In search of good-value Burgundy: the quest for the Holy Grail?
Author: Adam Bruntlett
Having recently visited our growers in Chablis, the Côte d’Or and the Mâconnais, all of which have suffered from damage as a result of frost and hail, thoughts immediately turned to pricing. Successive short harvests have combined with a seemingly never-ending thirst for this region’s small production, causing prices to rise and leaving many enthusiasts disillusioned. My plea is not to despair; there are still bargains to be had, and the Holy Grail of affordable Burgundy is still attainable.
As buyers it is our job to ensure we are one step ahead of the market so that we can still offer good-value wines to our customers. This often means casting our net outside the best-known villages, and there are still great deals to be had even within the famous Côte d’Or. For my money, one of the next stars is likely to be St Romain, a picturesque village in a side valley to the northwest of the Côte de Beaune’s famous names. Its cool location and stony vineyards make it a great source of crisp, mineral white wines. In terms of reds, the village of Marsannay, to the north of Gevrey-Chambertin, is home to wines at a fraction of the price of its near-neighbours. Laurent Fournier, heavily championed by the Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin, is one of the stars of the village.
Great value wines can also be found by leaving the Côte d’Or; we recently discovered a dynamic young couple who had set up Domaine la Croix Montjoie, making deliciously accessible white, red and sparkling wines in the town of Vézelay, around an hour south of Chablis. Whilst some may debate the validity of the inclusion of Beaujolais in Burgundy, I have a soft spot for the region, and in particular Morgon and the Côte de Brouilly, both of which are on a run of excellent vintages and offer wines with great ageing potential at incredibly low prices. Magnums of Jean-Marc Burgaud’s Morgon Côte du Py are on my annual shopping list.
A tip I personally follow religiously is to pick the more humble wines from top estates. These bottlings are often sourced from plots located on the “wrong” side of a road or a line on the vineyard map. While you may not get all the structure and complexity of their bigger siblings, you still get top winemaking and a more approachable style which is made for earlier drinking. Domaine Guyon’s Bourgogne Rouge, for example, is made from vines in the village of Vosne-Romanée and offers much of the village’s hallmark sensuality and elegance at a greatly reduced price, whilst Michel Bouzereau’s Bourgogne Blanc is a 50-50 blend of grapes from Puligny and Meursault, but is much easier on the wallet than either of those two more august names.
Burgundy is a fascinating region, and one whose reputation has been built upon small, family domaines making wines which are affordable and accessible. It is therefore a huge shame that so many of the great names have now been drawn out of reach of a large proportion of wine lovers, but if you are prepared to look outside the box, it is still possible to find good-value wines we can all enjoy.
Browse our range of Burgundy on bbr.com.