Why Big Red Diary?

this week’s frost (part deux)

Last night in the Côte d’Or there was nothing to report – unlike the devastation in my Swiss domicile – not just vines but the fruit industry too. The corridor to Burgundy – the Jura – is likewise terribly affected.

Here in the Côte d’Or, the last days saw lit candles in the vines in Volnay and St.Romain – I hear that there was damage in both Savigny-lès-Beaune and St.Aubin, but for the moment I’ve no more info. There has been a relatively strong north wind and the vineyards were very dry so damage has been relatively minor. The Hautes Côtes have seen at least -4°C and some vignerons re-purposed the ‘chariots’ used for burning the pruned material, making fires from pulled out old vines – they say that they definitely save some buds.

I caught up with Frédérick Drouhin this morning in Beaune’s market and asked him how it was for him in Chablis, where it was colder than here. The grand crus were of-course well-protected, but losses in premier crus were ‘not too bad’ – say 10-15%, and the villages wines had lost more like 30% – “But it’s not yet over” he counsels…

Anyway, to brighten the picture, there was the produce of Beaune’s market in the sunshine this morning – the strawberry aroma was fabulous – though it looks like there wont be many from Switzerland this year!

weekend wines – week 15 2017

I’m late getting these out – what with moving apartment and-all!

2014 Rebourgeon-Mure, Bourgogne Chardonnay
Only a very faint yellow colour. The nose has freshness and equally modest flashes of citrus. In the mouth there’s fine direction and energy – indeed almost getting to mouth-puckering – but not quite. If the sun is shining, and you want something fresh, modestly proportioned but with a little bite – oh, and modestly priced – this is for you. Enjoyed!
Rebuy – Yes

2013 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Beaune 1er Montrevenots
I love both this producer and this vineyard – so this was always going to be a slam-dunk. Great fresh fruit – but with a certain aromatic depth. In the mouth there’s a little acid bite – but certainly not damaging – and a fine cherry fruit of textured depth. Actually there’s a certain extra depth here that also reminds me of this producer’s Ile des Vergelesses – that’s a compliment! Really lovely wine!
Rebuy – Yes

2015 Santini Frères, Beaujolais Villages
Sometimes it is absolutely clear, even before you start, that some things can’t go wrong; 2015 Beaujolais, nice packaging and a litre bottle to boot! It does exactly what it says on the label – big wine with energy and tasty fruit – actually a slightly meaty side to this fruit – but for this label there’s nothing to detract from another pour. Great weekend drinking!
Rebuy – Yes

gossip, lambrays…

Only tittle-tattle, of-course, but I understand after buying the domaine, that LVMH had an internal candidate lined up for the job at Clos des Lambrays – contracts were done, only waiting to be signed. Reading between the lines, there might have been an obvious problem – their first choice wasn’t French! Quelle horreur! I’m not quite sure at what stage they may have noted their error.

Internal candidate? Well, let’s not forget that LVMH have a very nice winery in a significant rugby-playing nation south of the equator! I heard this from somebody who was also approached by the head-hunters for the Lambrays rôle…

frost – a close call in the côtes

April 2016…

To be honest, I hardly remember frost in Burgundy – I began tasting here in 1997 (the 1996s), and I’ve rarely seen much – but there was a sense of deja-vu to this week’s weather forecast.

Typically, back home in Switzerland, I brought out my non-hardy plants last week after literally weeks without rain and often-times temperatures above 20°C – this week whilst in Beaune, there are weather warnings back in Bern, already some snow and -6 to -8°C forecast for Thursday and Friday night – there go the plants! It could also be the second year running that the second half of April sees colder temperatures than much of the deep winter. Note that most of the Côte d’Or is close to two weeks ahead of the growth schedule of an ‘average’ year – so potentially there is as much growth to lose today, as there was at the end of April last year.

