Wine service & whites – is it getting better? What are your experiences…(?)

By billn on May 26, 2022 #warning - opinion!

Even in the Côte d’Or – or maybe because it is the Côte d’Or(!) – wine service still leaves a lot to be desired when there are faulty wines – particularly whites. It is, perhaps, even more difficult if you are drinking in the more rarified regions of wine lists as when you ‘simply’ want a villages Meursault.

I, together with various visitors in the Côtes this week, have drunk very well but despite the eye-watering price of many bottles, not all restaurants are prepared to stand behind those less than perfect bottles that they sell. In just the first 3 days of this week, all the wines in the image that follows were drunk. One was corked and replaced without question or (obvious) ‘self-testing’ by the restaurant. Another was deemed oxidised and the sommelier agreed – but the owner didn’t – and refused to credit or replace the wine.

I ask myself, have things got better since 2001 and 2002 village whites were oxidised at restaurant tables? Many years ago, I remember one sommelier tried to explain away (to his table of ‘only tourists’) an oxidised 2002 Puligny villages by saying that this particular winemaker (Henri Boillot) actually made wine in an ‘oxidative style, much like Pierre Morey‘ to which one of my dinner companions (there were two – both winemakers) pulled out his phone in exasperation and said ‘Oh really?! Should I ring Pierre to ask him about that?‘ The facial colour of the sommelier changed and he ran away to get another bottle – which was perfect!

Since those days, much has improved – and that’s largely thanks to the introduction of DIAM – but neither of our problem bottles this week were sealed with DIAM:

Two of these were bad!

the 2022 vintage – today…

By billn on May 26, 2022 #vintage 2022

Yellow fancy iris - 2022
This ‘fancy yellow’ is often the first iris (it was the second of about 14 varieties this year) to flower in my (Swiss) garden – you can compare the precocity of the flowering dates here too:
09 May 2018
23 May 2019
05 May 2020
23 May 2021
14 May 2022 (above)

Now is a good time to start looking more closely at the 2022 vintage for grapes too!

2022, as in most recent years, began with warmer temperatures in February and March but these temperatures at least followed a ‘proper’ winter with many frosts and even some occasional snow.

Young vine Puligny Combettes 28 March 2022
Young vine Puligny Combettes 28 March 2022

Of course, the biggest issue with warm weather in February and March is that the growth starts quite early in the vines such that Spring Frosts are more worrying events than was previously the case. The perfect example of this was last year, 2021, when the temperatures at the end of March were above 25°C, pushing the buds to start opening – but one week later, most of Burgundy was hit with overnight temperatures of -4 to -8°C – and for the best part of 10 days. Typically, this impacts the whites the most, as chardonnay tends to start its growth cycle a week, or more, before the pinot noir. White-centric domaines in 2021 lost 50-80% of their crops because of the frosts.

The situation was virtually identical this year – only the March temperatures were lower – ‘only’ 2-3° lower though, with 23-24°C – but the timing of this year’s frost was almost identical to that of 2021. Candles, newer wood-pulp burners, windmills and for the first time this year, quickly deployed trace-heating cables (Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne and Jobard’s Meursault Genevrières – powered by generators in the vineyards – which seems much more environmentally sustainable) were deployed. Many producers looked glum after the frosts had passed but the majority chose to bite their tongues, saying that we should wait for the flowering before commenting on ‘how bad’ the result might be. I waited too!


Rape-seed pollen everwhere!

Romanée-Conti in flower - 24-May 2022Chardonnay flowers first, the pinots and gamay maybe a week later. We are currently seeing the debut of flowering in the Hautes Côtes, mid-flowering in the Côte de Nuits (Romanée-Conti, right) with some parts of the Côte de Beaune chardonnay already done – the smiles on the faces of the growers are currently broad – there are, it seems, plenty of grapes – which can often be the case after a frosted year – but nobody wants to think about consecutive frosts! Other than some wind and rain last weekend – storms were forecast but hardly materialised and this was a relief for growers because many of the shoots were long but not yet supported/restrained by the wires which will hold them in place – the wind can rip these fragile young shoots from their branches! The flowering has been in optimal weather; hovering around 30°C before the modest weekend wind and rain. It has been around 10°C cooler this week but with not much wind and fine blue skies.

