Red Wine

Disappointing 2008 Bouchard Père et Fils Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts

Drunk November 2017 @ home

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I'm a big fan of Burgundy wine, but not such a fan of the crazy prices for top Appellations these days. Vosne-Romanée (Côte de Nuits , Cote d'Or) wines are a particular favourite and an opportunity to buy a Premier Cru from the Les Beaux Monts vineyard from Bouchard Père et Fils in Beaune a few years back on a wine tasting visit to the region was welcome. 

So I finally opened the 2008 vintage bottle a couple of days ago. First impressions were disappointing as the nose was very limited. More like a villages than a Premier Cru. The wine itself was heavy in acidity and a little tannic despite 9 years of ageing. Complexity was lacking. Gutted as was over 70 euros. I see the wine is now on sale for well over 100 euros. 

2008 was a tough year in Burgundy for winemakers. Fortunately, 2009 and 2010 were much, much kinder. The vintage is so important in Burgundy, compared with more stable climatic regions like California.

Vosne-Romanée map

2008 Burgundy Vintage Report

Little sunshine March/April sunshine and rainfall double the norm and more rain and a cool June saw protracted flowering with plenty of mildew around. July was sunnier but cool, dull weather returned mid-August and ripening was slow and erratic, grey rot creating further problems. A bright, sunny dawn on 14 September, with drying north-easterly winds, began concentrating grapes and clearing infection: sunshine persisted, and picking got fully underway under ideal conditions in the latter part of September.

Despite mildew, rot, and inconsistent ripening, 2008’s cool weather and late drying sunshine created a good balance of bright acidity and ripeness. Hallmarks are dark red colour, great purity of fruit, and a serious rather than showy character. The wines don’t have great depth but the best have purity and focus.

Sessantanni Primitivo Di Manduria DOP 2013, San Marzano, Apulia, Italy

Drunk June 2017 @ home

The winery

Cantine San Marzano

In 1962 nineteen vineyard owners from San Marzano in Apulia (Southern Italy),  whose families   had   farmed   the   land   for   generations, combined   their   efforts   to   establish   “Cantine San Marzano”. Since then this co-ooperative has grown significantly, attracting over 1200 vine growers producing elegant wines in a traditional style with distinctive varietal  and  regional characters, seasonal variation and local terroir.

Apulia  region

Manduria, Province of Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Manduria, Province of Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Apulia, in the heart of the acclaimed DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta) “Primitivo di Manduria” area, is a strip of land between the Ionian and the Adriatic seas. It is situated in the province of Taranto and Brindisi, in Puglia, an area known for its wine and olive trees growing in a red soil surface. 

Puglia is a southern region of Italy forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” with its capital Bari.

The vineyard’s soils and the Mediterranean terroir play a fundamental role in the production wines, with an extreme climate, frosts, drought and the sirocco winds making it difficult for wine makers. 

The wine

Production area: 60 year old vineyards, selected in San Marzano and Sava. The soil is mainly “red earth”, with a fine texture and a generally calcareous underground with few emerging rocks. The well-known redness of these soils is due to the presence of iron oxides. The climate is characterised by high temperatures all year round, very little rainfall and a wide temperature range between night and dayThis is the central area of d.o.p. “Primitivo di Manduria”.

Harvest period: Second half of September.

Vinification: Grapes are hand-harvested in advanced status of ripening. Maceration: 18 days on 80% of the mass, 25 days on remaining 20% (with selected autochthonous yeasts). Thermo- controlled alcoholic fermentation at 24-26°C.

Ageing: 12 months in fine French and American wood barrels

Ageing potential:  Up to 7 years.

Serving temperature: About 18°C.

Fermented Grape Tasting Notes

The Primitivo Sessantanni showcases a completely new generation of Southern Italian wine making. With a reassuringly heavy bottle, in the glass it is ruby red with jammy, pruny aromas which continue on the palate. Significant legs on the glass. This is a big full bodied wine, like a Port or Barossa Shiraz but also very different. The palate is dominated by intense, fleshy fruit - plums and black cherry. It is ultra smooth with soft, fine tannins with a long finish. Ideally suited for meat. 

