Why Big Red Diary?

a chablis day…

 Coming over the Vaudesir hill towards Preuses…

A simply perfect day in Chablis today, with guests. Two great domaines visited, of-course Au Fils de Zinc visited (Raveneau Butteaux and Droin Le Clos – both 2010) and weather ordered from the Gods. Though actually my forehead now suggests that I would have done better if I’d remembered my (sun) hat!

the last 2 days in the côtes…

Very changeable yesterday and today – but definitely warming up! A few pics taken along the way:

weekend wine – week 22…

There were others too, but repeats of ones I’ve already posted on in the last 6 weeks or-so – then there was a night of Italian white and Australian red at friends…

2005 Domaine François Labet, Beaune 1er Coucherias
Simply a crazy-good wine – à point! The nose has a little sous-bous but mostly faintly roast, transparent red fruit of gorgeous depth and clarity. The depth and clarity are reflected in the flavours too. Fine acidity, a wine that begs you to drink it – and then drink it some more – I really don’t need to wait any longer for this, it’s great already – Bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

mois des climats – to celebrate?

The month of the Climats

Mois des Climats begins this coming Friday as a celebration of the Route des Grands Crus. Yes we’ve all travelled, camera in hand, up and down the ‘RdGCs’ – whether in our cars, on our bikes or even via the magic of a pair of running shoes, but did you know that this year is the 80th anniversary of the RdGCs(?) This tourist route was created in 1937, running between Dijon and Santenay.

To celebrate this anniversary, the Association of the Climats de Bourgogne is, for 4 weeks, partnering with multiple domaines and institutions. Check out my link at the top of the page to see if anything is interesting – but don’t bother with the non-existent English page of events!

burgundy report – april 2017

The April Burgundy Report is now online.

Marsannay is in focus with a profile of its vast area and complex network of lieux-dits. The proposal for premier crus – ‘the dossier!’ – showing how it should simplify our understanding of the appellation. There’s also a blind tasting of over 50 Marsannay wines – mostly from 2014 – with some of the appellations best producers in attendance – physically as well as their bottles!

But it’s not just Marsannay; in addition to some newly profiled domaines and a bunch of familiar names visited to taste their 2015s, there are also themed blind tasting of 2015s from Chiroubles, Irancy, Mâconnais and Régnié.

All told, a little over 260 wines. I hope that you will enjoy…

Here you go.

weekend wines – week 21

It’s been hot – so whites it was! They could all have been better – as my old school report used to say – must try harder!

2013 Dublère, Meursault 1er Charmes
Hmm, there’s a nice aromatic volume here – classically Meursault too. In the mouth I find the wine a little tighter – there are layers and layers of flavour but it seems to me that the expression is on quite a low order. Tasty, clean, does what it says on the label, but I was waiting for a little more – I’ve had other 2013s showing similarly, so won’t be blaming the producer.
Rebuy – Maybe

2012 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers des Dents du Chien
Hmm – much more reductive than the last bottle, exacerbating the oak component. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have reduction than oxidation, but I love to enjoy smelling my wine and this was a little too overtly toasty-reductive. I preferred the last bottle much more.
Rebuy – Maybe

2015 Clotilde Davenne, Chablis 1er Vaucoupins
Just a deliciously fine and pure citrus nose – so inviting. Hmm, that’s a shame then, because the palate is a little hard and un-yielding – the finish is as good as the nose – both bravo – but the first flavours are hard. Give it mor time I suppose!
Rebuy – Maybe

ouch – some dangers in mixing and matching…

As I sat tasting a few excellent Beaujolais last week, my tasting partner asked – fancy a P-M interlude? It wasn’t really my subject du jour but I can be a game old boy, so why not? Of-course I was expecting a gulf of difference, of elegance, of effortless excellence – but it didn’t work out like that.

Now, a number of people have accused me (to my face, so that’s fair) of being a Perrot-Minot hater – simply because I didn’t include him in my book – but there was a much simpler reason for not including the domaine: For someone writing in 2010, was I supposed to choose pre-2007 P-M or post-2007 P-M to write about? If the latter, were 2 vintages sufficient to provide a well-rounded judgement? – Of-course, no. Any followers of the domaine will know that there is a world of difference, post 2007 wines having left behind the lure of heavy extraction in the search of elegance. I think the wines are even better today than 5 or 6 years ago, admittedly they are expensive, but in the same pricing echelon as Grivot, Méo and a host of others.

So the Nuits was subdued, beautifully textured but lacking sparkle or energy. The Chambolle – despite its price – fared worse, only the finish left a great impression. We went back to our Beaujolais (in the May report) and order was restored. A funny world…

what’s new in beaune and peeking behind (usually) closed doors…

So first, what’s new this week?

  • The first flowers were seen this week in a parcel of Louis Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, though most are expecting to see flowers later next week – I think a weekend of wall-to-wall 33°C will help that! So we seem to be looking towards a harvest starting-time of roughly the 10th September.
  • I’ve lost Claire again! Claire Forestière made great wines at Bertagna before a short-lived own-label chez Cottin-Frères. I lost sight of her for years after that, but was re-united when I found her working chez Loron in the Beaujolais. But I heard this week that she’s left Loron – nobody seemed to know where she is heading!
  • There’s some hard work going on to renovate what was previously an ‘art’ gallery just across from the Hospices de Beaune, and I noticed on the placard outside the name SAS Champy. I called Dimitri Bazas to ask – ‘are you opening a shop?’ And it seems so: “Yes Bill, you saw well, Champy is making a shop to sell the wines and also a VIP tasting room on the first floor with a unique view of the « Halles » and the « Hospices » !!! It is a really exiting project and we hope to open it at the end of June – early July.” So there you go!

