Why Big Red Diary?

a tale of two chambolles: ponsot & de villamont

I recognise their headquarters in Savigny, but I can’t recall tasting many wines from de Villamont – they have quite a mix of domaine vines, and like most producers in Burgundy, they are trying to emphasise quality over quantity – so I heard! – this should be a good test, despite the different vintages.

[Edited with day two impression] Overall they showcase their respective vintages: The de Villamont is like fruit preserve, the Ponsot is like the fresh fruit – choose your favourite…

2009 Henri de Villamont, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Feusselottes
Medium-plus colour. The nose starts deep and ripe – there’s an emphasis on licorice, some dried herbs too but there’s also a ripe, dark-red fruit. Understated entry, but there is a welling of intensity that’s coupled to an understated grab from the tannin – decent but not excessive extraction which certainly seems to deliver an interesting extra dimension of textured flavour as you head into the finish. Just a hint of violet perfume in the mid-palate flavours and good length. This reflects its vintage and I would say good winemaking too. Day two and there’s a slightly offputting cola aroma – so drink it all up on day 1!
Rebuy – Yes

2010 Ponsot/Chézeaux, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has higher tones than the Feusselottes, more complex but also clearly more ephemeral – rather graceful, particularly as rounds out in the glass. This is more intense and direct – though delivered with less heft and more energy than the last wine. The tannic structure is less evident – again a good showcase for the vintage. Day two and this is just a perfectly ‘together’ wine – very, very impressive.
Rebuy – Yes

I’ll follow their evolution over the next couple of days…

life and times of jacques…

From Vinography on Saturday…

louis chenu 2011 savigny blanc

My first 2011 at home. And very tasty it was too.

2011 Louis Chenu et Filles, Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc
Bottled a little earlier than usual because they had already run out of 2010 and needed something to sell!
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. After the last of the previous day’s Chassagne, this has a more floral aromatic with an occasional savoury reference. In the mouth it’s a little sweeter than the Chassagne and has just a little more balancing acidity too – if not the overall density of that wine. The floral component of the nose is equally on display in the flavour profile. Flighty, interesting, flavoursome and with a good balance to boot. I can also imagine this wine selling-out double-quick!
Rebuy – Yes

champy 2009 chassagne-montrachet

Looks like I’ll be going through a white wine phase – it’s 33°C outside – let’s see how long it (both!) lasts 😉

2009 Maison Champy, Chassagne-Montrachet
Medium lemon-yellow. The nose starts with a faint soap-powder note that has me thinking more of 2010 than 2009, but there’s a warm core of ripe, green-skinned fruit too. There’s a little richness but the acidity has a good-enough balance to bring. Just also a hint of the savoury in the sweet mid-palate – very decent concentration here. Overall, this a very tasty wine which I’d happily buy again, but just missing a hint of pizzaz that might have me actively searching for it.
Rebuy – Yes

louis jadot (gagey) 2010 beaune gréves

2010 Louis Jadot (Gagey), Beaune 1er Les Grèves Clos Blanc
Medium lemon-yellow. The nose has a faint creamy undertow from the oak, but largely this wine is about a tight core of fruit. In the mouth this has silky texture and good intensity too – there’s just a little oaky angularity too, but this fades within about 25 minutes. The flavour is quite citrussy and has fine balance, just a hint of minerality in the finish. This wine needs a little longer to round out than the Bressandes, and to be honest, I prefer that wine – but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a honey! Lovely wine.
Rebuy – Yes

it’s the soil…

When I think of my wines, I do not see the vines or fruit, but the incomparable quality of these soils, which are the clearest difference between a wine “bien fait” and wine “hors classé”
Patrick Essa

a change is afoot!

Just back from a largely wine-free weekend away. Despite the sci-fi cloud image from Manchester Airport on Friday (a quick and painless immigration check by the way!), I have the impression that the jet stream might finally be heading Northwards:

Whilst the 2012 harvest volumes will be modest (or lower!), the final quality of those bottles is far from written – it looks like a period of good weather is on the way – we just need that humidity to reduce a little – and maybe a north-wind too… 😉

Reading Between The Wines, Terry Theise (2010)

Published by UCP.

I finally get the time to place my fingers on the keyboard, about two weeks after I’ve actually finished this book – I’m already a third of the way through a follow-up volume…

‘Reading Between The Wines’ (with the addition of a little, but not too much, writing) sounds just like my current existence – so this must be a book written for me – and largely it is. Terry Theise (that would be pronounced ‘Thizer’ if his German connections follow through…), or TT, as I will from now-on refer to him, certainly has a gift for writing; though his American roots shout out from the pages as he ‘kibitzes, schvitzes and schmaltzes (and many other words with ‘zeds’ (zees) in them that I don’t comprehend) his way through the pages.

