Posted by: jmbwineblog | September 30, 2011

Two Burgundy Visits During Harvest.

As you will have read from my previous post, from trawling through my twitter feed, you will probably have noticed that I went to help out Ray Walker (Maison Ilan; http://www.maison-ilan.com )with the harvest and some of the barreling post-alcoholic fermentation. I had hoped (but for friends arriving around the same time) to be helping Ray for the whole stint regardless of dates, but this was unfortunately not to be. So plumped for dates based on Ray’s 90% guestimate for harvest dates, only to arrive on the day of departure from the Alps to find that the Gods had not been in my favour. This was unfortunate, because making appointments anywhere during harvest, unless you made them months in advance is close to a nightmare if you wish to try things from quality-driven producers. But so it was to be, and luckily the gods were pleased with my stressful phone calls, and allowed that the harvest dates be bunched together slightly for me to take part, and for you to be able to read my previous incomprehensible report. Luckily, some phone calls were made, and it was possible to conduct a few appointments, and fit in a good lunch before harvesting and spending some quality time with Ray getting up close and personal with the grapes.

Patrick Javillier

I managed to get hold of Patrick Javillier on the phone, and being the gentleman that reports have told me he is, he was very apologetic that he would not be around in the afternoon to show us the cellars and taste any wines there as he would have to check on his vines to make sure that everything was in order for the vintage. I would assume, although he did not say, that this was for his reds, because based on his style I would guess that his whites would have already been picked. He did say however, that their small shop in Meursault would be open and that we could just pop in their anytime and taste whatever was open to be tasted. With little else to do other than go for walks and show my friends the most famous plots in the Cote d’Or we set off in this endeavour. We arrived to find another group ahead of us, but we were happy to wait and have a look around the village of Meursault.

The entrance to the Caveau...

We started with the white wines of the stable.

2009 Bourgogne Blanc “Cuvee des Forgets”; rich, round, nutty, nice balance, buttery, white flowers, mineral, delicate but slightly ripe. ****(*) or [4+4+4+4=16/20]

2009 Savigny-les-Beaune Blanc “Les Monchenevoy”; round, sweet, more caramel, elegant, cheesecake, sweets, candy, ripe! ***(**) or [4.5+4+4+4=16.5/20]

2009 Meursault “Les Tillets”; classic smoky Tillets, round, mineral, balanced, delicate, fine, nice length, liquorice, pepper, very good indeed. ****(**+) or [4.5+4+4.5+4=17+/20]

2009 Meursault “Les Clousots”; [blend of two climats, Clotot and Le Clos]; rounder, creamier, richer with more butter flavour, mineral, marble, delicate, balanced, floral, with really nice length. ****(**+) or [4+4+4.5+4.5=17/20]

2008 Meursault “Cuvee Tete du Murger”; [another blend of two climats, Les Castettes and Les Murgers]; poised, precise, fresh, delicate, rounded but more closed, lemon, lime, zesty, crisp. Excellent length, minerals and spice. Quince jelly. Complex. ****(**++) or [3.5+4+4.5+4.5=16.5+++/20]

It wasn’t possible to try the 1er Cru Meursault or Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru because the levels they have remaining in the cellars is now miniscule, and my quality v price favourite Bourgogne Blanc “Cuvee Oligocene” was sold out in France (I was told it had all been sent to the UK!!)

The white wines...

I have always been a fan of Patrick’s white wines, and knew that they would be good quality, with the small caveat that I am not a huge fan of the whites in 2009. However, these were good and on the whole one can see that they have improved in bottle since January whilst still being very approachable and enjoyable for the moment. What really surprised me in a good way were the Red Wines, which for my mind are good value and not very well-known perhaps outside of Burgundy itself.

