Why Big Red Diary?

the chablis shuffle, part (day) 2

just shuffling around Chablis – day 1

Oh, and for those of you who missed the news:

lovely: mikulski’s 2010 goutte d’or…

Am drinking a hauntingly lovely 2010 Mikulski Meursault Goutte d’Or tonight whilst trying not to take notice of the golf on TV as I need to be up-and-away early tomorrow – first appointment in Chablis at 11:00am – and I’ll be there all week. Reports will follow in the April BR Extra. The March issue comes first, also with lots of Chablis, and is due out in about 10 days…

2010 François Mikulski, Meursault 1er Goutte d’Or
Still pale in colour. The nose has depth, a certain density but freshness too. Lithe, muscle but with a wonderfully growing intensity of flavour and match fresh acidity – a little citrus style – yet it can’t hide the solid minerality in the mid-palate and finish. Lovely, lovely wine…
Rebuy – Yes

sun, ski and amiot’s 2006 morey les ruchots

Hard to believe, but the lull here was due to skiing, curtailed today by too much snow! Back home this afternoon, it was 22°C in the garden, no-wonder:

But following my evening jog – replacing one kind of (leg) ache with another – time for a little MSD 1er Cru action!


2006 Pierre Amiot, Morey St.Denis 1er Les Rochots
Medium, medium-plus colour. It starts modestly, but it’s still a nose to sink into; a classic Morey nose of herbs, backed with dark fruit and maybe a little blood-iron for good measure too. Just an ounce of padding below the silky texture and flavours that are detailed, fresh and focused. Not a powerful wine this – you will find a number of villages wines with the same heft – but long and very interesting. And note, it costs less than most ‘name’ Vosne villages these days! Very tasty!
Rebuy – Yes

And a little Austrian action too:

the fuzz, a little chambolle and a lot of morey…

A perfect Sunday for getting the earth under your feet – after breakfast in Le Montrachet of-course!

Oh, and yes, that was Beaune this morning!

a little chalonnaise distraction…

Early start from Beaune, breakfast, 20km on a bike, tasting Givry 2012, lunch, 20km on a bike, apero, late back to Beaune…

rain and shine…

Saharan rain in Beaune this morning, but the wines shined in this overlooked cellar!

Yes, the wines shined in the (late) afternoon too!

other sources…

côte d’or today…

My car is very dirty – apparently it’s sand from the Sahara.
Actually, I never wash my car, so today nobody is commenting 😉

Warm during the day, warm during the evening too. Depending upon who you ask, the vines are anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks in advance of the average. Some growers seem relaxed about the situation, other much less so, but let’s see…

Lunch included two 76s and a 71 from Thomas-Bassot. My previous experience of these wines was bullet-proof, but today, two were oxidised beyond redemption, despite modest ullage. The last bottle was worth the price of entry though – especially when drunk with somebody who worked with T-B until 1951!

Tonight a nice jambon persillé and some 2012 Chablis in Les Dilletantes, followed by organic eggs and a peanut tart in Maison du Colombiere, washed down with espresso, oh and 2011 Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Pinot Noir!

1955 pommard grands epenots


I rarely drink more than a couple of glasses per evening, but sometimes you have to suffer for your art – no? Of-course it could have been oh-so different!

The wine in question was a 1955 Tastevinage, and given my experience of the Tastevinage, I have a positive impression of the quality today – I can’t vouch for before I was born though! Anyway, whilst it had less than a couple of inches of ullage, after removing the top of the capsule, the cork looked pretty damp. Usually this (supposedly dry) end stinks of oxidised wine when so wet – but I could detect none. With screwpull-worm and ah-so in tandem I slowly began to pull (twist) the cork out. It nearly, nearly made it one piece too, but the cork was longer than the ah-so and left a small chunk behind. Fortunately it could be removed without dropping into the wine. Impressively for such an age, you could still even make out some of the wording on the cork; Grands Epenots…

1955 Tastevinage, Pommard Grands Epenots
No mention of 1er Cru – in those days you were supposed to know that the Village name followed by a vineyard name, on the same line with the same size of letters, was indeed a 1er Cru! The producer was Henri Gaunoux (et ses Fils), and it was bottled for Mövenpick, Switzerland who have/had, wineshops, restaurants and hotels.
This is rather dark and seems rather browner than might be palatable, but the core is still of something that looks red. Ooh – what a pretty and sweet nose. It’s showing a little earth and some soy sauce but wrapped in a sort of clean sweetness. In the mouth it’s not super concentrated but it’s clean, quite fresh and silky too – unless you chew – and here are grainy tannins that (blind) could be only 5 or 6 years old; but – such is the balance here – you have to look for them. The finish is not super-long, but has a sweet, almost spiced, pears poached in wine impression. I simply love the nose and appreciate all the rest.
Rebuy – No Chance! – so I’m luckily that I have a few more 😉

Out of interest, I thought I’d have quick look at what was happening in 1955:
Mercedes’ 190SL was launched
James Dean died – but in a Porsche!
Albert Einstein also died – not car-related
West Germany becomes a recognised country and joins NATO
The last occupying Soviet troops leave Austria (I’d no idea it was so late…)
The Warsaw Pact was signed

a quartet of camille giroud 2011s…


Okay, time to tidy my desk! These short notes have been hanging around on this desk for about 3 weeks now – I buy a bunch of wines from here every year. Here’s my first look:

