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vaudoisey-creusefond 1992 pommard epenots

Onto the 1992. This was for a long time, a vintage of which nobody spoke, like a mad aunt hidden from view – but the therapy of time has seen many wines blossom in the last 5 years, or so.

1992 Vaudoisey-Creusefond, Pommard 1er Epenots
Medium, medium-plus colour. Here the nose leaves an impression of sugar dusted leaves over a dense core of plum, occasional accents of mocha too – a couple of hours also betray a brown-sugar note. Decent freshness and fruit that has a nice sweet-sour balance to it. Unlike the ’91, if you roll this wine around your mouth you will find some tannin, and, heading into the finish, it still has a faint edge of astringency – but without too much bitterness or, significantly, the brusque nature of the ’91. Decent enough expansion of flavour in the mid-palate, and a slowly lingering, not particularly modest length. A wine that you can easily drink and savour, if not a resounding Epenots.
Rebuy – Maybe

vaudoisey-creusefond 1991 pommard epenots

I ‘scored’ a number of vintages of this wine at auction, time for a first look. I’ve long been a fan of the 1991 vintage, but for reds of the Côte de Nuits – from my modest sampling it seems to me that the Côte de Beaune is much less consistent. Here is a wine that sort of straddles the line – nice aromas but a flavour profile that’s far from cuddly – for the first hour or two after opening anyway…

1991 Vaudoisey-Creusefond, Pommard 1er Epenots
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has a little classic ‘leaf’ and fainter, higher-toned, herbs. As the glass drains a classy red fruit note comes to the fore. There is sweetness and a little plumpness to the texture too. Hardly any tannin of note but the mid-palate, despite it’s intensity, delivers a rather harsh flavour. Long finishing, it’s true, but for at least 90 minutes this was a wine only to sniff. The harshness slowly fades, but never completely. Still, this is quite robust and will easily stand up to another 10 years wait before I broach my last bottle.
Rebuy – No

pierre boillot 1978 meursault-charmes

1978 Pierre Boillot, Meursault 1er Charmes
Medium-plus golden colour. The nose betrays no overt oxidation, rather it is the classic nose of an older wine but with extra bolstering from a strong herbal note too. That herbal note is also part of the flavour profile; this is a little fat but with a lovely acidity that cleaves through the centre of the wine and emphasises its intensity. To be honest, this isn’t that complex a wine despite its mature profile. Tasty, and it holds the attention too – but based on the first two bottles, I think the 1976 significantly the better wine. I wonder if subsequent comparisons will agree…
Rebuy – No Chance

hail in the côtes

I’m waiting for more substantiated reports – i.e. in terms of ‘actual damage’ – but in the early evening yesterday, hail visited many parts of the Côte d’Or.

The hail was relatively short-lived, being quickly replaced by heavy rain – but the storm was violent and, while it lasted, the size of the hail was ‘considerable’. The perfect illustration (right) comes from a friend who lives in Beaune.

I’ll update this post during the day as more news filters through. “Hopefully it is less sad that it first looks” was my guarded response, but based on two vigneron’s responses, hardly so in the Côte de Beaune which was hit pretty hard. Pinot noir in Volnay, Pommard and Monthélie have losses of up-to 50% (the damaged grapes are already turning brown) – the worst in the flat of the land – yet some vines have hardly been touched. Here’s an example in Volnay Caillerets – to add insult to injury, Saturday was the annual ‘Elegance de Volnay’ in the village…
 

a brace of 2003 combe aux moines – a shame the performances weren’t bracing…

These two bottles had been standing side-by-side for a while, so I decided the football semi-finals would be a good time to broach them.

