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Luke's Top Picks from Burgundy 2019
In January last year, I put together a brief rationale of how to start your very own wine collection, based on the newly released Burgundy 2018 vintage.
I think it’s probably now beyond cliché to label what has happened in the months between January 2020 and now as ‘unprecedented’ or ‘annus horribilis’ or something similar, but I’m sure I’m not the only person to note that although so much has changed, paradoxically, very little happened, at least when compared to a normal year. But what is normal anymore… we’re veering towards cliché again.
Anyway, after going over last year’s advice to would be first time / relatively new wine collectors, the general tips and pointers remain valid into 2021, despite so many other rulebooks having been seemingly torn up or lobbed into the fireplace, so I won’t be repeating them word for word in this piece (click here for a reminder).
Developments that I am pleased to report are firstly, Honest Grapes has gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months, and we have our wonderful members to thank for that, both old and new. And secondly, we have recently been blessed with another truly outstanding set of Burgundy wines from the recently released 2019 vintage – and for that I suppose we have to thank who or whatever was responsible for bringing together all of the environmental factors that lead to some cracking conditions for viticulture; as well as our wonderful set of growers and winemakers that have harnessed the favourable conditions in order to make some beautiful wines; not forgetting lastly (but not leastly) our wonderful members again, for providing us with a basis and a reason to be in this business at all in the first place.
Onto the 2019s…
Wine Director Tom has named the vintage “Supercharged Classics” to give you a two word description for what to expect from the Burgundy 2019s (see vintage report video above for a more detailed description).
A key factor to note is that you do not have to spend big to source some really great wines from 2019 – that is to say that there are so many parts of Burgundy that performed exceptionally, that with some careful sourcing, you get a lot for your money this time around, whether you’re spending at £72 or £672 per case. “Go long” in 2019 is a phrase I’ve heard from a few people, not least Tom, which again is a simple pointer into suggested purchasing advice!
All of the above makes choosing a selection for the first £500 parcel fairly straightforward, in that there’s lots of options for excellent quality, keenly priced cases. But I would be lying if I said that there are many simple decisions; equally because there’s so much to choose from!
That’s why I’ve gone with two options: 30 bottles for £510 and 36 bottles for £1,041, with the aim of providing a couple of examples of nicely balanced, evenly spread parcels with an emphasis on getting as much as possible for your money. Anyone after something similar with a couple of minor tweaks or a complete redraft to suit your needs, please do let me know – I enjoy playing the role of Burgundy matchmaker!
Parcel 1: £510, 30 bottles (12 x whites , 18 x reds)
Juicy and generous white made with grapes from a number of plots in the Cote de Beaune (including Meursault, Puligny and Saint Aubin), Bichot have yet again achieved great quality at a very affordable price. Half is aged in wood, with 20% new barrels which adds a roundness and robustness to the ripe green fruits.
Rully in the Chalonnaise should be on everyone’s radar, particularly for whites that demonstrate serious Chardonnay without the price tag of much of the Cote d’Or. This is an area that favours warmer vintages, when grapes can ripen perfectly whilst retaining lively, fresh acidity as the all-important backbone. The Domaine is run by the third generation of the Jacquesons, who hand pick everything. Their village Rully is made using 20% new oak, which adds some well judged power and intensity to the zippy citrus and apple freshness.
Great Pinot, with lots of crunchy berries and fresh, ripe red fruits with a touch of spice - top notch Bourgogne. Brian Sieve is the winemaker at Domaine de Montille, who Nathan and Tom have entrusted again this year with taking care of our members’ Hospices de Beaune Barrels (latest on that story here). This is made from declassified Gevrey-Chambertin vines, so yet another example of an opportunity to grab a real bargain from 2019.
Another cracker from the Côtes Chalonnaise – the vineyards of Mercurey are capable of some wonderful Pinot, with a savoury, slightly rustic edge and undoubted quality coming here from the estate’s 60 year old vines. Always a customer favourite at Honest Grapes, Francois Raquillet is an 11th generation winemaker - widely seen as the best producer in the village – using old vines and low yields to achieve such an impressively solid red.
Edouard Delaunay Marsannay En Combereau, 2019 £132 (see hidden gems)
Right up to the north of the Cotes de Nuits, for those in the know, Marsannay is gaining an increasing reputation as one of the few remaining ‘under the radar’ villages in this part of Burgundy. Maison Delaunay age theirs in barrels that previously contained their Hospice de Beaune wines, which is a statement of intent in itself, coupled with a team that came out top of the tree from the recent IWC awards 2020, this is a red that’ll be a stunner given a few years to mature.
