Why Big Red Diary?

ardhuy 2011 côte de beaune villages


2011 Ardhuy, Côte de Beaune Villages Les Combottes
Nice deep colour, with a young purple-tinge. The nose has a bit of cola-spritz (CO2) and a trace of reduction too – I chose to shake the bottle to release the gas. If anything the reduction gets a little worse in the original glass, but after about 20 minutes it is fading. The nose slowly transforms from a, deep-register, macerating black-skinned cherry to a brighter, redder berry – this black to red seems a common transition when reduction is in play – but the reduction is history after about 40 minutes when there’s even a violet floral element too. The acidity is borderline bright but it’s rather exacerbated by the crunchy red fruit and a faint ‘is it? isn’t it?’ ripeness of astringent tannin – certainly the mid-palate has verve and dimension though. The red-currant infused finish is a fine one for the label. Don’t forget to shake or decant and enjoy this over the next 12-18 months as the acidity might stick out more if you wait longer.
Rebuy – Yes

time for colour…

Of-course, just for now it is seldom seen, but today it was first seen in Richebourg, Domaine Grivot’s Richebourg to be precise…

robert-denogent 2007 bertillonnes


Not really a proper note, as I can’t remember the detail of this wine, drunk on Sunday, so I won’t cheat and make one up, but it was certainly a wine worthy of highlighting…

2007 Robert-Denogent, Macon-Solutré Clos des Bertillonnes
I enlisted my helpful neighbours with this one, simply because I’d be ashamed to drink a whole magnum on my own! This wine was from an auction purchase last year – 6 well-priced magnums – the first of which was a little disappointing, the second was brilliant and this was closer to the latter than the former, if not quite so fabulous. Certainly a little bottle variation then! I’d be the first to say that wines from the Macon very often seem fuller and riper to me, without necessarily becoming flabby; this wine doesn’t fall easily into that category (the vintage?) and I’d drink it any time for it’s nice line, lovely balance a concentrated young (still!) flavours.
Rebuy – Yes

chezeaux / ponsot 2011 chambolle charmes


The ardea plastic seals are still in attendance, but with a variation this year – the little black ring of yester-year is now a red ring! Oh, and I still find them a nightmare to remove: lever corkscrews can even chip the glass, such is the pressure required to get the ‘cork’ moving – reverting to a screwpull, the seal comes out halfway then just goes round and round! Then I really struggle to get it off the damn screwpull worm too – so, it seems that we (not the producers!) must we work harder to avoid cork issues…

2011 des Chézeaux, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
The first whiff has me smiling – yes! – very, very pretty red fruits and not a hint delicate – it really wants to show you everything. In the mouth this has a crystalline clarity – glacier-like? (that’s enough about mountains!) Compelling, beautifully flavoured, just downright great. Approaching the hour-mark (…yes, unbelievably, there is still some left!) and the nose is less fun; a low-level P note comes centre-stage and there’s a growing aniseed note too – a bit bizarre if you ask me. Next time I’ll drink it in an hour – it’s that good!
Rebuy – Yes

two mischievous mountain bottles…


2006 Mischief & Mayhem, Puligny-Montrachet
Medium yellow. Here is a wine that is out of sorts, or compromised by the cork – it has a slightly odd nose, redolent of the cork itself, but not TCA, more a savoury note. The wine is drinkable but seems tired, the acidity is not its usual self either – just a bit of harshness creeping in there. Drinkable, but as noted, compromised.
Rebuy – No

2007 Mischief & Mayhem, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Caillerets
Medium lemon yellow. The nose is tight, faintly chalky and with a tight core of ripe yellow fruit. That could be a concise description of the flavour too; a rather tight, mineral wine but with very fine mid-palate intensity – I liked it! Certainly it was more open after a couple of hours, but this wine begs a much longer timescale in the cellar – I hope it can cope with journey…
Rebuy – Yes

two pre-mountain bottles…


Drunk before heading to the mountains: the first wine was to commiserate with the vignerons of Savigny – I saw pictures of Lavières vines that would deliver no harvest – hopefully some owners fared better…

The second bottle was one that started a little tight but really improved with time…

2006 Chenu Filles, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Lavières
Medium, bright colour. The nose mixes earth, red fruits and plenty of charm. Just a lovely balance in the mouth – reminds me of the clarity of many 2010s but in a medium-bodied, very elegant and well-polished package. Just a treat!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Rebourgeon-Mure, Beaune
Much deeper coloured. The nose starts with depth but limited width – a couple of hours are needed for a cheeky, chirpy red fruit note. In the mouth it begins compact and tight – most reticent despite fine balance. Amazingly the second half of this, overnighted in the fridge, was just the most open and enjoyable wine – chalk and cheese – seemingly with more density and certainly more interest. Very nice indeed, and that’s before you spot the attractive price!
Rebuy – Yes

more mountains…

Back again – eventually I may write something about wine, but as a ‘warm-up’ I’ll add a couple(!) of higher altitude pics…

louis max 2011 mercurey clos la marche

Well, the white was just so good, there was nothing stopping me here – perhaps there should have been!

