Why Big Red Diary?

back to the snow…

A week away from Chablis and ouf! – snow :-) Definitely not a skiing day – rather a train-ride a nice Italian lunch and the impressively cool spa of Samedan…

chablis 2013 – no reference points…

My hat of the day award!

I’m more than 75% of the way through visiting roughly 35 domaines for my January, Chablis Vintage 2013 Report (though my last half-dozen visits are not for another 10 days) and its a very particular vintage.

I won’t publish my report until the start of the second week of February, but given all the offers that I’ve seen, and more particularly some of the descriptions (exultations/exhortations to buy!) I’ve seen, I thought it timely to add just a few words – caveats if you like…

Except a few wise old owls who invoke very old vintages (ones never, ever, drunk by 99.9% of current buyers) the producers will tell you that they have no reference points for this vintage. Yields were low, but that doesn’t always mean concentration. The wines may be direct, fresh and mineral ‘Chablis’, or they may be round and rich with hints of botrytis and apricot – admittedly tasty chardonnay, but not really Chablis. It really depends on the address. Really!

It should be fine if you get to taste samples beforehand, but buying blind makes 2013 a much more complicated proposition than 07, 08, 09, 10 or 12 was – or indeed 14 will be (just for the record, I really don’t like 2/3rds of 11 Chablis, sorry). So be careful out there! On the positive side, apart from a couple of massively over-subscribed domaines, whose 2013s are anyway fine, (and who only spend their money on funny hats), Chablis is generally some of the easiest white burgundy to source – so you’ve time to wait for my report 😉

blinded by the light – chablis encore…

I came out of my last appointment, Billaud-Simon, at about 17h10 and noticed a beautiful red light on the hill-top vines. I zoomed up in the car to Les Clos but the last rays of the sun had already departed the vines in those 3 or 4 short minutes. Of-course the sunset lasted a little longer 😉

You will have no-doubt gathered by now that I’m beginning my second week of Chablis 2013 tastings – just one more trip at the end of this month to wrap up 30+ domaines for the January EXTRA! It was a very modest day today – only 3 domaines and about 30 wines…

herbicide – off-colour and off-limit…


You know I like to pepper these pages with pretty pictures taken along the road, but some of today’s pictures leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Actually, the fact that I find this more than a little disgusting, reflects well on the progress that has been made by vigneron/producers in the Côte d’Or. The palour of herbicide, today, stands obvious and sore against a backdrop of green grass, rock and perfectly ploughed furrows. It is exactly because it is becoming so rare in the Côte d’Or that it produces ever-more extreme emotion in me when I encounter it. You can double the shock when you know that the focus of my ire was 8-10, 100m rows, of Bâtard-Montrachet…

It is nothing more than laziness when you consider BM starts at about €120 per bottle.

I also saw another parcel below Puligny-Montrachet 1er La Garenne – I think Nosroyes, villages – treated in exactly the same way. I didn’t make a thorough study, but noting only two obvious parcels should be considered a thing of great progress. Who knows, maybe it was even the same producer…

It’s not fully about ‘who’ – that would be too easy to publish – rather that it becomes a more and more shameful thing to do – even villages Chablis at €12 a bottle is slowly turning against such practices. The Golden Slopes, of-course, have no tenable excuses. I also tweeted this, and almost regret properly positioning the parcel as opposite the Montrachet of Prieur (so those in the know would be extra sure) because lazy reading has caused people (so far) to assume I’m talking about Prieur, or the parcel of Montrachet next to Prieur – Thénard. Just for the record, neither have Bâtard – people should read properly before lynching…

There were also nice things today, including a very stupid but ultimately successful ascent of the road from Santenay-le-Haut/St.Jean up to the ‘Mountain of the 3 crosses’ and back down the other side into Maranges – in the car! 😉


Well, Tuesday may have started with frost and blue skies, but by late morning it was all gone. Similarly, Wednesday had a wintry, misty, darkness to it…

At lunchtime we heard of the atrocity in Paris – a lunch partner who likes a laugh became rather contemplative; “The thing is, for my generation, these people were our symbols of liberty in France…” he said…

not chablis…

Well, you didn’t think I’d turn up empty-handed did you?

2008 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Beaune 1er Montrevenots
When very young there was a gorgeous and piercing note of fruit that had irreproachable clarity. Sad to say that it has faded, but the wine overall is balanced and intense and for the vintage it’s rather friendly – though many show kinder faces now than when they were young. The fruit is dark red and has lots of energy and interest – lithe and flexible. It is still lovely.
Rebuy- Yes

2007 Camille-Giroud, Corton-Rognets
Oof – aromatically I would have guess Renardes – but the musky animale note slowly fades into a modest aromatic. In the mouth this is very good, with fruit of fine clarity and very good dimension. The structure is subsumed but the flavour not. Very tasty!
Rebuy- Yes

what a great start to 2015 – chablis…

I left home at first light – not that early at this time of year 😉 – and with a -5°C frost. It was wall-to-wall gorgeous views almost the whole way to Beaune – just some mist around Dôle.

