A stunning white Nuits-St-Georges 2015

Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges Blanc 2015, Clos des Grandes Vignes 1er Cru Monopole

(£795 per 6-bottle case, in bond, Justerini & Brooks) 

My scribbled note for this white Nuits-St-George kicks of with the words ‘delightful, absolutely delightful’. From me, this is saying something.

Tasted in the damp, harshly-lit basement cellar of Justerini & Brooks’ on St. James’ Street at 10.30am on a bone-numbing 12th January, this wine elevated my day beyond measure.

While the nose offers a combination of struck match with toasted hazelnut, the palate is effortlessly elegant with the most captivating texture and length. There is a mix here of 21% new oak with some older barrels and, when I tasted it, the wine was racked and about to be bottled the following week.

There are 4¼ barrels of 2015 but sadly no 2016. I’d recommend you buy it now. That’s if you have the budget – and there’s any left! (Susie9/10, Jan 2017).

Notes on the 2015 Burgundy vintage

There were some very relaxed and happy French faces at January’s Burgundy en primeurs in London in early 2017. Rumours of a stunning vintage were already circulating during the 2014 campaign last year. The enthusiasm levels had ratcheted up a good couple of notches since.

The reds were always expected to be the talk of the town from this warm vintage. But whites were being talked up after barrel tastings last autumn.

In terms of weather, the 2015 vintage season was a warm and sunny one, with rain arriving in time to cool and refresh the vines. Growers also had the experience of recent warm vintages such as 2005 and 2009 to draw upon. As a result, harvest dates were brought forward where necessary and a lighter, more hands-off approach was adopted in the winery. This has led to less extracted and better-balanced reds than might otherwise have been the case in 2015.

And indeed, this is an excellent vintage for the reds. At every level the wines are top notch: the basic Bourgognes are charming, approachable and fruity, while the grander wines are long-lived, scented and structured, with fine tannins and beautiful intensity of flavour.

The whites are more mixed. It’s very much down to the individual producer as to how successful they are. Some wines lack acidity across the range, whereas others are startlingly good, managing to combine the vintage’s natural voluptuousness with thrilling grip and freshness.

The question is if, and what, you should buy. Peter and I have deliberately sought to recommend lesser wines in recent vintages in order to offer bottles that are affordable and accessible to everyone. But for 2015 I’m going off piste.

The truth is that prices are high at all levels due to a combination of a great vintage with a tiny one on the horizon (2016). This essentially means that 2015 Bourgogne Rouge and other lesser wines do not generally represent value for money. These are lovely, charming wines but they are not complex or long-lived, and for £15-20+ a bottle (inc VAT & duty) they often struggle to offer the complexity and length I’d want at that price. Better to go elsewhere.

On the other hand, if ever there was a year to splash out and buy just one case of something really special, this is it. I imagine the only regret you’ll have when you crack open that first bottle in a few year’s time is not having bought more.

Top producers of 2015 from the Burgundy en primeur tastings in London, January 2017

NB: Peter and I attended 10 tastings between the 9th and 12th January 2017.

  • Domaine Bachelet-Monnot
  • Domaine Sylvain Cathiard & Fils
  • Domaine Bruno Clair
  • Domaine Marc Colin
  • Domaine Michel Colin-Déléger
  • Joseph Drouhin
  • Domaine Drouhin-Laroze
  • Domaine Dujac
  • Domaine Duroché
  • Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard
  • Domaine Jean Grivot
  • Domaine Guyon
  • Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat
  • Domaine des Lambrays
  • Benjamin Leroux
  • Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
  • Domaine Bernard Moreau
  • Domaine Georges Noëllat
  • Domaine des Perdrix
  • Domaine Michèle & Patrice Rion
  • Domaine Taupenot-Merme
  • Domaine Tortochot