Why Big Red Diary?

weekend wines – week 21

It’s been hot – so whites it was! They could all have been better – as my old school report used to say – must try harder!

2013 Dublère, Meursault 1er Charmes
Hmm, there’s a nice aromatic volume here – classically Meursault too. In the mouth I find the wine a little tighter – there are layers and layers of flavour but it seems to me that the expression is on quite a low order. Tasty, clean, does what it says on the label, but I was waiting for a little more – I’ve had other 2013s showing similarly, so won’t be blaming the producer.
Rebuy – Maybe

2012 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers des Dents du Chien
Hmm – much more reductive than the last bottle, exacerbating the oak component. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have reduction than oxidation, but I love to enjoy smelling my wine and this was a little too overtly toasty-reductive. I preferred the last bottle much more.
Rebuy – Maybe

2015 Clotilde Davenne, Chablis 1er Vaucoupins
Just a deliciously fine and pure citrus nose – so inviting. Hmm, that’s a shame then, because the palate is a little hard and un-yielding – the finish is as good as the nose – both bravo – but the first flavours are hard. Give it mor time I suppose!
Rebuy – Maybe

ouch – some dangers in mixing and matching…

As I sat tasting a few excellent Beaujolais last week, my tasting partner asked – fancy a P-M interlude? It wasn’t really my subject du jour but I can be a game old boy, so why not? Of-course I was expecting a gulf of difference, of elegance, of effortless excellence – but it didn’t work out like that.

Now, a number of people have accused me (to my face, so that’s fair) of being a Perrot-Minot hater – simply because I didn’t include him in my book – but there was a much simpler reason for not including the domaine: For someone writing in 2010, was I supposed to choose pre-2007 P-M or post-2007 P-M to write about? If the latter, were 2 vintages sufficient to provide a well-rounded judgement? – Of-course, no. Any followers of the domaine will know that there is a world of difference, post 2007 wines having left behind the lure of heavy extraction in the search of elegance. I think the wines are even better today than 5 or 6 years ago, admittedly they are expensive, but in the same pricing echelon as Grivot, Méo and a host of others.

So the Nuits was subdued, beautifully textured but lacking sparkle or energy. The Chambolle – despite its price – fared worse, only the finish left a great impression. We went back to our Beaujolais (in the May report) and order was restored. A funny world…

what’s new in beaune and peeking behind (usually) closed doors…

So first, what’s new this week?

  • The first flowers were seen this week in a parcel of Louis Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, though most are expecting to see flowers later next week – I think a weekend of wall-to-wall 33°C will help that! So we seem to be looking towards a harvest starting-time of roughly the 10th September.
  • I’ve lost Claire again! Claire Forestière made great wines at Bertagna before a short-lived own-label chez Cottin-Frères. I lost sight of her for years after that, but was re-united when I found her working chez Loron in the Beaujolais. But I heard this week that she’s left Loron – nobody seemed to know where she is heading!
  • There’s some hard work going on to renovate what was previously an ‘art’ gallery just across from the Hospices de Beaune, and I noticed on the placard outside the name SAS Champy. I called Dimitri Bazas to ask – ‘are you opening a shop?’ And it seems so: “Yes Bill, you saw well, Champy is making a shop to sell the wines and also a VIP tasting room on the first floor with a unique view of the « Halles » and the « Hospices » !!! It is a really exiting project and we hope to open it at the end of June – early July.” So there you go!

And before a Friday evening apero, whilst walking in Beaune we saw, on the opposite side of the Hospices to Champy’s new shop, an open door! This door is 99.9% of the time most definitely locked, but what the hell, I took advantage. This was the Couvent des Cordeliers, and today is the 1243 Bourgogne Society – or ‘club’ – where the extremely (delete as appropriate) well-heeled, or fortunate get to enjoy degustations of the most sought-after wines that Burgundy can offer. I think it is a fabulous place right in the centre of Beaune, and in its own way, almost as interesting as the Hospices. It’s a shame that it is always locked away…

big works in nuits…

On Wednesday afternoon I managed to get a tour of massive re-modeling of the Faiveley winery in Nuits St.Georges – together with JC Boisset, they are dragging winemaking in NSG into the 21st century. The demolition was already well underway when I visited last December to look at their 2015s. They say that all the work should be completed by the end of this year – but not before the harvest 2017 – the harvest is currently looking like ~10 September 2017. Enough work, however, will have been done so that they can vinify their 1er and grand cru wines from the Côte de Nuits – the villages and regionals will have to be accommodated in another facility.

