Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand

Drunk@home December 2015

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The winery

Burn Cottage Vineyard Property is a twenty four hectare estate in Cromwell near the foothills of the Pisa range in Central Otago, New Zealand. The vineyard is owned by the Sauvage family which also owns the celebrated Koehler Ruprecht estate in the Pfalz region of Germany.

The vineyard was purchased in 2002 after an auction by Marquis and Dianne Sauvage. Historically the site was used for sheep grazing and there were, and are, no immediate vineyard neighbours. The site was much coveted in the region for it is sheltered from both northerly and southerly winds by large hills to form a protected bowl.

The first blocks were planted in 2003 and many different clones of Pinot Noir were planted on a variety of rootstocks. In addition to Pinot Noir there is a small amount of Gruner Veltliner and Riesling planted. The Pinot Noir is situated on north and north east facing slopes and the Riesling and Gruner are planted on an east facing slope in a gully in the property. The Gruner Veltliner planting is from the first generation of this variety released in New Zealand. 

New Zealander Peter Proctor and his partner Rachel Pomeroy have been intimately involved in the organisation, establishment and practice of biodynamics at Burn Cottage since the very beginning. Along with 10 hectares of vines there are over 20 hectares of land devoted to creating an enclosed farm system to supply manure for the compost programs. The aim is to minimise Sulfur usage and avoid all additives whenever possible including cultured yeasts, bacteria, associated nutrient products and filters. Racking is also whenever possible and wine work is done according to lunar and celestial rhythms.

The wine

Alcohol 13.2 %, Commenced Harvest: 29th March, Finished harvest 7th April. Burn Cottage composition: Block 1 – 17% Block 2 – 13% Block 4 – 16% Block 7 East – 14% Block 7 West – 21% Blocks 6&8 – 19% Bottled volume : 2050 cases 6 x 750 ml

Spring was somewhat changeable and cool but there was very good weather for grapes in December 2011 with very good soil moisture. There was a brief bit of snow in November with some frost. January brought had good spells of hot, dry weather, with excellent flowering and mid-season conditions. Rain in February was welcome for the soils, while March was slightly wetter and milder than usual, slowing ripening a little in the final weeks.

Fermented Grape Tasting Notes

I was looking forward to trying this 2012 Pinot Noir from Burn Cottage as the winery has the reputation of being one of the best in New Zealand.  

There were strong aromas of dark cherry with a hint of spice. The wine had noticeable acidity and earthy characteristics but this was well balanced by the dark fruit, herby notes and fine tannins. There was a long and satisfying finish. The winemaker described it as "the most firm and enigmatic Burn Cottage we have yet produced" and to me this was a classic elegant Central Otago Pinot. Very expensive but with just over 2000 cases produced Burn Cottage is a low volume producer and it is great to try such an excellent wine with their biodynamic credentials. Recommended!

Jospeh Drouhin, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru 2011, Burgundy

Drunk@home December 2015

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The wine

This Joseph Drouhin wine is made from Pinot Noir at the heart of the famous Chambolle-Musigny vineyard, with an East exposure. The name of the village Chambolle is probably derived from the Celtic "cambola", already reputed for its vineyards in Gallo-Roman times and cultivated by the monks in the Middle Ages.  

Drouhin owns several Premier Cru parcels in the appellation and since they are too small, these vineyards (Noirots, Hauts Doix, Borniques, Plantes, Combottes) are harvested and vinified together.  The total area is 1.3 ha. (3.25 acres) with average age of the vines of 32 years.The name given to this wine is therefore Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru (since the components of this "cuvée" are all Premier Crus). The vineyards have been organic since 1990 and more recently use biodynamic cultivation techniques so only authorised products for biological cultivation are used: infusions and macerations of plant materials, sulfur and copper, powdered rock. Natural predators are not eliminated.

Yields are kept low, around 20% less than allowed by the current law. Harvesting is by hand, in small open crates in order to preserve the integrity of the fruit. Maceration and vinification take 2 to 3 weeks using indigenous yeasts
"Pigeage" (punching down of the cap during fermentation): once a day until half of fermentation is done; one pumping over (remontage) per day until the end of the fermentation.

