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               Why Big Red Diary?

random ruminations…

The Côte d’Or in winter: Take some dormant vines on a hillside, add a little snow here, add a little frost there – it can look so picturesque. The vineyards resemble old black and white lithographs from wood-cuts or the pencil lines on an artist’s sketchpad – but those photos can never convey just how the wind can rip through the most technical (and expensive) of outdoor clothing. You are frozen to your core, little wonder that it’s only the lost tourists or the clinically insane that you’re likely to meet as you follow a vineyard’s contours in January – at least in January anyway…

The Hospices: No-one took me up on my bet of a bottle of de Vogüé Musigny Vieilles Vignes: i.e. that 75%+ of the cuvées would set record prices – just as well – despite the combination of a very good vintage and the marketing might of Christies, the increases were relatively modest at +11% – not forgetting that the 2004’s were down on 2003. Considering the potential of the vintage, lucky for the buyers though…

It’s about disposable income: If I look at my consumption now vs five years ago, I seem to have made a gradual transition to lower appellation wines. I feel that I retain a reasonably broad coverage, but my percentage of empty Grand Cru bottles heading for recycling has certainly diminished. Given that this was no conscious decision on my part there must be an underlying reason…

My cellar purchases seem roughly on-par with before – so I’ve still plenty to look forward to – but there’s a definite change when it comes to drinking. Given that most ‘spare’ cash is converted to bottles, I either have less spare cash, or the ‘average’ wine is getting more expensive. Actually the quantity consumed could be a factor too – I haven’t raised my threshold of a mid-week maximum half a bottle per day, but I probably do it more often!

On balance though, I think it’s more to do with purchase price: Five years ago it was possible to buy many Grand Cru wines for €40-50, today (outside of Chablis) this is a challenge! Perhaps we are now typically faced with €60-90 – not many households have increased their disposable incomes by 50% in the same years so simply cannot keep up. To come back to the same value proposition as about 4 years ago – i.e. when 1999 was released – we need a price reduction for the 2004’s and then another for the 2005’s. Well most 2004 have not gone down – admittedly yields were low – but despite much higher yields in 2005, it looks like many will go up some more. It looks like I’ll be having a lot of notes from Ladoix and Marsannay! I wonder at what stage the producers will might start to suffer…

Everyone wants to be a négociant… Méo-Camuzet, Thibault Liger-Belair, Dujac, Pascal Lachaux and many, many more. In recent years all have begun négociant operations that sit alongside their domaine wines. Of course when sons and daughters take their share of family domaines, there are often insufficient vines to make a living – buying material from outside becomes a necessity, however, speaking with the trade, there are about another 30 new licensed négociants looking for material vs this time last year. Some openly talk about the honour of the opportunity to work with other terroirs, but I suspect a domaine with a good name can sell almost anything – particularly when labels are not well differentiated – and at today’s prices…

Memo to self – must find out how to become a négociant.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?