Outside interests here at Cestrian Capital Research
are a lot like coincidences in NCIS.
We’ve heard of ‘em. Just never had one.
The upside of this for our readers and subscribers is that we produce a lot of stuff about stonks. Numbers, charts, opinions, ideas, reflections, pontifications, theories, table-pounders, chitchat, blarney, whatever. But on the rather monomaniacal topic of stocks and stocks alone.
Apparently this can get dull. So we’re told. Doesn’t seem dull to us, but then, we have no outside interests. Though we’re thinking about maybe getting into credit analysis.
Fortunately, help is at hand. Within our free stocks board (where we talk even more about stocks!) one of our subscribers produces a weekly note covering the things in life that other people say they find more interesting. Our Dionysian hero @1markb44 - snappy username right? - writes The Weekend Epicurean column, which ranges from wine to food to cycling to cooking to martial arts to movie reviews. That’s like six outside interests - where does he find the time?
Cestrian Stocks Symposium
is a completely free and grownup stocks board, featuring no ads, no GIFs, no profanity, no stock-shaming, no invitations to load your portfolio so we can neurolinguistically program you into doing our bidding based on your trading profile (that’s an upgrade we’ll get to in a couple years probably). Just super high grade chat about stocks. And outside interests. You can join by clicking HERE
. It runs on Slack so 24/7 no downtime, on any device. And when you get there, you can ignore all the stonks stuff and go straight to the Weekend Epicurean channel - here
And to end this note, for your delectation is a sample from our neurotypical Epicurean’s work. This was published late last year.
A Weekend Epicurean article by member @1markb44
Disclosure: He has no interest in any Burgundy vineyard, sadly
The Burgundy region, and its wines, are usually discussed in conjunction with the other famous French wine area, Bordeaux, in a compare/contrast way. It’s an easy pairing of opposites: Bordeaux is austere, cerebral, intellectual, while Burgundy is sensual, warm, and supple; Bordeaux is masculine, Burgundy feminine, and so on. Like all generalizations these are somewhat based on reality. Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir-based, and Pinot is a much more supple, easy to drink varietal than Cabernet Sauvignon, so Pinot-based wines can be enjoyed sooner for their sweet, sexy flavors and texture. Many people who claim to not like red wine will quickly change their minds after tasting a good Pinot. The wines are more giving than Cabernets, and more interesting than most other red varietals.
Another point of contrast with Bordeaux is the nature of winemaking in both areas. Bordeaux is home to chateaux and large producers (not all, of course, but certainly the most famous ones), while Burgundy is an area of farmers, most with very small holdings in many different, but famous, vineyards, who work out of their home and small cellar. A typical Burgundy producer might get two barrels, or around 120 cases, from their best vineyards. We’re talking small; that’s not a lot to go around for the whole world.
And one thing’s for certain, the whole world wants Burgundy! Prices have risen dramatically for the best names and the best vineyards, a classic case of supply being very much short of demand. Burgundy fans know to buy their favorites on release, as the wines won’t last long. And considering the small production compared to the Grand Cru Bordeaux properties it’s hard to fault the producers for getting as much as they can for their miniscule bottlings.
What is it people are avidly buying? Burgundy lovers are chasing a subtle, unique, fickle varietal. Pinot from the right areas seduces you, first with its silky texture, broader than Cabernet, smoother, often creamier. You often hear descriptors like “velvety” and “lacy”. Then, the aromas and flavors: depending on the location, which we’ll get into over the next few weeks, you can find raspberry cream, or darker red fruits, along with herbal, sometimes minty overtones, a saline or mineral sensation, all finishing off with an ending bit of acidity that makes the wine feel clean and complete, and keeps it from being too sweet. In some areas you can get an aroma like just-cut fresh beef, that sweet, tangy, meaty essence. Or the smell of forest floor after a rain, a rich, loamy flavor, mushroom-like, that runs under the fruits above.
If you do get a taste for Burgundy you’re in for an expensive, but enjoyable, journey. Happily, modern wine making finally reached Burgundy in the 1990’s, so incidents of flawed, rustic, bacterial bottlings are now unheard of. Back in the day it wasn’t uncommon to run into bottles that kept the old Burgundy saying alive that “great Burgundy tastes of sh*t”. While the quote referred to that forest floor sensation I mentioned above, too often the bottle actually did have a strong barnyard fecal presence from bacterial contamination. But unclean fermentation and bottling practices have been largely eliminated, so the element of chance is largely gone.
Some Cabernet fans find Pinot too soft and not “manly” enough for them, but as someone who respects Cabernet, but loves Pinot, I disagree. Pinot Noir is a totally different experience, and there’s room for both. Personally for my wife and me, as our palates have aged and we find high alcohol levels more of a problem, we drink four bottles of Burgundy for every one bottle of red wine from other areas.
The Pinot Noir grape itself is a fickle, picky grower, much less reliable than Cabernet. Pinot doesn’t like too much heat, or too little, or too much water, or too little, it has a thinner skin, so sunburns easily and gets mildew at every chance. Growing Pinot is a labor of love. The Burgundy region is one of the Northernmost wine regions, on the 47th parallel, so growers have to hope for sufficient warm weather to ripen the touchy grape. (One reason Oregon winemakers have been drawn to Pinot is their similar location on the 47th.) Many vintages find the Pinot struggling to ripen, so the best growers do a strict green harvest to keep just the strongest bunches and concentrate the vine’s energy into just those, thus reducing their yield. It’s rare to find an easy year in Burgundy.
On the other hand, too warm of a year and the grape can lose its unique flavors—the wine ends up rich, but with little of the true Pinot character Burgundy lovers crave. So growers walk a fine line every vintage, more so than in most other growing areas.
So, the Pinot varietal is great, but why does it do the best in Burgundy? Like in all great wine regions, the underlying rock below the soil is the main factor. In Burgundy it’s limestone in most areas, which is porous and permeable, so water percolates through and roots are forced to go deep for moisture. Vines are mostly planted to face south and east on the face of the eastern-facing slope, so they get maximum exposure to the sun and protection from rains from the west.
All this is done on a startlingly small scale. The Burgundy map is a series of famous vineyard names gathered around legendary villages, each vineyard maybe half a kilometer in size and farmed by 20 or more producers. And, while vintage year and producer are important considerations, the key factor is the old real estate saying of location, location, location. That half a click from one plot of land to its neighbor is enough to change the wine, and its price, dramatically.
The Cote d’Or is the name for the string of Burgundy villages that run like jewels on a necklace along the Route des Grands Crus, from Marsannay in the North to the small communes in the Cote Chalonaise in the South, ending in Givry. Each village has its own hierarchy of vineyards, with the most prestigious containing the Grand Crus, the greatest Burgundies, that command nosebleed prices.
Over the next few weeks we’ll tour the villages, from North to South, and highlight some of my favorite vineyards.
Cestrian Capital Research, Inc - 8 February 2022.