(by Susie Barrie MW)
Producer Benjamin Leroux may have been joking when he said these words with a twinkle in his eye at the Burgundy en primeur tastings in early January, but he has a point.
2014 is undoubtedly a fabulous vintage – and also one whose elegant, mid-weight wines are, in several cases, already drinking beautifully. Which made my task of tasting around 800 young wines earlier this month more a joy than a chore.
A brief summary of the vintage
In the vineyard, 2014 was a year that began well. Warm conditions ruled from spring through to the end of June, allowing for settled flowering and the promise of an early and abundant harvest. Things then took a turn for the worse in parts of the Côte de Beaune when hail once again struck the Burgundy vintage, leading to significant losses for several producers. In general the weather turned cooler and wetter throughout July and August, raising concern amongst growers. From the end of August, however, the region enjoyed an Indian summer and, on the whole, a decent amount of healthy grapes were harvested in perfect conditions.
The result is a stunning vintage for the whites, which show incredible energy and harmony across the board. Thanks to the cooler weather in the summer, they are fresh as well as concentrated. Whereas in a vintage like 2008 there was ripe fruit and a marked acidity but the two sat apart in early tastings, in 2014 the wines are beautifully integrated and quite frankly delicious.
The reds are also generally very good, with the best offering wonderful elegance and drinkability, as well as character.
What is striking is the clear commune definition this year in both the whites and the reds – making the task of selection easier for seasoned Burgundy drinkers. Communes that seem to have performed particularly well are Chassagne-Montrachet, Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits St Georges. The former is a firm favourite of mine but has produced consistently better wines in this vintage than I’ve seen before. The latter surprised me again and again this year for its compelling charm and typicity.
On the whole, these are wines that will drink well early but will also age for up to 10 years – if you happen to have the patience or inclination to wait.
When it comes to deciding what to buy, given there is hardly a duff white out there, you could simply set yourself a budget and choose your favourite commune and I very much doubt you’d be disappointed. The reds need more careful selection, but there are certainly decent options at every level. There is also more wine than in the past few vintages, so prices have remained similar.
I’ve deliberately focused my recommendations on less expensive wines that offer great value for money, and for those I’ve included brief tasting notes. There are also a few mid-range suggestions and finally, my top wines and producers of the vintage.
So it really is with great pleasure that I recommend the following wines to you.
- All wines were tasted between 11th-15th January 2016
- For ease of price comparison, prices are quoted as cases of 12 for the ‘value bottles’ and ‘mid-priced’ wines, however, some of these are packaged in cases of 6.
- Prices are quoted for wines in bond, to which duty and VAT must be added. Duty is £24.60 per case of 12 (£12.30 per case of 6) and VAT is 20% on top once duty has been added.
- All of our tasting notes are from the en primeur tastings in London in January 2016. The wines of some of Burgundy’s top producers are in such demand that they rarely, if ever, appear at the London tastings.
To drink early unless otherwise stated
Berry Bros. & Rudd
Jean-Claude Bachelet & Fils St. Aubin Le Charmois 1er Cru (£168/12 BBR) (7.5/10 SB) – The key here is elegance and texture. Not a particularly powerful wine but one with attractive creamy notes and a beautifully smooth mouthfeel.
Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon St. Véran (£156/12 BBR) (7.5/10 SB) – Delightfully savoury and with a reductive character, this is fresh and yet yeasty with excellent depth of flavour for the money.
Domaine de Bellene Savigny Les Beaune Vielles Vignes (£156/12 BBR) (7/10 SB) – As you might expect from a typical Savigny, this is earthy and meaty with a rustic feel to its hedgerow fruit – lots of character.
The Stannery St. Wine Company / Flint
Domaine des Hâtes Chablis 1er Cru l’Homme Mort (Fourchaume) (£168/12 Flint) (7.5/10 SB) – A touch of new oak lends a delicate nutty aroma here and the resulting style offers a pleasing combination of freshness and richness.
Agnès Paquet Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Perrières (£235/12 Flint) (-8/10 SB) – Cream and roasted hazelnuts lead the way in this fresh and elegant St. Aubin. Good depth of flavour and lovely length.
Chanterêves Volnay (£265/12 Flint) (8/10 SB) – Highly aromatic, herbal and exotic. Sappy and relatively light, but rather pretty and elegant.
Duroché Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£132/12 Flint) (7.75/10 SB) – Bright blackberry fruit and a hint of smoke in this light and very drinkable red.