The wine was aged in French Oak barrels (20% in new oak) for 14 to 18 months and the finished bottle can be cellared for 8-25 years.

Fermented Grape tasting notes

Burgundy's 2011 vintage was pretty poor quality rot, storms, hail and changeable temperatures.  Compared with the excellent 2010 vintage, Pinot Noir quality was variable and careful selection by producer is key. 

Fortunately this Jospeh Drouhin, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru 2011 was very good. The nose was strong with cherry and the forest floor which continued on the palate with plum, black cherry and spice with fine tannins and a nice level of acidity.  Fruit, acidity, tannin were finely balanced and with a light style. Expensive but this was top Burgundy and shows the quality of the Chambolle-Musigny area with its highly fragranced wines. 

Pascal et Béatrice Lambert cuvée Marie 2010 (Biodynamic), Chinon, Loire Valley, France

Drunk August 2015 @ Les Années 30, 78 Rue Haute Saint-Maurice, 37500 Chinon

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The winery

Domaine Lambert  "The Chesnaies" currently consists of 14 ha and is located in Cravant Coteaux . The town represents approximately 40% of the Chinon appellation the Loire Valley.


The estate was founded in 1987 by Pascal and Béatrice Lambert. They converted to organic farming in the 2000's and in 2005, they received the "BioEcocert" certificate and also starting practicing biodynamics (the practice to create harmony between plants, soil, and its environment).


Since 2012, the practice of biodynamics is certified under the charter Biodyvins ( which means:

  •  no chemical additions to the soil. 
  • Tillage underfoot in the spring and summer avoiding competition from the grass under the vines.
  • Between rows, different plants suited to the soil are planted annually. And mustard, oats, rapeseed, rye facilitate the capture of ground copper and sulphate and assist the development of nitrogenous components, essential to the fermentation of the grapes. 
  • The addition of compost consisting of fermentation products, tree bark (BRF), manure of cattle and horses, with wine effluents, biodynamic preparations, as well as lactic acid bacteria manufactured on the holding
  • Using leaf treatment plants (herbal tea nettle, nasturtium, yarrow, etc.)
  • Manual budding and limited trimming height to increase leaf surfaces.

The vineyard is planted to Cabernet Franc for red and rosé wines, and Chenin for white wine.

The vineyards of Chinon has several types of geological soils:

- The terroir of gravel: alluvial terraces from the right and left banks of the Vienne valley formed in the Quaternary era (less than 15,000 years), depending on the plot composed of gravel and silicas.

chinon clay limestone

- Clay-limestone: clay and limestone soil composed of sub Turonian chalk layers (limestone) deposited by the sea in the Mesozoic era (less than 90 million years). These soils occupy the hillsides and plateaus that dominate the valleys.

- Soil composed of flint and clay

Pickers from 2010 vintage

Pickers from 2010 vintage

The wine

In the autumn, the harvest is done manually. In the winery, the grapes are manually sorted on carpets and stalked berries are dumped into tanks using conveyor belt (not tap), which prevents violent crushing of the grapes. In vats, fermentation takes place slowly and naturally without adding yeast. The Lamberts believe that these natural methods  enhance the micro terroir and offer personalised wines.

The Cuvée Marie comes from the oldest Cabernet Franc vines (60-75 years) in the field on clay-siliceous and gravelly soils of Cravant-les-Coteaux. After a long maceration (35 days), the wines are aged in barrels for 24 months. tasting notes

The 2010 vintage in the Loire was very good and it was a pleasure to try this biodynamic Cabernet Franc from the Chinon area. An area of the Loire valley known for its red wines.

Cabernet Franc may not be my favourite grape but it ripens faster than Cabernet Sauvignon which makes it particularly suitable for wine making in the cooler Loire region.

