Monday, 2 June 2014

This is to wine what Carlsberg is to lager...

...probably the best in the world (ok, not the world, but possibly Italy). Why do I love this wine? 

It is authentic. It is not diluted with non indigenous grape varieties.

It has character, yet it is fine.

It is excellent value. If a wine of this quality was from the Médoc, it would be at least twice the price. 

It is perfect with food - the optimal balance of fruit, tannin, and acidity.

Perhaps most of all, it is evocative. It has the ability to transport the drinker to the place it was made. Isn't that terroir? Possibly, but this wine has a well defined sense of place. 4* 8/ 10

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A breath of fresh air in Paris

Long weekend in Paris, where most restaurants are like a broken record, churning out the same bistrôt classics with copycat wine lists (Côte de Brouilly, Côte du Rhône, Medoc, Saumur Champigny...).

No note, just a great wine. Château de Chamirey, Mercurey blanc, 2008.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Fourrier 'spritz'

I've read lots about the Fourrier CO2 'spritz' but seldom experienced the frustration first hand. He makes great wines but if you didn't know otherwise you'd be forgiven for thinking they were average and poorly made. Fourrier himself suggests putting your thumb over the bottle and turning upside down a couple of times to release the CO2. Where does the CO2 come from? Fourrier doesn't rack his wines (move from one container to another), which would allow the CO2 - a by product of fermentation - to escape into the air. Indeed, the CO2 plays the same role as sulphur, which winemakers add to protect their wines from oxidation. The alternative remedy to shaking the bottle is to let the CO2 disappear with age as the wine matures. Nonetheless, if you can afford and obtain Fourrier's wines, once you've made it past the 'spritz', they sing with a purity of fruit, made possible by the CO2 protection. 

Morey St-Denis, Clos Solon, Domaine Fourrier, 2009

Beautiful deep beetroot and translucent ruby red core. Upon opening the nose was intense and captivating. However, after initial opening the nose disappeared, only to reappear 3 hours later with the rest of the wine. The palette is sheer silk in a glass with sublime balance. Some liquorice and spice initially and then black cherry and oak with a medium finish. Took a lot of time and shaking to lose the CO2 'prickle', which was finally gone (typically) by the last glass. A very good wine, but didn't live up to my admittedly high expectations. 4* 6/ 10

Monday, 17 March 2014

Of bishops and knights: Clos du Vignon

Sticking with the vineyard series, this time Clos du Vignon in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits. The locals of Marey-lès-Fussey have made wine from the vineyard (see photo above) since the twelfth century. The current owner, Domaine Thévenot Le Brun, make both a red and a white wine from the seven hectare Clos du Vignon. The Chardonnay is planted on the south-east slope while the Pinot is on the steepest slope, oriented a little more to the south. The bottle has the following sentimental quotation on its label...

"Et son vin dont les ceps unissaient leurs murmures, aux cloches des Couvents, aux frissons des armures, fut le vin des Prélats et des preux Chevalliers."

Which roughly translates as: "And its wine whose grapes joined their rustling to the bells of the convents, to the thrill of the suits of armour, made the wine of bishops and brave knights."

Whether the wine still evokes convent bells and suits of armour remains to be seen. Having just bought three bottles, I shall report in due course...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Diamond in the rough: Au Clos Bardot

Officially Côtes de Nuits Villages, the villages of Comblanchien and Corgoloin are not well known. Nonetheless, I have found them to be a consistent source of good quality, decent value wine. In his iBook, Inside Burgundy: Côte de NuitsJasper Morris remarks...

“Comblanchien... could be described as the marble village: here the vine has to take second place to the quarrying. The vineyards lie on both sides of the main road running the full length of the commune, finishing up against the premier cru Nuits-St-Georges Clos de la Maréchale at the northern end. To get a feel for the underlying hard limestone, it is worth taking the dusty road out of the southern end of the village up towards Villers-la-Faye for a look at the quarries which appear shortly on the left. Au Clos Bardot (0.67ha) [is] situated just below the D973 as you move from Corgoloin into Comblanchien, with a little sign in the vineyard to identify it.”

And now for a wine from Au Clos Bardot...