Last week, the growers were in the vines treating them with sulfur against maladies; mildew really needs to be controlled before, or very early in, the flowering and seems rare for now, but oïdium is more of a worry in dry conditions. At the end of last week, Meteo France were proclaiming 40 consecutive days across France that exceded the annual average temperatures for the time of year – and herein lies the explanation for the (development of the) current stage of growth in the vines:
20th April 2022: estimate for growth – 2 weeks behind 2020 and 2014 at the same stage in those years
24th May 2022: estimate for growth, same as 2020 at the same stage that year*
*Chambre d’Agriculture for the Côte d’Or

Pommard 25-May 2022Unlike 2021 where cooler, wet weather, prevailed for weeks after the frost, 2022 has seen warm weather and almost no retardation of growth. At the end of last week, coupled with some much-needed rain, one vigneron told me that it was hard to keep up with the growth of the vines – anywhere between 5-10cm (right, image from Pommard yesterday) of growth per day! For this reason, the vignerons are, this week, making their first rognages – trimming the tops of the vines – and are already marking their calendars for another August harvest in the Côte de Beaune and possibly in the Côte de Nuits too.

Without weather accidents, the potential yields look okay – assuming, of course, sufficient rain – which was an issue for many domaines in both 2019 and 2020 and there is already a rain deficit versus the average year.

Of course, I’ll keep you posted!

Offer of the day – Domaine d’Eugénie 2018

By billn on May 20, 2022 #the market

From my usual Swiss source:

In brackets, you will see the prices of the 2017s and, as usual, — means not offered

Domaine d’Eugénie 2018:
Vosne-Romanée 2018 75cl 79.00 (75.00)* (Swiss Francs)
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Brûlées 2018 75cl — (188.00)

Clos Vougeot 2018 75cl 359.00 (349.00)
Echézeaux 2018 75cl 359.00 (349.00)

Meursault 1er Cru Poruzots 2018 75cl 148.00 (—)

The price you see is ‘delivered’ but ex 7.7% Swiss purchase tax. It seems that 80-. is becoming common-place for even a villages wine these days – yet all the domaines are sold-out and their 2021s are fully reserved – which doubtless leaves them asking themselves ‘Why did we price so low?!‘ …

looking for something to do in the côtes – june-july?

By billn on May 18, 2022 #events

The Association of Climats – the body initially in place for the Unesco World Heritage bid and now for continuing events – has released a calendar of events for the summer months of June and July.

If you click on the image (right) you will get the pdf with all the events – only in French – but there are many things that you might find interesting. In fact I find quite a number of them interesting 😉

Saint’s day…

By billn on May 18, 2022 #degustation

Saint's Day

I planned a tasting of 2020 Saint Romain and Saint Aubin for this week in Beaune – little did I know that growers, stressed by a lack of vineyard workers and exponential growth of their vines just now, (more on that tomorrow) had better things to do than send samples to Beaune.

It’s not just me – re samples – Decanter this week were in the same position, Bourgogne Aujourd’hui and the Revue du Vin de France too, and even the BIVB’s Cave Prestige has seen a big drop in the number of samples sent by the domaines – estimating ‘half’ the volume of samples versus previous years would be generous!

So, I clearly didn’t have enough samples to make a single report for subscribers, so I’ll simply place the tasting notes here. Still, there are three domaines that I’d be interested to follow up on and, as always, the wines were tasted blind, their identities revealed only for the camera once done:

2020 Sebastien Magnien, St.Romain Sous le Château
Cork – broke in two
A forward and broad nose – citrus skins and relatively modest creamy oak. Broad, nicely vibrant flavour here. The oak is not excessive and fills out the palate, augmenting fine citrus bitters. This is very nicely mouth-watering and could be enjoyed today, though I’d perhaps wait 2 years. This is a lovely finishing wine.

2020 Géraldine Louise, St.Romain La Périère
A personalised cork – and I like the contemporary label very much
A little extra colour. A wide, if calmer, more compact nose in other directions – airy, faintly spiced, less visible oak. A wine that goes deeper, showing riper fruit too, more generous – almost rich. Here the oak is more visible in the flavours and whilst mouth-watering and showing a little mineral character in the finish, the previous wine is much more refreshing and has the better energy today. Give this 2-3 years in the cellar to see how it opens.

2020 Château Philippe le Hardi, St.Aubin En Vesveau
DIAM10
A more stony, mineral, freshness to this nose – narrower but quite deep. Hmm – flighty, energetic, relatively direct – tension – lots of rock and citrus, only faintly of oak and faintly perfumed in the modest length finish. I love the energy here – a super wine for today’s apéro…

2020 Larue, St.Aubin 1er Sous Roche Dumay
Fortunately to pad out this tasting(!) I had a glass of this the day before! I didn’t see the seal.
That has both a width and an energy to the nose – the oak is very modest and it’s the citrus complexity that’s in command. The first impression is of a direct wine, vibrant with mineral energy – no padding. Time in the glass widens the perspective. Another wine of tension and delicious flavours. This is very good!

