Release Burgundy, 2018
So, over the years, we may well have occasionally mentioned that visits to wine regions are never quite as glamorous as they sound…correct? But it’s true, honest, guv.
For sure, as business trips go, they are not the worst…but the young liquids sampled are often ungainly, awkward, and raw; and there are sometimes over 100 of these testing tastings in a single day’s schedule. Top this up with some rich food, factor in a late night (or two) when a grower sees an opportunity to give it a swing after endless hours in the cuverie, and you can see that the constitution undergoes a not insignificant examination. We have been known to travel back to the UK somewhat ‘épuisé’, desperate to re-embrace vigorously the delights of milk, yoghurt, and warm, brown, flat, fluid (aka, British ale) on return to Albion.
Yet having said all that, our week in the Côte d’Or last November saw a slightly different picture: such is the quality of the vintage that all our various rendez-vous were a consummate joy – we could have stayed for days on end, there was a spring in our step from start to finish. Not a single moan, or whinge, to be heard.
There was a simple explanation for this state of affairs: the wines are simply glorious.
Reds have vibrant Pinot Noir purity and typicity in abundance, while the whites exude classic, racy acidity to accompany the lush Chardonnay fruit. And it is the same for the generic Bourgogne right through the card to Grand Cru; and in every cellar, too. Furthermore, crucially, impeccable balance is to the fore – the key, as ever.
Granted that they may not quite be in the same league as those from a truly great vintage, such as 2010 – there isn’t quite that depth and complexity, typical of a ‘grand millésime’ (although it’s a very close-run thing). But they are just so gorgeous, so charming, that they will bring enormous delight (hence our strapline), and you won’t have to wait too long before you can uncork.
Highlights abounded, too numerous to mention. However, certain moment are embedded in the memory: the size of Bruno Clavelier’s grin when we understatedly declared that he must be ‘plus content’ with his 1er Cru Combe d’Orveau; the two exquisite village Pulignys from Bachelet-Monnot and Jean Chartron, every bit as good as the local top dog, Etienne Sauzet; the quality of Drouhin-Laroze’s Gevrey 1er Cru Au Closeau, a match for the estate’s Grands Crus; and extraordinary Pommards from Joseph Voillot, the trifecta of Epenots, Pézerolles, and Rugiens.
And to think that we are holding back on telling you about Marc-Antonin Blain’s Chiroubles (yes, Beaujolais, like you will never have tasted), and Vincent Boyer’s simply jaw-dropping whites, as he moves the domaine’s whole production towards maturation in concrete eggs.
Vintage of ‘vin de plaisir’ that we highly recommend to all wine lovers.