Burgundy 2018 Issue No 1 April

Our wine team of local winemakers, and experienced wine professionals, have either graduated with a wine degree from the University of Burgundy wine school, or have more than 20 years experience in the world of Burgundy wine. The excitement in Burgundy is not in the large estates, but in the new young producers, and this is the part of the market where we devote our time and energy.



How the weather affects the winemaking year - by Camille Thieret

A wet and relatively mild winter has finally given way to some very warm weather in Spring.  The harvest takes place approximately 100 days from the end of the flowering, and the timing of the flowering is determined by the weather in the early part of the year.  So if this warm weather continues, another early harvest will be on the cards for 2018.

Winemakers like to see a solid cold spell in the winter to see off the bugs.  Wet, damp, humid conditions, which are ideal for the propagation of mildew and other fungi, are our worst nightmare, particularly for those farming without the use of powerful synthetic chemicals.  2016 was a particularly bad year for organic farmers, but with this recent dry and warm spell, fingers are staying firmly crossed for a better outcome this year. 

There remains a risk of frost until the second week in May, and if history of the last two years repeats itself, the 26 and 27 April are the dates to watch out for.


The Commercial Perspective - 2015 Vintage - by Paul Thomas

We may have been a bit slow off the mark in fully appreciating the demand for the excellent 2015 vintage.  This last week we took delivery of our 2015's from Marchand Tawse, Bachelet and Claude Dugat.  We sold all the Bachelet within a week to one of our American member friends, and the Dugat is not far behind. Even taking account of the enormous demand for the wines of these two star Gevrey producers,  the wines almost across the board reveal a richness, balance and finesse, that has not been present for some years in Burgundy.  For our Purple Mustard label, maker Mark Fincham describes it as the best Gevrey village he has produced to date. The wine is available from our cellar at 42e per bottle.  Please e mail if interested  info@theburgundyshop.com


Domaine Vincent Santenay - a progressive approach to wine making - by Gary Roshke

Anne-Marie and Jean-Marc Vincent are not natives to Burgundy. He is from Alsace and inherited a small number of holdings from his grand-father when the couple began their winemaking adventure in 1997. The first parcel that they reclaimed from those rented out on contract, was that of Les Hautés, above the village of Auxey-Duresses and adjacent to Les Vireuils in Meursault. Since that time, the domaine has grown to cover 5 hectares with the addition of several parcels of purchased fruit to complement what they grow themselves.

Located in the southern-most stretch of the Cote d’Or, they produce three premier cru reds and two premier cru whites from their home village of Santenay, in addition to a red and a white Auxey-Duresses. They produce wines which are characterized by depth of fruit, a solid but refined structure, freshness, impeccable balance and site specificity.

Jean-Marc is a man with no shortage of ideas and energy, always thinking about introducing fresh thinking into his viticulture, vinification, and ageing of his wines. He has taken to replanting parcels at very high densities, upwards of 14000 vines per hectare along with some colleagues like the well-regarded Olivier Lamy of Saint Aubin. This makes for a smaller yield per vine, and more concentrated juice. His whites do not go through the standard débourbage or racking the freshly pressed juice off their lees, but rather he transfers the pressed juice direct to barrel for fermentation and ageing. Of course, one must have impeccably clean fruit to begin with in order to skip this precautionary step, but it is but one of the small but significant details which explains the depth of fruit and rich textures to be discovered in his wines.

The wine that we all flipped for in his lineup was the white Premier cru, Le Beaurepaire, 2015. Located just above the village, adjacent to La Maladière, it is distinguished by its steep slope and white marl soil which makes it superbly adapted to Chardonnay. The Vincent’s 2015 is richly layered with a spine of acidity and sturdy framework, which makes for a powerhouse of a wine, but one which does not lack for freshness and a tingling kind of Burgundy mineral tension. It is at once, as is the case for many of the great whites from this warm vintage, eminently enjoyable with no cellaring necessary, and will gain in profundity as it ages.


The Young Wine Maker - Camille Thiriet

Camille has a Masters Degree is in wine marketing from Bordeaux University.  After graduating, she could have chosen a comfortable and not particularly challenging job, working for any one of the large Domaines in Burgundy. Effortlessly satisfying a seemingly insatiable demand for Burgundy wine!  Instead, she decided to make the stuff herself, and join The Purple Mustard Club.  Wow! 

Her family own a small plot of vines in Pommard, which it is not commercially viable to work on its own .  In order to create an estate, she needs more fruit. This means either purchasing more vines, or buying the grapes produced by others.  The first option, of buying more vines, has become a ‘no go’ for the small winemaker. The price of the land is such that the people who now buy vineyards are those that have no need to make a commercial return, such as the LVMH purchase in Morey St Denis last year, or the sale of Bonneau du Martray in Pernand to an American billionaire.  A poor state of affairs for the ordinary winemaker. The alternative to purchasing a vineyard, is that after the harvest, it is possible to buy the grapes grown by others, who either do not make wine themselves, or who are willing to sell a small part of their production to raise some immediate cash. However the fact that so many winemakers and young vigneron like Camille are being pushed towards the grape market, has increased demand exponentially, with a corresponding effect on prices of both the grapes, and the wine.  The upper limit of what consumers are willing to pay for a bottle of simple Bourgogne, which a few years ago could have been bought for between 5e and 10e, is being tested each year. However on the plus side, the quality of the wine made by winemakers such as Camille, has never been better, often outclassing peer wines from the large estates, and less passionate and determined producers. Bravo Camille!


Beginners Guide to Buying Burgundy - the Team

The fact that a wine has 'Grand Cru' on the label, is at best a broad guide to quality. If wines were assessed each year on the basis of quality, then many Grand Cru wines would be demoted to 1er cru, village, or even regional Bourgogne. Conversely, many regional Bourgogne would be promoted to village or even 1er cru. The key to buying good burgundy, is to find the good producers, which is where The Purple Mustard Club, with its local knowledge of who is doing what and why, becomes a reliable guide for making sure that you buy wine that you and your friends are going to enjoy drinking.