A Vintage of Sublime Wines made in Minuscule Quantities
The 2016 Burgundy vintage was one of good news, and bad, the former in coming in the shape of some wines of superb quality characterised by incisive, poised, beautifully delineated fruit and fine structures, the latter by the severe pruning afforded by mother nature on the night of 26th April in the form of a frost so locally devastating that some climats lost between 90 and 100% of their crop, whilst others escaped relatively unscathed. So too was it a tale of two halves, with persistent rain until the summer solstice, when the sun finally emerged. The rain tested growers to their limits, particularly those many who have undertaken to work biodynamically, as it brought with it some serious outbreaks of mildew which affected the 2nd generation, post-frost fruit, and which proved difficult to treat as the copper sulphate, non-copper biodynamic treatments and even, in one case, organic milk with which the growers sprayed their vines was almost immediately washed off. From mid-July the weather turned sunny and warm, with the ample reserves of water built up in the first half allowing the grapes to progress to relatively unhindered maturity, any drought stress that may have begun to develop being ameliorated by timely rain showers.
With regard to the red wines, this is a relatively late-ripening vintage due to the vagaries of the early part of the season. The wines are beautifully seductive from the off, but with the potential to age gracefully. Colours are towards the lighter end of the spectrum, with lots of bright ruby in evidence, and the fruit is likewise generally red rather than black, archetypal red Burgundy, beautifully aromatic, with grace, charm and an often expressive red fruit through which the individual terroirs are clearly etched. Tannins are lithe and satiny, and the acidities are fresh without being assertive. I have a sense of some elevation in both concentration and aromatic lift in the reds leaning more towards the Côte de Nuits than Côte de Beaune, and the lower-yielding Crus there presented wines with a greater element of black fruit, and sometimes some more strident tannins, pointing towards a greater potential ageworthiness.
The whites, which were picked earlier than the reds, are generally considered to fall somewhere in between 2014 and 2015 in style, the best exhibiting both tension and vivacity, with ripe, sometimes opulent, creamy mid-palates. Those from the best growers in the Chalonnaise and Maconnais have a clear, bright, saline minerality.
Winemaking continues to evolve in Burgundy, albeit often in such a way as to lead back to tradition. Extraction, or at least excessive extraction, has thankfully fallen by the wayside, and there is a marked desire amongst growers to allow Burgundy’s great trumpcard, her infinitely nuanced terroirs, to express themselves with ever more clarity and precision. The fad for somewhat aerobic barrel fermentation in the whites has long gone, but the flip-side of that coin in the rather reductive styles of more recent years also seems to have been tempered in 2016. This altogether more gentle approach lent itself well to the 2016 vintage, and has given wines which are marked by precision, minerality and a clear sense of place.
The Market & Our Offer
Demand for Burgundy continues to grow, and with the small quantities made and enormous demand from wine lovers across the globe, prices from the top ‘blue-chip’ domaines are now far beyond the pockets of most mortals. Whilst prices are not generally significantly higher than they were for the lauded 2015s, the quantities of wine produced in 2016 are all too often a fraction of a normal year. Many growers reported 50, 70, even 90% reductions in the amount of wine produced in some climats, and in many instances the amounts available are pitiful, one advantage for the canny wine drinker being that many producers have blended otherwise uneconomic quantities of 1er Cru into their more humble village wines. This is the first time that I have offered Burgundy en-primeur for many years, but it really has been simply a matter of securing allocations or going without. It is not a comprehensive offer, but one that concentrates on the whole on the increasingly challenging precepts of rapport-qualite-prix, and, with a couple of exceptions, on the handful of growers from whom we have been buying for many years. Those customers who take wines from growers such as Francois Lumpp or Paul & Marie Jacqueson will sadly find none on our shelves later this year. This will be the only chance to secure some, and I will be allocating them carefully, with priority to those who have bought before.
Prices are shown per case, given either as 6 or 12 bottles, In Bond at London City Bond. Shipment will take place either in the Spring or late summer of 2018, whereupon Duty, VAT and onward carriage (at cost) will fall due.
DOMAINE ERIC FOREST Vergisson
Eric Forest has secured a little more land, taking him up to a princely 5.5 hectares, and he now operates from a newly constructed cellar next to the labyrinthine old farm buildings from which he, his father and grandfather latterly worked, which must make life rather easier for him. “There was hail on 13 May, which particularly affected Les Crays. Flowering was normal, but May and June were quite cold. July was warm, but less so than in 2015 and August was dry and sunny – which saved the harvest. September was fine, but cool, with a northerly wind. The fruit was harvested in very good health”. The wines are lovely, bold, very expressive.
