18-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 1

By billn on September 18, 2021 #vintage 2021

2021 Savigny VillagesWell, ‘my’ is a bit of an overstatement – I’ll get to that later.

The day started with blue sky and sunshine though, versus the last vintage, you have to start an hour later in the vines as it’s nearly one month later harvesting in 2021.

Today my home domaine brought in only reds: Corton, Savigny Aux Jarrons and some more villages Savigny (right). The grapes generally looked not bad – what there were of them – about 22 hl/ha for the 1er cru and closer to 15 hl/ha in the Corton – ouch! You can see from the image (right) that the triage is less than cursory this year after 2-3 vintages where we were only removing dried grapes.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t triaging myself – I arrived in Beaune yesterday evening in good shape and even went for a jog before bed. In the night I couldn’t sleep – hardly at all – and by morning, how can I put it, I had some stomach problems! I’ve been knocked out the whole day – just two quick visits to the domaine to see how things were running.

And tomorrow? I may have some more recovery time – lots of rain is forecast overnight and for the morning too – so if we are harvesting, it’s only likely to be in the afternoon. Let’s see.

new report online

By billn on September 17, 2021 #reports

For anyone who may have missed it, there was a new report online yesterday. I hope that all of you subscribers will enjoy it.

In the last few weeks I’ve been turning more and more to the 2020s – another dozen domaines will be online when the harvest is finished and I start the campaign proper looking at the 2020s…


Burg Report June-2021

harvesting 2021 – and now the start…

By billn on September 15, 2021 #vintage 2021

Morey pinot 2021

The crémant producers of ‘central Burgundy’ are now picking grapes and despite the rain of yesterday, today and tomorrow, the domaines are about to start too.

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey will begin his harvest on Friday. I will be starting mine, in Beaune, on Saturday – and our domaine will not be alone. Because of the French administration, it’s unlikely that anyone will actually start their harvest on Sunday because it’s classed as the last day of a working week – so picking on Sunday and Monday will require double the amount of paperwork – as the accounting is required for two separate working weeks!

A few isolated domaines in the Beaujolais, mainly further south of the crus, have started their harvesting, whilst in the crus they are making their ‘pied de cuves‘ – their home-made yeast/grape concoctions to have more control over their fermentations – but some of them will probably be underway next week too.

As for Chablis – the frost knocked things back so they will be waiting a few days longer…

Whilst I’ll be keeping my running commentary on the vintage in these diary pages, we will, unfortunately, be missing the words of Marko de Morey (sometimes of Vosne). He’s recovering well from a surgery – or seemed to be when I met him 3 weeks ago! – but hasn’t got the green light to harvest this year. I’m sure we all wish him a speedy and full recovery…

the weekend wines – week 36 2021

By billn on September 13, 2021 #degustation

2019 Jean-Claude Lapalu, Beaujolais Villages Le Rang du Merle
A Bordeaux bottle! Late-picked grapes, ‘not much extraction’
A nose that takes some coaxing from the glass, but it is cool, complex and inviting. This is concentrated wine – very red-fruited – it’s silky wine too with only a faint accent of tannin. Very delicious. On day two, despite overnight in the fridge – there are some more developed, meaty notes – drink up and enjoy on day one!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 François Gaunoux, Meursault 1er Goutte d’Or
Freshly yellow coloured. This nose starts a little reductive, needing about 20 minutes in the glass to bring clarity and no shortage of flinty, mineral, aroma. Ooh, that’s a bit of a brute – concentrated, structural, mineral and just so young – the slightly reductive feeling never leaving the flavours. Structurally similar but the flavours seem quite different compared to when last opened – about two years ago.
Rebuy – Maybe

2010 Joseph Roty, Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire
After last week’s ‘ultra-easy’ 2010 Gevrey Brunelle I thought that I’d check in on this one.
This nose is deep, red-fruited, a little narrow and showing some obvious aromatic development – not the ultra inviting purity of fruit of the first 8-9 years. In the mouth this retains a nice shape and energy, the fruit is tasty too. But like the nose this has now lost that ravishingly beautiful combination of fruit purity and energy that commanded ‘drink me.’ I only have a couple of remaining bottles from this 12-pack and they will still be enjoyed, I just won’t wait too long!
Rebuy – Yes – but now from later vintages…

gratuitous 2021 grape images…

By billn on September 09, 2021 #vintage 2021

Morey Saint Denis 08-Sept-2021The weather has cooled a little today and we’ve seen just a few drops of rain this afternoon – but practically nothing so far – certainly none of the heavy rain and flooding seen in some parts of France this week. There’s rain forecast for both overnight and daytime tomorrow but then the nice weather returns until Tuesday when storms are forecast – but they were also forecast for this week too – and it doesn’t look like we will be getting any of that.

I spoke to Jean-Pierre Tournier today, of the decently sized red/white Domaine François Gaunoux of Meursault and he said they were planning to start harvesting around the 25th – the traditionally earlier harvesters might be 5-6 days sooner. I also shortly chatted with Stephane Follin-Arbelet of the Château de Meursault – he told me that after the frost and some further challenges from mildew and oïdium, he was anticipating yields of about 5 hl/ha in his Meursault-Perrières. Lastly, Antoine Olivier of that domaine in Santenay told me that he won’t be waiting too long – he’ll probably start on the 18th of September.

