Why Big Red Diary?

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

a little weekend snow and pasta…

After publishing my February report, it was off to the Valais for a Friday on skis (Belalp) then Saturday, just a quick train ride away, in Domodossola (Italy) for a little market action, pasta buying and lunch. I’m ashamed to say that I missed the last 3 ski-seasons, and only hit the slopes right at the end of this one too – perfect weather/visibility and snow – I only had my boots to complain about! There were wines over the weekend too, but more on those tomorrow 🙂

February 2018 Burgundy Report – 2 books and counting…

The fifth of my quintet of 2016 Vintage Burgundy reports is now online for subscribers, namely Beaujolais 2016.

I usually feel inadequate when I hear of 100s of domaines, 1,000s of notes plus maybe 100,000 words delivered in other places, but this time I forced myself to do a little benchmarking: So, so far, my October to February reports covering the 2016 vintage are arranged; Côte d’Or Whites, Côte d’Or Reds, the ‘Grand Maisons,’ Chablis and Beaujolais – amounting to 210 domaines and 2,440 wines – over 180,000 words – there were only 90k words in my book!

I feel better already!

Whilst the core of my Beaujolais report remains those domaines that I’ve slowly discovered through blind tasting, this time I decided to include alternative facets of the market for Beaujolais – there are 9 cave co-operatives and I managed to visit 7 of them. On the opposite side of the market I decided to visit some of the more successful ‘natural’ winemakers; Foillard, Sunier, Thillardon, Dutraive and Lapierre – among others – there is no single truth to good wine!

I hope that you will enjoy. From now until the harvest, my reports will return to the freestyle approach.

two mid-week-ers

2005 Cornu, Savigny Les Saucours
I haven’t popped one of these for about 10 years – maybe a little more – but I’ve a distant memory of it being very good!
Not the deepest colour for a 2005 but still plenty. The aroma is of a fine and frank red berry fruit. Lots of width over the palate, ingraining a certain freshness and intensity. The flavour is excellent, if with a slowly developing, slightly metallic impression. Still relatively young but absolutely accessible – a faint Savigny herb in the finish. Despite the herb and the intensity of this young wine, not a hint of austerity. Very good.
Rebuy – Yes

1997 Guy Castagnier, Clos de la Roche
I’ve had such good experiences in the last 6 months with 1997s, so why not!
The nose starts open, clearly quite mature but sweet and attractive – in 30 minutes you may note an extra balsamic impression – so I drink faster! A little fat and lots of silk – the mid and finishing flavours are both wide and persistent. This is simply very tasty wine, and gives enough of an impression that it’s a grand cru too. Devoured rather quickly.
Rebuy – Yes


It may not look like much, but this is Clos de Vougeot ‘Musigni’ – pictured last week…

Just a few things collected in the last days:

weekend corkscrew work – week 11 2018

2013 Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet
A faint, slightly reductive, toast on this nose – the depth hinting at a little grapefruit – which becomes more and more overt with aeration and as the toast fades. Fresh but with a melting width over the palate rather than direction. The flavour is of slightly sweetened grapefruit and has a nice focus and good tension. Versus its early days of youth this is a little more discreet today, but it’s still very Puligny and with a sneaky length too. Very enjoyable…
Rebuy – Yes

1999 Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles-Vignes
I pulled out a 1997 of this, but realised that I’d left that bottle in Beaune, so why not this one?
Deep colour. The nose starts with some strange, unappetising notes, but after 15 minutes of air it’s an altogether different proposition – modest of width, with a little more depth of mulled fruit and a fine, velvet width of faintly spiced complexity – yum! Fresh, a super line of acidity but with a strawberry-edged padding to balance the acidity. Still a tiny grain of tannin which, coupled with the shimmering fresh fruit, shows plenty of youth. Not the most powerful finish but still a brilliant length for a villages label. The only negative I can see is that it becomes overly soft and indistinct as it reaches room temperature in the glass. Great villages that you could start drinking – if you wished – but there’s clearly no rush…
Rebuy – Yes

finishing the grands jours with the paulée in marsannay

We finished the the week of the Grands Jours with the Paulée de Marsannay.