|2016 MACON-VERGISSON ‘La Roche’||12||3 c/s||£165.00 IB|
|400m, north east exposure with some clay and a bedrock of limestone. Elevage in 300 litre barrels, 10% new. Not tasted.|
|2016 POUILLY-FUISSÉ ‘’l’Ame Forest’||12||3 c/s||£195.00 IB|
|Two vineyards on marl-limestone soils on the northern slope of the Vergisson hill. Elevage in 300 ltr barrels, 20% new oak. Butterscotch on nose. Lots of fat, clear fruit, oak. Balanced, rich and harmonious, fruit is soft and rounded, acidity lifts through the finish giving length and energy. Well concentrated. Mid-term, will come forward early, say 2020-25.|
|2016 POUILLY-FUISSÉ Crays||12||3 c/s||£230.00 IB|
|Planted on the warmer, southern side of the Vergisson hill on blue marl and limestone. Elevage in pieces, 25% new. Really leaps out of the glass, immediate clear citrus, fine oak, terrific energy, effusive, grows and spreads across the palate, ripe white fruits, real precision on the finish, very long. Exciting. 2020-2028.|
DOMAINE PAUL & MARIE JACQUESON Rully
Father and daughter, Paul and Marie have also moved to impressive new cellars, which has given them more room in which to work. Their wines are great favourites in the finest Michelin starred restaurants of France offering, as they do, a taste of the Côte d’Or at a fraction of the price. They were severely impacted by the April frosts, but the healthy if depleted fruit was all collected in by 27 September, in fine conditions, at 12.5-13% natural alcohols. As always, a beautiful range of confident, low-intervention wines which give huge pleasure. Volumes are around 50% down. Very, very little wine, and no 1er Cru Rully in white. However, the two village wines make spectacular amends.
|2016 RULLY Blanc||6||10c/s||£80.00 IB|
New to them, and thus not bought before. Comes from 3 sites in Fromanges, La Barre and Chaponnières totalling 3 hectares. Tight, subtle and restrained, a real sense of freshness and lift, then beautiful fruit with citrus, some lychee, runs across the palate and lifts away to a clear minerality. Very long. Unexpectedly delicious. Drink now to 2022, may carry.
|Cool and pure (as a mountain stream?!). Juicy and confident and very direct. Chalky finish. Finely etched. VGV (Jancis Robinson MW)|
|2016 RULLY ‘Les Chaponnières’||6||10c/s||£80.00 IB|
|Planted in 1987 on clay soils. Always a great favourite, and didn’t disappoint this year. Pale ruby, beautiful, elegant projection of red fruits, cherry and raspberry, loganberry. Fresh and utterly charming, builds to a long finish. Delightful.|
|Fills the palate and with polished tannins. Very sophisticated. Lovely glass of wine with freshness and quite enough ripe fruit, and so long! VVGV Drink 2020-2026 (Jancis Robinson MW)|
|2016 RULLY 1er Cru Preaux||6||6 c/s||£90.00 IB|
2.5 hectares just below Les Cloux planted in 1967. Medium pale garnet ruby. A note of surmaturité over ripe, gentle fruit. Soft, ripe, rounded red fruits, a note of oak, lifts and carries well towards the finish, gaining energy en-route. Doesn’t have quite the lift of the Chaponnières at this stage. From 2022.
|2016 MERCUREY 1er Cru Champs Martin||6||6 c/s||£98.00 IB|
10 year old vines on clay/limestone facing due south. Always one of the warmest sites in Mercurey. Deeper ruby. Good energy here, with subtle oak and ripe red fruits, some dark fruit too. Well balanced and harmonious, the nose is more expressive than the relatively delicate palate at the moment, would expect it to put on weight. From 2019.
DOMAINE FRANÇOIS LUMPP Givry
The new generation of Anne-Cécile and Pierre are now firmly implanted in this fine 9.5 hectare domaine, founded by their parents François and Isabelle more than twenty years ago. They use up to 70% new oak for their red wines and 30% for whites. As always, an impeccable range of pure, intensely flavoured wines, but quantities sharply down, with no 1er Cru Crausot at all for us this year.
|2016 GIVRY 1er Cru Blanc Petit Marole||12||6 c/s||£245.00 IB|
40 year old vines, facing east-south-east on fine marne and limestone soils. Green gold. Beautiful, subtle, creamy, some coiled tropical elements, all well integrated and harmonious. Dry, poised palate, subtle oaking leading through to fine, crisp citrus and green apple finish. Drink from 2018.
|2016 GIVRY 1er Cru Rouge A Vigne||12||6 c/s||£245.00 IB|
Two plots totalling 2.5 hectares, facing south-south-east and south-south-west on clay/limestone with marne and fine stones. A mix of 50, 30 and 11-15 year old vines. Bright, medium ruby shot through with black tints. Fine, detailed red and black fruits, with a calm, sophisticated intensity, spreads well across the palate, the finish is long. Elegance and finesse. From 2019
DOMAINE LIVERA Gevrey-Chambertin
Formerly Domaine de Tilleuls. Damien Livera has excelled in 2016 from his 8.5 hectares of wonderfully sited old vines. These are lovely, sweet, dark, masculine wines, which manage to retain great class and balance. 100% destemmed, no fining or filtration here. A lovely range from a now established young, star grower. He is turning potential customers away in droves and we are lucky to have snared a very small allocation. Damien likens 2016 to 2010.
