Burgundy 2013: The Honest Grapes Parcels

“Summing up the last five years in Burgundy: '09 = flesh, '10 = muscle, '11 = skin, '12 = flesh/muscle, '13 = sinew. These are Burgundies for Burgundy lovers but a great place to start for those wanting to begin their journey through the region.” Tom Harrow, How To Spend It

A more in-depth look of the vintage is below but this year we have judiciously based our offering around a select core of over-performing producers mainly at the 1er cru level, which evidence the words of a top grower (Etienne de Montille): “the quality of the best terroirs can heal the vintage”. It was a particularly good year for whites but reds needed to be very carefully chosen, and that is what we have done. At their best as the saying goes “le premier verre appelle le deuxième”.
You may have received numerous Burgundy offers but freeing you from the tyranny of choice we are concentrating on the over-performing and top-rated reds from Duroché, Clos du Frantin and Georges Lignier and stunning Meursault from Ballot-Millot, Puligny from Pernot-Belicard and Chassagne from Paul Colin. To round out the selection we have a white and reds from our good friend Mark Haisma who I visited back in October. The parcels below form the basis of a discussion - there are plenty of opportunities to add or subtract cases, or include other crus from the listed growers. We are also offering access to smaller allocations from the most sought after producers as well as taking specific grower requests. Finally, we have held back a selection of our favourite wines from the plusher and more consistent 2012 vintage – and would encourage anybody who did not avail themselves of these wines this time last year to consider purchasing alongside 2013 for a fascinating comparison.
[caption id="attachment_819" align="alignleft" width="150"]Philippe Colin Philippe Colin[/caption]
PARCEL 1 - “Twenty Thirteen for under Two Grand” (click title for a pdf with more details)
This selection represents a cross section of our favourite producers from the vintage – weighted towards reds but with over a third whites to represent the quality of the 13s. From a great value every day Bourgogne Rouge to some stunning 1er crus of both colours – a snapshot of 2013’s high points.
[caption id="attachment_820" align="alignright" width="150"]Philippe Pernot Philippe Pernot[/caption]
PARCEL 2 - “It’ll Be All White On The Night” (click for a pdf with more details) For a little over £2000, a more in depth exploration of the fantastic whites from 2013 – exploring the different vineyards from our core growers. Two thirds of the selection is 1er cru – the level we think really shows off the vintage at its best advantage and for the right price.
[caption id="attachment_821" align="alignleft" width="150"]Pierre Duroche Pierre Duroche[/caption]
PARCEL 3 - “Top Reds” (click for a pdf with more details)
For the real Burgundy connoisseurs or those with an eye on the investment market – this is a “cherry picked” portfolio of the very best and top-scoring wines of the vintage. With nearly half the selection from Grand Cru vineyards and over a quarter 1er cru, this represents a mouth-watering collection of very fine wines.
This is possibly not the most balanced appellation selection this year – but it was not the most balanced vintage: I tried little from Chambolle Musigny that impressed and when hail wipes out 75% of the crop from favoured Volnay and Pommard growers, offering what remains at a silly premium makes little sense. Of the wines chosen, apart from being my top picks, all incidentally but encouragingly score very highly from Jancis Robinson, Tim Atkin and BurgHound’s Allan Meadows – “the Robert Parker of Burgundy”. These growers definitely over-perform, especially alongside considerably more expensive growers, however we also have access to Courcel, de Montille, Taupenot-Merme, Clos du Lambrays, Sylvian Cathiard, Etienne Sauzet and other big names if interested.
A long, wet Spring affected potential yield with a significant degree of coulure and millanderage and quantities 30-50% down on average (70% or more in the hail-ravaged vineyards of Pommard and Volnay). Late, extended harvest (nearly two weeks - up to 8th October, the latest since 1991 or even 1980 for some growers) because of uneven fruit set. The weather deteriorated during harvest so it became a race against rot. This led to the most triage (sorting) needed since 07. 2013 is a small vintage, with high demand and inconsistent quality.
Not the same plushness, opulence and weight of fruit as 12, similar structure and energy to 10. The best have balance and elegance and are perhaps reminiscent of 1993. 2013 is a vintage which will really appeal to purists and the thirsty as the wines have an attractive immediacy. Whites are particularly successful. Nuits reds fared better than Beaune but the best in both cotes are lean, lithe, with supportive rather than strapping tannins and have vivacious and sophisticated rather than overly-generous fruit. They show lively acidity but it’s playful and on the surface of the wines, giving freshness and focus rather than the slightly astringent backbone of a vintage like 1996.
Whites are impressive, especially the more elevated vineyards which suffered less uneven fruit set due to the Spring rains. The same holds true for reds and you also have to look to the better crus: 13 is no 09 – there is no minimum quality of ripeness, but the more impressive terroirs have made undeniably vibrant, attractive wines. As usual the more conscientious growers, using less chemicals and restricting yields in the vineyards, and employing stricter selection in the winery, made better wines. I visited various producers in October (including Mark Haisma, Etienne de Montille and Thierry Brouin at Lambrays) and tasted from barrel – and was pleasantly surprised by everything I sampled. Trying again in January, the tank samples have rounded out since and remain exciting. We have built our offer around a core of superstar, excellent value growers, whom we believe are the ones to watch (or continue watching!). These are wines that all show typicity but personality, freshness AND ripeness, and intensity rather than over-extraction and excessive new oak.
For more information, please contact tom@honestgrapes.co.uk.