Why Big Red Diary?

offer of the day – clos de tart

And as if by magic, in my inbox this morning:

La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2007 75cl 148.00* Swiss francs
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2008 75cl 119.00
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2011 75cl 135.00
La Forge de Tart 1er Cru 2014 75cl 169.00

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2006 75cl 299.50
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2011 75cl 279.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 75cl 324.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 150cl 678.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2014 75cl 324.00
Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2014 150cl 678.00
*Prices are ‘delivered’ but subject to 8% Swiss purchase tax.

One has to assume that the distribution of these wines will be subject to change in the future…

beyond avarice…

I suppose that I’m mandated to make a comment on the aftermath of this – ie the sale of the Clos de Tart by the Mommessin family shareholders for an undisclosed sum – but let’s say €250 million!

I was travelling (mainly taking pictures of cows!) in Switzerland when this was ‘confirmed’ yesterday morning, but I’ve been tweeting about this subject (and retweeting) since the sale of the Clos de Tart was first mooted, which was about 3 weeks ago.

The Clos de Tart has a magnificent location and is the perfect ‘compact item’ despite it’s 7.5 hectares – by that I mean that all the buildings of the domaine also sit within the walls of the Clos – compared, for example, to its neighbour the Clos des Lambrays, where the wine-making and offices are separated from the vines, albeit by only a few hundred metres. There are other grand cru monopoles, but none that can compare in this respect. The Clos de Tart is emblematic, it is the perfect representation of all the history and mythology of Burgundy, gift-wrapped into a 7.5 hectare parcel.

Under the tenure of Sylvain Pitiot, I felt that in terms of attention to detail, the Clos de Tart was the most fanatical domaine in the whole of Burgundy – even more-so than Leroy and DRC – imagine walking around the wall of the clos and seeing that the gap between the vines and the wall was a perfect ‘Japanese garden’ of raked small stones. Every detail of the operation of the domaine, right down to paint on the doors was perfect…

Of-course the wine needs to be good too!

Under Pitiot, given enough time to mature, the wine was magnificent – but I was never a fan of the oak treatment, which usually deprived drinkers of extracting the joy of youth, something that one should associate with the wine’s high price-tag. I simply loved the 1985, but the 2001 and a magnum of 2005, remain my reference points – reference points that can easily trade glasses with the grand crus of Vosne or the Clos de Vougeot. I was frankly pinning my hopes on Jacques Devauges to do something about the oak – though (so far) I have no view on whether that’s already the case, or not.

So, from certain viewpoints, the clos is indeed an unrivalled jewel and worth a King’s ransom. If it was the case that this would not inject further heat into the market for vineyard land – something of a storm that the new owner can easily ride out, but less-so the small family domaines of Burgundy – then I would simply stand and applaud François Pinault for winning this game and move on. I fear, however, that this is unlikely to be the case. The extra money that Pinault can bring will not improve the attention to detail at this domaine – though there is always something that can be improved – but this is clearly not a ‘project’ of restoration, it is the purchase of a chattel.

Drinkers, buyers and even owners of smaller domaines are simply bystanders in games such as this, and I cannot blame the various shareholders of the Mommessin family for taking this pay-day – though I know that some didn’t want to sell.

The Clos de Tart, courtesy the domaine:

a quick three…

2012 Le Grappin, Beaune 1er Boucherottes
Drunk directly following the weekend’s Chambertin. The nose here really cannot compete, it has some high-toned complexity but it is both young and a bit herby for now. The palate, on the other hand, is full of overt, mouth-filling, energy and bright crunchy red fruit. It’s super and much more interesting to drink (if not smell) than the much tighter Chambertin – for that, really bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

1985 Joseph Drouhin, Gevrey-Chambertin
Well, 90% of the cork comes out in one piece!
A sweet demerara depth of medium-red fruit, a suggestion of leaves too – a fine clean nose for such an oldie – just a hint of volatility creeping in on thescond night. Still good acidity and a nicely melting flavour that’s faintly spiced and envelops the tongue beautfully. I had about three of these, and over the last five years they have been very stable – unlike some other villages wines that were definitely fading. Tasty, rewarding wine, but still to drink up…
Rebuy – No Chance…

Next up, villages Savigny from 2014 – because life’s not just about impossible to find villages wines from 1985 🙂

2014 Françoise Andre, Savigny-lès-Beaune Ez Connardises
Good depth of colour. Really a large volume of aroma, ripeness of macerating dark cherry and an accent of oak – très inviting. Fresh attack, good width, and yes quite a lot of oak – but tasty too! Savigny did soooo well in 2014 – what there was of it!
Rebuy – Maybe

weekend wines – week 42 2017

A few of the wines collected for last weekend saw the light this weekend – actually, they mainly saw the corkscrew – let’s call it recycling! Friends helped consume everything, that’s the best way – no?