A little heavy but nevertheless very enjoyable and a lovely example of Italian wine with a distinctive style reflecting the terroir of the South. Managed to pick up on a Primitivo 25% off offer at the Swiss Co-op at around CHF 20 so also great price and one more bottle to sample tucked in the cellar.

Rippon Pinot Noir 2011, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago, New Zealand

Drunk March 2015 @ home

The Winery

Originally bought in 1912 by the Mills family, it was in 1975 that Rolfe and Lois Mills, the third generation of the family on the farm, started to plant a series of experimental rows of vines near Lake Wanaka in Central Otago. In 1982 they planted the first block of vines with the express interest of producing high quality wine. In 1989 their first commercial vintage was released. The land continues to be farmed by the Mills family with Rolfe's son Nick now in charge, and production is entirely biodynamic with no irrigation.

ick Mills, Rippon

See Nick's video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGMd1jQEE2s

Nick Mills returned home after several years away, working with Alain and Sophie Meunier at Domaine JJ Confuron, and Pascal Marchand (late of Domaine Comte Armand and now at Domaine de la Vougeraie) in Burgundy.

Nick Mills on Biodynamics, "Granted custodianship over this very special piece of land, the family's principle goal is to create vins de terroir, wines that are an accurate reflection of their surroundings. It is the micro-life in our soils which, in their ability to metabolise minerals into a form that vines can assimilate, are the link in between plants and the earth. This simple biology is the essential framework in producing a wine which is true to its soil and site. With this understanding comes an absolute respect for the land and life therein and it is for this reason that Rippon is run biodynamically. Decisions made in the vineyard and winery first consider the effect the outcome may have on the micro-flora of the soils, vines & wines. Rippon does not use herbicides, fungicides, pesticides or soluble nitrogenous fertilisers on the property. All the property's organic waste matter is recycled to make around 40 tonnes of fungal dominant compost every year. This is spread back over the land during the first descending moon after harvest as an inoculation of beneficial micro-flora for the whole property...and thus starts a diverse and vital web of life on which to live and produce."

The estate is around 15 hectares in size and sits on a north facing escarpment. 

The wine

This Pinot had great aromas and lovely intense, concentrated flavours of cherry and blackberry with a hint of spice, earthy notes on the palate. Fine tannins, and a long juicy finish. Very enjoyable balance of fruit, acidity and tannin from this bio wine with powerful flavours. 

Château Haut-Marbuzet 2010, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux

Drunk@home December 2015

The winery

Château Haut-Marbuzet is a Bordeaux wine estate in the Saint-Estèphe appellation area of the Haut-Médoc. 

It was founded in the 18th century, taking its name from Marbuzet, the area where the property resides and  established by Alexander de Segur, who owned several Bordeaux wine properties including another, much better known St. Estephe vineyard, Calon Segur. At his death, the land was divided and sold and in 1825, the land was purchased by the MacCarthy family, who officially established the modern estate as it is known today.

In 1952 after Hervé Duboscq acquired Château Haut-Marbuzet, the focus and reputation of quality increased and his son Henri is now the current owner of the estate.  The Duboscq family also owns two other Bordeaux estates in the St. Estephe, appellation, Chateau Chambert Marbuzet and Tour de Marbuzet.

Initially listed among the Cru Bourgeois in 1932, and later promoted to Grand Bourgeois Exceptionnel in 1978, the estate was classified as one of 9 Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels in the 2003 official listing.  

Located between châteaux Cos d'Estournel and Montrose, the vineyard covers 65 hectares and is planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Overlooking the Gironde estuary, it is mainly located on the gravel ridge of Marbuzet and the plateau of Long Treytin with gravel, clay and limestone soils. On average, the vines are close to 30 years of age. 

On average, the estate produces about 30,000 cases of Haut Marbuzet per year. There is a second wine, MacCarthy. A second wine is produced from the vines under 12 years old, under the label Château MacCarthy, which bears the name of the Irish Jacobite family who created the vineyard.

The wine

This 2010 Château Haut-Marbuzet had a powerful blackcurrant nose which continued on the palate with a fruity dark fruit style. Quite high acidity and not the smoothest of finishes meant that a 35 euro price seems excessive. Despite this being a top vintage, pleasant enough but not outstanding. 

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand

Drunk@home December 2015

Bio Logo

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!