2011: First Analysis

Hello everyone,

it has been a good month or so since my last post. Harvest work has finished before this time. But, this period has brought us the birth of our second daughter, Siena Jesline, born on October 23rd in Dijon. Everyone is healthy, happy and no one is sleeping…we couldn’t be happier. That is, unless we were able to get the luxury of 6 hours of sleep each night. One can only dream…

Since harvest, I’ve had a few chances to try my 2011s a few times. Checking on their progress, more for curiosity than for a glimpse into understanding them, I’ve noticed a similarity to the 10s in them already. Though, no matter how many snapshots are taken of them at this time, they will be whatever they wish to be in the end. I’ve kept my promise of not making changes between cuvées as I have started to do in 2010. There is a trust that is pleasurable to place into the wines. I’m not trying to have natural wines, or whatever they are being called this week. I am simply curious to view the inherent differences in these sites without changing my bias between wines. There is a risk in this, of course.

What if the grapes just aren’t up to standard? Foregoing practices which can aid in providing a makeup of sorts could be a possible advantage. Assuming that the quality of the fruit is a given takes the pressure off of my shoulders to try to make up for a perceived shortcoming in the fruit. This same assumption drives my interest in believing the pinnacle of expression from these grapes could possibly be attained by having a simple manner of working, and being consistent throughout the entire range of wines. To this point, I’ve felt a sense of calm in letting things be. This is of course understanding that if the health or safety of the wines were thought to be at complete risk, I’d certainly step in.

In 2009, I did analysis quite a bit. I was anxious to know what was going on. I didn’t aim to change anything based on the analysis, but I was fascinated by looking closer and closer, and I thought that perhaps numbers could provide answers. I also didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Today, I still don’t know what I’m doing. But, at least I am able to better understand my own personal goals, which are to be as simple and transparent as possible. Back in 2009, I would worry about one alcoholic fermentation not being finished or a malo starting before the rest. I tasted the wines and I would at times worry about where the wines were going. Thinking about this more, I worried because I assumed that I should have a greater sense of control. Before the 2010 vintage, I decided to increase my focus of doing the best I could where physical work was necessary. After this work was done, I would spare the wines (and myself) from peeking in too closely or too early. To this end, I decided to be more specific on the times at which to run analysis.

With all of this in mind, I have just completed the first set of analysis for the 2011s. I’ve enjoyed how the fruit looked during the growing season, how the fruit tasted, and the resulting fruit that made its way into the tanks. Fermentations went well, smelled pretty and tasted even better. In 2011, the smart thing is to chaptalize. It should come as no surprise then, that I have held to my word by not touching the wines apart from sulphur at harvest and three punchdowns in total. No pump overs, etc. Everything was treated the same besides a few wines needing to be fermented in stainless steel due to space issues (yes, this small detail still bothers me more than I care to admit!). I had No idea what the sugars were, but everything tasted right. Why would I care more about the numbers than what the wines tasted like?

In short, the numbers look as they should. A tick high on VA on one of the wines. But, I’m not worried. Also, two wines are showing below 11.5% alc. They really should be above this amount, it is necessary to be at a this legal minimum. Anyhow, two variables are present. I didn’t do a fair mix of all of the barrels and also the samples that I brought to the labs were brought over in containers which were not filled up completely, which can account for a drop in measurable alcohol. With this in mind, we shouldn’t have an issue with all of these being over 11.5% alc (one is showing at 11.4, the other at 11.2). Either way, if again given the chance to chaptalize, I still wouldn’t have chosen to do so. It is liberating knowing that my decisions aren’t being dictated by what number will be placed on a label or what others may be doing. There is a risk in this, but I do away with the risk of never knowing what the inherent potential would be if left with one less ounce of pressure placed on the wines. Keep in mind, I have nothing against this process, I just prefer to keep the variables low, the process simple.


Can’t be specific, but this is the analysis for a Côte de Nuits house wine my wife, Christian did:



4 thoughts on “2011: First Analysis

  1. Great thanks Ray, busy but enjoying life! I know your reds are all going to be excellent, but in a way I’m more interested to see how the white experiment turns out. It might be a complete disaster but then again it could be something wild and exciting. I have no idea which way it will go!

  2. Thanks, Darren. I know a few people that are interested in the odd white. I think I’ll taste it today. Used loads of sulphur in the attempt to thwart premix as you know…still shows it. But who cares, right. We’ll have a white grand cru to drink next harvest with the kebabs

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