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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!

a world of difference…

What a lovely day Friday was, but how definitely un-lovely the rest of the weekend in the Côte d’Or was!

Friday I had lots to do, but late afternoon it was possible to get out for a walk in the vines and the old town of Meursault – and not one piece of Panatone from the Petite Vadrouille passed my lips!

Saturday (& Sunday, mainly) was a different kettle of fish – and pity the poor vignerons of Savigny-lès-Beaune who had their weekend of ‘open-doors‘ – a few of us hardy souls braved the rain, but 2 hours was more than enough, even with umbrellas – everything was wet!

In that time we managed to take in the Chenu sisters, the sisters of Domaine de Serrigny, Hugues Pavelot and Henri de Villamont – with strikingly different results – noting that I had a head-cold so no notes, but all our (4!) palates were generally aligned. We all like the Chenu sisters’ wines the most – 2015s – the Savigny blanc tasted more like a Bourgogne Blanc but a fresh and tasty Bourgogne – the 2015 red Savignys were lovely – Les Clous was most of our favourites, probably followed a super and typique Lavières. The Talmettes was delicious and very elegant if a much lighter impact wine – we all bought bits and pieces!

Onto the sisters of Domaine de Serrigny; a small range on show with a couple of villages level 2015s and some 2014s, even a Côte de Nuits Villages from Corgoloin which was lovely, as was the Savigny Blanc here – it had much more about it than the Chenu wine. The trip to the cellar of Hugues Pavelot was something of a disappointment – maybe it was the choice of wines – perhaps things that they had more of in the cellar and were looking to sell off? Anyway, not much to write home (or to you!) about.

Lastly we dropped in on Henri de Villamont – probably with the sole hope that they might be showing their 4 domaine Chambolles! In the end we got two white Savignys and two red, plus they found a couple of 11s in the tasting cabinet – a Chambolle and a Mazis. Of the Savignys – in both cases it was the domaine’s Savigny 1er monopole Clos des Guettes which was the best – both red and white were forward, sweet, brassy wines with a lot of oak make-up – but highly drinkable. The two 11s I wouldn’t recommend to anyone – then again, I don’t know how long those bottles had been open.

That was it – 2 hours – very wet, time to go home for a hot shower. Dinner in the evening was our first visit to Beaune’s ‘La Superb‘ restaurant, sat right in front of the brusque chef as he cooked. I hated my desert, but really enjoyed the rest – I’d definitely go back!

the weather so far…

 Les Hervelets

By the skin of its teeth, the Côte d’Or has largely escaped the frost travails of much of France (& Switzerland).

If relatively few had set light to their straw last Friday morning, it was easy to spot the difference as soon as you left the house last Saturday morning – the air in Beaune smelled of grass-fires. Many, many bails of hay and stray were set alight at 5am – to burn next to the vineyards, hoping to ward off temperatures of at least -2°C. I noted varying degrees of local commitment – there were plenty of burning bails on the route des grands crus in Gevrey, but nothing was to be seen in Morey or Chambolle – that said, Cyprien Arlaud used candles in his Clos St.Denis vines – Chablis-style.

In Vosne there was a good team effort with burning straw dotted around the commune and a good group of vignerons working together – Charles Lachaux doing the ‘belts and braces’ approach by having both bails of burning straw around his Romanée St.Vivant and candles between the rows too.

Beaune saw conspicuously little organised attempts to ward off the frost, but over 50 vingeron(ne)s gathered at 04h45 in Volnay to make some fires, it was the same further south too – not to mention some domaines hiring helicopters in the white grand crus of Puligny/Chassagne. Not everybody was unscathed – poor Savigny lost some production (again!) as did St.Aubin, St.Romain and a number of ‘Haute’ locations, though it wasn’t just the high spots, some small amounts of bourgogne at the bottom of Volnay was lost.