2003 Dominique Gallois, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Combe aux Moines
Quite a young colur – seemingly holding onto just a hint of purple. The nose – oops – sweet, medium toast oak is the dominant note, and on a wine that’s approaching its first decade too. The flavour is of oak and a faint impression of reduction too. Day 1 I didn’t think much of it – albeit sweet and easy to drink – indeed it reminds me exactly of why I didn’t enjoy some of the Pousse d’Or wines. It’s quite a feat to dominate Gevrey in a similar way to Chambolle and Volnay! Day two and this is a different proposition; there’s ripe red fruit on the nose and little obvious oak. The palate is plush and textured – all that oak flavour is but a memory so it must be quite a volatile element. This wine is starting to talk of Burgundy now, albeit 2003 Burgundy, so you’d hardly guess it was from Gevrey – but at least today there’s clear interest on my part.
Rebuy – Maybe

Leaving this wine to try something that won’t show too much oak…

2003 Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Combe aux Moines
Nope, it’s not oak on the nose, it’s cork – cork taint – such a shame…
Rebuy – No

michel juillot 1996 corton-perrières

Just a little something that was polished off in double-quick time without any real note-taking. A very drinkable, if young-ish wine. Maybe a little too simple for a Grand Cru (and I’m a big fan of Perrières) but what there is, is delivered with a nice intensity. Not a wine to turn down, I’m perfectly happy to have a couple more in the cellar, though I wouldn’t make a special search to buy more.

domaine maume – alive and well, despite other reports…

bertrand-maune-and-pascal-marchandWhen I previously reported on the ‘death of Domaine Maume‘, it was based on two news reports and a subsequent conversation I had with Pascal Marchand in Zürich. The reports had never mentioned Bertrand Maume, and actually he was never a subject of my chat with Pascal either – probably driven by me as I assumed Bertrand was now out of the picture – mea-culpa!

I did eventually correct myself once the current situation was confirmed to me by ‘Marchand-Tawse’ – i.e. that Bertrand remains at the domaine and that Pascal is merely delivering the benefit of his long careers in consulting and wine-making – but that correction was rather buried in the comments section of the original post. So what better way to make a correction, than to ask for a nice image of the duo together, and to publish it – so here you go – the image came to me on Monday.

Best wishes to everyone at (still!) Domaine Maume. I can’t wait to taste their first biodynamic (approach not certification) vintage (2012), assuming the mildew allows a few bunches to reach the triage table!

the hot topic – mildew

Everyone’s talking about it:

a few days in the côtes: sun, rain, mildew, coccinelle and damn volkswagens

I’m typing this during my last few hours in Beaune, whilst in the background the traditional lament of the ‘pipes of pan do Abba’ waft from that Saturday market. I’ve had a nice couple of days tasting at some new addresses, and also some car-related issues while I’ve been here. I’ll give you a laugh about the car later…

But, to the vines, and what an incredibly challenging year!
What began as an early starting, and very dry year, has morphed into a very wet one – so far – and the potential for an August harvest has long-since evaporated – actually a little breeze and evaporation would figure in most vignerons’ dreams. Unfortunately a lot of the wet weather arrived during flowering so things are far from uniform. Coulure / millerandange are the obvious results of this, but mildew is rearing its ugly head too.

Anecdotally, no-one has seen so much mildew at this time of year since at least 1993, possibly longer. People are tirelessly spraying then seeing their treatments washed away again (10mm of rain is the rough rule of thumb – after which you assume that your previous efforts have been wasted) and so once more having to treat. For those bio/organic practitioners, most have already made about 10 treatments in 2012 – the majority of them only did 7 or 8 treatments in the whole of 2011! Herein lies another issue – for some types of organic/bio certification, the amount (of active content) you may spray has a maximum over a 3 year period above which you will lose your certification – some are already using their allocations for 2013!

The valley of Savigny is a traditional conduit for wet weather from the west; impacting Pernand, Aloxe and Ladoix too. There are parcels here that are really suffering. One (nameless!) vigneron told me

“We physically cannot do more in terms of spraying. Part of me almost wishes that we could get a dose of hail so we can finally wash our hands of it. Then we can simply blame the hail for having no harvest!”

