Wherefore art thou Pierre?

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

They seek him here, they seek him there, the wines of Pierre Benetiere, they’re never there. To the dedicated followers of Northern Rhone fashion, Benetiere came upon us quietly. Me, I heard there was a tiny producer making wines from the south of the appellation, that had a Burgundian tendency that recalled the best work of Jean-Michel Stephan.

After selling parcels of the 09 and 12, you could count me in. But the flow of wines stopped. After chasing the agents for some time, I spoke to the buyer who could no longer offer the wines. Why? Benetiere couldn’t be found. He was uncontactable by telephone, and when they visited him over two occasions, the winery looked deserted.

I popped in around two or three times and tried calling a few times, but I got nowhere.

His winery is in the main town, and next to a motor-car garage – he was there, as I saw some rugby magazines in an old van. He’s a big rugby man apparently.

Then there were the 2015s, which seemingly never appeared on the market – they should have been released in 2017 but they started only trickling out in 2019. Then when they were released, they had label applied over label – they had been declassified from Cote-Rotie to Vin de Pays. Paperwork error or not, gossip followed the wines. They were dumped by their original importer and taken up by another and offered in some instances with no refunds. Some said they were cooked, most disagreed. Where to begin?

There is no end-point in sight, the 16s are still unreleased, still no real info and what a shame. These wines are so good. John Livingstone-Learmonth has tasted the 16 and 17 so they must exist, but where are these wines going? I dunno.

Joe GilmourWherefore art thou Pierre?

Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

There aren’t too many Puligny producers actually based in Puligny – something to do with the high water table. One of the oldest and most classic is Paul Pernot – Their gothic labels capture their philosophy well. It is a style like Ramonet I think,  the acidity is always vibrant, and the wines age very well, but it never tends towards the super crisp, almost tart style that is en-vogue in some places.

As Jasper Morris MW notes: “At present, 80% of Pernot’s wines are sold on to extremely fortunate Negociants in Beaune. However, the 20% that Paul retains and bottles himself is the absolute crème de la crème and quintessentially representative of Puligny at its best.”- He adds: “they could be the outstanding Domaine of that appellation”. I don’t think they are the best domaine in the village, but they’re in the top handful,

This Bourgone Blanc comprises of fruit from three parcels. Two are within Puligny on the Meursault border and planted around 1975. Just a track separates these parcels from AC Puligny vineyards. The other parcel is de-classified fruit from the 1er cru Champ-Canet.

Their Bourgogne Blanc is aged in tank – so it misses some of the grander pretentions of other leading BBs – I don’t think it is at quite the same levels as those from Roulot, Boisson-Vadot, Ramonet or Leflaive, but it needs a bit of time – it’s better on the third day – Equally, this style does need a bit more time to stretch out it’s legs as opposed to say, PYCM. But as a house BB – well, you can’t go wrong!

Joe GilmourPaul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc

Coronavirus Drinkathon Part 10

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

There was a certain amount of ribbing when an old colleague contributed his blog post ‘Make mine a half” it is true. What sad specimen of manhood couldn’t drink a bottle of wine over two days we reasoned. Roll on ten years, and I can see the logic. Sometimes a half bottle is what you want for an evening. Just a glass or two. So then, what am I doing drinking a magnum on my own tonight?

God knows.

1989 Chardonnay Domaine Rolet

About 6 months ago I brought a large consignment of magnums from Rolet in Jura from 1988 to 2004 from an auction in Dijon. I believe that when the family sold the estate in 2018, they had a quantity of older vintages that they bottled in 2017 – mostly in magnums, that they consigned to the market. I don’t know the details – but that’s the picture I have. The Diam cork pictured shows the date of mise.

In fact, I remember visiting the estate in about 2012. It’s a big operation, they have about 70 hectares under vine, making it one of the biggest family concerns in the region. The quality of the wines that we tasted was really good – didn’t really fit in with what we were doing, but they were a nice team to meet.

There is a certain oxidative character that is a bit sherry-ish, but not like old Burgundy. More acidity, more freshness – it’s a stunning bottle of wine. Truly exciting and invigorating.

Joe GilmourCoronavirus Drinkathon Part 10

Coronavirus Drinkathon Part 9

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

2017 Moulin a Vent Domaine de Vissoux

Tutti frutti, oh rootie. Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!

A real Little Richard of a wine, so full of strut, so full of fruit. All of the red kind. Cranberry, raspberry, redcurrant, cherry. Very nicely balanced and long – lots of complexity. So opulent though, it needs I think a little bit of time, just to civilise itself a bit – maybe it never will, and that wouldn’t be too bad, but its just a bit much for me at the minute.

2015 Saumur Blanc Les Portes St Jean, Sylvain Dittiere

When I had the 14 a few years ago I remember being distinctly underwhelmed. But it was one of those nights where everything tasted just like a potential hangover. This was a stunner though, with so much matchstick it was less Loire, and more like Coche.

Joe GilmourCoronavirus Drinkathon Part 9

Coronavirus Drinkathon Part 8

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

No-one better embodies the changing fortunes of Cornas than Franck Balthazar. His wines since the acquisition of Verset’s prime 1914 Chaillot vineyard have been terrific – his breakout vintag was the 2010. a really well-chiselled wine. I remember my offer, which had the Chaillot at £26 a bottle – this was in 2015. A smart buy if you clicked reply. His wines are great, and are clearly following the trajectory of Allemand, although are perhaps not that far now from being a bit fully priced in the market. Not to say, they won’t still go up in price – because I think they will – just that they’re not the value they once were.

I was interested to try a sample of his négociant ‘Franck Balthazar Selections’ wine -not to be confused with some early CDR bottlings that came from just outside Cornas. This is fully in CDR territory, from fruit sourced in Vinsobres.

It reverses the proportions of the majority of CDRs and fronts up 75% Syrah to 25% Grenache. Really nice 13.5% alcohol. Compact. I liked this a lot, but it’s not especially profound. It’s really well made, it has a nice short back and sides and I much prefer this proportion of varieties than the other way around. Where would I place it in the hierarchy of CDR? Equal to Coudoulet maybe. It’s very good – slick like rick.

Joe GilmourCoronavirus Drinkathon Part 8

Coronavirus Drinkathon Part 7

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

The last week has been exceptionally busy – so no blog posts, but plenty of drinking . A quick bottle this Thursday eve.

2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Olivets Roger Sabon

I’ve always enjoyed the wines of Roger Sabon but I did approach this with some concerns. Ripe vintatge – getting old. A wine from the era when CNDP was stretched towards unhinged opulence.

The first sniff and taste and I did think – this is too old. But after two minutes, it opened up, the wrinkles seemed to disappear and it started to limber up beautifully. “You walked in like old father time and ended up dancing like Wayne Sleep!”

It’s not a faultless wine, its not a great vintage of a great wine, but its characterful, it’s interesting, and it’s pretty cheap. Lovely Jubbly!

Joe GilmourCoronavirus Drinkathon Part 7