Why Big Red Diary?

frost – 2


I asked a couple of producers this morning if it was bad, or really bad, both said the latter.

Without doubt it is a very important event, though I’m sure it’s better to wait until after the fruit-set to see if 30% or 75% of the potential harvest is lost. But however we look at it, it’s a massive loss, which (so far anecdotally) is a loss shared equally between the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits – for once!

Whilst it’s still a tiny snapshot, I walked in a lot of the Côte de Beaune vineyards today:

  • Santenay hillside – looks 90%+ okay
  • Chassagne 1ers Morgeot and Maltrioe – some vines totally blitzed, other maybe lost only 25% of buds
  • Chevalier-Montrachet (lower) and Montrachet – the same as in Chassagne
  • The bottom of Meursault wasn’t good, the bottom of Perrières, including the Clos des Perrières, looked okay.
  • The top of Volnay and Beaune looked not bad, the bottom of both was not good – Grèves included in that.
  • Bottom of Corton on Pernand side, not good
  • Mid-Charlemagne (below the cross) looked fine, likewise mid-Bressandes too.

From what I looked at, the top vines did better than the bottom vines, but a couple of vignerons told me it was the reverse in some places. The leaves ‘burned’ by the frost are obvious – already silver grey and crispy dry versus the green of healthy leaves. Pinot often looks okay, probably because it is a little behind chardonnay in the growth cycle, but there were also pinots with tiny but clearly frosted buds…

I will be charging around the Côte de Nuits tomorrow…

and last week’s producer visits?

1-burg 168

Hmm, let’s not forget those heroic (for putting up with me) producers of Beaujolais that I visited last week (week 16…)


Whilst in ‘relatively’ warm Beaujolais this week, I’ve watched all the pictures of ‘candles’ and water-sprays to combat the frost in Chablis, but this morning it seems the Côte d’Or has been touched – and it seems to have been more severe than a ‘touch.’

“I think I lost 90% in the villages and regional appellations. For the 1er crus in the order of 40 to 60%…”
Jean Pierre Charlot – Joseph Voillot, Volnay

I’ll be in Côte d’Or vines in both côtes over the next two days looking at the potential damage. I’ll keep you posted…

a bouquet of fleuries


After 3 days this week and about 230 wines tasted, I think it’s time to head back to Beaune today!

And for those who’d like to taste some black-coloured Fleurie, 6 months too early, here’s a link 😉

week 16s weekend wines…


Hmm – a nice selection I thought – but there were a couple of disappointments.

2013 Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Champ Canet
A hint of oak spice and a width of engaging aroma. Ooh! This is nice; layers of beautiful flavour and a fine line of enlivening acidity. Fine finishing too – really super wine – Yum! I’m always ready for a top-up…
Rebuy – Yes

2013 Nathalie & Gilles Fevre, Chablis Preuses
This is wide and deeply fruited, ripely fruited – lots of sweetness and apricot – interesting but not obviously Chablis. In the mouth this is big, layered and sweet – everybody but me seems happy – it’s a long way from classic Chablis with lots of botrytis-fruit. It’s quite long, but I have to revert to the Puligny which, by comparison, is outstanding. I also thought this was outstanding when I tasted it at the domaine in January 2015, but like many, many 2013s it has developed quickly, and in a direction that’s not to my taste…
Rebuy – No

2012 Comte Liger-Belair, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Cras
The nose has an obvious fire-work style reduction – the bottle lasted about 1.5 hours but the reduction outlasted the wine – if I opened another, I would decant the wine. In the mouth this feels lovely, complex and finely textured – lots of fine flavour here but it remains framed with the same reduction from the nose. Decant!
Rebuy – Maybe

2014 Château des Bachelards, Saint-Amour
The nose starts all mineral and herbs – not what I expected – here is another wine that needs decanting, but bring out the aromas rather than chase away reduction. Time brings a simmering, deep and silkily-dark fruit and even occasional suggestions of flowers. Immediately more concentration, a little more plushness and silk of texture versus the Liger-Belair. An impression of layers of flavour – clearly we are drinking this WAY too early, yet it cushions and caresses the palate with, frankly, super fruit that has a faintly salted accent. Big, long-finishing, wine but brilliant! This will be ever-greater, the longer you wait…
Rebuy – Yes

friends stop by for the weekend

DSC00145Friday I had to rush back from Beaujolais because I had friends coming to stay for the weekend – amongst touristy vineyard viewing we managed to squeeze-in a Friday-dinner at Ma Cuisine and a Sunday-lunch at Auprès du Clocher. I think that all our expectations were met 😉

Saturday began with croissants, pain-au-chocolat and lots of coffee – perhaps more than first intended as it was raining! By 11am we anyway decided to brave the rain and attack the market to buy something for our dinner. Always one of the best omelettes at Bistro Carnot was followed by a tour through the vines of Pernand, Corton, Aloxe, Nuits, Vosne, Chambolle, Morey and Gevrey – including visiting Huguette for coffee in Gevrey! Then came the cooking and the bottles!