In Chablis yesterday evening there was plenty of damage as temperatures dipped below -3°C. Here in the Côtes it rarely got below -1°C and there was virtually no damage reported – last night at-least – it’s not yet over. The water sprays and ‘candles’* were out in action in Chablis – but many areas are unprotected and saw loses – it was worse in the Châtillonais – between Chablis and Champagne – here were much bigger losses. It would have been worse-still had there been any rain to speak of in the last week or two – any damp exacerbates the effect of the frost such that plants might survive -3°C in very dry conditions – but succumb to -1°C when wet/damp – chardonnay at least, pinot is less hardy…

I asked one producer from the Côte de Nuits ‘So if you already knew that on Friday evening the vineyards would touch -5°C, could you actually go out and protect your vines with, for instance, candles?’ Their answer:

The problem is that we have 15 hectares, so you can multiply that by at least 3 or 4 to come to the actual number of parcels – it’s actually physically impossible for us to be in all those parcels to light candles as required – not even taking into account the cost of doing so. Ideally if you’ve great relations with some fellow producers, you could let them be responsible for one vineyard while you take responsibility for another – and so on. Frankly, such cohesion and organisation would be a remarkable thing!

Fingers crossed for the next days…

*‘Candles’ really doesn’t give you a true idea – rows of 5 kilo cans that have more to do with petrochemicals, with dark smoke – not a bit like the domestic candles in your house – and environmentally friendly they are not…

good neighbours!

I eventually moved apartment in Beaune today – it looks like I have good neighbours 🙂
Lots of memories of the old place – which I first visited in 2003 – but today starts a new chapter.

Still a lot more painting to do though 🙁

Boris Champy – the new man for Domaine des Lambrays…

Boris Champy in action, right…

It is official this week – ultra-athlete Boris Champy will be the new face of Domaine des Lambrays – taking over the role of Thierry Bruin as he moves into his retirement.

Boris, who hails from a family of vignerons in Champagne, studied in Bordeaux and worked for the Moueix Family (Petrus, Trotanoy et-cetera) then had a 10 year stint at Moueix’s Dominus in California (1997-2007). In 2008 he joined Domaine Louis Latour in Beaune, and whilst we can forever-and-a-day discuss the wine-making at Latour, under Boris the viticulture was brought up to the highest possible level. Boris will be replaced at Louis Latour by Christophe Deola, production director since 2011, previously responsible for bottling, dry goods and Latour’s cooperage – Christophe is both a Viticultural Engineer and Oenologue.

Regarding Domaine des Lambrays, I asked Boris if he was happy or sad to have missed all pruning at Lambrays – “Well, it means I’ll have to wait for the 2018s to call a vintage 100% my own” he countered!

And for those of you that don’t know, Boris is a cyclist, marathon runner, ‘ultra-trailer’ and an Ironman triathlete – in his ‘spare time’…

“a hailstone shield to kill destructive storms”

It’s in the newspapers – so it must be true!


david clark’s 2009 bourgogne au pelson

2009 David Clark Bourgogne Pinotr Noir Au Pelson
This was the first, and probably only, wine that David Clark made with all the stems – 100% whole cluster – and it really smelled of it when young. Today we have really a more perfumed impression – rose-petals – and it smells delicious. In the mouth it retains good volume and a lovely texture – all the sweetness of fruit that 2009 can offer too. Long, just a little more herbed in the finish, but this is becoming a lovely thing. I think I drank far too many when they were young, because this is a beauty now – but I have maybe less than half a case remaining. Super ‘simple’ bourgogne…
Rebuy – Yes

maurice chapuis 1990 corton-charlemagne

1990 Maurice Chapuis, Corton-Charlemagne
Golden colour – but no brown. The nose, amazingly, starts in a firework/gunflint reductive style – with time the glass becoming richer with more of a salted caramel and lanolin style. In the mouth there’s really a nice volume of flavour, some richness and sweetness but also a base of saline minerality too – just lovely in the finish – way better 2 hours after opening than for the first 20 minutes – sometimes old whites just need a lot of aeration – and this is one – a mid-week treat!
Reuy – Yes

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