My photographic tour of vines in the Côte de Nuits yesterday and the southern Côte de Beaune today, show that for the first time since 2016, triage will be an integral part of the harvest 2021. Yields in reds are all over the place – some vines with nothing and others with plenty of clusters – my very first image taken in Marsannay even shows some green harvesting – but this was on the lower slopes – on the higher and hillside slopes they have, on average, about 50% losses. Puligny was interesting as the edges of vineyards often showed plenty of fruit, but as you went deeper into the vines fewer and fewer bunches could be found – maybe some airflow at the edges disrupted the frost but not within the vineyard(?)

In Beaujolais the early chardonnay pickers may already be underway about the 11th and the early gamays from around the 13th – but the crus will largely mirror the timing of the reds of the Côte d’Or this year.


This week in the côtes…

By billn on September 07, 2021 #vintage 2021

Last week was a full week in the côtes for me, starting to accumulate some 2020-vintage visits prior to the start of harvesting – but I think the topic of harvesting, and what may be harvested, remains the most requested subject of queries to me – so let’s do that…

grape status 07-Sept-20212021 is a vintage that currently lies on a knife-edge of quality – on one side potentially really excellent or on the other side, definitely not!

We’ve had nice stable weather and good light for the last 10 days, or so, and this combination has brought the maturity nicely forward and halted the rot in its tracks. But from the end of this week, the weather is forecast to be more changeable and this could play into the hands of the various maladies of the vine – all is still to play for. Of course, my knife-edge comment refers mainly to the reds where there are plenty of losses but at least 70% of a normal crop, rather than the whites, which may struggle to deliver 25% of a normal crop – these whites could still be very good but will be scarce and if only for that will forever be described as a ‘small’ vintage, regardless of their intrinsic quality.

The ongoing analyses of the BIVB (above right, published today) indicate the movement of these three important analytical aspects since the 30th of August. For those of you who are interested in how many grams per litre of sugar indicates (roughly) ripe, then 230 g/l would indicate somewhere between 13 and 14% alcohol depending on the rate of the sugar’s conversion. Based on the current progression, pinots will certainly be harvested first and that could start before the 20th of September if there’s not much rain and plenty of sun – if there is plenty of rain then the first picks will likely be after the 20th.

As noted, there’s still much to play for, for the producers of reds.

a couple of swift ones…

By billn on September 03, 2021 #degustation

a couple of swift ones...2019 Cyril Gautheron, Chablis 1er Montmains Vieilles-Vignes
One of this year’s house wines…
This has a nice stony/rocky impression to the nose with just a twist of citrus – that’s a fine invitation. In the mouth this is broad over the palate, missing some of extra ‘chiselled’ impression that it gave me at the domaine pre-bottling. This slightly fatter style than I expected doesn’t detract from the delicious flavours but it does make for a wine that doesn’t challenge me as much as I’d been looking forward to. Yum – and, of course, with a lot of time on its side…
Rebuy – Maybe

2010 Joseph Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin La Brunelle
My first from this 6-pack. Talking of not be challenged…
Medium colour – but still a young-looking colour. Round, easy red fruit on the nose – very primary. Hmm, it’s Roty and it’s Gevrey but where’s the challenge? This is round, simple and red-fruited – almost a kids’ cordial fruit style – hardly any structure, certainly silky and with a little undertow of creamy oak. Far too easy to drink! Actually, I think their 2010 BGO (and I haven’t finished my 12-pack of that yet) to be a more interesting drink at the moment. Easy but also primary, delicious but with hardly any visible structure – for this combination of producer and place I’m amazed. I hope it gains a bit of ‘oomph’ with time, as such I probably won’t return for at least 3-4 years…
Rebuy – Maybe

Barthod’s 1999 Chambolle…

By billn on August 26, 2021 #degustation

1999 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-MusignyThe village Chambolle. Another case rescued from solitary confinement in the UK. Way back when – this was an en-primeur purchase – I don’t think I paid more than £23-24 a bottle; peanuts in a modern context but not inexpensive when you consider that Engel’s Grands Echézeaux cost £40.50 and some of Fred Esmonin’s grand crus were under £30 in the same EP campaign!

1999 Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny
Another nicely robust cork that needs energy to remove but comes out in one piece – hardly any ingress of wine colour along its length.
A shade more depth of colour versus the 1999 Bourgogne today – but only marginally. This nose starts both deeper and fuller – almost a velour texture to it – but any purity of fruit is lacking for the first 20 minutes after opening – slowly but surely it comes into focus though and is more floral in character than that of the 99 Bourgogne – there’s the merest, and only occasional, accent of brett too but it’s significantly below any threshold of displeasure on my part. An hour in and the nose has a bit of beef-broth going on. Ooh, that a big wine in the mouth – not seamless but powerful – full of detail and complexity. This is still a bit of a baby but with so many positive aspects. I forgive the youth because I’m too busy with the next little note of complexity that comes along. There is a bit of brett which begins to add some frustration – though all the bottles will be different. The now modest tannin still has a drying accent too but parts of this wine are beguiling. Better than a Curate’s Egg but still far from perfect.
Rebuy – Maybe

Burgundy Report

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