beaune – steady as you go…

By billn on September 01, 2019 #travels in burgundy 2019#vintage 2019

A little 33°C walking around Beaune on Saturday.

The grapes are generally very small here too – of-course a little coulure at flowering has, in some cases, contributed, but generally, it is the dry of the year that is responsible. Maturities are “all over the place,” one vigneronne told me – “My whites in Puligny are no-where near ready.” That pretty much means that people can be starting to harvest anywhere between the 10th and 20th of September. This week’s average of 30°C days will take a dip next week, with closer to mid-20°s – But it is September already, and people were already harvesting in the last 2 vintages! Storms were forecast for yesterday but I only saw one or two flashes of lightning.

adieu michel andré…

By billn on August 31, 2019 #sad losses...

Michel & Francoise André
Michel & Françoise André, from their domaine’s website.

Goodbye Michel André, Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, who died on the 26th August and was buried on the 29th – he had been profoundly unwell for the last year and leaves a large and extended family in the region.

You may be forgiven for not previously having come across the name, Michel André was very discrete, but he was also one of the most important actors in Beaune’s winetrade for the last 30-plus years. Michel is very-much the architect of the modern wine domaine in Burgundy.

At one entrance to Beaune, close to the autoroute, are some landscaped gardens, a fountain and the large office buildings of André et Associés, accountants to most of the important domaines of Burgundy. This is a business established in Beaune in 1946 and developed by Michel and his brother, Jean-Claude. Michel took his retirement only 3+ years ago, afterwards doing a little consulting, his sons have taken on many of the roles at the accountancy business.

Michel presided over the financial health of some 400-plus domaines from a time when a domaine could hardly support a growing family, through financial crisies of one form or another, to the modern day when previously undreamed of wealth lies within the vineyard land and the wines that are produced from it. Michel also worked behind the scenes helping with transferring domaines to the next generations of families – latterly with much financial pressure from extended families who saw, and sometimes grasped, their opportunites to cash-out of these (now) valuable businesses. Michel was a professional, and his family remain within the business, so without naming names, it is still fair to say that some the most important domaines of Burgundy remain extant only due to the hard work of Michel and his team, structuring the optimum solution for all concerned during such times of change.

But Michel was not just a numbers man, he also loved the vineyards and the product of those vines. So much so that in 1983, when he had the opportunity to purchase a plot of premier cru vines in Savigny Les Vergelesses, he jumped for it. A domaine on the ramparts of Beaune – the Domaine des Tergelesses – followed, along with additional purchases of vines. Sylvain Pitiot was his first winemaker before he left for the Hospices de Beaune, and then later the Clos de Tart. The domaine later took the name of Michel’s wife, Françoise André and is, today, run by Michel and Françoise’s daughter-in-law, Lauriane. It was in this context that I shared many interesting and older bottles with Michel – this being my ‘home domaine’ for harvesting in 2017 and 2018 – I think it will be a more sombre harvest this year in 2019 – but we will try to make it a great one for him.

Adieu Michel…

a little afternoon vosne…

By billn on August 30, 2019 #travels in burgundy 2019#vintage 2019

I suppose it’s just a normal summer temperature, but it was pretty hot walking around Vosne this afternoon – in a mere 30°C…

The grapes look to be nicely clean, with very little that was shrivelled – but they are so small! Of course, there’s still about 2 weeks before they will be harvested, and like in politics, much can change in that time, but I haven’t seen grapes this small since the 2010 vintage!

2014 berthaut-gerbet/des chézeaux, gevrey cazetiers…

By billn on August 28, 2019 #degustation

chezeaux cazetiers

2014 Berthaut-Gerbet/des Chézeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cazetiers
It’s been a little while since I drank the 2014 Lavaux – this is a very different wine!
Airy, fresh, lovely and pure, though distant, fruit and flowers for this nose. The palate is fresh, direct and structural but with a lovely purity of flavour that reflects the nose. A very young, slightly driving wine, very raspberry fruit style. Delicious, structural, today coy – I think this could keep for a long time – and so different to the luxuriously textured ramba-zamba of the 2014 Lavaux St.Jacques…
Rebuy – Yes

a little switzerland & wines for weekend 34 2019

By billn on August 26, 2019 #degustation

A week at home; typing, gardening and doing my annual bookkeeping – oh and a little enforced work on a Subaru! – but that still allowed a little trip out to the mountains during the weekend – Adelboden.

