Exceeding expectations


Photograph: Lee Martland

Photograph: Lee Martland

Following on from yesterday’s annual Burgundy en primeur tasting, Anne McHale MW shares the wines that she felt stood out from the crowd

There was a great buzz at One Great George Street yesterday as press and customers alike joined Burgundian vignerons to explore the 2013 vintage. With more than 100 wines on show, it was tough on the palate to get through them all, but I spoke to many who were up to the task. So what were the highlights?

This will of course depend very much on an individual’s palate and preferences, so it’s tricky for me to highlight anything other than what stood out for me. I was very impressed by the Mâconnais, particularly the wines of Olivier Merlin and Bret Brothers and also by Clos des Quarts, a Pouilly-Fuissé which is the result of a joint venture between Merlin and Dominique Lafon. All the 2013 Mâconnais combined the characteristic extra richness of the slightly warmer environment with a seam of minerality and freshness bestowed by their terroirs and the cool vintage. The Côte d’Or whites which impressed me are too many to mention, but I’m always a fan of Hubert Lamy’s La Princée from St Aubin, and was equally enthralled by Bachelet’s Les Charmois from the same village. The famous vineyard names always have the wow factor, but there’s something gratifying about finding an exquisite hidden gem from a lesser-known terroir.

The 2013 reds are characterised by their appealing aromatics; crisp acidity and satisfyingly moderate alcohol levels, with the Côte de Beaune generally giving lighter styles than the Côte de Nuits. Again it is difficult to pick favourites amongst so many wines. I enjoyed very much, however, the delicacy of Camille Giroud’s Santenay and the depth of his Nuits-St Georges and Charmes-Chambertin; the ethereal character of Patrice et Michèle Rion’s Chambolle-Musigny (always a highlight); and the fascinating illustration of terroir right at the end of our line-up in the form of adjacent vineyards from Rossignol-Trapet: the Latricières-Chambertin and the majestic Chambertin itself, both much too young to have reached their full potential yet and with many years ahead of them, but still a textbook example of differences in style resulting from terroir.

As we know, Burgundy is not just about wine, it’s also about people, and our annual en primeur tasting is the perfect opportunity to meet all the famous names behind the bottles being tasted. It is often said that a winemaker’s character is reflected in their wines, and this was in evidence yesterday. From the modest restraint of Jean-Philippe Fichet and the exuberance of Nicolas Potel through to the robustly humorous Thibault Liger-Belair, the personalities on show were as varied as the wine styles.

Overall, this vintage has exceeded expectations and this was certainly evidenced yesterday. Freshness, aromatics, moderate alcohol and well-defined village and vineyard characteristics are its hallmarks. And none of it would be possible without the talented, passionate and hard-working men and women who bring these unique terroirs to life.

Read more about Burgundy 2013: En Primeur on bbr.com.