They are purposefully using engineering here that looks from the late 1880s – Nuits was anyway a railway town – there are some great views across the rooftops too! And the work is not just above ground, the extensive cellars are getting a full clean and they are installing LED lighting throughout. There is also some interesting use of materials – the copper roof is pre-patinated – the verdigris that normally accumulates over many years, is pre-installed – I’m sure that it will make the wines taste even better…

And just a few minutes walk away, Boisset are also not yet finished with their new cuverie – I think I see what they are doing there – and yes – those are vines planted on the roof 🙂

held hostage by a beaujolais producer

Two visits today, in La Chapelle de Guinchay, not far from Saint Amour – so lunch was there – some pics above.

I had a 14h30 appointment after lunch so got there early – 14h20 – just as well, I finally crawled into my car at 20h50. Apparently the police were not yet looking for me! I’ve a full programme tomorrow – hopefully I can make all the appointments…

jane eyre’s new beaujolais!

It seems that the Aussies are all starting to find their way round to the gamay grape, and that now includes Jane Eyre too, who bottled her first Fleurie – a 2016 – in the last 2 weeks. The labels haven’t yet arrived, but that doesn’t mean we can’t taste it – right? So tasted with Jane in Beaune today:

The wine is made from a blend of grapes from From 2 parcels; one at the top of Fleurie near La Madone, plus a second parcel just over the road ‘which was actually in better shape as it wasn’t hailed.’ They are 60-80 year-old vines from a young producer only making their second vintage, who has taken on family vines but hasn’t got a market for the wine yet. ‘The second parcel saw no destemming, though the Madone grapes needed a bit more triage so was mainly destemmed. I did just one pump-over and then left it alone – the fermentation started in about 4 days. It was left on its skins for 18 days before pressing into used 500 litre barrels for elevage – about 7 months worth before a few weeks in tank, then bottling a couple of weeks go. I left the sulfuring late as I wanted to see, but anyway decided to sulfur as I was scared of brett or maybe having to filter – I just wanted to be a little cautious so chose sulfuring over filtering. I wanted a little structure, not a fruit bomb.

2016 Jane Eyre, Fleurie
There are some DIAM sealed wines in France, but all that are exported will be sealed with a screw-cap.
The nose has a good width of aroma, starting floral then going nicely deep and a little soft – but not in a negative way. Supple, beautifully textured, nice bubbling, but not overt, energy – this is really a very fine package that drinks deceptively easily for its young age. Nice faintly herby structure in the finish as a counterpoint. Excellent and a buy! The colour is removed from that of many opaque 15s but still with plenty of density. Yum!

weekend wines – week 20 – pinot from british columbia…?

A long-term contact (from Canada) was in Beaune this week, he and his compatriots enjoying a more than enviable week of tastings, but on Friday evening he thrust into my grubby hands a couple of bottles – “I’m saying nothing, just tell me what you think of these.”

They are both 2009 pinot noirs from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. They sport heavy ‘sommelier’ bottles – particularly the Blue Mountain. The Foxtrot has the longer, more impressive looking cork. So here goes:

2009 Foxtrot, Erickson Vineyard Pinot Noir
Ooh – quite pale – approaching the colour of a Côte d’Or rosé or maybe a pinot from Alsace! It’s a pretty nose with a faint sous-bois, a suggestion of salinity and Marsala – both clean and interesting. Fresh, a little depth of good texture that ends with a modest point of tannin and a flavour that’s suggestive of some whole clusters. Like a salted caramel in the finish with a faint barrel-toast effect. Hmm – this is easy drinking, quite delicious wine with a lovely width of finish.

2009 Blue Mountain, Reserve Pinot Noir
Just a little deeper colour – not by much though! A nose of much more volume, freshness and a more pronounced sous-bois – I find this really attractive, though anyone who doesn’t know older pinot will just say ‘it’s stinky’ (and did!) Nice depth of flavour here with a decent freshness and a caramel/bitter oak-toast tannin – never too much though – and there’s a growing accent of florality to the flavour. Ultimately the Foxtrot is the easier drink today, but this has a little more youth, a little more intensity and weight of flavour, but the modest bitterness in the finish means the first wine is the more delicious today.

