2010 BURGUNDY – some thoughts and recommendations

by Patrick Sandeman

Moreua2010 BURGUNDY – some thoughts and recommendations

Last week we saw what has become the annual round of tastings of the new Burgundy vintage put on by the merchants and importers, mostly for journalists, but also for trade and private customers.

I was fortunate enough to blag my way into a couple of major tastings hosted by our competitors, wearing my Vintner’s wine committee hat, as well as to taste my way through the 100 plus wines that we were showing on what was a glorious Friday at the end of a long week.

While Charles is battling away to get his expansive and detailed 2010 Burgundy offer out, I thought that I would give you a few impressions of my own, together with some recommendations too.

Over the past year or two I have found my drinking habits have changed somewhat, and I drink far more Chablis today than I do any other white Burgundy, and more red Burgundy (and Pinot Noir generally) than I do claret, possibly because all the good clarets have simply become too expensive to drink on a regular basis.

The Vintage

This is a very fine vintage indeed, and even exceptional in some cases. There is perhaps not the uniformity of quality across the board as in 2005, a vintage in which almost everything from village to Grand Cru from all producers was a great buy, and nor does it have the great ripeness of 2009, but what makes 2010 stand out is tremendous clarity, vibrancy and expression of ‘terroir’. In many instances producers are saying that these are the greatest wines they have ever produced (but then they might say that?). Certainly in my tastings I came across some exceptional wines.

White burgundy is a far more complicated and difficult wine to make then red, and today most are being made for earlier consumption than in the past, partly because of cash flow, partly because there are fewer punters around prepared to cellar them (some indifferent or even bad experiences with bottles of pre 2000 emerging from the cellar might account for that), and this in turn means that the wines are generally more mineral, more focussed and expressive. Drinking more Chablis now that I used to (partly because there has been a string of lovely vintages such as 2000, 2005 and 2008 which are showing beautifully), I was thrilled by the 2010 Chablis’, especially those from Moreau-Naudet who is making exceptional wines today, and I know that I will also love Laurent Tibut’s nad Denis Pommier’s wines when they are released. I also found remarkable white wines from Hubert Lamy, Laurent Pillot, Henri Germain and perhaps the best wines ever tasted from Remi Jobard who seems to have come of age.

My own hit list will include:

Domaine Moreau-Naudet: Chablis 1er Cru Montmains & Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre

Domaine Laurent Tribut: Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet & Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy

Domaine Hubert Lamy: Saint Aubin 1er Cru Frionnes, Saint Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly & Saint Aubin 1er Cru Clos de la Chateniere – this is everything you could want in a great white burgundy, yet without being heavy or too much at all.

Domaine Fernand et Laurent Pillot: Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Vergers, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeots & Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Vide Bourse

Domaine Henri Germain: Meursault – makes me want to dance as I taste it. Meursault 1er Cru Charmes – utterly gorgeous. Love this wine.

Domaine Remi Jobard: Meursault ‘Chevalieres’ & Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres

This is, however, at least as much a red wine vintage, and as mentioned above the good wines are vibrant and expressive, and truly representative of the ‘terroir’ from which they come, giving great individuality. By no means all of the reds I tasted at the various tastings were great, or even good, but the overall sensation was that among the really good growers (and I do not mean just the big names) the wines are really exciting and my palate was left feeling alive and refreshed, even after so many wines. There are wines which can be drunk relatively young, with only two or three years bottle age, (Oz Clarke commented that he had never before tasted so many good Bourgogne Rouges), others which will be good for a decade, and many that will make beautiful old bones. More than once did I make reference to great Nebbiolo when tasting the 2010 red wines; it has taken me years to really appreciate the captivating flavours and excitement of great Barolo and Barbaresco, which in many respects can share the same characteristics as Pinot Noir, and not just in terms of being so elusive. The demand for this vintage is evident, and there will be many disappointed customers looking for the most sought after wines (Thibault Liger-Belair produced two thirds less of his Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les St Georges in 2010 than in 2009), and the likes of Chistophe Perrot-Minot (wines likened by Steven Spurrier to DRC quality), Anne Gros and Dugat-Py will be hard fought for. However, there are wines aplenty for those of us who are not looking to buy just the big names, which will give so much pleasure, and these are just the sort of wines I will put into my own cellar with which to entertain my friends and family over the years to come.

My own hit list will include:

Domaine Francois Lumpp: Givry –any of them from Pied de Clou upwards – they are all fabulous value.

Domaine Fernand et Laurent Pillot: Pommard 1er Cru Charmots & Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens

Domaine Chandon des Briailles: Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Lavieres – a superior and very smart lunch wine.

Domaine Comte Armand – Benjamin Leroux commented that this is his best vintage to date ‘ not perfect, but almost…’ Auxey Duresses 1er Cru & Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru – definitely the best vintage of this I have ever tasted – lovely understated power (btw, the 1999 is fabulous now!)

Domaine Henri Boillot: Volnay 1er Cru Santenots

Domaine de Courcel: Pommard Vaumeriens & Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens

Domaine Huguenot – fabulous new find and great value: Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Fontenay

Domaine Thierry Mortet: Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Beaux Bruns

Domaine Confuron-Coteditot: Gevrey Chambertain 1er Cru Craipillot, Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Vignes Rondes & Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaut Saint Jacques. Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Suchots & Echezeaux Grand Cru – for a bit of a treat!

Domaine des Lambray: Morey Saint Denis – something of a bargain if you ask me.

Great value wines also worth considering include the following, but where we still have earlier vintages available which offer fabulous drinking while waiting for the 2010s:

Domaine Daniel Barraud – just about all of his wines.

Francois Raquillet’s Mercureys

Domaine de la Douaix Cote de Nuits Villages

Plenty of great wines to buy, plenty of great wines to drink. There has never been a better time to buy Burgundy!