A taste of Burgundy


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Our Burgundy Director, Jasper Morris MW, braces himself for the annual tasting sortie into the wilds of this fêted winemaking region, only to be reminded of its unending delights

Another Burgundy campaign is under way, and after two months of intensive tasting of the 2013s – and three weeks of chasing up allocations and prices, and getting all the essential spreadsheets up to speed – we have reached the happy point when the brochure toddles off to the printers.

During the tasting season, each day begins with a first appointment at 8.30am, then hourly visits to different producers throughout the day, with a break for lunch of course, finishing at some point between 6 and 7pm – the end of the day’s work that is, not the conclusion of lunch. It is both intense and tiring, yet endlessly fascinating.

Sometimes it all feels rather routine, as we go to the same producers every year, but there are always some moments of pure magic such as when tasting chez Lafarge, for example, in the company of Frédéric and his father Michel. The tasting of the junior wines there begins in the main cellar, before we move through a hobbit tunnel to the old, back cellar, which is sitting-room only for humans of my size. Here we finish the 2013s with their heavenly Premiers Crus, before the suggestion is mooted of trying an older bottle. To sip away at a 1980 Clos des Chênes, a minor vintage but a gorgeous bottle nonetheless in these hands – while father and son reminisce about the details of the growing season that year – is a moment to be treasured.

Equally joyous are the discovery of a new supplier, or the coming of age of one of the young hopefuls. If you wait till somebody definitely starts getting it right before you buy, you can be sure that somebody else will get in there before you. Thus 20 years ago we began with Jean-Philippe Fichet, long before he reached his assured mastery of Meursault. This year it was the turn of Sébastien Magnien in the same village to step up to the plate, and tasting his 2013s showed a new level of accomplishment in both red and white wines – bravo.

Writing up 500-plus tasting notes for the en primeur brochure, and in a short space of time, means that most of them end up being more prosaic than I would like, while not reflecting the poetic qualities which wine can and should inspire. Yet the magic of Burgundy will still shine through, and we hope there will be great pleasure in store when the brochure lands on your doorstep between Christmas and the New Year.

Our Burgundy 2013: En Primeur offer launches on 7th January 2015 on bbr.com.