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The week before last was Burgundy Week in London. Such was the volume of young 2014 burgundies from good addresses that several prominent French tasters came to take advantage. It is a unique annual opportunity to get to grips with a vintage.
After supplementing my impressions from Burgundy itself by tasting my way through the offerings of nine of the more experienced specialist importers, I remain upbeat about the 2014 burgundies. In broad brushstrokes, the whites are exceptional and there are many charming reds that will provide burgundy lovers with considerable if short-term pleasure.
Given the upward trajectory of burgundy prices, I was particularly looking out for relative bargains and was delighted to mark about 60 of the hundreds of wines I tasted as GV for good value — with 10 judged VGV (very good value), or even VVGV. I was helped, admittedly, by the fact that the 2014 harvest was more generous than any of the immediately preceding ones (except in Volnay, Pommard and the parts of Meursault that were devastated by summer hail), and by the fact that the euro weakened last year.
We are also helped by the ambition, determination and sophistication of today’s younger producers. Virtually all of them are technically qualified, have travelled the world and, unlike previous generations, communicate with their peers, continuously measuring their achievements among themselves.
There are also new producers coming on stream all the time. Most are yet to establish a reputation, so are unable to charge a premium for their wines. A good example of a very young producer is Chanterêves (originally called Chanterives). This “négociant-vinificateur” in Savigny-lès-Beaune is run by Tomoko Kuriyama, who trained in Germany with Paul Fürst, a skilled producer of Burgundy grapes. The other half of the team is Guillaume Bott, who by day makes wine at Domaine Simon Bize, now alas without its eponymous figurehead. The Chanterêves wines, particularly the whites in 2014, have a delightful, I am tempted to suggest Japanese, delicacy about them. I was particularly taken by Chanterêves 2014 Bourgogne Blanc (£108 Flint Wines). I also loved the much more serious Chanterêves 2014 St Romain Blanc (£180 Flint Wines), a substantial, long wine that demonstrates the potential of this appellation once regarded as virtually off the map.
One fortunate side effect of climate change for burgundy lovers is that some appellations in which grapes once struggled to ripen are now able to deliver fully ripe grapes most years. St Romain is one, and St Aubin, once regarded as inferior to the most famous white wine villages of Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, should now be regarded as virtually their equal. St Aubin today produces many fine whites but prices have yet to catch up.
Five of my GV whites are St Aubins, two from gifted winemaker Olivier Lamy of Hubert Lamy, notably Hubert Lamy, Derrière Chez Edouard Premier Cru 2014 St Aubin (£220 Goedhuis) and, even more concentrated, Hubert Lamy, Clos de la Chatenière Premier Cru 2014 St Aubin (£250 Lea & Sandeman). I was also impressed by the St Aubin value on offer from Fernand & Laurent Pillot (Lea & Sandeman), Marc Colin (Goedhuis) and Benjamin Leroux (Howard Ripley), and, from my November tastings in Burgundy, from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey and François Carillon.
Among whites, Chablis remains underpriced relative to classic Côte d’Or white burgundy. I thought the wines of Adhémar et Francis Boudin (Lea & Sandeman) were generally underpriced.
At the other end of Burgundy, the Mâconnais has produced many a fine white in 2014, partly thanks to the crisp acidity retained during the long, cool summer. I have listed some particularly sophisticated examples in the table.
Between the Mâconnais and Côte d’Or is the Côte Chalonnaise where there are now more and more seriously accomplished producers. Jean-Baptiste Ponsot (imported by Flint Wines) is one of them and he seems as gifted with reds as with whites. This is a great example of a domaine that has emerged from an old family habit of selling all the grapes to bigger bottlers. In 2014, his white Rullys stand out but his reds are better balanced and have riper and more beguiling fruit than most.
Other Chalonnaise bargains include Paul et Marie Jacqueson, La Pucelle Premier Cru 2014 Rully Blanc (£140 Lea & Sandeman) and a plump, only mildly rustic red Dom des Moirots 2014 Givry (£102 Howard Ripley).
At the bottom end of the red wine price range, a well-made Bourgogne Rouge can offer some of the best value. I really enjoyed several that seemed gently made to showcase the early-maturing charms of the vintage, including Justin Girardin 2014 Bourgogne Rouge (£69 H2Vin), Lebreuil 2014 Bourgogne Rouge (£98 Flint Wines), rather more serious than most Nicolas Rossignol 2014 Bourgogne Rouge (£120 Lea & Sandeman), and, from rising stars, Gilles Duroché 2014 Bourgogne Rouge (£132 Flint Wines) and Georges Noëllat 2014 Bourgogne Rouge (£150 Flint Wines).
From one of the posher merchants, Rémi Rollin deserves special mention for his 2014s. Rémi Rollin, Sous le Bois de Noël et Belles Filles 2014 Pernand-Vergelesses Rouge (£150 Justerini & Brooks) is an underpriced delight, as is his Rémi Rollin, Sous Frétille Premier Cru 2014 Pernand-Vergelesses (£285 Justerini & Brooks).
The moderately priced Domaine Castagnier is a welcome, exclusive addition to the array of fine 2014 burgundy offered by Berry Bros & Rudd.
To keep things equal, I have tried to give all prices equivalent to those for 12 bottles in bond, although many merchants now offer wines in six-bottle cases, which I for one applaud. Please forgive me if UK allocations of some of these wines are already sold out. Quantities are always very limited in Burgundy.
Some 2014 bargains from the Mâconnais
Prices given are per dozen bottles in bond, to be delivered later this year in some cases.
• Christophe Cordier, Clos du Four 2014 Mâcon Milly-Lamartine (£110 H2Vin)
• Christophe Cordier, En Faux 2014 Saint-Véran (£110 H2Vin)
• Clos des Rocs, En Chantone 2014 Pouilly-Loché (£135 Flint)
• Clos des Rocs, Clos des Rocs Monopole 2014 Pouilly-Loché (£135 Flint)
• Bret Bros, Domaine de la Soufrandière, Les Longeays 2014 Pouilly-Vinzelles (£165 Berry Bros & Rudd)
• Domaine Daniel Barraud Sur La Roche 2014 Pouilly Fuissé (£180 Lea & Sandeman)
More bargains and more than 1,500 tasting notes on Purple Pages of JancisRobinson.com
Stockists from winesearcher.com
Illustration by: Graham Roumieu