I’d happily drink either (or both!) of these – they show a little more overt age to their aromatics than a typical 7-8 year-old from the Côte d’Or, but the aromas and flavours are delivered with the cleanliness and panache of well-made pinot. In another 3-4 years the Blue Mountain might pull ahead of the Foxtrot, but, today, that latter wine wins by a neck chez nous…

a sunny sunday in burgundy – at last!

It’s been quite changeable weather since Friday – lots of showers – and even a little of the hard stuff (hail!) in Nuits on Friday – largely leaving just punctured leaves, but they won’t want any of that during flowering!

Today was fine and sunny, so a trip to Chalon for the Sunday market – it’s bigger, and more vibrant that Saturday’s market in Beaune – good for sitting outside with a drink while watching the passers-by – Even Mr and Mrs Roelof of Mercurey fame were spotted. Chalon-sur-Saone in the pics:

Then a short walk in Meursault on the way home – next time with a picnic I think 🙂

some ‘midweeklies’

The Juillots were auction purchases – despite the vintages (2003 and 1990) they are nothing more than easy drinking wines with a nice depth of fruit – really not quite great 1ers – essentially worth what I paid though they definitely brought enjoyment – rebuy-maybe(s) – a few more lie in the cellar. The 2013 St.Bris is direct, zippy, peppy wine – midweek it was warm in the garden – this was perfect, it’s a rebuy! Lastly the Le Grappin – this could easily be my last 2011 – and that would be a shame, because it was simply a delicious wine – yum – an easy rebuy!

weekend wines – week 19 2017

2002 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Malconsorts
Hmm – this smells a beauty! Some previous bottles have been a little bretty but not this one. The palate is a little tighter – silky texture and beautifully poised but I’d like a little more flavour action. Very attractive wine today though.
Rebuy – Probably!

2013 Clotilde Davenne, Irancy
A very modest medium-pale red colour. The nose is open bright and very attractive with a little floral action too. It’s a light-bodied wine, certainly, but delicious and fresh with nice balance. Perfect in the sun in my garden!
Rebuy – Maybe

1995 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux-Monts
Still sporting a deep colour. Classic, musky, spicy sweet fruit – it could only be from Vosne – it’s very inviting. More weight more ‘body’ than the Potel and intrinsically a more concentrated and sweet-cored wine. Really a super bottle today – I don’t think I’ve too many of these left in the cellar – but I will be relishing opening the next one!
Rebuy – Yes

2012 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
Hmm – this is showing so much better than when it was first released – at that time it seemed just a little heavy, but today the wine has opened out a little and the slightly over-fat concentration has given way to width, weight but poise and length of flavour. Really very yum now!
Rebuy – Yes

2007 Prince Florent de Merode, Corton Clos du Roi
Really not bad wine, but far from a great grand cru. I’ve always thought this wine to be roughly of 1er cru level and here is one more such confirmation. It was cheap and maybe therein is a lesson – of-course others are making something much more impressive from those vines today – if you can afford it – or come to think of it, if you’re even allowed to buy some! For the price of entry an easy red-fruited pinot of a wine, but not really ‘Corton’
Rebuy – No

vézelay – the new kid in town…

Vézelay from the air via AuxerreTV – here.

You may have come across the label Bourgogne Vézelay – an appellation/label created only in 1998 – but one that’s already going to be phased out. The new kid in town is Vézelay – and it’s a villages appellation.

The INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) voted on May 3rd to install the new communal appellation of Vézelay. This appellation is for dry white wine, produced from the chardonnay grape with the ‘traditional’ Burgundian approaches of high planting densities, short pruning, plus training of the vines – vines only from the communes of Asquins, Saint Père, Tharoiseau and of-course Vélelay! – all in the south of the Yonne department (89). Maximum yields per hectare will have to drop from 60 to 55 hectoliters per hectare, and the required minimum alcoholic degree will increase by 0.5°.

