If you stick to buying your wine in supermarkets, chances are you haven’t yet tripped over a great Burgundy. Burgundy is not something supermarkets tend to excel at. Its small scale, artisan products can be pricey, infuriatingly inconsistent, and difficult to pin down, but the idea that you have to be on a city slicker’s bonus to afford it is wide of the mark.
Take the 2010 vintage now being offered for sale by specialist wine merchants throughout the land. Yes, of course, you can pay through the nose for the pukka grand cru stuff if money is no object. But you might be surprised to know that you can also pick up some really good, affordable ‘house’ reds and whites in the £8 - £15 range.
Compared to the certainties of price and brand name in Bordeaux, not to mention its much greater volumes, Burgundy doesn’t cut the Dijon in quite the same way. Disillusionment with Bordeaux, which shot itself in the foot with the exorbitant pricing of many of its 2010s, has helped shift the focus to Burgundy. In a good to excellent vintage like 2010, Burgundy can offer an array both of delicious and charming reds.
Of all the world’s top wine regions, Burgundy is arguably the most vintage-specific because its climate is marginal for grape growing. Every year, the weather is the joker in the pack with a major say over style and quality. While the hot summer of 2009 brought a generous, crowd-pleasing vintage with ample flesh on the bones, 2010 is altogether more lithe and toned.
The summer was cool and wet, so much so that there were fears for both quantity and quality. But a summer of discontent was made glorious autumn by sunshine at picking time. With God on their side, Burgundy’s best winemakers made excellent chardonnays of concentration and freshness and pinot noirs full of vivid red berry fruit purity and elegance.
At this stage, most of the cask samples shown in London last month have yet to be bottled and delivered. But growing demand for Burgundy’s limited quantities makes an early shop advisable. In fact despite Burgundy’s image as a little bit pricey, the ironic truth is that most of the very best wines are sold even before they’re released.
Broadly speaking, the cheaper house Burgundies can be drunk over the next year or two. The finest premier and grands cru reds, and whites, will reward cellaring for five or 10 years. Thankfully, most wines can be bought in packs of six, but if you’re a little unsure but feel like dipping a toe in the water, why not club together and share. For my picks of the vintage with tasting notes on 173 delicious wines, plus specialist stockists, check out: http://www.anthonyrosewine.com/journal/2012/2/burgundy-2010-–-wines
Something For the Weekend 4 February 2012
2010 Saint Michel Blanc Perlé, Gaillac
A distinctive South-West blend of loin de l'oeil, muscadelle and mauzac, this dry white comes with a refreshing spritz (hence perlé ) and a mouthwateringly dry citrus-crisp tang. Made for crab and scallops. £7.99, buy 2 = £6.99. Majestic.
2009 Tamaya Reserva Syrah, Limarí Valley
Bright, spicy and aromatic in Crozes-Hermitage vein, a veneer of pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon spiciness coats the blackberryish fruit of this exuberantly opulent yet fresh, pepper-tinged north coastal Chilean syrah. Around £9.99, Avery’s of Bristol, Spirited Wines, Harvey Nichols.
2006 Terre di Priori Brunello di Montalcino
Mature garnet and sweetly scented, there are complex secondary characters to the sweet and sour cherryish sangiovese fruit, while smooth tannins and freshness make this a satisfying Italian red at a not unapproachable price for Brunello. £18.99, Tesco.com.