TT’s prose is both evocative and flowery, and it paints pictures in equal measure, it is often ‘overly-fantastic’ too; it would be a great source for people wanting to cull quotes for definitive proof what nerds wine ‘enthusiasts’ can be. Some of the earlier chapters show this extreme and even had my attention wandering, but despite the emotional connection to wine that is the book’s central contention, I found the last third of the book completely absorbing.

I think it’s enough to give you a few short examples, to see if it’s a book for you, but I enjoyed it very much and would offer it a strong recommendation:

  • “Sometimes when I talk with growers they like to remind me that they’re farmers first, before anything else. That’s easy to forget when you’re dealing with the New World, but in the Old – or the parts of it with which I’m involved – you never forget. Yet their world is not only farming; it’s also selling, marketing, publicizing, engineering, and craftsmanship. If you plant carrots, you eventually harvest carrots. There are things you can do to ensure you have wonderful carrots, but once you put them in the customer’s basket, your work is done. Imagine if picking the carrots were followed by processing them into a soup or a beverage that was then evaluated alongside everyone else’s carrot product, deconstructed, given scores, and all of this so you can be ranked as a producer of carrot drinks. I don’t know about you, but this would make me bonkers. Small wonder the vintner likes to be out in the vineyard where he can escape the noise for a while.”
  • On writing tasting notes: “But some wines embody a story – not merely a narrative, but a kind of curiosity, as they cast out tentacles into the ether. Other wines stimulate the imagination, and you’re off and running. I am very sure these things are worth getting down, but if you seek to share them you will sometimes run afoul of a certain kind of person who actually does want to know that your 2004 Domaine du Crachoir tasted like ‘beer-battered kiwi fritters, boysenberries, and pork snouts.’
  • “In many cases the quietest beauty and the deepest stories live in older wines. This is in part because they grow less brash and frisky, less explicit – but more searching and, at best, more sublime.”

vintage 2012 – côte de nuits style…

And to add a little balance to the 2012 vintage commentary, let’s not forget that the major hail ‘events’ have been in the Côte de Beaune, and perhaps the largest rot pressures too. Jeremy Seysses, today, shows a cracking row of vines…

andre nudant 1980 corton-charlemagne

I bought a bunch of the 1979 and wasn’t going to buy any 1980 (advice came that 79 was a good vintage, 80 not) but it turned out that a friend had 1980 as their birth-year. As we so often see, Burgundy is a wine that confounds – particularly as the wines age, and before the p.ox was invented, even more so for whites. The phrase was coined for reds, but it used to fit equally well to whites: “In a good vintage you should wait at least 10 years to drink the wines, in bad vintage you NEED to wait at least 10 years to drink.”

1980 Andre Nudant, Corton-Charlemagne
Golden. Old oak notes that bring to mind the 1979 but they blow off a little faster – the nose becomes almost indistinguishable from the 79. Just like the younger wine, this is also silky and shows a little fat to its texture. Where this differentiates itself is the lack of bitterness which delivers a better overall balance to the flavour. They were drunk a week apart, so it’s hard to be definitive, but this seems the better wine.
Rebuy – No Chance

2012 veraison!

As far as I know, the first sighting of veraison in the Côte d’Or is this picture – taken today – by Thomas Bouley from Volnay. Thomas also has a picture of the same, taken today, in Beaune 1er Les Reversées.

A cluster of grapes from the Volnay 1er cru of Les Carelles – so we can also see that there are still some grapes that have the chance to make it to harvest 😉 You can see, how irregular the bunches are; mainly a function of the rain and cold at flowering time.

a new owner of the nsg clos des grandes vignes…

Part of the de Montille disposals to fund the purchase of the Château de Puligny; unofficially, we’ve known about the new owner for the last couple of weeks, but as the words finally trip from his own mouth, I think I’m safe enough to broadcast it 😉 Based on the numbers in the SAFER website, we can assume that with all taxes and fees paid, the final bill was about €3 million, for the only premier cru on the ‘wrong side’ of the RN74…

Just bought the 2,2 hectares of the Monopoly Nuits Saint Georges 1er cru “Clos des Grandes Vignes”. A new Monopoly for the Estate (the 3rd…after Clos du Chateau and La Romanée) and a new challenge for myself…try to make some “drinkable” white wine. Part of the Clos des Grandes Vignes (0,35 ha) is in Chardonnay!
Louis-Michel Liger-Belair

I only tasted one vintage at Château Puligny – 05 was (I think) their first vintage after the vines were acquired from the ‘dissolving’ Domaine Thomas-Moillard – that was the 2009, and I thought it excellent, the ‘villages’ cuvée seemed fine too (it’s a split vineyard with villages and 1er cru portions) but those were from barrel. I never saw Etienne’s bottles on the market. The chardonnay at the bottom of the vineyard was a ‘re-graft’ by Etienne a few years ago – it can be difficult here as the drainage is poor at the bottom of the vineyard, but Etienne had already done considerable work in the vines to allow their certification as biodynamic. 2012 will be Louis-Michel’s first harvest…

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