Bourgogne Clos Bardot, Domaine de Bellene, 2010

From vines planted in 1936! Beautiful colour with bright translucent crimson core. Wow, big and really complex nose. Lots going on: black cherries, cloves... I just don't have the adjectives to do this justice! Light with sweet tannins and vanilla core. Crunchy red currant fruit with sous-bois (just like fruits of the forest yoghurt) and an imaculate backbone of sweet strawberries balanced with just enough (balsamic?) acidity and oak. Medium but unpronounced finish. This is a really great little wine that punches well above its weight and, £11 per bottle duty paid, is great value too. This is the best wine I have drunk year to date. 2* 9/ 10

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Call of the search!

Sometimes you find a wine you like so much, you think "call off the search" because there is no point searching for anything better. This is one of those wines.

Saint-Veran, Les Chailloux, Domaine des Deux Roches, 2008

Bright and golden, showing some age. Big bouquet of ripe fruit and very Meursault. Lovely balance of tropical fruit, oak and acidity, with a rich but not overly cloying palette. Another layer of apricot stones? Long and vibrant finish. If tasted blind you'd be forgiven for thinking this was something much more expensive from Meursault! 2.5* 8/ 10

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Vintage advice from Burgundy

Berry Bros's boots on the ground in Burgundy,  Jasper Morris MW, recommends which vintages to drink and keep... 

Drink (red): 2001 & 2007

Drink (white): anything pre 2009 (except 2005)

Keep (red): 1999, 2002 and 2003 can be drunk now but will improve; 2006 and 2008 for a year or two; leave 2005 for a while

Keep (white): 2010 and 2011 can be drunk now but will improve; keep 2005 and 2009 for a while

Usual caveats regarding generalisations apply.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A lost chapter in Burgundy

Le Chapitre is an AOC Bourgogne climat in Chenôve, on the outskirts of Dijon. Despite its lowly appellation and location in the suburbs of Dijon, Le Chapitre was once considered one of Burgundy’s finest wines.  The wines of Chenôve were first documented by the Abbaye de Bèze in the 7th century and by the 11th century the Chapitre vineyard was recorded as part of the cathedral chapter of Autun, from whom the vineyard gets its name. Indeed, Le Chapitre was owned by the Dukes of Burgundy until the late 15th century and in its 18th century heyday it is reputed to have commanded a higher price than Gevrey. However, owing to an oversight of epic proportions in 1936, the communes of Chenôve and Marsannay refused to sign up the new  Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system, thereby condemning their vineyards to irrelevance for the next fifty years.


Today, the majority Chenôve's wines are sold as AOC Marsannay, which was awarded AOC status in 1986. However, the 31 hectares of le Chapitre are sold as AOC Bourgogne. Indeed, the vineyard itself would be totally annonymous were it not for its heritage that allows it to keep the climat name on the label, an honour not normally awarded to the catch-all AOC Bourgogne. Therefore, as is common along the length of the Côte d'Or, the landscape and etymology of the vineyards reveal a rich tapestry of history and terroir. So, while the modern urban sprawl of Dijon has all but consumed the once rural village of Chenôve, the chapter house and its eponymous vineyard remain and hark back to more celebrated past. However, all is not lost. Chenôve is applying for AOC Marsannay status for Le Chapitre as part of a wider campaign to promote other climats in Marsannay to premier cru.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Saturday, 15 February 2014

All along the watchtower

"All along the watchtower, there princes kept the view. While all the women came and went, barefoot servants too."

This wine comes form a vineyard named after the watchtower, or guette, situated within. The domaine, Pavelot, is one of the best addresses in Savigny-les-Beaune and from where I bought the wine last year.

Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru Aux Guettes, Domaine Pavelot, 2009

Dark, almost like claret, with very dark rim and blood red core. Closed nose, nothing to report. Brooding palette, nice depth with very grapey fruit with soft, sweet black currant and plums. Very long finish of red fruits and well integrated, soft tannins and oak (suggests limited new oak for a wine so young). Overall, a really good wine with lots of complexity and delicious fruit. Definitely a cut above the usual Savigny, even the premier crus. 4* 8/ 10