Afterwards the weather became cold and wet, but largely avoiding the negative temperatures. Yesterday, however, there were reports of isolated hail storms across the Côte d’Or – as far apart as Chassagne and Premeaux – though maybe in this case ‘storm’ is a little overstated as only a little damage has been reported. The main impact of the weather seem to have been to retard the growth of the vines – 2 weeks ago we were almost 2 weeks ahead of an average schedule – similar to 2007 and 2011 – but the cold has stripped that back by over a week – we are much closer to the average now – but the last days’ rain will have been welcomed by all those who didn’t have to go out in it – the start of 2017 has been very dry…

As for Beaujolais, the most affected area is in the south of the region – the Azergues valley – which was affected relatively early (21 April) by the frost. As it was quite early, it is mainly the chardonnay which was affected – so maybe a little less cremant will be made this year, but so-far, the gamay has survived intact.

Pics from Saturday 29th:

weekend wines – week 17 2017

Not the fastest online this week, but an interesting selection none-the-less!

2014 Denis Berthaut, Fixin Les Clos
Two weekends in a row with a Berthaut (Berthaut-Gerbet from the 2015s). This has plenty of colour and a very attractive and deep fruit to the nose – there’s a little something else in there, perhaps a mineral note. Fresh, layered and delicious on the palate with several layers of flavour and again that slightly mineral note from the nose with an extra hint of spice. – if find them a little distracting, but it’s still a delicious wine! For about €18 ex-domaine, of-course it’s a rebuy!
Rebuy – Yes

Bourgogne Aligoté – consistent with the last, 2-3 weeks ago….

2014 Jean-Pierre Maldant, Ladoix Blanc
A big nose, very modestly tropical but with some interesting mineral hints too. In the mouth this has lots of volume, almost an opulance/richness of flavour – more-so than your average 2014 – with just enough freshness to balance the ample concentration. This is a big but very tasty wine. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2011 Parigot, Pommard 1er Charmots
A pretty nose that’s more about floral references than of fruit. This is quite an elegant wine – a wine of line, a wine of nice texture, a wine that slips easily down without any hard edges. Very pretty indeed. It misses the balls of 12, the cut of 13, the width of 14 and the power of 15 – it could be a villages wine in some of those vintages, but it’s a tastily simple wine for all that. Yum again!
Rebuy – Maybe

another day, another pyre…

Fiery image from Caroline Parent-Gros

Whilst very few of the hay-bails in the Côte de Beaune were lit on Friday morning – temperatures only hovered around zero – the Côte de Nuits saw more hot-hay-bail action. One example was the Clos St.Jacques in Gevrey-Chambertin which was ringed by the smoke making pyres.

The skies have been clear during the night, and 45 vignerons re-convened in Volnay at 04h45 this morning, and many pyres have been lit. The weather during the days is beautiful, but still with chilly ‘bize‘ – the cold north wind – the vigneron(ne)s, however, would prefer that the wind continued in the night, but it was absent.

I’ll be out in the vines later today to see how effective the actions of the grower ‘syndicats‘ have been.

Yesterday in the vines, including a tented approach to protect vines in Corton-Charlemagne:

fighting the frost in the côte d’or…

Above, via Regis Rossignol in Volnay…

For the past week or-so, the Côte d’Or has been relatively protected from the frost seen in other parts of Burgundy, indeed the wider France. But this morning, starting before 5am, groups of vignerons in multiple villages, began lighting bails of hay, in and around their vines, with the aim take the cutting edge from the frost. Some individual producers are trying to keep air moving with helicopters.

It’s the first time I’ve seen such a team ethic here in Burgundy and across multiple appellations. I’ll be out in the vines to see how this is working – but the vignerons might need to order more hay – it could be that a similar event is required overnight tonight too! Of-course the fight in Chablis has hardly stopped for over a week now…

new burgundy report online…

March 2017’s Burgundy Report is now online for subscribers – I hope that you enjoy!
Thanks to all…

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