London’s Burgundy week and the buzz it engenders kick starts the wine year like no other. This January was even crazier than usual with 19 wine merchant tastings in three days and throngs of consumers waving cheque books like Union Jacks at a Royal wedding. Why? Because 2014 has been heralded as a great vintage for whites and a good one for reds, thanks to beautiful Spring weather, followed by a cool August and then an Indian summer.
The compression of these tastings and the ensuing consumer demand is because of the limited quantities of the greatest wines, but the word burgundy needn’t raise price alarm bells. There’s a big price disparity between village and grand cru with surprisingly good value at a time of a weak euro. Hew Blair of Justerini & Brooks, which started the en primeur Burgundy ball rolling 25 years ago, reckons that J&B sells three-quarters of its allocation of premier and grand cru Burgundies during the six weeks or so of the offer.
The good news for ordinary mortals like you and me who aren’t going to be queueing up for Bâtard Montrachet is that there’s a plethora of exceptional value, deliciously rich and flavoursome white Burgundies in 2014 at £10 - £20 a bottle. Among them, I would include those of Didier Fornerol’s, £90 / 6, Howard Ripley (02087482608; email@example.com) and Didier Darviot-Perrin’s Les Magny, £78 / 6, Howard Ripley, Dominique Lafon’s Bourgogne Blanc, £150 / 12, Berry Bros. (bbr.com/burgundy2014) and Etienne Sauzet’s excellent Bourgogne, Tufera, £155, J&B (www.justerinis./com/burgundy2014).
For a few dollars more, there’s a beautifully crafted Bourgogne Blanc Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Philippe Fichet, £156 / 6, Berry Bros, a fine Rully Blanc La Chaume from Jean-Yves Devevey, £132 / 12 and Pouilly Fuissé En Bouland from Daniel and Julien Barraud, £102/ 6, Howard Ripley as well as terrific Auxey-Duresses from Agnès Paquet, £135 / 12, Flint Wines (02075822500; firstname.lastname@example.org) and St.Aubin from Bernard Moreau, £216/12, Flint.
Note: with en primeur, you pay the ‘in bond’ amount now plus duty, VAT and delivery price if applicable, with delivery for most whites before the summer.
Something For the Weekend 6 February 2016
2015 Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape
From Cape Point’s Duncan Savage, one of the Cape’s greatest producers of the style, this crisply refreshing new vintage sauvignon blanc displays scented elderflower aromatics and intense, zingily dry grapefruit zesty flavours in a stylish, Sancerre-like mould. £8.99, Co-operative.
2013 La Bohème Act Four Syrah Gamay, Yarra Valley
A distinctive red blend from Oz’s de Bortoli family with spicy, herby aromatics and succulently juicy fresh blueberry and cherry fruitiness in a Yarra-meets-Beaujolais cru style red. £13.99-14.99, Oddbins, North & South Wines, www.ozwines.co.uk, Red Squirrel.
2007 Bodegas Roda Rioja Reserva
This is an ultra-modern style of rioja based on the tempranillo grape whose glossy, plump dark cherry fruit is superbly framed by finely polished vanilla oak while nine years of maturity have cajoled it into perfect drinking now. £25, Sainsbury’s.