random ruminations

There’s a turn-up – the Summer Issue and its still summer!

As you will have noted from last summer’s Beaune-fest, the lack of a paying subscriber ‘model’ for Burgundy Report means that I’m as free as a bird to find out about, and write about, whatever comes into my head and at least seems interesting at my embarkation point. The destination for this issue is that Mecca of label-chasers, Santenay.

Santenay is one of the most important appellations of the Côte d’Or – at least in size – and is the source of many a blending component when a winemaker is looking to beef-up some cuvée or-other. In this report we go behind the blending component to look at wines that offer value in their own right – both red and white. I would have liked just one more domaine, a fourth, from Santenay, but a late cancellation left me three – but three good ones.

2011 and all that…
I’ll reserve further comment on the 2011 harvest, and any ‘insight’ into the relative merits of the vintage’s raw materials for the Autumn Issue, as usual. The wait will afford a little insight in the chemical as well as the optical, but as many of you may have already noted, there were a lot of bugs to be seen during the harvest this year, more-so than in 2004.

Because of that I can say with 100% certainty that I won’t buy a single bottle of wine as an en-primeur, nor any based on barrel-tastings – the proof of the pudding will only be wines in bottle for at least 6 months – I don’t want to be packing most of it off to auctions five years down the line. I did that once already!

March of the Dimes DIAMS…
I’m not aware of a handy piece of research that provides a complete justification, but there is a significant swing to the concept of the DIAM, cork-amalgam closure – or if that didn’t make any sense to you, a synthetic cork.

The DIAM has been guaranteed free of TCA (cork taint) for some time; but recently this manufacturer has expanded their offer from a DIAM 5 (guaranteed 5 years) to a new DIAM 10 (10 years, but there’s no product info on the website). Some producers, Patrick Javillier for instance, are concerned that the jump from 5 to 10 might mean that the seal is just a little too hermetic, but he’s decided to give it a go anyway. Patrick’s not the only one; Roger Belland (Santenay), Etienne de Montille (Château Puligny-Montrachet) and Bouchard Père et Fils (Beaune) have apparently also decided to follow suit – and for all their wines, Maranges to Montrachet. This latter producer will have a significant impact – they commercialise about 3 million bottles per year!

Will it help as one component in the battle against premature oxidation? Clearly a hot topic now that Decanter have taken up the cudgel! Well, it can’t make things worse – can it? Always assuming we don’t have rampant problems of reduction!

I think it’s worth remembering the words of Benjamin Leroux from the Spring Issue:

“I make some work with DIAM and also screwcaps (at Comte Armand too); I would prefer to stay with cork as a natural material, but we have some problems with them. Despite all my efforts, I still have 5% of wines that are not correct – not just corked, but simply not correct. If you look at the carbon footprint of having to dispose of problematic bottles, producing screw-caps might use a lot of energy, but losing 5% of your wine has a much higher impact.”

Enjoy what remains of your summer.
Cheers, Bill

5 responses to “random ruminations”

  1. paul staindl

    Bill, first time i’ve really looked at your newsletter but was intrigued by your reference to the ’04 Burgs and the obvious implication that the peculiar character may arise from the ladybirds theory. (i.e. fermented ladies in the soup)
    I must say I was sceptical about that theory and always thought the character was more of a pyrozeme nature – ie. shaded or unripe fruit.
    I had the pleasure of tasting the whole line up of 04 DRCs in ’06 (except Romanee Conti) and some of those wines showed that character. Aubert was asked about it and he was quite dismissive of it and said within 5 years it would not be noticeable. I treated this statement with considerable reserve. However, i did not send the 04s to auction.
    I try them every now and then and I have to say that I think Aubert may have been correct. That character is definitely receding/disappearing. My latest example was an 04 Lamarche Grands Echezeuax which defn had it – but two weeks ago i just couldnt see it. Many other bottles are heading the same way.
    It is good the winemakers are now seriously questioning closures though. Way over due.
    Pau Staindl

  2. Emmental

    There were a lot of Bourgogne wines infused with pyrazine in 2004 – and I am indeed doubting their particular taste will fade over time – at least within the time slot that a wine remains a pleasure to drink… My last experience dates from last week, after opening a Irancy 2004 from Dauvissat – Pooh, and pyrazines there were – not really “ma tasse de thé”.
    Bill: As to the vendanges 2011: Took my little Pinot noir plot on the Vully (CH) on sept 09 and made observations similar to those reported from Bourgogne: beeries w/ excellent colour but already partially “flétrie” and w/ relatively low acidity- and sugar-levels. The biggest trouble were not the bugs but the wasp-stinged beeries, there was one in every other bunch and you have to cut them out to avoid vinegar producing bacteria!

  3. adrian latimer

    Hello Bill,
    Very nice to meet you at Camille Giroud on the 2nd, and yes there were a fair few ladybugs in the grape baskets!
    We just tasted a Perrot-Minot MSD and Castagnier Clos de le Roche, both 2004, and did not finish either bottle. Both had a strangely aromatic, overpowering egde to them – tarry? Quite unpleasant and make me worried for other 04’s (let alone DRC…)
    ps they do make lovely wines at Giroud! But I wonder if finally the more classical 08s are in fact better than the much hyped (& priced) 09s in the Ct de Nuits..?

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