The 108th edition of the Tastevinage tasting

By billn on October 02, 2021 #degustation

As usual, my invitation to taste came too late for me to actually taste – but I do already have the date for the Spring tasting in March next year 🙂

This tasting was on Friday 10th September and included 411 wines assessed by 100 tasters.

136 of these wines were assessed as meriting the Tastevinage label, of which 43 wear a Bourgogne label, 48 villages, 41 premier cru and, finally, 4 grand crus – there are relatively fewer and fewer grand crus presented these days.

If you click on this link, you can find the list of successful producers and their wines.

offer of the day – Jacques Prieur 2019

By billn on October 01, 2021 #the market

From my local Swiss merchant. The first price is for 2019, then in the brackets, from previous years for comparison, the second and third prices are for 2018 and 2017, — means ‘not offered…’

Vins blancs
Bourgogne Chardonnay 75cl 28.00 (—, —) *Swiss Francs
Meursault-Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 74.00 (—, —)
PULIGNY-MONTRACHET Les Combettes 1er Cru 75cl 89.00, (89.00, 89.00)
MEURSAULT Perrières 1er Cru 75cl 155.00, (149.00, 149.00)
CORTON CHARLEMAGNE 75cl 215.00, (229.00, —)
CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET 75cl 415.00, (—, —)

Vins rouges
BEAUNE Grèves 1er Cru 75cl 59.00, (59.00, —)
VOLNAY Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 79.00 (—, —)
VOLNAY Clos des Santenots 1er Cru 75cl 119.00, (118.00, 109.00)
CORTON Bressandes 75cl 139.00, (129.00, 125.00)
CLOS DE VOUGEOT 75cl 145.00, (135.00, 129.00)
CHAMBERTIN 75cl 399.00, (389.00, 389.00)
ECHEZEAUX 75cl 415.00, (399.00, 399.00)
MUSIGNY 75cl 598.00, (598.00, 598.00)

As always, these are delivered prices, but excluding the Swiss purchase tax of 7.7%. Generally, upwards and upwards – and that’s before the lack of 2020 and 2021s begin to exert their price effects…

La Fête des Vins de Chablis – 2021

By billn on September 30, 2021 #events

Fete des vins Chablis - 2021

I’m still crowd-phobic in the post(?)-covid times, so I won’t make the trip myself, but if you are out and about on the 23-24th October this year, I’m sure you will be made very welcome and can taste lots and lots of Chablis, Irancy, Epineuil – etcetera!

More info here.

Hospices de Beaune 2021 vintage summary…

By billn on September 28, 2021 #vintage 2021

From Albert Bichot and the Hospices de Beaune – a harvest and vintage weather summary from this year:

And some images from their harvest here.

24-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 6

By billn on September 25, 2021 #vintage 2021

Morning coffee in Beaune...Not such a warm start – but blue sky for the morning coffee – and it’s going to reach 23°C today, possibly 26°C tomorrow.

That’s the good news; the forecast for tomorrow (Saturday) has softened a little – there’s now only a 50% chance of storms in the early evening – but Sunday is looking like a 90% chance of storms. Next week looks changeable too. Because of this, a number of domaines that had planned to start picking at the weekend have brought their harvest forward – starting on Thursday – Arlaud is just one, for instance. There’s plenty of action today in the great places of the Côte de Nuits; Chambertin, Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot and Romanée St.Vivant. Not just great vineyards in the Côte de Nuits – Bouchard Père were picking Montrachet today.

Some in the Côte de Nuits have even finished today – Charles Lachaux, for instance – but with his low yields it’s no surprise that he sees maturity some days before his neighbours.

Almost at the same level as those grand crus(!) our home domaine began to harvest their more than 1-hectare parcel of Beaune villages but first came their whites in Pernand Sous Frétille and Corton-Charlemagne.

Both of the starting whites had lovely grapes but the obvious difference between the two was the volume; 14 hl/ha in the Pernand and 30 hl/ha in the Corton-Charlemagne – the latter benefiting from the use of candles for two nights during the frost of April – though there was, of course, an associated cost for the candles! The red needed plenty of attention on the triage table but it was worth it.

In general, the grapes have benefitted from the recent rain – so far – they seem to have lost no maturity but this rain has diluted (reduced) the amount of acidity – many domaines reporting a pleasing balance to the musts. Unfortunately, today’s my last day as early tomorrow I must head to the UK. The home Beaune domaine are hoping to complete (almost) their harvest over the weekend. Their last plot, high in Pommard’s Vaumuriens always needs a few days longer to reach ripeness – it’s currently only showing a potential of 10.4° – I might be back in time to help with that…

But, let’s not forget, there was wine with lunch – or was it the other way around?!