2011 Camille Giroud, Santenay 1er Clos Rousseau
This was such a bravado performer in barrel – almost the explosive complexity of a grand cru in the mid-palate: In bottle it’s a much shy-er proposition today: very little aromatically and a palate that starts shy but silky and balanced. Only in the mid-palate is there some redolence of that brio and complexity from barrel. Très anonymous today – either very tight or a sub-detectable poor cork(?)
Rebuy – Maybe

2011 Camille Giroud, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Peuillets
Aromatically more open, with some depth of red fruit and a little P. In the mouth there’s a little more tannin grain and a little more obvious energy. There’s good depth of flavour in the mid-palate, here with a little P flavour. Quite good, but certainly not to the (high!) level of this wine in previous vintages.
Rebuy – No

2011 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Lurets
(My) Time doesn’t give me space to say how good this wine is! Aromatically it’s a gorgeous mix of fresh fruit and floral notes. In the mouth you have the same impression, allied to a silky but fresh palate and lingering fruit notes. It’s a modestly concentrated but wonderfully clichéd bottle of Volnay love. Super-yum!
Rebuy – Yes

And 2 days later…

2011 Camille Giroud, Volnay 1er Les Caillerets
Hmm. This is like the Santenay. It has more muscle and sinew, more intensity and minerality – but from an aroma and flavour perspective there’s almost nothing to see here today, move along…
Rebuy – Maybe

oops – maison ilan 2010 gevrey 1er corbeaux

Bottle number 1.

I’ve never been one who sets out to write things with the potential to annoy a producer, indeed, if I don’t like the wines of a certain domaine, I actively avoid visiting, preferring to visit, and write about, somebody who provides more interest and colour. Such is his ‘story’, Ray Walker certainly provides the interest.

It’s been well documented in various fora, and probably here too, that Ray had some issues with his small-cuvée Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux in the 2010 vintage: Because it didn’t go through malolactic fermentation in its first year (as others in the cellar did), Ray chose the non-interventionist route and to let nature take its course. And take its course it did the following year. There was always likely to be some penalty to pay for this from an organoleptic standpoint, probably, but I guess Ray didn’t account for the flack that came his way when the shipping of his 2010s was delayed – certainly for those who (like me) elected to take the full mixed shipment when ready, rather than accept just part of the order. Such is life – one lives and learns. Anyway, I certainly didn’t bitch.

Having collected my mixed pack of 1ers in January, I waited a few days before opening the first Corbeaux, as it happened, together with some winemakers while checking out another producer’s wines – one who also makes ‘Corbeaux’. The packaging is rather well done on the Ilans, except that none of mine carried a back-label; you know, those administrative things with mandatory health warnings, alcohol levels, etcetera, etcetera! Still, I was taking these home, not doing the F&DA’s biddings – I simply didn’t care. One aspect of the packaging I did care about was the cork when extracted – it seemed rather short – it also had a significant piece (wine-end) missing. Very strange; the other piece wasn’t in the bottle. I trusted that a faulty cork had simply, and mistakenly, been slipped into the bottling line – if bottle #2 had been different, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it. Yet, because of the presentation of that wine (note below) I anyway chose not to delay opening my second bottle (of only two).

As you will note from the pictures that follow the tasting-note, that second cork was also the same smaller, presumably cheaper, and unbranded (by the producer) article, an article that was rather crushed on one side so almost broken – presumably not inserted straight. It had also (almost) lost a chunk. This raised a question, was the first cork also badly inserted, pulled out, lost chunk removed and then re-inserted? I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such an appalling bit of corkery – at any price point. Either Ray, or the person he was supervising did a totally unsatisfactory job here. For comparison, the corks in the other Ilan cuvées are longer, darker, ‘maison’ and ‘cuvée’ branded, and seemingly perfectly inserted – for that reason, I have no qualms about those bottles.

Maybe in the end, Ray wasn’t planning to commercialise this but felt forced to by the complaints about deliveries(?) I anyway suggest, that those with the 2010 Corbeaux, drink them without too-much delay. For good order, I’ve emailed Ray about this. I’m sure he’ll chip-in…

2010 Maison Ilan, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux
The colour is rather lovely; bright and inviting – don’t mind if I do. The nose is a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde; switching between lovely, ripe fruit (more 09 in style) and flashes of something acetic and volatile. Fine texture – it’s really rather soft and silky. There’s an overall 09 style about this wine’s flavour too, delivering a beautiful ripeness and padding to the presentation, yet with traces of that aromatic volatility in the flavour too. A wine the currently delights but also disturbs. That volatile note is hardly going to improve – the wine didn’t lose it with 2 hours aeration. I’m pretty sure Ray would warm his cellar next time, at least if his 5 barrels of Chambertin showed no signs of malo 😉 Still I’ve no problem with the winemaking choices – bravo him – but the packaging is hardly designed to bring longevity to the product – only here do I have an issue – but I think it’s a big one…
Rebuy – No – Drink them quickly…

For comparison: 2010 Corbeaux bottle number 2 cork, with the cork from Ilan’s 2010 1er Cru Monts-Luisants for comparison…

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