2011 Louis Max, Mercurey Clos la Marche
Medium, bright red colour, edged with salmon pink. It seems that its southern geography was not enough save this wine from a little pyrazine; it starts, seemingly, with none before slowly growing in the glass to at least a P2 level; to start with, there were other aromas, but by now they are hidden from me. In the mouth this is relatively lite but it’s also lithe and concertedly insinuates nice flavours that leech from your gums and tongue – it’s good acidity too. There seems to be much going for this until I finally get some pyrazine flavour too – I’m clearly the wrong person to review what is otherwise probably a very nice wine.
Rebuy – No

cool in the snow…

Actually it was still pretty warm at nearly 2800 metres! Just a few snaps from Sunday/Monday…

louis max 2010 mercurey les caudroyes


2010 Louis Max, Mercurey Les Caudroyes (Blanc)
A wine that instantly surprises me. The nose is fine, ripe enough but maybe just a hint saline too. In the mouth there’s a core of ripe fruit but it’s long and tight in shape rather than fat and round, the acidity is also a fine foil to good mid-palate intensity. Blind I would have no doubt in pronouncing this to be a good 2 year-old 1er Cru Chablis – I never said I was a great blind taster/guesser 😉 A wine enjoyed all the more for its excellent value.
Rebuy – Yes

more hail in the côte de beaune…

I just got off the phone with a grower in Beaune – I’d called to get a bit more information on the flavenscence d’orée insecticide spraying ‘story’ – in the background I could still hear the remnants of the thunder-storm. The temperature was now just 18°C – 1 hour ago it had been well over 30°C – that was before the storm hit.

Like last year, hail has ripped through the vines from Volnay to Savigny; further south I’ve no info yet; further north, the Côte de Nuits experienced only about 1mm of rain and no hail. I’m not sure where the border lay – was it Savigny or Corton? – we’ll know later…

The grower said he called somebody in the vineyards, and the hail on their tractor cab sounded like gunshots. He then drove towards Pommard and said it was like somebody was throwing rocks at his car and the roads were all flooded – there were even fallen trees in the roads. He visited Beaune Grèves and said he was almost frightened to see the quantity of water coming down the vineyards towards his car, all boiling and brown. The scene was apparently apocalyptic, with leaves strewn about the ground. A quick glance in the heavy rain made him think losses could be 50% – he heard from growers in Savigny and Volnay who said 60-90% losses. They are all a bit emotional right now as very many in the Côte de Beaune desperately needed a good volume this year. A better idea of losses will come with the new light tomorrow, and when the emotions have dimmed a little.

I would have added some of the photos that are now filling facebook and twitter – but it just seems too voyeuristic. As for the insecticide discussion, we put that to bed – the leaf-hoppers will anyway have been drowned…

A subsequent note from ‘a man in Aloxe’:

As you know, hail yesterday at c. 4pm was both widespread and intense – almost exclusively in the Cote de Beaune.

I spoke with a few people we work with this morning. In northern Meursault and especially throughout Volnay and Pommard ( serious and widespread in both villages ) , Savigny ( several village plots and Les Lavières ) and the Beaune vineyards ( Beaune Premier Crus – Bressandes, Greves, Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Avaux too ).

Re. the point you raise in Big Red Diary about where the border lay, I would say right about here on north side of Aloxe-Corton. I was in Aloxe-Corton all of yesterday afternoon and we seemed to be on the cusp of the weather with a lot of torrential rain but little powerful hail – our village plot of Les Caillettes is fortunately fine, but behind us further up the hill of Corton there is some damage.

chézeaux gevrey-chambertin les cazetiers


A textbook example of the style of the Fixin Berthauts – who are the metayeurs here – super!

2010 des Chézeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Cazetiers
The nose is finely detailed, just a hint of flowers too over darker fruit. In the mouth this is a perfectly balanced middle-weight; flowing acidity and delicate fruit whose complexity grows in the mid-palate. Lingering and elegant in the finish. The last drops in glass offer a beautiful high-toned red-currant. This bottle simply wasn’t big enough!
Rebuy – Yes

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