2017 Jules Desjourneys, Mâcon-Prissé
Powerful, balanced, almost muscular – but how delicious is this? That’s a great Mâconnais!
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Françoise André, Beaune 1er Belissand Blanc
The only white from this vineyard. Together with the red from a couple of days ago we are certainly the only drinkers of this pair – in the world – this week!
Softer, silky but really very attractive aromas of fruit, stones – and hardly any oak. In the mouth, this is silky and elegant and much more easily approachable than the Mâcon-Prissé today. Delicious, excellent wine.
Rebuy – Yes

1974 DRC, La Tâche
Served blind, my comrade making a right mess of removing the cork – I’m not saying I would have done better but the tools weren’t in my hands 🙂
Pale colour – but what a nose! Not powerful but layered and oh so complex. Likewise in the mouth a wine whose delicious flavour radiates out from a small start – but with such impeccable balance. We’re supposed to be guessing – I plump for 1969 and Vosne. Having been told it’s just a little younger and my (poor cork remover) colleague has his suggestion of 1971 rejected, my guess is a wine from a great vineyard in a ‘small’ vintage. It turns out to be La Tâche – we are not worthy – but I’m happy with my guesses – I’m also happy there’s no wine to follow that I can get totally wrong 🙂
Rebuy – No Chance Dream wine…

The Hospices de Beaune together with Sotheby’s

By billn on September 24, 2021 #the market#vintage 2021

Hospivces de Beaune & Sothebys 2021On Tuesday I took 90 minutes out of my harvesting duties to check in on the joint press conference of the Hospices de Beaune and Sotheby’s.

You may recall that last year the 160th wine auction of the Hospices was cancelled at the very last moment. Those running the show has said for days that there was no concern about cancellation but there it was. The sale took place in even more restricted circumstances, later in December, the 13th. I privately heard that Christie’s were pretty unhappy about the whole thing as they had offered to guarantee that the whole thing took place with no issues but online. Perhaps it was a change in the dynamic of the relationship between Christie’s and the management of the Hospices because just 4 months later came the announcement of the tie-up with Sotheby’s. This is a 5-year contract.

That’s enough speculation from me, now for some of the interesting notes from this week’s press event:

Today, the 21st September 2021 is the ‘Auction Day minus 60!

For the 161st auction of the wines of the Hospices de Beaune, Sotheby’s have a new five-year contract following Hospices change from partnering with Christie’s.

Sotheby’s had $98 million in wine sales in 2020 and their first half of 2021 is trending higher – in the direction of 120 million for the year. This is also the year that Sotheby’s begin with french wine sales ie sales in France itself – they previously sold only in New York, London, Hong Kong and occasionally in Geneva – this press event is seemingly the announcement for that strategic move. A much more interesting statistic was that in 2014, Burgundy accounted for 26% of Sotheby’s wine sales – in 2020 this had increased to 50% by value!

And a few notes from Ludivine about the vintage 2021:

The frost wasn’t the first real ‘act’ of the weather in 2021 – that was the heat at the end of March which brought 26-28°C in the vines. This was the cause of the early growth of the vines which exacerbated the effect of the frost at the start of April. This stopped any development of the vegetation for nearly 6 weeks. By the 19-20th of May we could properly see what buds had resisted the frost. The vintage condition waxed and waned between what was best for rot or what was best for oïdium! Fortunately, the flowering came in warm and dry conditions, almost too warm! Pouilly-Fuissé and Volnay-Santenots have been the first picked vineyards on the 17th… I’m destemming 100% – the skins can be fragile and oxidise fast so I’m using plenty of CO2 to protect the unfermented grapes and must. When to start the harvest is usually a compromise between, maturity, cleanliness and the weather – for a number of years these have been comfortable to very comfortable indicators – this year its clearly about the compromises! We are back to our roots!

22-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 4 and the subject of grape security!

By billn on September 24, 2021 #vintage 2021

2021 Savigny 1er Les Vergelesses…

Today we started with the last of the Chorey – still plenty of work but with less to triage than the Bourgogne of the day before.

Then came white and red Savigny Les Vergelesses – this chardonnay, by far, the best grapes of the campaign; not the smallest grapes that you could wish for but very clean and also with very little oïdium – just a shame about the (nearly!) 14 hl/ha. This is the worst yield of any of the whites at our domaine as it was the vineyard that was hardest hit by the frost – by comparison, the domaine’s Corton-Charlemagne looks quite good but candles were lit here on the nights of frost. In a way we are lucky – many of the domaines around Meursault are looking at yields of 5-10 hl/ha.

