In the pipe for the moment are a review of Neal Martin’s “Pomerol” and something about ladybirds. Also something off-piste about tailoring. And a handful of characters who will hopefully answer my requests to answer the three questions.
In the meantime something brief about the 2011 Burgundy vintage. Tim Atkin’s “10 things you need to know” is here. I agree with some of it. Herewith what I learned last week:
1) The hallmark of the reds is charm. This was on the whole a very easy vintage to taste. Some growers didn’t get the ripeness they needed – I tasted a few wines that I reckon were picked too early – but for the most part these are good, indeed very good, and seductive wines.
2) The hallmark of the whites is that there isn’t a hallmark. 2007s are muscular, 2008s silky-sharp, 2009s fat, 2010s either ghostly delicate or grapey depending on how happy the vigneron was working with the skins. 2011s are, well, nice. They taste of the wine more than the vintage.
3) Ladybirds. My favourite line came from a vigneron who I trust: “the biggest bull*&%^ I’ve ever heard”. More to follow on this, but I’m on the same page. Or at least I think I am. Maybe.
4) This is another small vintage. 2012 is even smaller. In the three vintages of 2010, 2011 and 2012, a vintage’s worth of harvest (and income) has been lost. Some winemakers are going to go out of business. I pray for them, and also that any land that comes on to the market is bought by people that are going to make good wine, as opposed to people who are just going to make good money
5) Negociants. I’ve always been snobby about negociant Burgundy and unfairly so in some cases. No names here, but there are some very good wines made by some of the big names. And there is also some complete dross that is a waste of grapes.
6) After seven years of tasting at the same bunch of growers, a change is as good as, or indeed better than, a rest.
7) It’s fair to say that the most impressive wines I tasted were in the lesser-followed appellations. There is genius at either end of the two Cotes: Olivier Lamy at the south, Sylvain Pataille at the north. They were schoolmates, incidentally. All of Olivier’s St Aubins absolutely knocked out (and I mean truly put on the floor) a selection of grands crus tasted later the same morning at one of the larger negociants (see 5); Sylvain’s selection of Marsannays would do the same with many of the grander Gevreys.
8) Close to 100 wines a day is hard work, no matter how much you love it.
9) Money infected Bordeaux a long time ago. In some places it is infecting Burgundy. This breaks my heart. I met a few people who seemed to be rubbing their hands in anticipation when discussing point 4.
10) Never, ever, leave your tasting book anywhere. Especially at the domaine where you’ve noted “cack-handedly chaptalised”, “wonky”, “all out of balance”, “dirty” and “I don’t want to put this in my mouth”. I refer to tasting rule number one, which is: never, ever, write your name in your tasting book.