Interestingly, for those that say Corton shouldn’t be a grand cru, the better exposed vines here are very clean with small millerandes that still have the potential for very high quality – if the mildew remains at bay…

Of-course, all the parcels are different – low lying ones are clearly impacted the most, as noted before, in particular it is the organic/bio producers that have the biggest problems. I spoke to another vigneron this morning (profiled in this site) and asked if he’d made his 10th treatment yet – he smiled and said “No, but then I’m not bio – it’s only five for me so far and I have a little mildew but far and away less than many of my neighbours.”
Clearly in some parts of the Côtes, it will need a ‘vigneron’s vintage’ for there to be anything to harvest at all…

Coccinelle. I reported the abundance of these pretty creatures at the last harvest, and, in private, was roundly criticised by some wine-makers for ‘unprofessional scare-mongering’ – that was my interpretation anyway! For the last months I’ve been tasting the wines, hyper sensitively looking for pyrazines and largely aiming to convince myself that there was nothing there. I have to say at some excellent addresses this week I have encountered, with 100% certainty, wines that are dead-ringers for the tainted 2004s. It hurts me to say it, but now it is clear to me that all the 2011 reds I buy, will only be the result of tasting post bottling…

Damn Volkswagens. Now something to make you laugh.
I hired a car for this trip – my own was indisposed. A nice looking Passat Diesel with a big rear compartment for my purchases! At one domain in Volnay I loaded the car and stood around chatting with the vigneron. I closed the door of the luggage compartment but realised the key was in there with the wine. “No-problem, I’ll retrieve it” was my thought – but the car was completely locked… How can any car, where doors have been opened for loading, simply choose to lock itself?
I called ‘Europcar emergency’ but of-course it was 6pm and no-one would be with me before morning! Fortunately a friend collected me and deposited me in Beaune. Next day at 9:00 a.m. the ‘recovery service’ arrived. After confirmatory telephone calls with VW/Audi it was clear – they could do nothing, the only solution was to smash the window and retrieve the key. Unbelievable on so many levels – I won’t be buying a VW Passat!

Finally, just to show that it’s not always raining!

louis fournier 1985 morey

louis-fournier-1986-morey-saint-denis

After yesterday’s Morey St.Denis from Vasseur I was perhaps feeling a little over-confident(?) when I decided to pull out a 1986 villages Morey from another ‘no-name’ négoce…

1986 Louis Fournier, Morey St.Denis
Deep colour, certainly with some browning. On day one this sweet nose smelled of brown sugar and a little meat, day 2 there was more meat but nothing unpleasant – not bad! Like all the 86s I’ve tried, this seems to be a relatively low acid vintage – this is full round and sweet, and I have to say more interesting than many of the grand crus I’ve tasted from the vintage – they all seemed rather ‘vague’. There is just a faint bitter note towards the end of the mid-palate, probably some remnant of the decaying, dissolving tannins, but this was very drinkable stuff in a kind of hearty, plump way – but was certainly better on day one.
Rebuy – Maybe

1993 georges vasseur morey 1er les monts luisants

georges-vasseur-1993-morey-saint-denis-monts-luisants

This wine turned out to be a bit of an auction ‘catch’. Approaching it’s twentieth birthday and a bit of a rarity for showing the actual Morey vineyard name that far back. Always a danger such ‘no-name’ négoce bottles, though the name ‘Morey’ on the label is often something of a counterbalance! In this case the label is today a sub-brand of Ligeret (Nuits) – but I don’t recall ever seeing their (Ligeret’s) wines…

1993 Georges Vasseur, Morey St.Denis 1er Les Monts Luisants
Relatively deep colour. The nose has herbs, dark fruit and a very faint espresso. Supple, lithe and with a lovely intensity that grows in the mid-palate and becomes more and more mouth-watering. The herby, slightly spicy fruit has a masculine demeanour but fine acidity means it is delivered without overt weight, yet there remains premier cru weight and intensity. This is lovely stuff for a ‘no-name’ négoce label, I’d jump at the chance to buy more. This bottle was drinking beautifully in a, still, sub-mature way…
Rebuy – Yes

michel lafarge 1996 beaune-grèves

michel-lafarge-1996-beaune-greves

I moved or the wine moved but in 10 short minutes we came together…

1996 Lafarge, Beaune 1er Les Grèves
This starts with a nice semi-mature nose – not much leaf but a spicy depth – about 20 minutes is needed to deliver a seriously impressive kernel of pure red fruit. In the mouth this starts a little spiky – or maybe it’s my palate – but after 10 minutes the acidity has a good balance and the overall demeanour is much, much smoother and shows a textured depth of flavour. Good vintage acidity, of-course, gives an extra mouth-watering push in the finish. Very nice wine…
Rebuy – Yes

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