While demand for the classics and the upper tier of Burgundy remains as strong as ever – often outstripping supply – it is the bread-and-butter wines that consumers open every day that is key to the region’s success argues Bibendum Burgundy buyer Robert Mathias. In the on-trade the by-the-glass offering is key with top quality Bourgogne Aligoté or Mâcon Villages from serious addresses being behind this success. Bibendum is concentrating its tasting efforts on its on-trade customers this year which is why it will also be showing 2017s at events.
“What I am more surprised with is the surge of previously less fashionable appellations, like Chassagne Rouge or St Aubin Rouge as our customers sniff out value for money and drinkability,” Mathias says.
How have you managed the shorter availability in recent years and what is the situation now for you?
Demand has remained high especially at the premium end, but it remains true across all categories in both the on- and off-trade. The BIVB has reported important growth in the first 9 months of 2019 against a contracting total marketplace. We are lucky. We have a broad spectrum of loyal suppliers from co-operatives, historic domaines, and new micro-projects. The key to succeed is diversity. Each of our suppliers plays an important role to build up to a complete picture of wines from Burgundy from regional AOPs to Grand Crus. It is the wines that our customers open every day, pour by the glass and provide their bread-and-butter which have been, and remain key, to success.
This year we are launching a number of new growers to our Burgundy range. In recent years, we’ve seen a steady, growing demand for Burgundy across all price points. What I have focused on while out in Burgundy was tracking down new projects or younger vignerons from both the grand and more modest appellations. These we are launching during Burgundy Week.
What is particularly selling well for you from Burgundy?
There is a reason the hierarchical or pyramid quality structure of Burgundy is transplanted across the world. It is very easy for consumers to understand. Consistent entry-level wines are really important and having a reliable base from Chablis to Mâcon has done wonders to proselytise the sceptics. In the on-trade the by-the-glass offering is key and Burgundy needs to play a leading role in this. Top quality Bourgogne Aligoté or Mâcon Villages from serious addresses has been behind this success.
Demand remains strong for the classics: the Gevrey, Puligny and Meursault of this world. At the top end it is very difficult to keep up with demand.
What I am more surprised with is the surge of previously less fashionable appellations, like Chassagne Rouge or St Aubin Rouge as our customers sniff out value for money and drinkability.
Which of the appellations would you say are the most interesting in terms of quality and value and of availability?
We have seen growing demand for wines from the Mâcconais and Chalonnaise, where I have seen a lot of energy, and quality moving forward year on year. From the Côte d’Or, appellations such as Marsannay or Côte de Nuits Villages offer a great introduction to Burgundy. They tend to be more approachable in their youth compared to their more expensive counterparts, while still offering the fingerprint of the grower at a fraction of the price. Some of our new additions fall into this category.
What do you have planned for Burgundy Week?
We are planning a tasting event for all our Burgundy range, including our friends from Chablis down to Beaujolais. We’ll be really focusing on our on-trade customers. For this reason, I find it more interesting to revisit the 2017 vintage which is showing very nicely now as well as older vintages. Here we’ll be launching many of our new growers as well as showing a great range from our existing producers.
Any particular tips to your customers on how to make the most of their Burgundy range?
I would say that given the recent string of vintages, it is rare to find any really off wines – it is more a question of style. There is so much diversity between grower, and even within vintage across Burgundy, that there are many surprises to be had from more ‘modest’ vintages or appellations. Leading with approachably priced and qualitative regional wine starts the consumer on an upward ladder. One that may eventually damage the bank balance as the Burgundy bug bites.
The Bibendum tasting is taking place on Tuesday, January 14th. You can find out more about all the tastings taking place during Bourgogne Week by clicking here.