Georges Noëllat Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£150/12 Flint) (7.25/10 SB) – Smoky, fresh bright and leafy. Light but lovely Bourgogne Pinot Noir with great typicity.
Agnès Paquet Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£105/12 Flint) (7/10 SB) – Light and leafy with crushed hedgerow fruit and earthy undertones. Fine tannins add an edgy note to this very drinkable Bourgogne.
Justerini & Brooks
Bachelet Monnot St Aubin En Remilly 1er Cru (£225/12 J&B) (8/10 SB) – I would happily recommend any of the Bachelet-Monnot wines this vintage, but the vibrant yet rich, praline-coated style of this St. Aubin is particularly attractive for the money.
Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Milly Clos du Four (£145/12 J&B) (7.75/10 SB) – There is more grip and focus in the Les Héritiers wines in 2014 and this is my favourite of the bunch. Gorgeously nutty, tangy and reductive, it’s hard to beat in terms of value.
Château de Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé ‘les Combettes’ (£254/12 Loeb) (7.5/10 SB) – Gorgeous toasty flavours in this very clean and pure wine.
Gilbert Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin (£143/12 Loeb) (7.5/10 SB) – There are some lovely Chablis wines in 2014 and they are largely hard to ignore in terms of value. This is an absolute classic; bone dry, mealy and stoney with elegance and length.
Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet (£250/12 Loeb) (£255 Flint) (7.75/10 SB) – Mineral and not too full-bodied, this is deliciously steely and fresh but also with a good, toasty finish.
Pernot-Belicard Meursault ‘Vielles Vignes’ (£255/12 Loeb) (£256 Flint) (8.25/10 SB) – Engaging and rounded with classic buttery flavours, good concentration and lots of energy.
Ragot Givry Blanc ‘Teppes des Chenèves Blanc’ (£130/12 Loeb) (7.75/10 SB) – A winning combination of toasty, fresh and mineral. This juicy, great value Givry is drinking beautifully right now.
Tollot Beaut Bourgogne Blanc (£138/12 Loeb) (7.75/10 SB) – Very much an early drinking wine that is instantly appealing but with enough grip to be properly interesting.
Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Rouge ‘les Grands Chaillots’ (£159/12 Loeb) (7.5/10 SB) – Blended from estate-grown and bought in grapes, this punchy Bourgogne is full of earthy plum fruit and gamey flavours. Decent stuff for the money.
Marc Colin St Aubin 1er Cru Sur Le Sentier du Clou (£230/12 Goedhuis) (7.5/10 SB) – Lovely smooth creamy texture and roasted nut reductive feel to this. Great combination of style and value for money.
Jean-Paul Droin Chablis 1er cru Montmains (£200/12 Goedhuis) (7.5+/10 SB) – Very stylish and self-assured with compelling wet pebble minerality.
Drouhin-Laroze Gevrey Chambertin (£255/12 Goedhuis) (£275 J&B) (8/10 SB) – Very characterful and rounded with earthy, herbal flavours. Mid weight and ideally suited to a typical French lunch of terrine and cheeses.
Lea & Sandeman
Daniel Barraud Pouilly Fuissé Vieilles Vignes En Buland (£200/12 L&S) (£204 Howard Ripley) (7.5/10 SB) – Fragrances of roasted nuts lead on to concentrated yellow fruit flavours and plenty of tangy acidity. Rounded, harmonious and very drinkable.
Paul et Marie Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru La Pucelle (£140/12 L&S) (7.25/10 SB) – Very expressive, rich, rounded and buttery – definitely early drinking but highly pleasurable in the short-term.
Moreau-Naudet Chablis 1er Cru Forêts (£160/12 L&S) (7.25/10 SB) – Fresh, citric and herbal with great energy and light, toasty overtones.
Fernand & Laurent Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet (£200/12 L&S) (7.25/10 SB) – Blended from six different vineyards, this is an attractively lively, refreshing and fruity example of Chassagne.
Comte Armand Auxey Duresses 1er Cru (£240/12 L&S) (£240 Goedhuis) (7/10 SB) – Good concentration of elegant black fruit, herbs, and forest floor flavours. Great value for this much flavour.
Confuron Cotetidot Bourgogne Rouge (£130/12 L&S) (7/10 SB) – Leafy and red-fruited with a nip of fine tannin. Good value for a wine with this much character.