The red Vergelesses that came in the afternoon was also rather good – but with some rot to triage though less than we’ve seen in all the other reds so far.

Now what about Security?
After recent short vintages where grapes went missing from the vines in the night, the syndicate of Nuits St.Georges producers are paying for security guards to keep an eye on the vineyards between 21h00 and 06h00 each night – just to make sure that grape thieves don’t make their presence felt. It seems like a good idea and the cost is relative peanuts compared to the loss of several rows of fruit – or more!

Oh yes! And there was lunch!

2003 François d’Allaines, Beaune 1er Les Reversées Blanc
Just too oxidised – there’s nothing left here for me – only to say that I might not have guessed 2003 as the balance seemed fine…
Rebuy – No

2010 Château Poujeaux
Forward, strong but still very aromatic. Mouth-filling but open and probably ready to start drinking. The most Beaune-styled of Bordeaux?

2018 Aurelie Berthod, Beaune 1er Belissand
Ooh – such an inviting nose – ripe, confiture yet never heavy – this is a proper invitation. In the mouth, this follows the Moulis with a problem – fuller, fruitier and with fine balance. Great, great early drinking here!
Rebuy – Yes

21-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 3

By billn on September 24, 2021 #vintage 2021

Harvest 21-Sept-2021

Hooray – it was sunny.

Bourgogne Rouge today – from a parcel that’s within Chorey but not classified as such – I’m not sure why there’s this difference, perhaps because it wasn’t planted in the 1970s…

Mid-morning I took a quick break to visit the Press Conference for the Hospices de Beaune wine auction in November – together, for the first time, with Sotheby’s. I’ll report on that separately.

Then in the afternoon came plenty of Chorey – of modest to okay quality. Watch out for some oxidative rot is the word on the street – generally, not just in Chorey! – but I saw it only from a couple of bunches that were removed – this rot is less ‘mousey’ (furry) and redder with the characteristic acidic smell.

All in all – an easy day, despite the required concentration at the triage table, but notable was the lunchtime wine – I brought along a Leroy – actually my last one, I think. Since last year the domaine here has some Savigny Narbantons, so in honour of that I brought along a 99 from Lalou:

1999 Leroy, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Narbantons
There had been a little seepage – but that’s common with Leroys due to their very high fills – but it had been in the same cellar as all my other 99s which are completely fine and still with twirling capsules. A super and quite long cork – 54mm I suppose. The red paint from the capsule (no wax in this vintage / UK martket) coming away on my hands. Some age to the colour but what a great nose from the get-go; perfumed, whole-clusters and sweetness – blind you wouldn’t question it if somebody that told it was from Vosne – you would simply thank them – but no, it’s from Savigny! Complex, well-concentrated and with a sweetness of fruit that belies the location of the vines. Very great Burgundy!
Rebuy – Yes The en-primeur price was a mere £40 in 2001. But in context, that was also the price of Engel’s Grands-Echézeaux – which I also bought 😉

20-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 2

By billn on September 20, 2021 #vintage 2021

a lonesome grapeAnd yes, I actually did some work today 🙂

No harvesting on Sunday due to rain – if anything, the rain was heavier at 5am today than anything over the weekend, finally petering out in the late afternoon. The decision not to harvest on Sunday was a good one for me though – I felt bad enough this morning that I turned down both the casse-croute and wine with lunch (shock) but later in the afternoon I was really starting to feel more myself, so I’m pretty sure that wine will be on the cards tomorrow!

We began our day with our first chardonnay of this campaign – the 1er cru of Savigny Hautes Jarrons. I didn’t do the sums so I’ll have to let you know tomorrow what the actual yields were – but there wasn’t a lot. Triage was required – more for rot than oïdium – though still a little of the latter. Over the years, (old man mode – this is my 18th consecutive harvest) I’ve seen grapes that were much harder to triage than these, so we can expect the wines to be reasonably classic, perhaps showing a bit more vintage character than the recent, more uniformly ripe vintages – time will tell.

Two modest red appellations filled the post-lunch period; villages Savigny – the last of the parcel that was started on Saturday – plus Bourgogne. Like the white, both needed some serious attention to triage – many, if not most, clusters hiding some rot. The Bourgogne needed more work but that’s not surprising, because it’s only the second vintage from these young vines and so the grape clusters were a little closer to the more humid ground (ground-cover and weeds) than older vines.

So far, it’s clear to me that, for the first time since 2016 and 2014 in some places, and 2013 more generally, we have a vintage where triage will be rather crucial to the final quality of the wines.

And tomorrow, we should have the return of the sunshine too!

Burgundy Report

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