As for the wines – this was bottle #26 (I think) of the Chablis – only a couple more remain – plus a couple of bottles of their 2017 Preuses – one of the wines of the vintage! It was excellent, as every bottle that preceded it! The 2017 Chasselay, Beaujolais Platière, opened with a nod to the recent hail, was just so jammy yet fresh – hyper-delicious. A completely different kettle of fish was the 2007 Chézeaux/Ponsot, Clos St Denis Très Vieilles Vignes – full, layered, magnificently aromatic – the only other wine that reminds of the texture shown by this (in 2007) is that of La Romanée. I didn’t think there was a lot of acidity in 2007 but compared to the most recent vintages of 2015 onwards, there’s plenty here. Great 2007 and a treat!

a little beaune & wines for weekend 33 2019

By billn on August 21, 2019 #degustation#travels in burgundy 2019

August is the long pause between domaine visits and the harvest to come. Although it’s been patchy, the rain has brought more balance to the vines and even the grapes are starting to grow a little – the vineyards are currently mainly free from maladies – oïdium remains a constant worry, but largely just that – and, for the moment, only the southern part of Beaujolais has seen significant hail this year.

We took the trip to Beaune this weekend in order to celebrate my Mum’s 75th birthday – she’d not visited before and loved her time there. The weather was quite warm so we didn’t venture far – the bars, the restaurants and of course a few bottles:

Most of these bottles have graced these diary pages a number of times this year, but the 2015 Domaine Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret, Monthelie did nothing to dissuade my view that this domaine should be much better known. Another from that vintage, the 2015 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Ile des Vergelesses, was even better – as itr should be – with a beautiful layered depth of fine, balanced, flavour – it was a treat.

The pause continues…

hail in beaujolais…

By billn on August 20, 2019 #vintage 2019

Storms have been lashing much of France for the last couple of days – most vignerons all too happy to accept the much-needed rain, despite the rafales of wind that came with it. Southern Beaujolais has been unluckier though – here, on Sunday evening, was hail.

The crus have avoided the hail (so far) this year, but the south of Beaujolais, including the Pierres Dorées, have been badly affected. How to define ‘badly?’ It’s too early to say, of course, but estimates vary between 20 and 50% losses, so ‘badly‘ must suffice for now.

There will be more info as, and when, I have some. In sympathy for the area, I openend two from the region yesterday.

weekend wines – week 32 2019…

By billn on August 13, 2019 #degustation

2014 Julien Duport, Côte de Brouilly Empreinte
Plenty of colour. Hmm, airy, wide, elegant, modest fruit, less modest, indeed forward, florals – that’s a nice nose! The palate has fine width and a juicy, mouth-watering, style to the flavour – much more wine of line, than the width and weight of 2015-2018. Elegant, deliciously high-toned fruit. More classic than the aforementioned vintages – but really enjoyable wine…
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Murgers des Dents de Chiens
Medium golden colour. The nose is forward, pungent almost, some caramel, custard and plenty of mineral. In the mouth there’s much mouth-filling volume, a flavour that’s a little clinging but slowly fades in waves from the middle, onwards into the finish. The nose and first flavours are almost too much right now, but the mid and finishing flavours are excellent. As the volatile custard/caramel of the oak fades I find a more interesting balance to this wine – the first couple of hours I didn’t get a lot of enjoyment, thereafter I thought it lovely!
Rebuy – Maybe

RIP Bernard Hudelot

By billn on August 11, 2019 #sad losses...

I never met Bernard Hudelot, and now never will, but I only heard only positive anecdotes about this character.

Bernard who died in the last days, aged 77, had rejuvenated the estate of the Château de Villars Fontaine to over 30 hectares of vines. The château a once important bastion, literally, of the region and also of winemaking in the Hautes Côtes.

Burgundy Report

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