On Sunday there was sunshine! There was also (still) croissants, pain-au-chocolate and coffee, but but it was a little less ambitious pile of pastries as we knew that lunch awaited! Before lunch we took in the vineyards and views of Santenay, Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault. After lunch, at a reduced pace, Pommard and Beaune.

A shame to wave them goodbye in the afternoon!

pics from last week in beaujolais…

The week (mainly) was in Beaujolais, visiting producers. Next week I’ll be back for the third week in a row, but with just one task – to taste through 250 bottles of 2014s. Call me a wimp, but I’m going to do it over 3 days…

First some pics from Wednesday:

Then some more pics from Thursday and Friday:

today: blue-sky, horses & concrete to make a grand cru…

La Romanée today…

Simply a beautiful day today – almost 18°C, despite a cool start – and a cloudless sky too.

I took in a few sites around the Côtes today, before heading back to Bojolais tomorrow. I passed a couple of nice horses along the way, but really I was more interested by the seemingly ridiculous work on the hillside above the Clos des Perrières in Vougeot. You see, here on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, are planted a couple of small plots of vines, which because of the way that the maps were drawn, are (were!) theoretically classed as Musigny. One was particularly precarious with a 20 feet drop into the Clos des Perrières for anyone who stepped back without thinking. Now it looks like a major construction project – probably just to add a safety wall!

You know, life would have been far simpler if they had left the ‘cliff’ as it was!

week 15s weekend wines…


Normally I’d give you a quick phone-shot of the bottles, but as you can see today, I had the windows phone ‘smiley’ of death. Nothing comes close to the prettiness of the windows 10 phone interface – but a bit flaky doesn’t quite cover the day to day usage experience. It may have been my fault, perhaps pressing something earlier than I should during today’s ‘upgrade’ – but afterwards the phone was bricked. There’s a tool to revert your phone back to an old version of windows, but in my ‘WiFi challenged’ Beaune apartment, the necessary 1.72 Gb download required the best part of 4 hours to achieve! And naturally, now it’s less pretty, plus all the recent photos were lost – so I offer you the aforementioned windows ‘smiley’ instead.

Fortunately, the wines were good!

2011 Au Pied de Mont Chauve, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Demoiselles
A rare bird, and a very pretty one too. Really nicely focused, fresh aromas of lemon, blossom and a suggestion of minerality – this was very inviting. In the mouth there’s really only a suggestion of oak padding and flavour, really this is about a lithe and complex wine with a subtle mineral, salt-encrusted, base of flavour. Really excellent – four of us finished the bottle in 20 minutes – such a shame that there was no more…
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos de la Brunelle
Clearly a little ‘old-age’ is setting in; I’ve various bottles of this wine from 06, 07 and 08 – and remember the 08 being lovely when young, the others were harder. So I thought time to try another 06 – as it’s now 10 years old! I was in for a surprise – there was still a hint of oak, but this smelled and tasted delicious – bravo, what an improvement. Sinuous, dark flavour, lost of engaging complexity too – yum! Only when I came to taking the picture of the bottle (which you can’t see!) did I realize that it was the 2008, not the 2006 – oh-well, next time I’ll take my glasses off to inspect the label!
Rebuy – Yes

1995 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux Monts
A lighter colour than the Roty, also with a warmer, rounder fruit on the nose. Pretty and tasty wine – it has a nice balance and a modest but insinuating complexity on the tongue. Lovely wine, yet, not really better than the excellent, slightly more energetic Roty!
Rebuy – Yes


Puligny, this afternoon.

The weekend in Switzerland was okay – half sun, half rain, but to quote an unsmiling vigneron in Puligny-Montrachet today, “The rain was much more consistent than that here!” Indeed, the TGV took me through many a flooded area this morning.

The vines look fine though, the first chardonnay leaves starting to unfurl from their buds. It’s such a shame to see all the herbicide-laced plots in Puligny though…

jean gros

I was very sorry yesterday, to hear that Jean Gros, the great patriarch of Vosne-Romanée, had died.

I can recall drinking no-more than half a dozen wines that he produced, but they remain twinkling stars in my memory. RIP…

a couple of bottles – tasty bottles…


A couple of delicious, very, very different wines this week:

1992 Comtes Lafon, Monthelie 1er Les Duresses
A mature but warm looking colour. Sweet, plum-style fruit on the nose and a clear attractive maturity. In the mouth this was simply a very charming, sweet-fruited wine. Not super energetic, nor super complex but really wonderfully charming. I have to assume that this is at its peak – but 2 or 3 more bottles lie in the cellar, and I’m in no rush…
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Pascal Marchand, Corton
This was very oaky when young, but to my palate attractively so, rather than garishly or unpleasantly so – of-course that was clearly a matter of taste. Today there is still a hint of coconut, but the oak is significantly less full-power today. In tandem the creamy, luxurious texture has thinned, this wine is a little more sleek and slender but still deliciously transparent and intense. Still a real honey!
Rebuy – Yes

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