|2016 COTES DE NUITS VILLAGES||6||10c/s||£115.00 IB|
|From the stony, Minerally soils of “Preau” in Brochon. Planted in the 50s and 60s. 20% new oak. Bright, clear ruby, black hints. Lovely red fruits, black fruits, expansive and vibrant. Intense and lifted, very fresh, elegant, expands to a quite explosive finish. Very impressive at this level, with no rusticity. From 2019-2025.|
|Deeper and bluer than many. Some real energy on the nose, even though the palate is slightly raw, it is stuffed with fruit and ambition. Real vibrancy on the finish. GV Drink 2021-2027 (Jancis Robinson MW)|
|2016 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN ‘En Champ’||6||6 c/s||£170.00 IB|
Just below 1er Cru Champeaux. Very thin topsoils, straight into limestone bedrock gives great tension and minerality. Fine, bright, dense ruby. Alluring, elegant red fruits, scented violets, real substance. Intense on entry, lifted, lushly ripe red fruits. Intense, savoury and poised and long. Captivating. Drink from 2020.
|Bright crimson. Heady nose and masses of allure. Sweet and fresh on the palate. It may not last as long as some village Gevreys but it should give a great deal of pleasure in the medium term. GV Drink 2021-2027(Jancis Robinson MW)|
|2016 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN ‘Clos Village’||6||6 c/s||£190.00 IB|
1.5 hectares, in the heart of old Gevrey, below Clos St Jacques, of mainly 70-75 year old vines and some planted in 1935. Deep, bright, dense ruby, dark at centre. Quite closed. On palate sweet and effusive, but this is cut through with quite elevated though refined tannins and a rich minerality. Will need more time, say from 2023, will run.
|Deep lustrous crimson. Quite ambitiously made. Lots of fine tannin masking the fruit at present. Pretty dry on the end. Drink 2023-2030 (Jancis Robinson MW)|
DOMAINE MARC ROY Gevrey-Chambertin
Alexandrine Roy represents the fourth generation of her family to make wine in Gevrey, and took over from her father, Marc, in 2003. She owns and works, almost single handedly, 3.5 hectares in Gevrey-Chambertin and 0.5 hectares in Marsannay. Whilst her holdings exclusively comprise “villages” sites, the resulting wines taste as though they originate from premier or even grand cru vineyards. In order to produce her sublimely silky, plush, supple, transparent wines, Alexandrine works with low yielding old vines, rigorous selection, 100% destems and indigenous yeasts. Extractions are very gentle and use of new oak judicial.
|2016 BOURGOGNE Rouge||6||6 c/s||£105.00 IB|
50-60 year old vines from the commune of Gevrey-Chambertin. Pale ruby. Immediate lift, open and bright, clear red fruits. Tight and slightly austere on the palate, the fruit is there, but all pretty zipped up now. This will need 2-3 years, and will run for 8.
|2016 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN ‘La Justice’||6||4 c/s||£245.00 IB|
At the top of the slope next to Clos de la Justice. Charm, freshness, elegance, purity and finesse. Medium ruby. Sweet and ripe, just pulls back a bit, then gorgeous balance, with a lively, bright acidity, some warmth, lots of charm, intensity, and very long. Lots of pleasure here, with interesting potential. Needs 3 years.
|2016 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN ‘Clos Prieur’||6||4 c/s||£245.00 IB|
A magnificent parcel of 60 year old vines, on iron-rich clay over limestone, below Mazis-Chambertin. Sees 30% new oak and exhibits a deep core of gorgeous, dense, spicy dark fruits and a plush, sensual texture. Medium, some black, some warmth on nose, dried fruits, savoury and earthy. On the palate it is rounded and intense, with both red and black fruits, with lift and freshness, and a clear minerality. Quite high acidity, chewy tannins, long. Will need 5 years, and will run for 10 thereafter.
The wines are offered per full case of either 6 or 12 bottles as stated. Due to the small quantities available, they will be carefully allocated, with priority given to those who have bought from the specific domaine previously.
Prices are shown per case, given either as 6 or 12 bottles, In Bond at London City Bond, and will be invoiced as such, with payment due immediately orders are confirmed by us and an invoice issued.
Shipment will take place either in the spring or late summer of 2018 depending upon the producer, whereupon Duty, VAT and final delivery (at cost) will fall due and will be invoiced separately. Wines may alternatively be transferred to customer’s own bonded account at cost.
E & OE