Why Big Red Diary?

château de la crée – all change…


A great piece of news from Bruce Sanderson today – I can’t see Ken hooking up the plough though!

snakes and sheep in the mâconnais…

Not the only thing on the roads in the Mâconnais today, I saw a metre-long snake zip across the road, gleaming in the sun – they really are fast!

Another day of fine and warm weather – my second day in the Mâconnais, today visiting four solid producers – but cold and wet is forecast for Sunday-Monday; I’d best make the most of it now!

a warm day in the mâconnais

I saw 26°C registered today – maybe it was warmer – it was certainly picturesque! Lots of visits today and I learnt a lot!


My ‘home domaine’ has attacked the bottling this week – the soundtrack to the week will be incessant clinking of glass bottles. The chief is very happy about the conjunction of the calendar and the fine, calm weather. He’s also very happy with his wines 😉

a few weekend wines…


What a really great set of wines this weekend – and really, I just can’t choose a favourite – sorry!

The 1990 Penley Estate was big, powerful and really on form. The 2009 Jean-Marc Pillot was weighty and flavour-packed but with plenty of cut and freshness – actually a great foil to the Penley estate. Then something unexpected happened:

The 2003 Camille Giroud is a Jekyll and Hyde of a wine; a number of the bottles ended-up with a crease down their corks due to a bottling issue. These wines can be a little oxidised or generally ‘only okay’ – this one had a perfect cork and sang. Big, soft, and perfectly formed with a ripe but really inviting nose- Fine Burgundy – no need to look at the label. Of-course I expected something much more special from the 1998 Drouhin Amoureuses – but it was left just a little wanting – we both decided that we would rather drink the Camille Giroud! The Amoureuses had a big, semi-mature nose of leaves and complexity – less fruit-driven than the Giroud – very nice mature Burgundy, but no hint of floral Amoureuses. A more architechtural wine in the mouth too – a wine of corners and still some tannin – yet lots of complexity too. Despite the label, a wine that needs a little more time (perhaps) and just a little more charm – certainly at todays prices!

I have just 1 more bottle of the Giroud – I hope that this cork is also perfectly inserted!



My first day back home after a two week break – and my first job? – the grass! My second job will be adding a few notes here on some lovely wines during my travels 😉

Tomorrow back to Beaune, I’ve 9 appointments in the Mâconnais on Wednesday and Thursday – that should be enough to keep me out of trouble, on those days anyway!!!

r.i.p anne-claude leflaive

It was reported that Anne-Claude Leflaive died during the Easter holidays – Jeremy Seysses being the first to publicly relay the news as far as I know. Purely by chance, I drank her 2011 Mâcon-Verzé the day before – and it was perfectly delicious.

Within 2 hours of Jeremy’s tweet, I was asked by one website if I could write a small piece about her – but I declined – not because I thought it a little shabby and rushed, though maybe I did a little – I much prefer something a little more considered and discreetly later – but the real reason was that I didn’t feel qualified. Although I’ve tasted at Domaine Leflaive at least 7 or 8 times, it’s always been with Pierre, Eric or Antoine – of-course I’ve shaken the hand of Anne-Claude a number of times, but I didn’t really know her; she said little and always stayed in the background. Of-course, I don’t need to know her in order to appreciate the way she has significantly remodelled a great old domaine – magnificently, and with real purpose too. All vintages offer the potential for disappointment, but Anne-Claude has ensured that Domaine Leflaive have all they need to be at the pinnacle of Puligny, indeed the pinnacle of Burgundy. I wish those that take up the formidable reins of Domaine Leflaive all success.

Although people differ on what ‘type’ was the cause, everybody seems sure that Anne-Claude succumbed to cancer. Some say that she was also trying to treat her cancer in a more biodynamic way – cancer is cruel and Anne-Claude was only 59 – but if this unequivocally principled approach made Anne-Claude feel better, even if only spiritually – then good for her.

I will find an appropriate time to toast her!

magical castles (on the heathrow flightpath…)


And Liz was at home…

a yorkshire lunch

Tuesday 14th April @ Sous le Nez in Leeds

A few old pals got together; 3 from Yorkshire plus a proud Lancastrian and an innocent bystander from Switzerland!

We didn’t have a theme, and I was handicapped by only having the wines that I thought might be ‘useful’ during our stay – still – not a lunch to forget! All the wines were served blind and revealed before the next one…

1997 Salon – this was something of a beauty – I had the impression of maturity but also with perfect balance – I guess there’s no rush!
2010 Jadot, Beaune 1er Grèves – my wine and immediately it was clearly very dark in the glass. It smelled of honey and faint oxidation. To be (a little bit!) fair, this wine showed some signs of improving in the glass, but patience wasn’t what this lunch was about, despite some very enticing mandarin flavours!
2010 Louis Max, Corton-Charlemagne – Also my wine. Quite a powerful and mineral aromatic and much more cut and precision than the last wine – fresh enough and good too!
2005 Paul Pernot Bienvenues-Bâtard Montrachet – Powerful wine, but balanced wine and with a really excellent mid-palate complexity – clearly Grand Cru. Fresh and very good. I can’t remember what I guessed.
2004 Comtes Lafon, Montrachet – clearly we are not worthy! I actually guessed it was something rather grand, probably from Lafon – but more due to knowing the provider than anything from the wine. It certainly didn’t suggest either Meaursault or Puligny to me but it was fresh, balanced yet rich and with a brilliant length. Just a little too much barrel caramel on both the nose and finish (for me) but très aristocratic and a very good bottle to boot!
1982 Jean Gros Richebourg – I guessed the year but not the aoc. Just a hauntingly beautiful and floral nose – simply beguiling. Plenty of interest on the very balanced palate – though note quite the utter gorgeousness of the nose – overall, a great wine!
1986 Confuron-Cotetidot Clos de Vougeot – my wine. It’s something of a big bruiser this wine – just a little bulky on the nose and the palate, but clearly with GC weight and complexity. An interesting, indeed good wine – but not that special.
2000 Armand Rousseau, ‘Clos des Ruchottes’ – I don’t remember what I guessed – 1992 I think – but I was anyway wrong. This is simply drinking beautifully now in a measured, balanced way that has you thinking of a warm vintage but older. Simply lovely.
1999 François Gay, Ladoix – Actually this was just a back-up wine I brought, and it had a bit of gunflint on the nose that I’ve not noted in previous bottles, so the nose wasn’t quite up to scratch, but for what it is, it’s still young and quite brilliant – but on this table, très modest…

A big thanks to all who contributed – I can’t envisage that small bracket of the 2004 followed by the 1982 being surpassed this year – but who knows! 😉

malham cove…

About 40 minutes after the hail!

All the seasons in one day in Malham – of-course!

bolton abbey / devonshire arms

The Devonshire Arms is a very nice location and with a great restaurant and cellar too – and the occasion? – a birthday.

Our usual sommelier was absent and so half of the bottles I outlined couldn’t be found(!) but the service and friendliness remained impeccable. For the record, the very well priced Mugneret-Gibourg 1999 Vosne-Romanée was drinking very well 😉

whitby, mainly…

But with a hint of Robin Hood’s Bay and a suggestion of Filey…

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