The last time I went (2014 I think) I’m sorry to say it was a very boring affair, the combination of a very ‘quiet’ table and an interminable ‘presentation’ by Jonathan Nossiter – whose speech was (seemingly and thankfully) prematurely terminated by the growing crescendo of noise from people who were being kept from their food! Quite a dangerous thing to do in France! It was such an experience that I declined an invitation the following year. This evening a couple of excellent and couple of quite good plates of food, and whilst we had less magnums than some of the rowdier tables, overall it was a nice evening! I brought the Griotte and it was fabulous – but only for 40 minutes – the long cork smelled oxidised but the wine was fine – though it oxidised in the glass if left more than 30 minutes…

Saturday was our trip back home after 9 days in the Côtes, but a small detour to Gevrey was necessary, to enjoy the open house at Domaine Trapet! Anbd what a difference 24 hours makes: just before the big hail-strom in Beaune on Friday, I was planning Jogging in a t-shirt and shorts (for the second time this year) – in the end I gave it a miss, but on Saturday evening at hme – jogging in full wet-weather gear, in 3°C and some snowflakes!

les grands jours – days 4 & 5

The last days of the Grands Jours. Thursday after ‘avoiding’ Mercurey, there was domaine visits in Volnay followed by an evening in Nuits St.Georges. Whilst Friday brought Vougeot, Gevrey and Marsannay. Marsannay is a Paulée to finish the week – I’m writing this before the Paulée! Interesting to see how many ‘punters’ took a chance today: 1,200 were registered for the Vosne tasting, but many more thought that they would try to get in – many, many were turned away at the door because the tiny ‘V’ was missing from their badges! We didn’t register for it – there is no joy in tasting with no elbow room…

We have one more visit in Gevrey on Saturday before heading back to Bern after 9 days in Burgundy. There will be plenty of typing next week, finishing-up my February ‘Beaujolais 2016’ report. Onwards!

driving, driving

Driving rain today, also driving to Mercurey and back from Beaune – total time ~1 hour – but no Côte Chalonnaise tasting I’m sorry to say. The only available parking was miles away, and in that rain I was not going to be in the correct state to taste. I don’t think my note-taking iPad would have survived either – and it certainly wouldn’t have fit under my hat!

A shame, I was looking forward to finding some new names. Still, my afternoon and evening will offer plenty of exercise for my iPad!

grands jours – days 2 & 3

Just so you know that there is life here!

Over 100 wines per day are passing my lips, and to be honest, my teeth are complaining. The extra sensodyne helps a little but also exacerbates the structure of reds – whites seem immune – so long as I realise that, and can factor it in, all is well.

The weather was fabulous yesterday – the first day of 2018 I jogged in shorts and t-shirt – it won’t last long, a) as it is pouring with rain today, and b) because temperatures are set to plummet and freeze again at the weekend. Oh well!

weekend corkscrew work – week 10 2018

Friday’s last tasting was with a domaine heavy on Volnay – 11 bottles tasted – ‘Please take something with you, we are also going to have to find people to drink these now that they are open’ – hence the couple of Clos de la Chapelles – notes to follow in my March report, after publishing the February report first 🙂 The Raveneau 2010 Montée de Tonnerre was in Au Fils du Zinc – well you have to, don’t you? And whilst delicious, round and beautifully focused it has a somewhat easy flavour and structure. I prefer the same vintage’s Butteaux which is also available in AFdZ for much less than retail.

2008 Jean Chauvenet Nuits St.Georges 1er Perrières
Ooh – that’s a fruity-fresh nose – lots of raspberry to go with red cherry. Mouth-filling freshness and so much energy. Mouth-watering the finish – no surprise. It has the acidity of 2008 for sure but such a juicy and delicious wine at the same time. Yes – but not for acid-phobes!
Rebuy – Yes

2015 Maison de la Chapelle, Irancy les Batardes
A fabulous nose – deeper than most Irancys but with the tell-tale wild and floral fruit of the village. Deep, textured. Wow pinot, fabulous Irancy. Top wine.
Rebuy – Yes

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