-brûlée complexity. In the mouth this is directly fresh and complex – no surprise that it’s fresher than the 09 – beautiful acidity and a mid and finishing width of beautiful agrumes. Just super wine – showing absolutely great today!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Denis Bachelet, Côte de Nuits Villages
The nose starts quite big before settling into a fresh red berry/redcurrant depth – very inviting – more time and there’s a woody, oxidative, aroma that makes me think of Italian wines raised in botti (foudres). Red fruited and direct, long too, like the nose an Italian style of oxidative red fruit through the spine of the wine – particular and very modest for an 05 – but drinkable!
Rebuy – No (this bottle anyway)

2007 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux-Monts
Modest colour. A deep nose if a little woolly to start, slowly adding some red fruit complexity and background vanilla. The palate is also quite modest with a width of modest red fruit. There’s a pleasant enough finish and a little more interest than the Bachelet, but not much…
Rebuy – No

1998 Guy Castagnier, Clos de la Roche
Modest width and intensity, a little mineral depth. Wide, complex, a subtle astringency but a fine width of flavour from the mid into the finish. Very tasty wine here.
Rebuy – Maybe

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