Why Big Red Diary?

one brusque the other smooth and intense…


2006 Roger Belland, Santenay 1er Les Gravières
As a baby this was a big fruit bomb of interest. Today, in middle-age, it’s still big but both aromatically and from the flavours it’s also brusque, indeed it’s borderline brutal – I really wouldn’t know that I came from Burgundy, though I might still guess it’s pinot noir! Wait a few hours and everything about the wine moderates, yet I’m still not inclined to consider augmenting the cellar. I always found wines from this domaine great fun when young, probably it’s time to revisit to see how Julie Belland is having an effect!
Rebuy – No

2005 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Monts
Hmm – almost no nose – and 5 hours later it’s still the same. Fortunately there is super interest on the palate – direct but very smooth texture, intense but layered flavours. The tannin is pretty-much buried below the silky texture. A very moreish wine indeed – now where did I stack those magnums?
Rebuy – Yes

friday – must be engstligenalp day…

vendanges 2015 – vendanges!!

To be honest, it’s still very much the calm before the storm, but there are plenty of big names already in the vines…

It started with Olivier Lamy on Wednesday and then on Thursday he was joined by Dominique Lafon and Jean-Marc Roulot – amongst others. Today both Dujac and Vougeraie were in the vines – though only for their Côte de Nuits whites – in particular, Pierre Vincent was only picking his young vines in the Clos Blanc de Vougeot. One vigneron from Meursault dryly noting that much of Meursault might be picked before people start picking their grapes for cremant!

Given the thick skins of the (both colours of) grapes, it is clearly going to be something of a phenolic vintage, so maybe it’s better to be a little earlier with the whites, though not probably not the reds, as it wouldn’t hurt if their tannins had the chance to became smoother. Staying with whites; they certainly have only average acidity, but the tartaric is high and the malic quite low – so not much acidity will be lost during the malolactic fermentation, hence, people can wait if they like – yet many vigneron is now thinking that the grapes are presenting themselves very-much like they did in 2005 – and 2005 is/was rather a brutal white wine vintage, so maybe earlier will be better than later, the grapes often still look green, but many are already showing >12.5°…

2005? So it might seem.

More than one vigneron had previously told me that they thought the vintage could be a cross between 05 and 09, but as the harvest approaches, the form and presentation of the grapes reminds them more and more of 2005 – and looking like there may be just roast grapes to remove during triage as rot is so low. Tasting the pinot reveals quite some tannic structure, for this reason many will not rush into the vines to pick, despite many vineyards looking ‘ready’ already. As one vigneron put it to me “Based on the date of full flowering, and taking only an additional 95 days before picking – given that we had so much heat – that would mean that my Beaune Grèves should be picked on the 7th September – so there’s still a quite some waiting to be done, despite the grapes already looking fine.” Some producers seem pretty sure that the red grapes will continue to mature, without any great risk of rot – unlike 2007 and 2011 where the grapes turned very quickly as the rot developed.

So, just now, it looks like next week will mainly remain the realm of chardonnay harvesting, whereas the reds will mostly wait until after the 5th.

Let’s see!

lac de biel – oh so pretty…

Yesterday: Fifty different grape varieties packing into one hillside by the lake of Biel in Switzerland. It’s very pretty indeed!

henri latour and g&p ravaut – good stuff…

2002 Henri Latour, Auxey-Duresses 1er Les Grands-Champs
Just a lovely nose – some leafy development and a faintly spiced red fruit – this is very inviting indeed. In the mouth this lacks the width and richness of youth – it’s much more direct, yet not particularly strident. An easy, tasty-drinking wine – but don’t look for plush fruit any more.
Rebuy – Yes

2006 G&P Ravaut, Ladoix Les Carrières
Yum – directly this is really yum. The nose has just a little development but has width and dimension – plenty of complexity here – lovely. Unlike the Latour, here is still plenty of youthful richness – yet the wine is completely open and tasty – dark red fruit, good energy and a lovely lingering finish that is just faintly sweet. Lovely wine – seemingly already à point!
Rebuy – Yes

at last – a joyful pair: potel + dublère

WP_20150822_14_11_47_ProAfter a few disappointing wines, these two really bounced back to show what enjoying burgundies is all about. Certainly the best bourgogne blanc drunk this year too:

2002 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Monts
This starts tight, but the nose opens up with direct, fresh, red fruit and spice – very inviting. In the mouth, this is sleek, has fine direct flavour, very good energy and decent complexity – it’s a wine of muscle and latent structure – young but very satisfying indeed. Young but very drinkable today.
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Dublère, Bourgogne (Blanc) Les Millerands
Medium-plus colour. This has a big nose, very Chassagne in style, with a little oak and a backing of modest reduction too. Lovely weight and energy in the mouth – fine texture and complexity here, again with a faint but becoming reductive flavour – this is lovely and punches way above its label – better than many younger villages wines. I think this may be my last bottle, if so, what a shame! How every white burgundy should be, but so sadly, rarely is…
Rebuy – Yes

also a little disappointing – patrice rion & lignier-michelot (again)


