Just to show that I was still alive after my Zoom Tasting yesterday – a 10km walk:
Although in existence since 1880, Maison Drouhin were initially involved in the trading and ageing wines.
Maurice Drouhin joined the family company in 1918. In 1921 he decided to buy vines – but they had to be the best and closest possible as all the travel in this time was still by horse. The Clos des Mouches was his choice and he said that he considered this to be the best place in Beaune.
Of course, today, Maison Drouhin are more Domaine Drouhin, owning 80 hectares of vines in over 60 appellations – with 100 miles between the farthest north and south – at least in France – let’s not forget that they are present in Oregon too.
Drouhin owns 14 hectares of Clos des Mouches – that’s 55% of this 25.2-hectare premier cru – the average vine age in their vineyard now over 30, nearer 35. ‘Honey Flies‘ (mouches) but the vines are not much use to the bees as they can’t make honey from these flowers! The labels were designed by current team’s grandfather, Maurice. Roughly planted to half red and white but with various terroirs within, not just because of the higher and lower altitudes but also with much variance in the depth and style of the soils – “It’s a patchwork of red and white and it’s like that because it’s taken us 100 years to work out which parcel works best for which!”
The vineyard was always a co-plantation with red and smaller amounts of white which could round out the palate of the reds – and only a red had been produced in the first years of ownership. The inflection point came in 1928; the chardonnays weren’t ripe at the start of the harvest that year so the team began with the reds. When the chardonnay (and pinot blanc in those days) were eventually harvested they went through a separate elevage and the Drouhin team thought – “Oh that’s rather good!” There were only 300 bottles of that cuvée, all bought by a Paris restaurant but since that vintage, they have also made their white Clos des Mouches.
Today, 8-10 days are required to pick the various parcels at optimum ripeness. Each parcel is vinified separately – it’s like that each year – assemblies being chosen towards the end of elevage. For the whites fermentation there are sometimes 5, sometimes 6 different elevages – of different sizes depending on the parcel.
We took a quick look at the 2018 vintage and compared the Clos des Mouches wine with that of their Côte de Beaune wine. The latter from higher vines on the ‘Mountain’ of Beaune but also blended with the young vines declassified from the Clos des Mouches. The white has only these two components as Drouhin have no other premier cru whites in Beaune, but the red Côte de Beaune also has the young vines of other Beaune 1ers included, such as Cras, Champimonts etcetera.
Véronique on the 2018 Vintage:
“The year started with an early bud- break at the start of April and we already had the flowers in early May. A year that was dry and ‘luminous’ in the summer then veraison already started in mid-July. Aug 30 to September 08 was the actual harvesting window in our Clos des Mouches – some 25% of whole clusters used for the red. Whites bottled after the reds in this vintage – which isn’t always the case but it’s our tasting that will determine.”
Note: Half-bottles chez Drouhin are sealed with DIAM – but at this stage, all others are with cork.
2018 Côte de Beaune Blanc
3ha owned, red and white plus some from Clos des Mouches – young vines for instance – mainly 300-370 m high. This white made with no more than 20% new barrels but a lot of 500-litre barrels… no other Beaune whites in this
A honied freshness, still with a depth of citrus, partly floral. I like the flavour attack here – mouth-watering and with fine energy despite the warm vintage. There is an impressive concentration that holds equally impressively in the finish. This is delicious and already drinking great.
2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Blanc
Aromatically, here is a modest barrel spice but also impressive and complex width too – less overt, less forward than the Côte de Beaune today. The shape and depth of this flavour is more structural, a little saline too – though partly that could be the barrels. A fine sizzle of energy is the spine of the finish here. Impressive, a little structural, barrel and zesty-citrus-inflected finishing flavours. Impressive and obviously for keeping. I’d wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting – the barrel should be history by then.
2018 Côte de Beaune Rouge
Some Cras and Champimonts in here too, not more than 5% whole cluster in total.
Medium colour. A round and very attractive red, acid-cherry, nose. Open, sweet fruit but direct, with fine acidity, an impression of cherry-stone. Bright, slightly phenolic – deliciously phenolic – finishing. A very moreish wine despite the modestly structural elements. Like the white, delicious and already completely approachable – if no rush to drink.
2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Rouge
“We have always been happy to play with the whole clusters here – provided that they are ripe.”