2000 Savigny-les-Beaune “Les Grands Liards”[opened on Friday before our Monday visit]; smoke, sugar, cherry, plum, herbs, round, perfumed, flint, peat, earth, iron ore, rocks, wild strawberry, herby, crisp, poised, leafy, quince. ******+? or [4.5+4+4.5+4.5=17.5/20]

2008 Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “Les Serpentieres”; smoke, plum, minerals, lifted, perfume, oak, poised, slightly closed, deep, in need of time. Delicate, mineral. Very very nice. ***(****) or [4+4.5+4.5+4.5=17.5+/20]

2009 Aloxe-Corton; round, rich, balanced, a touch grapey with some sulphur sticking out, cassis, eggy, raspberry, structured. Needs some time but this will be nice. ***(***) or [4+4+4+4=16/20]

I walked away being very impressed with the Red wines, which I was told in recent years are actually made by Patrick’s daughter and niece because the vines came from his wife’s family and his vines are all white on which he wishes to concentrate. I certainly look forward to tasting these again in the future!

Late afternoon vines in Meursault heading towards Puligny-Montrachet!

This would be our only visit on the Monday, but we would head back towards Vosne-Romanee in order to see the famous Grand Crus around there, and some of the neighbouring climats. Grapes were seen and where they weren’t a touch shrivelled from proper Botrytis, they looked good and healthy. Romanee-Conti itself would be picked the following day, and I would assume La Tache as well. La Grande Rue and parts of Richebourg and Romanee-Saint-Vivant had been picked, with others still to come. Driving through the vineyards to our harvest locations on Wednesday and Thursday showed that they were picked around those dates…

Two wines over lunch!

The next day, having managed to get a lunch booking for six people at a now favourite restaurants of my wife and I, Bernard Loiseau in the town of Saulieu. We made our way in our cars on the hour-long drive through the rolling countryside behind the hills surrounding Beaune to find our location and have another wonderful lunch. We had been mightily impressed with the food and the service when we first went to this three Michelin starred establishment, and whilst the food may not excite those who like a more experimental form of cuisine, here they take the best ingredients that they can find, and make them to perfection. If you understand Japanese cuisine, you will love it here. We took the Menu National 6 (named after the famous Route Nationale 6 which runs through the area), which is a superb value week-day lunch menu, thus allowing us to splurge a little bit on wine, but we didn’t push the boat too far out, as it is possible to drink some wines in Burgundian restaurants for less than it would cost to buy the wine in a wine-shop outside of the region!

...of one of the dishes! 😀

Between six of us, we stuck to a bottle of white and a bottle of red!

2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Enseigneires”; Domaine J-F Coche-Dury: crisp, lifted, deep but with elegant restrained toasty oak, zesty, crisp, lime zest, lemon, delicate, subtle, butter and nuts. Impressive, delicate, subtle, linear finish that seems to vibrate on the palate. A touch of sulphur but it oscillates flecks of what is to come with more bottle age in the finish. Absolutely superb, lemon curd, minerals, rock, soil, lightly toasted bread, sea breeze, salt, oyster shell, lovely freshness. Incredible length. This isn’t quite as piercing in terms of acidity as some of his Meursaults, but that due to the fact that this sits nicely alongside memories of other vintages of this wine showing similar traits, must be due to the terroir. A beguiling, intriguing, super wine. ****(***) or [4.5+4+5+4.5=18+/20]

1996 Pommard 1er Cru “Les Rugiens”; Domaine Hubert de Montille: dense, poised, fresh, herby and in need of more time. Wild plum, wild strawberry, wild raspberry, delicate, subtle, oyster sauce, round, rich, with wonderful length. Classic, delicate, garrique, herbs, perfume, roses, rosewater, spice, earth, soil, elegant, long, linear but with plenty of complexity that hasn’t yet unfurled. Poised, precise, elegant, tobacco leaf, crisp, classy, vibrant and effervescent. Starting to become broader and more mouthfilling but the structure, poise and concentration hints at another 10-15 years at least. Wonderful length, plum, earth, marble, minerals, basil, minty and fresh. Classic de Montille. ***(****+) or [4.5+4.5+4.5+5=18.5+/20]

The desserts here are also a delight.