Total £510 (30 bottles)
Parcel 2: £1,041, 36 bottles (18 x whites, 18 x reds)
The previously mentioned Edouard Delaunay also oversees some plots of Chardonnay in Saint Romain, an outlying village over to the western edge of the Cote de Beaune. It’s a prime location for whites in warmer years due to its added elevation – so another ideal site for the 2019 vintage.
I’m personally a huge fan of this village, but I particularly like Tom’s tasting note, so I’ll leave you with that for the description: ‘crunchy minerality… fermented and then aged in 20% new oak for fifteen months. Tropical notes of papaya and sweet herbs – Thai basil, as well as white stone dust and nougat. The palate is rich and juicy, with plenty of dry extract, but refreshing lime zest grated over mango. Supple and sweet and salty, a really quenching combination."
Philippe has sites in Puligny and Chassagne-Montrachet, as well as this plot down in Montagny which he inherited from his father. With just three barrels produced in 2019, this is an opportunity to taste a slice of something delicious from a real wizard of Chardonnay. One third new oak, opulent patisserie notes in tandem with ripe fruit, a little spice and fresh salinity make the Montagny too good a treat to miss!
When Charles Ballot is so enthusiastic about a vintage, it’s worth sitting up and paying attention! He has a number of prestigious sites around Meursault, but bang for buck, his village cuvée never fails to impress. Again, I’ll leave the tasting note to Tom:
"A rich and ample nose – hazelnuts in butter, nutmeg sprinkled toffee apples, fresh figs and yellow apples. The palate is more linear and fresher, with a bracing spike of citric acidity to balance the nutty, smoky richness. It ends up really zingy with lime and green herbs on the finish."
Top grower using fruit from Gevrey-Chambertin, unfined and unfiltered. All labels from Duroché are highly sought after and in short supply, with some of the top-end bottlings not even getting listed this year, as allocations are already spoken for by those lucky enough to have put their name on them from previous vintages. There’s always lots of energy and life in Pierre’s wines, and something of the untamable about them, which I’m certain is part of the attraction!
We’ve been fully behind Jane for a few years now, but it now feels as though the rest of the world has just about caught up. She’s received a number of seriously prestigious awards during the last few months; at the time of writing, we have an ever dwindling handful of her superb 2019s remaining. Jane’s Beaune reds are a fantastic showcase of her style, and the Savigny Premier Cru is a particular highlight of the vintage.
Domaine de Clos Frantin rarely fails to impress, especially from around the magical village of Vosne-Romanée. I’m pleased to say that the 2019s live up to the pedigree; this is serious red, full of fruit and spicy complexity with a silky finish that bodes really well for the future. It’s easily the most pricy recommendation on this list, but you can spend a hell of a lot more for a great deal less from this part of the world, so I’m putting it up there as a wonderful window into a magnificent vintage.
One case wonders:
I’ve said that there was too much to choose from this year, so I’ve included a few additional cases that didn’t make it into one of the above parcels. I had to mention them one way or another, so here’s a handful more top recommendations from 2019 that are far too good to miss.
Edouard Delaunay Bourgogne Aligoté, 2019 £72 /6 – the ‘other’ white grape in Burgundy from Delaunay performed remarkably well in 2019.
Domaine Francois Raquillet Mercurey Blanc 'La Brigadiere', 2019
£96 / 6 – some of the best value in the whole of Burgundy, this perennial
favourite had to get listed somewhere.
Domaine De Montille Bourgogne Blanc, 2019 £102 / 6 – One of the best Bourgognes you’re likely to find anywhere… need we say more?
Jane Eyre Fleurie, 2019 £108 / 6 – this is 100% Gamay, taken 100% seriously by Jane, made very much in the Burgundian style, with 60% whole bunch fermentation.
Domaine Comte Armand Auxey Duresses 1er Cru Rouge, 2019 £228 / 6 – another red that will reward your patience, if you manage to get hold of a case before they’re all gone!
Domaine Francois Raquillet Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru 'Vasées', 2019 £120 / 6 – final mention for Francois’ team in the Côtes Chalonnaise – very impressive as ever, you’d be mad to miss out on the 2019s
Get all of them together for £618!
To purchase any of these parcels please follow the links online and add the wines to your basket, or alternatively get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on: January 22, 2021