Friday, June 26, 2009

On tasting this weekend

I have mislaid my notebook, so Iwill continue my Burgundy producer reports next week. In the meantime, this weekend we have on tasting:

St. Michael Eppan Pinot Bianco 2008 - fresh as a daisy, quite round with loads of fruit and a long, crisp finish.

Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto 2007 - a bit lighter than the 06, but not lacking either fruit or concentration, this is very high quality dolcetto from one of Piedmont's rising stars.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mugneret Gibourg

Mugneret Gibourg is probably the best known and most highly sought-after estate that we deal with - most of the others are upandcomers or leftofcentres, which is often the way it seems to work with our producers. Anyway, their cellar is less cellar, more nuclear shelter. You go into the house, through a big door, downstairs, through a barrel cellar, through another cellar that seems to be used for bottling, through a little tunnel that goes under the road (Guinness have one of those in St. James' Gate as well, I dimly remember from my few months there) and then into a big cellar where we taste.

We had been having a conversation over lunch about the veracity or not of different styles in different villages (Vosne silky v Gevrey meaty and so on) or whether the style a producer brings overrides the village style. If you are a terroir fan and look in detail at the geological composition of the soil, you will see that there are different types of soil in each village and you could easily get the same type of soil in part of Gevrey and part of, say, Morey St. Denis.

Anyway, Mugneret is a great example of a producer having a style. From beginning to end, I think there is a Migneret "style" and what a style it is.....

We tasted:

Bourgogne 07 - usually best Bourgogne around ; this one good as ever - silky, pure Pinot fruit, decent structure, delicious
Vosne Romanee - amazing nose, great purity of fruit, very sexy
Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots - fine, concentrated, balanced, elegant, long
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Feusselots - mineral style
Echezeaux - meaty, structured, tannic, masculine
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru (young vines Ruchottes) - excellent fruit, nice concentration
Ruchottes chambertin - very polished, very mineral, very long
Clos de Vougeot - mineral, amazing concentration, excellent

I know my notes don't really do these wines justice, but they were and always are bloody amazing. From Bourgogne up, this producer never fails to impress.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Darviot Perrin

The cellar of Didier Darviot is the most impeccable of any cellar I have been into, in Burgundy or anywhere else. You go in and he has half bottles of the full range, open, lined up and ready to taste. There are clean glasses and spitoons and everything!

Didier is a perfectionist and this perfectionism is reflected in the cleanliness of the cellar, the perfect line-up of half bottles etc. He, along with his wife, also have some amazing holdings of vineyards, including a beautiful parcel of the little known Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru vineyard called Blanchots Dessus. This is over the wall from Le Montrachet and sells for about 1/5th of the price. Still mad expensive, mind.

We have been tasting at this estate for about 6 or 7 years now and this was the best line-up I have ever tasted, all were perfect expressions of their terroir and the principled correctness of M. Darviot himself.

We tasted, all from 2007:

Bourgogne Blanc Les Magnys - from Meursault, single vineyard - broad, rich and lovely
Meursault Clos de la Velle - richer, broader, v good
Meursault Tessons - stonier, more concentrated
Chassagne Montrachet Bergerie - 90 year old vines based 100 yds south of Montrachet - pure, rich & elegant
Meursault 1er Cru Charmes - 100% new oak, wouldn't know it, excellent
Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres - more citrus, angular
Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres - suave, concentrated, rich, nice balance (my fave of the 3)
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Blanchots Dessus - massive concentration, full, mineral, balance
Bourgogne Rouge Les Magnys - same vineyard as white - raspberry nose, light fresh fruity easy
Monthelie Les Crays - light, crisp, fruity
Volnay Les Blanches - top of the hill - raspberries & cream, bit richer, very nice balance
Beaune Belissandes - tight, mineral style, food wine, nice fruit though
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Bondues - sexier style ,like a Vosne, raspberries again, v suave

Are these my favourite wines from Burgundy? Maybe....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Philippe Chavy

Going into Philippe Chavy's tasting room is like going into a room full of people trying to give up smoking. There is tension in the air, not from Philipppe, who is Mr. Relaxed as usual, but from the wines themselves. As a range, they tend to be edgy, nervous, glancing from side to side.

Philippe is based in Puligny Montrachet, an appellation often generalised as being "racy". I don't like generalisations, especially in Burgundy and I'm not entirely sure what racy means, but I like the sound of it. We tasted the following wines, all from 2007:

Aligote - quite rich, nice.
Bourgogne - tight, pure.
Meursault - v good
Puligny Montrachet - lighter, delicate, a bit closed, a bit short?
Meursault Narvaux - - excellent purity and concentration
Puligny Corvees dees Vignes - tight, concentrated and long, big step up from basic Puligny
Puligny Montrachet Rue Rousseau - oaky, but excellent
Meursault Blagny 1er Cru Sous le Dos d'Ane - lemon sherbet fruit, mineral finish, delicious
Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres - no note, but delicious from memory!