And before a Friday evening apero, whilst walking in Beaune we saw, on the opposite side of the Hospices to Champy’s new shop, an open door! This door is 99.9% of the time most definitely locked, but what the hell, I took advantage. This was the Couvent des Cordeliers, and today is the 1243 Bourgogne Society – or ‘club’ – where the extremely (delete as appropriate) well-heeled, or fortunate get to enjoy degustations of the most sought-after wines that Burgundy can offer. I think it is a fabulous place right in the centre of Beaune, and in its own way, almost as interesting as the Hospices. It’s a shame that it is always locked away…

big works in nuits…

On Wednesday afternoon I managed to get a tour of massive re-modeling of the Faiveley winery in Nuits St.Georges – together with JC Boisset, they are dragging winemaking in NSG into the 21st century. The demolition was already well underway when I visited last December to look at their 2015s. They say that all the work should be completed by the end of this year – but not before the harvest 2017 – the harvest is currently looking like ~10 September 2017. Enough work, however, will have been done so that they can vinify their 1er and grand cru wines from the Côte de Nuits – the villages and regionals will have to be accommodated in another facility.

They are purposefully using engineering here that looks from the late 1880s – Nuits was anyway a railway town – there are some great views across the rooftops too! And the work is not just above ground, the extensive cellars are getting a full clean and they are installing LED lighting throughout. There is also some interesting use of materials – the copper roof is pre-patinated – the verdigris that normally accumulates over many years, is pre-installed – I’m sure that it will make the wines taste even better…

And just a few minutes walk away, Boisset are also not yet finished with their new cuverie – I think I see what they are doing there – and yes – those are vines planted on the roof 🙂

held hostage by a beaujolais producer

Two visits today, in La Chapelle de Guinchay, not far from Saint Amour – so lunch was there – some pics above.

I had a 14h30 appointment after lunch so got there early – 14h20 – just as well, I finally crawled into my car at 20h50. Apparently the police were not yet looking for me! I’ve a full programme tomorrow – hopefully I can make all the appointments…

jane eyre’s new beaujolais!

It seems that the Aussies are all starting to find their way round to the gamay grape, and that now includes Jane Eyre too, who bottled her first Fleurie – a 2016 – in the last 2 weeks. The labels haven’t yet arrived, but that doesn’t mean we can’t taste it – right? So tasted with Jane in Beaune today:

The wine is made from a blend of grapes from From 2 parcels; one at the top of Fleurie near La Madone, plus a second parcel just over the road ‘which was actually in better shape as it wasn’t hailed.’ They are 60-80 year-old vines from a young producer only making their second vintage, who has taken on family vines but hasn’t got a market for the wine yet. ‘The second parcel saw no destemming, though the Madone grapes needed a bit more triage so was mainly destemmed. I did just one pump-over and then left it alone – the fermentation started in about 4 days. It was left on its skins for 18 days before pressing into used 500 litre barrels for elevage – about 7 months worth before a few weeks in tank, then bottling a couple of weeks go. I left the sulfuring late as I wanted to see, but anyway decided to sulfur as I was scared of brett or maybe having to filter – I just wanted to be a little cautious so chose sulfuring over filtering. I wanted a little structure, not a fruit bomb.

2016 Jane Eyre, Fleurie
There are some DIAM sealed wines in France, but all that are exported will be sealed with a screw-cap.
The nose has a good width of aroma, starting floral then going nicely deep and a little soft – but not in a negative way. Supple, beautifully textured, nice bubbling, but not overt, energy – this is really a very fine package that drinks deceptively easily for its young age. Nice faintly herby structure in the finish as a counterpoint. Excellent and a buy! The colour is removed from that of many opaque 15s but still with plenty of density. Yum!

weekend wines – week 20 – pinot from british columbia…?

A long-term contact (from Canada) was in Beaune this week, he and his compatriots enjoying a more than enviable week of tastings, but on Friday evening he thrust into my grubby hands a couple of bottles – “I’m saying nothing, just tell me what you think of these.”

They are both 2009 pinot noirs from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. They sport heavy ‘sommelier’ bottles – particularly the Blue Mountain. The Foxtrot has the longer, more impressive looking cork. So here goes:

2009 Foxtrot, Erickson Vineyard Pinot Noir
Ooh – quite pale – approaching the colour of a Côte d’Or rosé or maybe a pinot from Alsace! It’s a pretty nose with a faint sous-bois, a suggestion of salinity and Marsala – both clean and interesting. Fresh, a little depth of good texture that ends with a modest point of tannin and a flavour that’s suggestive of some whole clusters. Like a salted caramel in the finish with a faint barrel-toast effect. Hmm – this is easy drinking, quite delicious wine with a lovely width of finish.

2009 Blue Mountain, Reserve Pinot Noir
Just a little deeper colour – not by much though! A nose of much more volume, freshness and a more pronounced sous-bois – I find this really attractive, though anyone who doesn’t know older pinot will just say ‘it’s stinky’ (and did!) Nice depth of flavour here with a decent freshness and a caramel/bitter oak-toast tannin – never too much though – and there’s a growing accent of florality to the flavour. Ultimately the Foxtrot is the easier drink today, but this has a little more youth, a little more intensity and weight of flavour, but the modest bitterness in the finish means the first wine is the more delicious today.

I’d happily drink either (or both!) of these – they show a little more overt age to their aromatics than a typical 7-8 year-old from the Côte d’Or, but the aromas and flavours are delivered with the cleanliness and panache of well-made pinot. In another 3-4 years the Blue Mountain might pull ahead of the Foxtrot, but, today, that latter wine wins by a neck chez nous…

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