Let’s stick with Chambolle – here another 2007, but this time a 1er cru…

2007 Patrice Rion, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Whilst there’s a strong whiff of oak-spice, this has a lovely, interesting and layered nose – nice. In the mouth this is far from overblown – a good line of fine fruit flavour – unfortunately for this wine, the finish is quite oaky, indeed it’s borderline harsh. I have more in the cellar so obviously hope that this comes around – apart from the harshness it reminds me of Comte Liger-Belair – but on the current showing I wouldn’t be a buyer…
Rebuy – Maybe

2004 Lignier-Michelot, Chambolle-Musigny Gammaires
A merchant wine from Lignier-Michelot. As in many, but not all, 2004s ‘the character’ is taking on a deeper, slightly mushroomy bloom – my tasting partner instantly says peanuts (they know nothing of burgundy wine or the vintage) – and you know(?) that’s the first time I’ve noted what other people suggest about peanuts, it really does have a peanut element. In the mouth the character is discreet and this wine has good energy and flavour. I wouldn’t buy any more for the cellar, but I can drink and quite enjoy it.
Rebuy – No

très disappointing: bachelet & lignier-michelot


Yet another reason that Denis might not have time for me later in the year! The Bachelet’s storage, save for shipping to Switzerland in April/May was direct IB from en-primeur purchase, followed by my own passive cellar for the last 10 years, which very slowly cycles between 13-19°C depending on the highs or lows of the seasons.

1999 Denis Bachelet, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles-Vignes
Ouf – that’s strong! The nose that is, and of brett too – it’s not just strong, it’s a big shame. In the mouth this has quite fine flavour, but it’s nae-on impossible to enjoy a wine without actually sniffing said wine. I know that with brett, every bottle is likely to be different, but it seems I should drink these up ‘just in case…’
Rebuy – No

2007 Lignier-Michelot, Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles-Vignes
Hmm – this is a very butch nose, large-scaled, just a little oaky and round, but really not a pretty thing. In the mouth this is also large-scaled, but with darkly-sweet fruit and some real interest in the mouth. From a flavour perspective, whilst good, it’s less good than the Bachelet and whilst the aromas are far from tempting, I can forgive that as potentially just a ‘phase.’ Overall, whilst the flavour is not bad, it’s currently a poor advert for Chambolle.
Rebuy – No

Regarding the Bachelet, maybe there’s something to be said for the quality of modern, ‘light’ filtration. Anyway, I was driven to try a glass of Lambrini after those – I hereby confirm that it was only the one glass…

wasps – lucky burgundy…


In central Switzerland (at least) these critters are a serious problem this year. Not only can you hardly enjoy a drink or a plate of food in the garden, they are now beginning to devour the grapes as their sugar levels reach and pass 8°. Lucky Burgundy – only 300km overland from these pics, but I’ve hardly seen any in the vines there – it certainly wouldn’t be the most pleasant picking conditions if you are competing with the wasps for what remains of each cluster…

gevrey, rôtisserie, beze – dead?

DSC07496Finally! you say – a bit of Côte de Nuits action!

Today, a small tour around Gevrey centre, followed by an excellent lunch in the bistro of Rôtissèrie du Chambertin (good value too) and then a walk through Clos de Bèze to recover. Although only about 21°C today, the sun was hot – only later in the afternoon was there more cloud and a threat – but no more – of rain.

Clos de Bèze – despite its lofty status – is a great place to get an average view of how the grapes are progressing; it starts low but goes quite high on the hill, there are dark areas by the forest too – very different to the sunny, lower and mid-slope vines. The grapes look very clean, very small and the clusters have the weight and hardness of small hand-grenades – all seem very clean of rot so-far. The leaf colour of first vines of each row that face the sun already have the look of autumn (see right), but behind, as the rows continue, they seem pretty normal. In just a few places – for instance the first vines next to the road (Route des Grands Crus) as you approach Morey St.Denis, the lowest leaves are brown like November – yet like elsewhere, the vines along the rows seem fine.

Overall the veraison is a little more advanced than some of the Côte de Beaune vineyards I’ve seen, but not 100% done. The taste of these (€100/kg?) grapes is largely sweet and round – like the whites – probably because malic acid seems relatively low in this vintage. Clearly there’s plenty of skin this year though, and it has quite a good taste – so-far…

Building-site Gevrey-Chambertin:

Clos de Bèze:

chablis – looking up and looking down

I know I’ve been a bit Côte de Beaune focused the last days/posts, so I thought that today I’d make a change – we went to Chablis instead!

Actually the weather (as you can see) was very nice – about 25°C and better than darker, showery Beaune. Lunch at Au Fils du Zinc and Raveneau’s 2010 Les Clos for a mere €62 Euros!!! It’s unobtainable elsewhere at double that price – très yum, of-course!

Chablis – looking up!

Chablis – looking down!

and today in the afternoon – saint romain

More cloud on Sunday afternoon and a mere 16°C in the Hautes Côtes – it snowed in Switzerland today – just a few spots of rain here. Still, Saint Romain (Haut) is a lovely walk with epic views and super houses – a bit too far from the co-op to think of buying a place though 😉

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