The other person who was more than willing to briefly see us and accommodate us was Mark Haisma (of Yarra Yerring fame, who now has bits and pieces going on in Gevrey-Chambertin and a smidgen in Cornas), so it was quickly back down there to meet him just after he had finished his days work on the harvest, to taste what would mainly be fermenting juice.

par Mark Haisma

Mark mainly lives in London, popping over to Burgundy at important times of the year to work in his wine project. (More about which can be found at http://www.markhaisma.com )Despite being busy with the harvest, he was more than happy to accommodate us and show us around his operation. Mark is lively and outgoing and gets very excited showing people what he is doing, whilst remaining very humble.

Mark and I atop the mechanical sorting table looking at discarded grapes!

Whilst remaining humble, Mark is a high quality wine-maker who made superb wines at Yarra Yerring, and from all accounts and from this visit, is making some really great wines in Burgundy as well. We spent a lot of time chatting about the juices, and the fruit, and what Mark will do with some of the discarded fruit we saw, but in the end, it is all very much designed to make a great selection of high quality wines, that whilst remaining distinctly Mark’s wines, still reflect their terroir and the climats from which they originate.

Tasting some of the best grapes from bunches that were not quite perfect...

We moved onto looking at how the wines are made next, and once destemmed, the berries go into cement tanks and with a touch of sulphur are allowed to rest for a few days before a natural fermentation takes place, the wines then go into barrel to finish their malolactic fermentations, before being bottled before resale onto the market.

Mark's favourite cement tanks!

After being shown the Cap on some of the fermenting juices, we tried various different juices that would for one thing be a great experience, as tasting young juice, is not something that one can do every day! For this I am very grateful to Mark for taking the time and effort to allow us to taste the fruits of his labour.

2011 Gevrey-Chambertin “Croix de Champs”; [four-hour old juice]; lots of freshness, lots of concentration, lovely balance. Apple, wild strawberry although a touch eggy from the sulphur to control the fermentation and allow the juice to rest.

2011 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru; [3 days old, andjust starting to ferment]: spritz, delicate, concentrated, red fruit, plum, nice length, apple, perfume.

2011 Puligny-Montrachet; [2 day old juice]: concentrated, poised, fine, elegant, white plum, lemon, and should be really super.

2011 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Embasse”: [5 days old]; poised, concentrated and creamy, putting on weight, with fabulous concentration.

Pouring out some of the juice to be tasted.

Next we tried a couple of the red barrel samples, the two reds from whose 2011 juice we had just sampled.

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin “Croix des Champs”; crisp, nervous, mineral, soft, elegant, with lovely length, crunchy, vivid fruit. 17+/20

2010 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru; big, round, mineral, powerful, long, elegant, smokey, wood, concentrated. Will need a serious amount of time to really shine but this should be super.

For information’s sake, Mark only puts a little bit of new wood to his Grand Crus, but with the 1er and village wines, only used/old wood is used.

Discussing the wines, before tasting one of the lovely 2010s.

Mark is making some really lovely wines with great potential. The 2010s speak of their delicate mineral characters, and generally I think they will be wonderful wines when it is time to drink them with pleasure. The 2011s whilst they were still fermenting when we tried them and thus it is hard to really decipher yet how they will perform once the ferments are complete, tasted lovely and showed both poise, elegance and concentration. Knowing how those two 2010s taste, one could be quietly confident that barring any mishaps, those wines will be very good as well.

Once again, I would like to thank Mark for letting us into his workplace, at such short notice and during such a busy time of the year for him and his team. It was both interesting, eye-opening and very useful for my own vinious education. In fact some of the juice tasted so good, that I would buy it as grape juice… 😀

Until next time,

Happy Drinking.

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  1. […] those who like a more experimental form of cuisine, here they … … Original post: Two Burgundy Visits During Harvest. « Jonathan Beagle's Wine … ← Breeding Beagles for […]


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