Clearly a lot more colour. The cherry-stone-aromas, slightly acidulated accented by the more herby aromatic that comes from the stems – but no overt oak notes here. In the mouth there is much more scale, fine depth of flavour too – again, like the nose, the oak is not overt. Vibrant finishing, a little phenolic bitters in the finish. Rather a complete wine that you should wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting. Excellent wine.
Overall, I was amazed at how well the wines tasted when you consider the logistics involved in filling small sample bottles and then shipping them around Europe – bravo!
Recent vintages compared – each at the end of May – Chambre d’Agriculture, Côte d’Or
2021 So far:
– A year with reasonably cold winter temperatures followed by sunglasses and t-shirts in the vines in February/March.
– April turning colder then, for a few days, hotter, then heavily frosted – of note, many areas experienced an extra volume of vine-munching caterpillars.
– May was wet and cool
– Now it’s warming up again – and we could be moving into a rapid phase of growth for the vines – but they need it!
– The concerns over mildew are yet to be substantiated…
From the graphic above, ex Chambre d’Agriculture, Côte d’Or, this is (at the same date) five days behind even the 2013 vintage where many/most finished harvesting in October. There’s definitely some catching up to be done…
Having received my second (Pfizer) covid jab on Saturday, I chose the option of discretion – so no wine and no jogging this weekend – I know, a whole 48 hours – it’s a bit of a shock(!) but I had no repercussions, so all good.
Yesterday I corrected both of those ommissions – in fact, I even ran twice – so normal service is resumed!
The last days in Bern allowed me to punctually (equally shocking, I know!) get my April 2021 report online yesterday and also gave me some chance to enjoy my garden. My two ‘Bern Vines’ look a little sorry for themselves this year – particularly the chardonnay – frost clipped buds near the stem but some semblance of growth wider on the canes. You may also know me as an iris ‘fancier,‘ but that does show some insight into the growth patterns of the different years; just like in Burgundy, their growth is at least 3 weeks behind 2020, and some cases closer to 4 weeks.
It looks like I may have only about a dozen different plants coming into flower this year but here are the first 6 of those – the last (blue with striations, bottom right) opened for the first time today, compared to the 9th May last year:
Domaines number 299-320 visited since I began my tour of 2019s – though one chose to present their 2018s! In this issue, I visited more new domains (for here) than the older names I caught up with – for instance producers who provided great Petit Chablis or Beaune 1ers wines in my blind-tastings this year, plus a small but welcome diversion in the area of Pouilly-Fuissé.
And coming? Look out this time next month for a profile of the Clos des Cortons Faiveley in my May Report – and a tasting, of course! Plus a blind tasting of 2019 Irancy – with one genuinely great wine – three domaines who provided knockout wines also profiled for the first time in Burgundy Report – one of these producers you might know very well from these pages but making wines of a very different colour!
Last week, from my usual Swiss merchant. In brackets, where offered, are the previous prices of the 2018s, 2017s and the 2016s, — indicates not offered:
Domaine Bruno Clair
Marsannay Blanc 2019 75cl — (28.00, —, —) * (Swiss Francs)
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019 75cl — (145.00, —, —)
Marsannay 2019 75cl 34.00 (—, 32.00, —)
Marsannay Les Grasses Têtes 2019 75cl 42.00 (39.00, —,—)
Marsannay Les Longeroies 2019 75cl 42.00 (40.00, —, —)
Savigny-les-Beaune Les Jarrons 1er Cru 2019 75cl 49.50 (48.00, 48.00, —)
Savigny-les-Beaune La Dominode 1er Cru 2019 75cl — (59.00, —, —)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Fonteny 1er Cru 2019 75cl 119.00 (119.00, 105.00, 115.00)
Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er Cru 2019 75cl 145.00 (145.00, 139.00, —)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2019 75cl 228.00 (215.00, 189.00, —)
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques 1er Cru 2019 150cl 476.00
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2019 75cl 335.00 (335.00, 298.00, 325.00)
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2019 150cl 690.00
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2019 75cl 335.00 (335.00, 298.00, 385.00)
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2019 150cl 690.00
The prices are always high for this combination of producer and merchant – but the Bèze is always one of the best wines of the vintage for me…
*As always with this merchant – there’s an additional Swiss purchase tax of 7.7% to add, but then the prices are delivered…
Subtitled; A little Savigny and a lot of Beaune:
I’ve got to say, it’s still cold. There’s a little wind, occasional showers too. Despite the occasional sun(!), it’s rarely been more than 14-17°C this week, and the mornings are hardly into double figures.