Huguenot Fixin Petits Crais (£170/12 L&S) (-7/10 SB) – Savoury, dense, masculine, and very likeable.
Lignier-Michelot Morey Saint Denis Rue de Vergy (£245/12 L&S) (7/10 SB) – Intense, bright blackberry fruit – really pure and vibrant. Well made and full of energy and perfume.
Fernand & Laurent Pillot Pommard Tavannes (£185/12 L&S) (7.25/10 SB) – Dark and smoky with a savoury, earthy character.
Joël Rémy Savigny les Beaune Fourneaux (£125/12 L&S) (7/10 SB) – Perfumed and exotic with dark fruit and notes of almond, though only mid-weight.
Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£130/12 L&S) (7/10 SB) – Not as approachable as some of the other Bourgogne pinots, but if you like your wine meaty, leathery and farmyardy, this is for you.
Corney & Barrow
Vincent Dampt Chablis 1er Cru les Lys (£182.90/12 C&B) (7.5/10 PR) – A real classic with woolly, leesy aromas along with good definition and length.
Pierre Labet Bourgogne Chardonnay Vielles Vignes (£175/12 C&B) (7/10 PR) – Expressive, mealy and savoury with balancing, fresh acidity.
Dom Gilles Jourdan Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes (£105/12 C&B) (7/10 PR) – Fragrant crushed red fruit. Good structure, intensity and purity.
Dom Gilles Jourdan Côtes de Nuits-Villages (£169/12 C&B) (7-7.5/10 PR) – Floral and precise with fine, chalky tannin and focused intensity of fruit.
Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet, Les Charmes (£240/12 Howard Ripley) (Loeb £250) (7.25/10 SB, 7.5/10 PR) – Very tense and Puligny in style with elegant, roasted lemon fruit and spicy complexity.
Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc (£216/12 Howard Ripley) (7.5/10 PR) – Beautifully reductive and nutty with amazing, savoury intensity. Great value.
Comte Armand Volnay £240/12 Howard Ripley (Goedhuis £290) (-7.5/10 PR) – Lifted and floral with flavours of green pepper and red fruits. Tannic but elegant and good at the level.
Dujac Fils et Père Morey-Saint Denis (£234/12 Howard Ripley) (£245/12 Flint, £240/12 BBR) (7[7.5]/10 PR, 8/10 SB) – A delicious wine for the money – charming, light, sappy and leafty but with enough weight to offer properly interesting drinking.
Didier Fornerol Côtes-de-Nuits Villages (£144/12 Howard Ripley) (7/10 PR) – Scented and earthy with grip and a sappy edge.
Hudelot-Noëllat Bourgogne Pinot Noir (£102/12 Howard Ripley) (£125 Flint, £130 Goedhuis) (7++/10 PR, 7.25/10 SB) – Light, leafy, sappy and full of savoury character, once again this impressive producer has made a terrific entry level red.
Hudelot-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny (£240/12 Howard Ripley) (£310 at Goedhuis) (7.5-8/10 PR) – Floral, earthy, fine and fresh – this verges on austere at the moment but it will be fabulous given three to five years.
- Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Clavoillons (£348/12 Howard Ripley) (8/10 PR)
- Marc Colin Chassagne Montrachet Les Encégnières (£280/12 Goedhuis) (8.5/10 SB)
- Marc Colin Chassange Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vide Bourses (£398/12 Goedhuis SOLD OUT) (9/10 SB)
- Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers (£312/12 Howard Ripley) (8/10 PR)
- Jean-Noël Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chenevottes 1er Cru (£320/12 J&B) (8.5-9/10 SB)
- Antoine Jobard Meursault en la Barre (£360/12 BBR) (8/10 SB)
- Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru les Vergers (£390/12 Loeb) (8.5/10 SB)
- Pernot-Belicard Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrières (£420/12 Flint) (8.5/10 SB)
- Etienne Sauzet Chassagne Montrachet Les Encégnières (£365/12 Goedhuis) (8.75/10 SB)
- Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanée (£390/12 J&B) (£395 Goedhuis, £396 BBR) (9/10 SB)
- Georges Noëllat Vosne-Romanée (£420/12 Flint) (8/10 SB)
- Michèle & Patrice Rion Nuits-St Georges, Clos des Argillières 1er Cru (£360/12 BBR) (8/10 SB)
Dessert Island / Win the lottery wines!