A short stop to reboot my lack of festive season Patisserie visits and then onwards to Chablis for 2 weeks of tasting 2013s. Just two pm visits to get me in the right frame of tasting – oh, and to try and see if I can type my notes on an iPad – that should speed up the publishing process – if it works 😉

The view from Les Clos towards Chablis at 3pm:

year-end new articles…

Lots of news on Beaujolais and Jura to finish 2014, but I’ll try to keep my focus from Irancy to Saint Veran in 2015, starting on Monday with two weeks in Chablis…!

And a little champagne? That might be nice…

Oh, and do yourself a favour – if you’ve a cellar full of DRC – get a better door! I have noted some other ‘wits’ mentioning that the French Laundry’s $150 corkage fee should similarly be classed as robbery 😉 Anyway, imagine having to drink all that wine, just because the auction houses won’t touch it – some of them anyway 😉

Happy 2015…

It was a great day here in Switzerland – hopefully the snow will hang around a little longer…

My best wishes for 2015…

just a few year-end bottles:

2010 Rebourgeon-Mure Volnay 1er Santenots
Bright, with a pretty nose. Not a big burly Santenots, rather one of transparency, vibrancy and beautiful flavour – very yum!
Rebuy- Yes

1999 Nicolas Potel, Volnay
Ouf! This smells gorgeous – just a little leaft development and a fine floral note. In the mouth too this is really exellent and has the density and complexity of a much more self-important label. The finishing structure is a hint strict – so it’s still young, but this was really excellent!
Rebuy- Yes

1998 Bruno Clair, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Dominode
Hmm – the nose is a bit bretty (it’s been in my cellar only 12 years but I can’t account for it’s first couple) so not really to my taste, but not enough to stop me taking a sip. Yum! Get past the nose and this is very tasty indeed – half of a very good wine.
Rebuy- No

2007 Camille Giroud, Gevery-Chambertin 1er Les Cazetiers
Good clarity on the nose if rather tight. The palate has very nice depth of flavour and quite good energy too. Not a wine you’d take (blind) to be an 07 – another very tasty wine.
Rebuy- Yes

1985 Clos Frantin, Richebourg
You have to take bottles like this with a pinch of salt; having bought at auction, you’ve never an idea if it will be super, average or terrible – this, though, was was much better than super! Round, complex, inviting nose. Big in the mouth but with all the sweetness and friendliness of 1985 as coating to serious complexity. A wow wine – really something…
Rebuy- No chance!

2002 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée 1er Petits Monts
A very junior version of the Richebourg but tasty enough. The last 1/3rd of the bottle was left in the fridge overnight – it was a shadow of itself on day two…
Rebuy- Maybe

1994 de Vogüé, Bonnes-Mares (Mag)
Quite a herbal nose – not really great, but the palate was excellent with a little fat and a lot of weight and flavour dimension. Really enjoyed!
Rebuy- Yes

2000 Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
A round and pretty aromatic, though without great weight. The palate is also a middle-weight but with very fine transparency and a gorgously sweet acidity as the glue. Super!
Rebuy- Yes

2000 Thomas-Moillard, Bonnes-Mares
First evening this is the standard semi-brutal, gravelly, T-M nose – simply, not special. Big in the mouth but lacking any finesse. Next day (overnight in the fridge) and the nose is really a lot finer and very interesting – the palate likewise has intensity and (unbelievably!) clarity plus real GC dimension – this drinks superbly on day 2. Very yum!
Rebuy- Yes

2011 Nicolas Rossignol, Volnay 1er Santenots
Here is a lovely nose with a nice floral component. The mouth is middle-weight tastiness. Balanced though with no obvious structure. Tasty yet complex. An easier drink than Santenots should be at this age, but that’s the vintage. Yum!
Rebuy- Yes

‘museum-ification of wine’

“Have ultrahigh prices distorted our understanding and enjoyment of wine?”

Well, have they?

I think so. I didn’t used to think and then re-think whether to open a bottle from, for instance, DRC 10-15 years ago. Today it is hard, because it’s not just great wine, it’s a new garage door or a fancy new refrigerator – or in some cases, even a new kitchen.

Good writing, and more importantly, thought-provoking writing, from Matt Kramer – he still has it



A funny kind of day – we had an interested furry audience for the tasting this afternoon!

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