There are still plenty of brave souls sitting in the terraces of restaurants café/bars too though – me included – if not always for long.
Remember when it was about 23°C in February? Well, luckily we don’t have such temperatures right now or mildew would be developing – as it is, in these cool, windy conditions there are very few worries right now. Treatments? Well, that’s a bit more tricky! Plenty would like to be treating – but then they expect rain, or the wind is a little too strong – nobody said it would be easy! It is reported that next week could see a return to temperatures in the mid-20s°C – tricky in the vines but the restaurant and café owners will be starting to smile…
I introduced you to my ‘Iris Gauge’ last week and finally, my first Iris of 2021 has flowered – 18 days later than in 2021. It seems that my Swiss garden is underestimating the relative delay versus last year – at least as far as the vines of the Côte d’Or are concerned – the Chambre d’Agriculture are currently estimating a little over 4 weeks delay vs last year, placing the harvest currently in line with the timing of 2013 – who remembers how cold and wet that harvest was? – in October!!!
The one positive in the weather, so far, is that the rain of this month has come some of the way towards bringing the year’s rainfall closer to the average…
I think that’s enough weather for today!
2019 Clos de la Chapelle, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Frétille (Blanc)
Cork, but a slightly thicker cork, I think…
ooh – that’s super – not just a depth but a sweeping width of fresh citrus aroma – I am ready! Nicely mouth-filling with wine – such lovely energy here too – almost a vibration to it, drilling a lovely insistent flavour into my tongue. The finish is rather good too. Lovely stuff!
Rebuy – Yes
2011 Maison Clavelier, Morey St.Denis
Cork – and I have to say – a good one – robust and hardly treated. The wine that I didn’t get chance to drink last weekend…
Plenty of colour for an 11. The nose is just a little tight – whilst not exactly showing pyrazine (I didn’t note any when originally tasting, way back when) there is a subtle peanut note and a less subtle wooden railway sleepers/creosote aroma that vibrates/jarred, just like a pyrazine would. The first night it’s quite strong in the flavours too. I drank this over 4 evenings and the creosote note reduced each night whilst the wine still stayed in very good shape. There is depth and balance and for a 2011 fine concentration too. I begrudgingly rather liked this wine.
Rebuy – No
2018 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
The first from this six-pack, and as I guessed/feared last week – yep returning to cork (the right-hand one) under Boisset management. Branded with the vintage but not the name of the producer – but it seems a good, sturdy, Amorim cork all the same…
Like the 2017, I note a little creamy oak accompaniment to the largely yellow citrus fruit. Another white this week where I like the energy – it’s nicely vibrant – if not to the same level as the Pernand. Easy but very delicious flavours here. For the price still an easy rebuy – despite my cork disappointment – but last week’s 2017 is certainly the better wine today.
Rebuy – Yes
As you can see from the above – this was Beaune Day 1.
Day 1 of the opening of restaurant terraces – and suddenly Beaune has woken from its slumbers – so many people, so few parking spaces!
Despite a long-range forecast that suggested rain every day this week – there have only been intermittent showers. The temperatures, even when sunny have stayed in the teens. There has been plenty of rain this year so far – though compared to wet (starting) vintages such as 2013 and 2016 we currently have about 75% of the rainfall of those two. You know about the April frosts and the return of some frost at the start of May too but Saint Glace is now nearly a week behind us.
The cold and cool weather has had its effect on the growth of the vines – we are close to 4 weeks behind the growth of the vines last year – so whilst the arrival of hot weather will see a spurt of growth it’s unlikely that we will see harvesting before the 20th September. I can also see this delay in my garden; my collection of irises continues to grow and there are many flower buds and whilst the irises of Beaune are well underway, in Bern I am still waiting – none have opened yet – the first last year was Tuesday 5th May! Maybe this weekend…
But what exactly will the Côte d’Or be harvesting?
For reds, it seems that the late pruners have lost the least – but still, a conservative one-third of the crop is gone – Savigny was terribly frosted in 2016 but the growers tell me that 2021 will have better yields – though at least 80% of the whites have been lost in that village. Wandering around Corton there are vines with 5 or 6 bunches starting to show – assuming an okay flowering – but other vines show nothing. Perhaps one-third to half a crop here. Of course, such estimates can be taken with a pinch of salt pre-flowering…
I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and given the lack of 2021 harvest to look forward to, I think you can already guess where the bulk prices of the 2020s are going…