2011 Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Ruchottes
Fresher and more complex and mineral than I remember when young. There is now a little caramel-style oak on both the nose and the end of the palate. I loved the complexity of this wine though might have preferred a hint more energy – but it’s still a delicious wine.
Rebuy – Yes

1999 Henri et Gilles Remoriquet, Vosne-Romanée 1er Au-dessus des Malconsorts
This wine was in a perfect place – a nose that opens with sweetly spiced welcoming arms. The palate round, complex, a certain sucrosity with cleanliness of delivery. Simply a perfect showing.
Rebuy – Yes

2002 Nicolas Potel, Chambertin
Ooh – what a great nose of both volume and complexity – dried leaves, dried and fresh fruits – such an invitation – which was half a shame because the palate of this wine remains pretty tight – great finishing complexity – almost in the same league as the nose – but the the first and mid-palate both need a few more years to open and relax – half a great wine.
Rebuy – Maybe

week 42’s ‘rogues’ gallery

This week’s visits for October’s 2016 White Burgundy Report – published around 20 November – or so!

today in the abbaye de st.vivant…

Despite (many times) previously having bored you with photos of the place, until today, I’ve never actually been inside of the abbaye before. Today was a final get-together of the Central-Otago/Burgundy Exchange crew – together with a few glasses of the abbaye’s Hautes Côtes Blanc made by the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and with its figurehead, Aubert de Villaine too. Aubert indicated that work would be completed in about another 2 years, to a stage where visitors will finally have the chance to walk a route around and in the abbaye – I’ll be early in the queue!

central otago – in beaune

Brilliantly done – a tasting of Central Otago wines in Beaune today. Not just breaking boundaries in terms of who and where (in the Hôtel Dieu) but breaking boundaries in glassware – real, proper tasting/drinking glasses – apparently designed by Riedel specifically for for CO pinot – it’s not really as big as it looks on the wide-angle photo though 🙂

The write-up in my October Report, but great stuff…

2 days of views

A full programme of visits and tastings just now, but to show that I’m still alive, here are a few pics from today and yesterday!

There were the first few drops of rain for quite some time this morning, but it was just a few minutes until the sun returned. The vineyards remain full of hikers, tourists and of-course the producers. The latter are benefiting from being dry underfoot, replacing wooden posts and trellising, and also drilling out dead vines to plant anew. Honestly a bit of rain is needed, but of-course I’d like for the weekend to be over first! The vineyards retain great colouring – though it’s fading as the leaves are gradually falling – great views for now though.

weekend wines – week 41 2017

AKA – birthday weekend!

Not ridiculous wines, nor ridiculous quantities, but some great stuff nonetheless. And my best wine of the year – so far – so not bad! Friday night started with a ‘Charmes’ double-bill:

2015 Albert Joly, Puligny-Montrachet Les Charmes
Only a villages wine, but this vintage is terrific, and this particular cuvée has a dirty secret – but that’s why I like it so much! Given the name, it may come as no surprise that Puligny Charmes is contiguous with Meursault 1er Les Charmes. To me, blind, I would always call this out as Meursault – and a lovely one at that. It’s relatively a great price versus the neighbour over the commune boundary and is just so delicious…
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Alex Gambal, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes (Mag)
I bought 2 of these – and two Amoureuses too – this the first to be opened. This is simply great wine.
Relatively still a young nose but floral and inviting, classic Chambolle. The palate has presence, clarity, wiry muscle and is delicious – if still quite a youngster. Simply excellent.
Rebuy – Yes

On Saturday night the Bollinger was excellent – and quite young tasting for an 1829… There followed a very good Bouillot crémant at the restaurant – currently my favourite in Beaune – La Superb. I tried for the Le Relais de Saulx but it was booked up more than 1 month ahead of time! We came home after a fine meal and I opened just the one bottle – despite a Liger-Belair Echézeaux and a Potel Chambertin lying in wait – they will get their time in the sun – but the Leroy was simply other-worldly!

1999 Domaine Leroy, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Narbantons
There was a time when this wine was almost affordable – though this still cost the same £40 en-primeur in the UK as the Engel Grands-Echezeaux. I assume that you have to pay at least 10 times more today – maybe 20(?) I compared those two, maybe 8-9 years ago and slightly preferred the Leroy over the Engel. But age has accelerated this wine into the stratosphere:
​A long cork – damp and red – wine-soaked through its considerable length. Deep, enveloping nose of dark, sweet, sous bois, tobacco, smoky mushroom, blackberry with cream – all in all very special! I’m not really the the type of taster who likes to list adjectives – but this wine forces you… In the mouth fine freshness, lots of intensity of flavour – young flavour, but super, super flavour, the stems on both the nose and palate bringing an unusual sweetness and roundness to the aroma and flavour. Mega wine, only a hint more length away from trouncing many Vosne grand crus in every possible dimension…

the office today…

Just a stunning day today in the Côte de Beaune – perhaps in other places too 🙂

25°C was easily attained in the latter half of the afternoon, and whilst the colours in the vines might have been just that little bit better last week – we’ve lost some leaves and others have browned since then – it was also rather fine today. I’m guessing that the colours won’t last too long, as the weather will change to rain in a couple of days (allegedly) and many leaves will start to fall – let’s see….

Also noted today was the first signs of the Autumn murmurations! This is when skies fill with birds – mainly starlings I think – and the trees of Beaune fill with them in the evenings too, so don’t park under them – you have been warned! There are not that many birds in town yet, but in the vines of Meursault and Puligny, they are gathering!

Below, the first image was taken in Puligny towards Clos de la Garenne, all the rest are from the Clos St.Jean side of Chassagne, towards St.Aubin and Puligny. It’s very easy at the moment to differentiate the blocks of vines, the chardonnay showing as green-gold and the pinot as red-gold:

weekend promenading…

The top of Côte du Py

This weekend, a little pacing around Solutré and Château Pizay:

week 41’s ‘rogues’ gallery

Some lovely visits to kick off the work for October’s 2016 White Burgundy Report. Wines that are really a surprise (to me) and it was particularly good to see some smiles on the faces of many vigneron(ne)s after their 2017 harvest – not everyone, but most.

Now it’s my birthday weekend (I’ve been told!) so time to open some bottles – no?

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