According to the INAO:

  • The Vézelay AOC covers about 90 hectares, divided between 25 producers, 10 of which are members of a cooperative. One-third of the area is farmed with an organic approach. The production is close to 2,800 hectolitres. Export is growing and accounts for 20% of the production volume.
  • The ‘Vézelien’ region is located at the edge of the Morvan Natural Regional Park, in the south of the Yonne department in Burgundy. The vines are grouped on the hillsides of the four communes of Asquins, Saint Père, Tharoiseau and Vézelay on both sides of the valley of the Cure – a river of the Yonne.
  • The vineyard occupies the slopes of the Cure and its lateral valleys between 250 and 300 meters of altitude. On the left bank, the subsoils consist of Bathonian marls and limestones of the middle Jurassic period, while the right bank slopes consist of a more predominant clay over rock from the lower Jurassic period.

The previous appellation of Bourgogne Vézelay had a potential planting area of 330 hectares, though it was actually very far from reaching these levels – currently there are 110 hectares planted – and with multiple grape varieties – only 90 of which are currently chardonnay. Note that about two-thirds of the vines were frosted in 2016, and there was frost again this year. Outside of the delimited area it will still be possible to produce Bourgogne Rouge and Bourgogne Blanc.

Whilst 2017 is anticipated to be the first vintage for the new label, everything (administrative) in France is complicated; first the old Bourgogne-Vézelay label must disappear, but then it’s also necessary to get all the ‘wine-growing syndicats‘ to agree – and anything regarding regional appellations has been hard work in recent years. So let’s see!

über-niche beaujolais – jules desjourneys

A nice way to ‘recover’ after a week without tasting, due to a head-cold:

While the vast majority of Beaujolais struggles to get €10 a bottle for their produce, I have in my hands two bottles that have been sent to me from a producer that is really pushing the pricing envelope. A Fleurie and a Moulin à Vent – both 2014s with yields of 20 hectolitres per hectare – or even a little less in the case of the Fleurie. The packaging is exemplary, right down to the thick wax capsules – of different colours – but then I suppose it should be: these bottles are €50 and €70 respectively.


But are they any good? Well, it’s definitely an interesting story – though I still don’t yet understand why the winemaker and owner of the domaine has a different name to that of the domaine – but all in good time, I think they are definitely worth a visit!

The grapes are triaged before ‘classic‘ semi-carbonic fermentation of whole clusters in open-topped wooden tanks before vertical pressing. These wines were aged for 24 months, equally in tank and old demi-muids. My general dislike of ‘prestige cuvées‘ is that they have far too much vanilla oak – oak that rarely fades with gamay – but, on paper at least, these sound different:

2014 Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois
A south, south-west parcel of 2 hectares on a mix of marl (limestone-rich soil) and granite. 10,000 vines per hectare.
Medium-plus colour – but not a colour of overt extraction. The nose is a little tight, faintly powdery red fruit, though it still gives the impression of a silky texture. Freshness, impressive width and a growing intensity of flavour – the flavour of pure wine – no oak make-up. There’s a strong flavour that holds on the tongue here – impressively finishing with a little bitter-chocolate tannin. The freshness could almost become a little tart if it wasn’t for a very fine texture. After about 25 minutes there is a really impressive fresh red-fruited perfume – it’s a beauty. This is impressive stuff, and it’s worth €30 of anyone’s money – but €50? – perhaps only in the context of what is happening in the Côte d’Or. Simply excellent stuff though.

2014 Moulin à Vent Chassignol
From 1 hectare of old vines – more than 90 years old – planted at a density of 13,000 per hectare. A hillside that is rich in quartz as well as the usual granite.
Deeper colour than the Fleurie, but still transparent. The nose starts tight and deep – the depth coming from a faint reduction. Wow! – On the palate this is a little dynamo – very wide, with energy, freshness and an impressively complex melting flavour. The Fleurie is, by comparison, a little subdued in character. Of-course there’s a little extra tannin here, but the waves of gorgeous flavour are simply superb. As young as this tastes – and it tastes very young – this is a wonderfully talkative, engaging wine. Bravo – great wine! With time there is a little chocolate to the depth of aroma and a more floral accent to modest but shiny black cherry. €70? Well it is certainly, to my palate, a more instantly impressive, complex and layered wine than the Fleurie – which I thought worth €30!

Page 2 of 25412345...102030...Last »