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The Ultimate Burgundy Masterclass

Written by: Nick Daniell

Last week, Gavin and I hosted one of the Vintner’s great wine tastings in our tasting room in Parsons Green.
It was a trip through the iconic villages of the legendary Côte d’Or in Burgundy to identify the secret gems and subtle genius of each village from the two most recent outstanding vintages (2014 and 2015).

From the list of wines below,  we identified how Burgundy works with regards to the classification system, ie. the importance of understanding the differences between Bourgogne, Village, 1er Cru and Grand Cru, and more importantly how the vineyards are shared between producers.  

THE WINES

White
Puligny-Montrachet 2014, Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils 
£42.00 per bottle (Vault Club Price - £37.80)

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Les Chenevottes' 2014, Domaine Philippe Colin
£50.00 per bottle (£45.00)

Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Charmes' 2014, Louis Jadot
£60.00 per bottle (£54.00)

Red
Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015, Domaine Charles Audoin
£22.00 per bottle (£19.80)

Volnay 2014, Domaine Comte Armand
£40.00 per bottle (£36.00)

Vosne-Romanée 2014, Domaine Alain Hudelot-Noëllat
£40.00 per bottle (£36.00)

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru 'Les Vergelesses' 2015, Domaine Féry
£32.00 per bottle (£28.80)

Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru 'Renaissance' 2014, Domaine Tortochot
£55.00 per bottle (£49.50)

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru 'Bel Air' 2014, Domaine Taupenot-Merme
£75.00 per bottle (£67.50)

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 'Aux Echanges'  2013, Jean-Marie Fourrier
SOLD OUT on the night

To order any of these wines please click here

(Prices include duty and VAT)

We compared the unique styles between each village and what makes up their individual characters.  

From the Côte de Beaune:
Chassagne Montrachet – typically fresher, crisper and more mineral in style due to the more limestone soils.
Puligny Montrachet – a little richer and more deep in style to its neighbour. Both Puligny and Chassagne take the name of the most famous vineyard in the world, which straddles the two appelations – Montrachet!
Meursault – the more traditional style of Meursault tends to be big and round, but this can vary depending on where you are on the slope. Les Charmes is certainly on the more buttery and rich end of the spectrum
Volnay - very feminine in style, it is all about the velvety, sexy style. Aromatic and juicy with a floral hit.
Savigny-Lès-Beaune – underestimated, often great value particularly 1er Cru due to its ‘lesser postcode’; the reds offer a wonderful classic red and dark berry style with more elegance than depth or weight. Usually approachable when young.

From the Côte de Nuits
Vosne Romanée – often full bodied and voluptuous this is an age-worthy village wine. Ripe fruit over spices and a tendency to push towards kirsch as it develops. Red berries and cherries with notes of blackcurrent. Home of the very best Grand Crus.
Chambolle Musigny – the most feminine village in the Côte de Nuits, you will predominantly get wild red berries, strawberries and raspberries and fragrant violet notes. Elegant and yet powerful, the tannins are fine and the body is delicate but fleshy. 
Morey-Saint-Denis – A bridge in style between the more delicate Chambolle and the muscular Gevrey. Red cherries and blackcurrant form the fruit profile but expect some liquorice and violets. This evolves wonderfully with time towards leather and game.
Gevrey Chambertin – Traditionally the most structure and full bodied, they are known for their balance and long finish. Very age-worthy too, the strawberry, mulberry, wild flowers aromas evolve into a meaty, gamey style. Perfectly paired with red meat.

Vintages

The importance of vintage is never so obvious than in Burgundy. Due to production levels being so low, the producer can only provide a reflection of the vintage if he is to get the most out of the crop.  2014 is undeniably a White Burgundy vintage, one of the greats of this century whilst 2015 is heralded as the best Red Burgundy vintage for a generation.
We learned that whilst every vintages has its problems and meteorological challenges to face (hail and frost being the foremost dangers in Burgundy), it is the average temperature over the growing season that has such a defining say on the wine.

2014 
This vintage was wonderfully sunny but generally cooler than 2015. This allowed for a perfect ripeness of Chardonnay without losing any of the much needed acidity in the grape. The result is great concentration of flavour and aromas with a crisp, refreshing finish.  The perfect combination for age-worthy wines. For the reds, the sunshine certainly facilitated the ripening process but you can expect a fresher, cooler style.  This is the more traditional style of Red Burgundy that will need a few years to flesh out before they are at their prime. The 1er Crus and Grand Crus would need even more time. 

2015
This vintage had that little extra warmth giving a lush and ripe fruit concentration you only find in the great red vintages. It wasn’t so hot that we ended up with New World style wines but it was just where you need to be for that extra concentration, ripeness and weight whilst maintaining acidity for ageing.  The 2015s we had on show are ready now but will have the stuffing for a few more years.
As you would expect the whites are also riper, producing wines that are more for the short to mid-term and have that more obvious weight. It was the top producers that knew to pick earlier that came away with the best wines.

The wines of the night

It was hard to select just two or three as each one spoke to at least half the room. The wonderful thing about the variety on show was that there was something for everyone.
The Puligny was the best seller although very closely behind was the incredible 2014 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes. I thought this was outstanding and was my favourite white.  
2015 Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Vergelesses was without doubt the great value wine of the night, especially as it is in its sweet spot already .  It was singing and being from the outstanding 2015 vintage, we know you can confidently store it for 8+ years too.
The Volnay and the Vosne Romanée were served side by side and they split the room, albeit it everyone loving both.  The intensity of the Vosne Romanée is what won it over for me.
However Gavin and I both agreed the 2014 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Bel Air was our official wine of the night. It was quite simply magnificent and hard to fault. The fact that it is the neighbouring vineyard to the great Grand Crus of the appellation is a little secret worth noting. This wine is Grand Cru in quality and presents outstanding value for the quality.

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