Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
I find this time of year the toughest by far… Burgundy En-Primeur. It is a living hell, where I am waking up in cold sweats and arguing with my colleagues. No this is not a complaint about how busy I am but the problem all Burgundy ‘nuts’ have…what on earth do I buy this vintage?!
I cannot begin to tell you the painful endless hours of deliberation this causes. It’s like being the biggest kid in the biggest sweet shop!! There is something about Burgundy in particular that brings out the madness in a wine-lover, as there is just no end of choice and complexities to this precocious viticultural masterpiece of a region! With Bordeaux you tend to get black and white vintages… good or bad (and with the Bordelaise it is invariably the former!) Vintage style and variation is one of the key reasons I love Burgundy, as it is not so much about good or bad! Whether it be the lightness of foot and honesty of the reds of 2007 (which I love), or the legendary structure and depth of fruit in 2005. Like a great musician, each vintage Burgundy plays to a different chord, that might seduce one but leave another perplexed.
Now I have my game plan every year. I have a set amount of money that I can spend and I tend to buy 3/4 red and 1/4 white. I have a few key names that invariably look at every year and then I have the fortune of advice from the God of Burgundy that is Jasper Morris. I don’t think it is possible to overstate how lucky we are at Berrys’ to have Jasper’s guidance. The highlight of my year is going to Burgundy in November to taste with Jasper (as you can see from the picture right!) Though you do have to be very careful not to sit next to the great man at dinner; being over 6ft 6″, with a healthy appetite to boot, Jasper’s penchant for diving straight into his neighbours’ food once he has devoured his own is legendary. Many a colleague has been stabbed by Jasper’s stray fork!!!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Once Jasper has thrown a few wild cards into the mix, it is time to strategically plan my selection, with key issues for reds being a cross of quality levels, spread of villages (though I do tend to zone in on Chambolle-Musigny, as I am seduced by delicacy and perfume). With whites it is more simple; I go Bourgogne Blanc and perhaps one village wine or 1er Cru if I’m feeling a little jazzy! With no preferences, just going on advice.
So after two weeks of very careful thinking and grafting (think Paul Collingwood at the crease in the final day at Cape Town) I have so far selected the following…
Bourgogne Blanc, Jean Philippe Fichet
I buy Fichet every year; his wines are as meticulous and well crafted as his winery. Jean-Phillipe is no longer a rising star, as we’ve been banging on for years about his wines.
Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru Blanchots-Dessus, 1er Cru, Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard
Chassagne excelled in 2008 and Caroline Lestimé hit bullseye. A small 1er Cru tucked up against Montrachet. I need say no more!
Reds (this where I really, really struggle!):
Vosne-Romanée, Domaine Jean Grivot
After more style changes than David Bowie, Etienne Grivot has been on fire since 2006. I think this is the best village Vosne- Romanée made.
Nuits-St-George 1er Cru, Clos de la Maréchale, Domaine J F Mugnier
Affordable Mugnier. I think that says it all. Freddie Mugnier is a softly spoken genius who lets his wonderfully aromatic wines do the talking. This combines Nuits spice with Mugnier delicacy and subtlety. 2008 could be his best effort yet from this vineyard.
Volnay, Clos del la Cave des Ducs 1er Cru, Benjamin Leroux
Both Jasper and the Burghound (Allen Meadows) are in agreement… Ben Leroux is one of the most exciting and talented winemakers in Burgundy today. I love this cuvée but would happily buy any. This is only Ben’s second vintage for his own label and I love the idea of following this young master’s progression.
Latricières-Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Rossignol Trapet
Forget DRC it’s all about DRT now (as my colleague Will Gossip coined this up and coming Domaine)!!! The Rossignol Trapet boys have quietly gone about the business of dramatically improving this Domaine. In 2008 this is very evident and these wines are ridiculous value. Get on the DRT train whilst you can!
Right, that is it, in the book… signed, sealed and delivered for another vintage. Wait hang on…what about Bachelet, Roumier, Ente, Dujac… and cripes, I’ve got no Chambolle either. Oh no, I am also over three hundred big ones over my budget!!!
Right scrap that, back to the drawing board. I hate this time of year!