Oh dear, it has been a long time since I managed to write anything for this site. Oops. It’s been one busy start to the year, especially in terms of writing – MW assignments, a few things for work and a report on my NZ trip for the groups that sponsored me (I will post that at some point later in the week).
Thursday night, I was working at our Burgundy en primeur tasting in London. Every year around this time, nearly every wine merchant in and around London rounds up a selection of barrel samples and a selection Burgundian producers and runs tastings in the city for the press and for clients. This year was the tenth that I have attended with Lay & Wheeler, but possibly the one that I enjoyed the most. I’m not sure why it was exactly, but there was a really positive atmosphere during the tasting – there was a lot of chat, laughter and good deal of positivity about the wines.
The 2011 Burgundy vintage is an interesting one. Coming after the lauded 2009s and 2010s, there was always a chance that it would quite naturally be overlooked. It is also, stylistically, a “lighter” vintage, particularly for the reds, where elegance, purity and red fruits are to the fore, rather than the more robust structure and dark berries of the 2010s.
I like it as a vintage. And last night, to the most part, the wines were showing really well. It’s always a bit of a risk showing barrel samples, because they can be quite unstable and don’t always hold together well in the bottle. Someone from our team drives out to France to collect the samples only a few days before the tasting, to ensure that they are as fresh as possible, but even so, it can be tricky. Fortunately, last night, there were few examples of unstable samples, although a few of the wines did taste a little different from how they did when we tasted them in Burgundy originally.
The whites mostly showed very well indeed. Quite a few of them were actually finished wines rather than barrel samples, as white wines are bottled much sooner than the reds. So the wines that we were tasting were the finished product, albeit very young. The reds were a bit more variable perhaps, but some absolutely shone.
Producers I love in this vintage: Hubert Lamy, Paul Pillot, Patrick Javillier, Droin, Duroché, Georges Noellat, de Montille, some Roche de Bellene, Jean-Marc Millot, Cathiard.
What was quite interesting for me was tasting very briefly with a couple of winemakers. I have decided that people with winemaking training and expertise taste in a completely way from mere mortals like me! The two chaps I tasted with seemed to be able to identify faults in quite a few of the wines, although I’m not entirely sure whether some of it was more an old world/new world clash in philosophies and wine-making styles. One of things they both agreed on was that the whites perhaps had a higher pH than might be usual. I asked what could have caused this and they looked at me like I was mad before listing a million potential reasons. I need to learn more… and fast!
On which note, I need to do some work tonight (right after I finish watching the televisual carcrash that is “Splash!”. Trying to research and plan for a question from Paper 3 of the MW: “As a generic body, how would you build an export market for a country with low international recognition as a wine producer”. I put the question on twitter today and had some helpful responses, including to look at Australia and New Zealand as case studies – sounds really obvious, but I really do find it very easy to forget how young both industries are. The film “Château Chunder”, from that point of view, made fascinating viewing a few weeks ago – the Australian wine industry did some fascinating things to draw attention to themselves. Must rewatch…
Today’s stuck-in-head-song – Beneath your beautiful, Labrinth
Today’s dinner – as yet undecided
Today’s drinks – sundry left over tasting samples
Today’s footwear – blue suede court shoes