Due to the gradual relaxing of controls in France June has been quite eventful. New arrivals from the wineries which usually arrive spread out over spring are now arriving within the space of three weeks. The biggest disadvantage of 2020 is in not being able to taste at trade fairs, so for the moment we are concentrating on producers who we know have a good track record.
Our biggest disappointment was with Ulysse Collin, for reasons not really explained, he has cancelled our spring allocation, this has also happened to other cavistes. We fear the high Parker points given by William Kelley has made his champagnes more attractive for the american market, where they are prepared to pay more for higher points. Also Wine investment funds now see in Champagne possibilities. Alongside the Grand Marques, they are now recommending Selosse and Ulysse Collin as suitable producers for long time investment. If this makes sense is a matter for debate. It would be sad if these champagnes are fated to be stored in bonded warehouses, never to be drunk.
Sadly there was a burglary at Ledru during the Covid lockdown. The police and the insurance company have been very slow in investigating what has happened. Instead of the usual three allocations we get per year, it seems in 2020 Ledru will only be releasing one allocation in September.
The most notable new additions to our portfolio is Ruppert-Leroy and Vouette Sorbée. Ruppert-Leroy's champagnes are starting to develop a cult status in insider circles. Similiar to Cedric Bouchard, Ruppert-Leroy does not use so much sugar by the tirage (addition of sugar and yeast to induce the second fermentation), this gives their champagnes a more vinous /burgundian feel and allows for more expression of the indivual terroirs.
Also the Champagne of J & M Seleque have arrived. For us this is one of the up and coming producers in the region. Each year the quality gets better and better. Unfortuanetly as with Ruppert-Leroy production is very small.
It might be too premature to say 2018 marks the beginning of a new era in Burgundy. The effects of global warming are taking hold, milder winters, earlier bud break, flowering and earlier harvests are now the new normal. In the past producers struggled to get phenolic ripeness, now the wines are being harvested with an optimal ripeness and at times overripeness aat the end of August, beginning of September.
Henri Jayer was adamant that only the ripe grapes should be used to make wine, the stems brought unripeness and green notes. I believe Jayer was right, Burgundy in his time often struggled to achieve phenolic ripeness. However today due to a rise in temperature na dlonger hours of sunshine. even the stems are reaching phenolic ripeness and more and more producers are no longer destemming, arguing this brings more substance and complexity to the wines.
Luckily we received most of the allocations from the Chalonnaise in February, and they have proved to be exceptionally popular. The red wines possess ripe red fruit with enough acidity and minerality to make them interesting. These wines are great to drink now but have the ability to age gracefully. The whites are also fuller, the typical saline minerality of the region and the medium acidity counteracts the viscosity. Price wise the reds and whites are real alternatives to the more expensive reds and whites from the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. We would actively encourage burgundy lovers to seek out these wines, the quality in comparison to the prices will prove to be a real surprise.
One of the first whites we tasted this year from the Côte de Beaune was a Pernand-Vergelesses from Ardhuy. What was surprising was the richness and concentration, which one usually expects from Corton, Meursault, Puligny- and Chassagne Montrachet but not from Pernand.Vergelesses. In 2018 it is also well worth exploring the less popular appellations as these are definetly profiting from the warming climate.
A producer, who we have been buying privately for a number of years but were never successful in getting an allocation is Raymond Dupont-Fahn. He could be a star in the rising but due to his absolute dislike of modern communication methods and difficulty in reaching him he remains a well guarded secret. His most interesting wine is the Bourgogne Blanc Chaumes de Perrieres.
Raymonds father, an american, wanted to make wine in Burgundy and bought some plots of land, at a time when this was still financially possible. His plot premier cru Chaumes de Perrieres in Meursault had through erosion lost all of it's top soil. Unwittingly he replaced the soil. The nieghbouring producers reported him to the respective authorities and his plot was stripped of it's premier cru status. The 2018 Chaumes de Perrieres is a fantastic wine, at the moment extremely tight, it needs about half an hour to open up, has really good acidity and minerality. Probably best to wait two or three years.
The wines from Anne Gros have also arrived, the prices for the 1er Crus and the grand crus are unfortunatly very high and these wines we will probably have to be sold to China or the USA. However her Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc offer in comparison fantastic value, these wine are more at village level. From the evident substance, this wine will need a few years cellaring to show it's full potential.
The Loire is a region definetly deserving of more attention. A region in the past that often had difficulty in achieving phenolic ripeness, now definitely profits from the climate warming. 2018 and 2019 both have produced exceedingly good harvests. The wines are becoming rounder and fruitier. Strangely producers like Jackie Blot's Taille aux loups and Domaine de la Butte or Guiberteau do not get the international recognition they deserve. Jackie Blots whites are reminiscent of the whites from Chassagne Montrachet, yet they sell for around 30 €. Guiberteau's Breze is much sought after yet their Saumur Blanc and Saumur Blanc Moulins offer fantastic value.
In September we are going to receive for the first time an allocation from Antoine Sanzet, the shooting star in the Loire. The jewel in his collection are the wines from the 4 ha. plot he owns in Les Poyeux, the site that Clos Rougeard made famous.