This Cuvée Marie using vielles vignes (old vines) had an exceptional berry and spice nose. Unlike some Cabernet Francs, acidity and tannins were not excessive and in balance with the blackcurrant and blackberry fruit.  The palate was smooth with the just right of acidity to make it particularly enjoyable with food. The finish was long and interesting. 

As someone very interested these days in biodynamic and organic wine making, this Lambert Cuvée Marie didn't disappoint. 

Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice 2010, Domaine de la Vougeraie, Burgundy, France

Drunk JivaHill Resort, Crozet, France, August 2015 

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The winery

Domaine de la Vougeraie , based in the village of Premeaux-Prissey, close to Nuits St. Georges in the North of Burgundy represents a collection of remarkable vineyard plots acquired through two generations of strategic acquisition by its owners, the Boisset Family.

The third largest wine conglomerate in France, and the largest single producer in Burgundy, the Boisset Family has risen from humble beginnings in 1961, when an enterprising, 18-year-old Jean-Claude Boisset founded a negociant business in Nuits-St.-George. Three years later he purchased his first vines, and five years after that, he and his wife gave birth to their son Jean-Charles who, along with his sister Nathalie, currently runs the business. In the course of Jean-Charles Boisset's lifetime, the Boisset Family has acquired dozens of domaines and probably hundreds of vineyard plots in Burgundy.

In 1999, Jean-Charles and his sister combined the 86.4 acres across 28 different appellations  that the family owned into a new domaine which they called Vougeraie. They then began to transition all the vineyards to organic and biodynamic viticulture and it is now the largest organic and biodynamic producer in the Cote d'Or. The name comes from the significant holdings, plus the fact that it is Jean-Claude Boisset’s home, in the village of Vougeot. The winery is located however in the old Claudine Deschamps (Madame Jean-Claude Boisset) cellars in Prémeaux. 

With nearly 40 hectares of vineyard and over 30 different appellations, including six grand crus(Musigny, Bonnes Mares, Clos Vougeot, Charmes Chambertin, Mazoyères, Corton Clos du Roi and Corton Charlemagne), this is one of Burgundy’s leading domaines.

The wines were made by Pascal Marchand of Comte Armand in Pommard, from 1999 to 2005 and subsequently by Pierre Vincent who has maintained the more delicate approach. The winemaking has extensive sorting, fermentations are with ambient yeasts and multiple rackings take place according to the phases of the moon to clarify the wine.

Pierre Vincent Wine Maker

Pierre Vincent Wine Maker

The wine

La Justice is produced from two hectares located at the bottom of the village with two distinct terroirs. The alluvial “les graviers” gives very concentrated grapes of confirmed maturity, whereas the higher part yields a lighter style wine. The stronger characteristics of La Justice make this a wine to lay down.

The Domaine's Gevrey-Chambertin is assembled from several parcels.To the east of the village’s land lies La Justice which lies on the centreline of the cone containing geological material which has fallen from the coomb over 1000's of years. Part of this cuvée comes from a neighbouring climat, Craite-Paille.

The wine was harvested on September 25th, 2010 under very poor conditions with a yield of 41 hl/ha. The harvest 100% de-stemmed, not crushed and vatted by gravity. No yeast addition. Maceration: pre-fermentation, cold (12-15°C) during 5 days. Length of maceration: 20 days. Cap-punched once a day until mid-fermentation and light pumping-over until the end of maceration. Pressing with the vertical press.

Aged 16 months in oak barrels (30 % Toasting: gentle and slow. Source of wood: Allier grains fins ,Cher and Cîteaux). Light and soft filtration. No fining. Bottling by gravity January 18th, 2012. (Leaf Day) Limited to 1,998 bottles Tasting notes

A wonderfully robust Gevrey-Chambertin with its distinctive power so different from other styles from Burgundy, most certainly a masculine Pinot Noir. The aromas of the forest floor were abundant and the wine was deep ruby in colour. It was smooth and concentrated in fruit on the palate with a long finish with hints of spice, truffles.  Very enjoyable with red meat and a top class wine from Burgundy. I will be trying to check out more of the Domaine's wines given their biodynamic credentials.