Prices are for the case size stated
- Bachelet Monnot Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 1er Cru (£500/12 J&B) (9/10 SB)
- Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru (£480/6 Loeb) (£550/6 L&S) (8/10 SB)
- François Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru les Folatières (C&B) (8/10 PR)
- Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles (£204/6 Howard Ripley) (8.5/10 PR)
- Colin-Deleger Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles (£470/6 Goedhuis) (9/10 SB)
- Joseph Drouhin, Montrachet Grand Cru, Marquis de Laguiche (£1,800/6 BBR) (9/10 SB)
- Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets (£216/6 Howard Ripley) (8-8.5/10 PR)
- Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ-Canet (£357/6 Loeb) (8.5-9/10 SB)
- Drouhin-Laroze Chambertin-Clos de Beze, Grand Cru (£895/12 J&B) (9/10 SB)
- Drouhin-Laroze Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru (£380/6 Goedhuis) (8.5/10 SB)
- Duroché Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (£395/6 Flint) (8.5/10 SB)
- Domaine Faiveley Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (£480/6 L&S) (8.5/10 SB)
- Jean Grivot Nuits-St Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers (£420/6 BBR) (9/10 SB)
- Hudelot-Noëllat Clos-de-Vougeot Grand Cru (£540/6 Howard Ripley) (£550/6 Goedhuis) (8.5-9/10 PR)
- Hudelot-Noëllat Romanée-Saint-Vivant (£675/3 Howard Ripley) (9-9.5/10 PR)
- François Lamarche, La Grande Rue, Monopole, Grand Cru (£1550/6 J&B) (9/10 SB)
- Dom des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru (£690/6 Goedhuis) (Loeb £690, Flint £685, BBR £684, Howard Ripley £684, L&S £660). (9/10 SB)
- Launay-Horiot Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru (£595/6 Flint) (8.5/10 SB)
- Benjamin Leroux Clos St Denis Grand Cru (£345/3 Goedhuis) (9/10 SB)
- Thibault Liger-Belair Richebourg Grand Cru (£645/3 L&S) (8.5/10 SB)
- Georges Noëllat Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru (Flint) (9/10 SB)
- Taupenot-Merme Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru (£500/6 Flint) (8.5/10 SB)
- Tortochot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (£365/6 Loeb) (9/10 SB)
- Tortochot Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru (£416/6 Loeb) (9/10 SB)
- Tortochot Chambertin Grand Cru (£490/6 Loeb) (9.5/10 SB)
Top 25 Producers of 2014
The majority or all of the wines in the range that I tasted were excellent
- Bachelet Monnot – Côte de Beaune: J&B
- Henri Boillot – Côte de Beaune: L&S, Loeb
- Alain Chavy – Puligny-Montrachet: Loeb, Howard Ripley
- Marc Colin – Chassagne-Montrachet: Goedhuis
- Colin-Deleger – Chassagne-Montrachet: Goedhuis
- Joseph Drouhin – Beaune: BBR, J&B
- Drouhin-Laroze – Gevrey-Chambertin: Goedhuis, J&B
- Dujac Fils & Père – Morey-St-Denis: BBR, Flint, Howard Ripley
- Duroché – Gevrey-Chambertin: Flint
- Fontaine-Gagnard – Chassagne-Montrachet: Howard Ripley
- Jean-Noël Gagnard – Chassagne-Montrachet: BBR, J&B
- Jean Grivot – Vosne-Romanée: Goedhuis, BBR, J&B
- Hudelot-Noëllat – Vougeot: Flint, Goedhuis, Howard Ripley
- Antoine Jobard – Meursault: BBR
- Domaine des Lambrays – Morey-St-Denis: Flint, Goedhuis, Howard Ripley, Loeb, L&S, BBR
- Launay-Horiot – Pommard: Flint
- Thibault Liger-Belair – Nuits St Georges: Loeb, L&S, BBR
- Bernard Moreau – Chassagne-Montrachet: Flint, Loeb
- Georges Noëllat – Vosne-Romanée: Flint
- Agnès Paquet – Meloisey: Flint
- Michèle & Patrice Rion – Nuits St Georges: BBR
- Marc Roy – Gevrey-Chambertin: Loeb
- Etienne Sauzet – Puligny-Montrachet: Loeb, Goedhuis, J&B
- Taupenot-Merme – Morey-St-Denis: Flint
- Tortochot – Gevrey-Chambertin: Loeb