Excellent range as always and with the new 25% discount on Philippe's wines from 2007, we hope to be able to shift some wine for him.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Burgundy Report - Vincent Daux, Rully

In our continuing quest to find wines in tune with the Zeitgeist without taking our eye off the quality ball, these wines might fit the bill. (Serious mixing of metaphors there, sorry about that).

Vincent is like the kid in school who always did meticulous school projects. Neatly presented, thoughtful projects that always got lots of praise from the teacher. He has carried these slightly annoying traits into winemaking. Reds and whites in the Rully appellation that are well-made, clean, fresh and pure. Meanwhile, Vincent is there with his neat hair and his freshly ironed shirt, smiling at the oohs and aahs emanating from the gathered tasters.

Two cuvees of white, the basic one is so good that it makes the more expensive one superfluous. Likewise the red. These are the kind of wines that you could drink every day without feeling any hardship whatsoever. These could be good, we haven't bought any of these yet, but may have to consider them.

The presentation is very good, obviously, this is Vincent we are talking about. Still he smiles....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Burgundy Report - Gilles Guerrin

We started our first morning by heading south to the Macon, about 45 minutes from Beaune. First stop was Gilles Guerrin, in Pouilly Fuisse. Gilles has two ranges - a "Tradition" range, vinified in stainless steel and a Cuvee Prestige range, vinified partly in oak. He also tends to put the older vines fruit in the prestige range. He has 3 wines in each range - a Macon Vergisson, a Saint Veran and a Pouilly Fuisse. So it is all nice and symmetrical, the way I like it.

He keeps these two families separate from each other in the cuverie, it is almost as if they don't get on, a little bit of family tension. We first tasted the country cousins of the "tradition" range and these wines are very straightforward, no-nonsense, down to earth examples of their type. Ronseal wines, they do exactly what they say on the bottle and they do it very well indeed.

We then went into the barrel room, which is a bit posher, but not much. You get the impression that that these wines have a bit of a superiority complex, little do they know that they will get blended with 50% from the tradition range for the final blend in any case. They are all a bit richer and smoother alright - the only one that maybe needs to lose a bit of puppy fat is the Pouilly Fuisse Vieilles Vignes.

We have always gone for the straight Macon Vergisson and Pouilly Fuisse and the Saint Veran from the Prestige range - this visit did nothing to suggest we should change; I still think they have the best balance in their respective appellations.

Overall, I was happy with the quality of the wines; Gilles has been a good source of reasonably-priced, well-made white Burgundy for a few years now and he continues to be on top of his game. Gilles is never exactly bubbly, but he was quite vociferous this year on how bad sales were all over - even local people weren't buying for communions or stuff that usually happens this time of year. We will have new stocks of wines from Gilles in the next few days...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Burgundy Report Part 1

I have just got back from our annual trip to Burgundy, which will require a few posts to cover. I thought I would start with some general views on the state of the market in general and the 2007 vintage which was mostly what we tasted. I am not a great taker of notes, to my shame, but I will battle to read my largely illegible scribbles to at least record what we tried over the 2 days.

The vines were in flower while we were there with perfect weather so, all going well, the harvest should happen around the middle of September. The rule of thumb is that you count 100 days from the end of flowering and that is when you should harvest. Ideally they will have the same weather as we had this week - warm, sunny and a slight breeze to keep the grapes healthy - and if that happens, 2009 is looking like a very good vintage indeed. Early days, however, and we have 2007 and 2008 to get through in the meantime.

2007 was a difficult vintage for Burgundy with a cool, wet summer. This, in the past, would have resulted in wines that, at best, lacked concentration or, at worst, were ruined by rot. The key is to deal with good producers who know what they are doing. This means going out into the vineyard and cutting out bunches affected by rot, managing your vineyards carefully and rigourous sorting when the grapes arrive in the winery at harvest time. We tasted nearly 100 wines over the couple of days and I was amazed by the quality - no problems with concentration at all and, for the most part, they were very charming and true to their origins.

The vignerons themselves were a touch downbeat (who isn't?). Exports have fallen through the floor, the negociants (large brands such as Latour etc) are reporting drops in sales of 30% and more, bulk prices are falling which means they will be earning less money and they have just put in 2 very difficult vintages in a row (2007 and 2008) in which they had to work extremely hard to make good wine and save the vintages from the vagaries of the weather.

Luckily, they all believe in their terroir and they believe in the quality they can achieve and, if they have to take a hit for a couple of years, well so be it. They still believe that focus on quality is paramount and I am with them on that one.

Details will follow...

Zenato Promotion

We have a great deal on Zenato at the moment, as follows:

Zenato Lugana down from €14.50 to €12.00

Zenato Valpolicella down from €14.50 to €12.00

Zenato Ripassa down from €22.50 to €18.50

Stock up would be my suggestion.....