Burgundy 2010 – a first view

Burgundy en primeur week in London gives a chance to taste the 16 month-old wines which have been bottled specially for this purpose – see the previous post; this post focuses on the wines.  As Burgundy is a relatively northern location for wine growing, there is  big vintage variation due to the weather conditions in individual years.  2009 and 2010 are perfect examples.  2009 was warm and even for the grower – which meant good quality grapes and lots of them.  2010 was quite different.  The year opened with a cool and wet spring which meant that the flowering and later fruit set were poor, leading to lower yields.  Summer was no great shakes either.  The season was saved (which happens quite often) by three great  weeks in September, including some summer like days.  The overall result was that good wines could be made by good growers/ winemakers but yields were down, between 10% and 50% down depending on which grower you talked to.  Domaine Marquis d’Angerville reported that while they would crop at 40 hectolitres per hectare in a good year, in 2010 they only made 20 hl/ha.  That is an extreme example but it shows the problem – both for the grower and, inevitably, for the consumer in terms of higher prices. 

In a cool year you would expect the white wines to shine – and indeed they do. This piece will pick out some wines from two very impressive tastings at Lea & Sandeman (LS) and Corney and Barrow (CB) – we only like the very best on this website.  (Actually, on a serious note, it is a shame that the Burgundy growers association did not put on their  usual mammoth tasting as that gives you a great snapshot of the general state of the vintage.  The BIVB is promising ‘something better’ than the usual tasting next year.)  For some wines below, I have put in in-bond prices to give an idea of rough pricing levels. 

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Domaine Moreau-Naudet (LS)

I love this great value Chablis and it is not just the striking label – I can’t decide whether the drawing is of a hand rising out of the vineyard with a nugget of gold or a piece of the precious earth.  In the end it comes to much the same. 

Of the seven wines tasted I would pick out:

Chablis – there is also a Petit Chablis but otherwise this is the basic wine and very good it is too. Characteristic fresh green apple fruit and typical minerality, good concentration and only  £90 a case in bond (add £22 per case excise duty and then 20% VAT on the total = £134, ie just under £11.20 per bottle).  The freshness of the vintage shines through this entry level Chablis. 

Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru – much broader on the palate, substantial minerality, very long; classic quality Chablis

Chablis Valmur Grand Cru – one for keeping of course but great mineral notes, many years of potential ahead but it should retain the raciness which is the hallmark of Chablis.

Domaine Pierre Labet (CB)

Much further south on the Côte d’Or, Labet produces high quality Meursault, other whites and, from other appellations, reds.

Bourgogne Blanc Vielles Vignes – rounder, riper fruit, with fine acidity, slightly drying oak evident at the moment (and most drinkers are not going to keep this long),

Meursault Les Tillets – juicy palate, very youthful, excellent fruit, pleasant whiff of oak, good persistence

Savigny Premier Cru Vergellesses – a different flavour profile, ripe apple and some stone fruit (peach), refreshing acidity, needs time to develop but very good

Moving to the reds:

Beaune – elegant red fruit, lovely acidity, surprisingly drinkable now but enough structure to develop

Gevrey-Chambertin – superb fresh red fruit, beautiful lines – something about the way that the fruit is followed by the acidity and then the tannic rasp, quite lively tannins

Beaune Premier Cru Coucherias – a more lifted bouquet, then refined fruit, superb

Domaine de l’Arlot (CB)

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In a rather different style, the wines of this domaine have a rustic quality.

Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Petits Plets – quite powerful vegetal notes, some lifted aromatics, needs time, difficult to know how this will develop

NSG Clos des Forets – very dense, high impact on the palate, lives up to NSG’s reputation for big, robust wines

Some grand wines

Last year I commented on Corney and Barrow’s top wines from Ch. de la Tour who have, by Burgundian standards, a massive six hectare plot in the Grand Cru, Clos de Vougeot. The 2010s are very promising too: the Cuvée Classique at the moment hits the nose with a great whack of super-refined oak, rich forceful fruit, high acidity and tannins – all the components the wine needs for a long and developing life. The Vielles Vignes is more muted but the palate has an remarkable concentration. 

Over at Lea & Sandeman there were 117 wines if you tasted them all and the final straight groans with great names.  In whites the Henri Boillot’s Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne (£786 in bond), is tightly closed, fine and concentrated on the palate but with ripe fruit showing through.  In the reds, their Clos Vougeot has super supple and beautiful fruit, managing to combine sophistication with drinkability.  Another step up to Grand Cru Clos des Lambrays with yet greater concentration, quite superb.  Finally, there were three great wines from Thibault Liger-Belair finishing with Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin – very refined beautiful fruit again, great density and persistence – and Grand Cru Richebourg – old wood clove notes, tight knit, huge potential, not for now.  If you need to know the prices of these wines they are probably beyond your wallet – the last named gets above £2K per case in bond.

2010 is a vintage that Burgundy lovers will cherish.  After the full charm and ripeness of 2009, 2010 is a marked by lovely clear fruit, refreshing acidity and good concentration.  It won’t be ready to drink as soon as 2009 but it is more classic and likely to be longer lasting. From the best growers, there are good wines at all quality levels and the middle to top wines are very good indeed.  Happy drinking … from now or 2013 onwards.  

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