We depend on wine critics to be level-headed and to cut across the hype of merchants who have a natural and understandable motive to be enthusiastic about new vintage releases. But if you love red Burgundy there is no reason not to believe the hype which accompanies the release of 2015 wines. To be straightforward this is a simply stunning vintage which every lover of Burgundy should buy – at whatever level you can afford. The Bourgogne Rouge is as good, no, better, than it is ever going to be, the village wines are rich and have an intensity you would expect from Premier Crus. Some of the Premier Crus are as good as you would expect from Grand Crus in a lesser year. The Grand Crus are less easy to judge as they will take years to unfold but I doubt any of them will disappoint if you have the patience to wait for them to evolve.
Are there any downsides? Yes, given the superb ripeness some producers have been a bit lavish with the new oak. For example, I found Thierry Mortet Chambolle Musigny PC Beaux Bruns a bit overdone, similarly Ferdinand & Laurence Pillot, Pommard PC Les Rugiens … but that is really a matter of taste. But on the whole, this is a straightforwardly excellent vintage.
Three favourites at three price levels
No high-quality red Burgundy is cheap these days but these are great value for the price (or in the case of the Grand Cru good value):
Chorey Les Beaune, Les Beaumonts, Domaine Joël Rémy, £150 in bond for a case of 12 ( = £18.80 per bottle with excise and VAT paid): tight, raspy raspberry fruit, lovely fruit incisiveness, needs a year or two but not more in bottle for it all to knit together but a good value wine with real finesse. Wonderful, enjoyable, simply drinkable red Burgundy.
Gevrey Chambertin, Les Crais, Domaine Huguenot, £300 in bond for 12 bottles (£29 a bottle duty paid) – a real ‘wow’ intensity here, so refreshing, such bright fruit but with depth, great integration between ripe red fruit and smoky/vanilla oak.
Money no object? There is so much to choose from but Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru, Domaine des Lambrays (£895 for 6 bottles in bond, £181 a bottle duty paid), is pale but remarkable intense: an elegant and powerful palate, razor-sharp red fruit, taut with a well concealed tannic structure which will develop over many years, genuinely outstanding. In ten years time crack this open and invite me around!
And don’t forget the whites which are also very, very good.
Wines from Lea & Sandeman en primeur tasting, 9 January 2017