2020 Pierre Brisset, St.Aubin 1er Sous Roche Dumay
DIAM10 – and a second Sous Roche Dumay – not that well-known a 1er!
A fuller nose – large in the depth too – almost a richness of fruit. Belying the richness of the nose is a mouth-filling wine of lovely energy. There’s a more than interesting, almost haunting, mineral width to the finishing flavour. That’s a beautiful finish – a wine with disparate parts but a very good wine – so wait for it to come together – it could become excellent.

2020 Prosper-Maufoux, St.Aubin 1er Clos du Chateau
54mm (long!) cork and a much too heavy bottle!
Lovely – complex, airy, citrus – a little lime in the mix too – such an inviting nose. Mouth-filling – a flavour that really expands over the palate – almost fizzing as it goes. Not quite the sherbet-style of Montagny but some comparisons. A finish that rolls over the palate as it slowly unwinds. My favourite so far and a wine that should get better and better in the cellar – excellent wine.

2020 Prosper-Maufoux, St.Aubin 1er Combes au Sud
DIAM10 and a lighter bottle – so it seems that I tasted these two in the wrong order…
There are aromatic parallels with the flavours of the previous wine – sherbet energy – here backed with a modest oak component. More silky and mineral – hmm – another level of ripe but balanced concentration here. This flavour is delicious though with an ‘apple-y’ oxidative style and more visible oak – despite that, it’s an impressive finish. That’s a good wine, with very good energy too – but for drinking today – for my cellar, I’d prefer the previous wine because of the oxidiative style of this.

weekend wine – week #18 2022

By billn on May 10, 2022 #degustation

weekend 18 2022

2019 Gautheron, Chablis 1er Montmains
One of my house wines from last year: Already coming into a great place (I might be tempted to open my 2020 Homme Mort!) with freshness and aromatic clarity – a super invitation. In the mouth, cool, all sinew and muscle – mineral freshness. A wine to drink and drink – and we did! Lovely stuff
Rebuy – Yes

2003 des Chézeaux/Berthaut, Gevery-Chambertin 1er Cru
In small-volume vintages – such as this – their Cazetiers and Lavaux are usually blended. For at least 15 years this wine has been absolutely delicious. Today, showing a small extra aromatic maturity but luscious, sweet fruit on the palate too – it just goes to show how we have become accustomed to the ripeness of modern wines – this was quite an outlier for many years – it’s now, practically, normal! On day two the last third (overnighted in the fridge) didn’t smell so nice – I didn’t finish my glass – but day one was really on top form. I think I have 3 or 4 more – I’m sure that they will all be enjoyed!
Rebuy – Yes

just a bit of cramp

By billn on May 09, 2022 #events

…but still 24.4 km done today for the team at Bike to Care.

The only real negative (cramp excepted) of this foot-tour through the Côte de Beaune from Santenay in the south to Beaune in the north – the cuverie of Louis Jadot as finishing-line – was the north wind! In the face the whole way! Never cold though, we had almost 24°C and lots of sunshine. The vines looked resplendent – now with 20-30cm, or more, of leafy growth.

The bikers will tackle another 100km stage tomorrow – the Côte de Nuits this time. Me? I’ll be making some domaine visits – and comparing tales of aching legs at the Château de Clos Vougeot tomorrow evening 😉

As it’s not quite over, feel free to contribute at this link!

Santenay to Beaune...

offer of the day – domaine leflaive 2019 & 2020 mâconnais & chalonnaise

By billn on May 08, 2022 #the market

DOMAINE LEFLAIVE 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Mâcon-Verzé 2017, 2018, 2019 75cl 33.00 (Swiss francs*)
Mâcon-Verzé Les Chênes 2017, 2018, 2019 75cl 38.00
Mâcon-Verzé Le Monté 2019 75cl 39.00
Pouilly-Fuissé 2020 (2019, 2018) 75cl 52.00 (49.00, 49.00)
Rully 1er Cru Leflaive & Associés 2017, 2018, 2020 75cl 49.00
Image, right, ex-Domaine Leflaive

As usual from this merchant, the prices are ‘delivered’ but without the mandatory 7.7% purchase tax. Save for a little jump for the Pouilly, stable as she goes…

2020 Thillardon, Chénas Vibrations

By billn on May 06, 2022 #degustation

Thillardon Vibration

2020 Thillardon, Chénas Vibrations
It’s not often that a bottle is drunk on an evening chez moi – even with two of us to satisfy – but this wine managed it with ease! Medium red colour with a nose that suggests no sulfur then over-delivers on attractive red berry fruit. In the mouth; sweetness, plenty of generosity too, yet never ponderous. There’s a mineral energy too here that befits the name of this cuvée – and frankly, it was just delicious.
Rebuy – Yes

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