Burgundy 2014 is a spectacular vintage, particularly with the whites and, if you buy from the right appellations, spectacularly good value. I went to a Lay and Wheeler tasting as I do every year to stock up the caves. It’s an impossibly difficult time of year to have a solid two weeks of tasting.
Burgundy 2014 tasting week is a special time in London. Every day for up to 10 days the major UK importers showcase the latest vintage in the City at various grand old trading halls. The trade bounces from one to the next, tasting maybe 200 wines at each event. This year there were 20 tastings of Burgundy 2014 in the first three days. Messy.
Many producers make the trip to see the few precious bottles they can spare, being swilled by city types and old duffers and spat out with varying degrees of success in the spittoons, when they’d probably just like it to be back in the barrel, as is the case when you taste from the barrel in Burgundy.
On the Tube you can spot who’s been to a Burgundy tasting in the same way that, in the 1980s, it was obvious who’d been to a Beaujolais Nouveau event on account of the way they were lying in the street. Well-dressed men try and sit, and try to focus on a range of paperwork – price lists, catalogues and their own scribbles that range from lucid tasting notes of the first wines of the evening to illegible rants for the latter. “Fookin gorgeous!” “Yes!” “Yee killed mah brother!”
The reason for the haphazard paperwork is that most of the really good Burgundy will be gone by the time these buyers get to their next Underground stop, and their orders need to be phoned in as soon as they re-surface. Suppliers can often count on one hand how many six-packs they have of Grand Crus from the top producers. And these are on strict allocation. In order to secure bottles at £100+ a pop you have to buy a selection right across the range.
The good news is that with Burgundy 2014, so long as you are talking about white Burgundy, it’s all delicious – perfect for on-trade to offer customers finest quality and canny collectors to snaffle a bargain
The story going into the tastings was that the 2014 whites are beyond compare – the best vintage in living memory. To be fair, they are spectacular – precise, well-balanced wines with linear acidity and with enough fruit to make them vins de plaisir or ones to keep.
If premier cru and upwards is on your radar then chances are you already have the connections to access those wines. If not then not only are the entry level Bourgogne Blancs worth seeking out but also I suggest the wines at the extreme edges of Burgundy – Maconnais in the South and Chablis in the North. These areas also had an amazing 2014 vintage and provide buyers with by far the best value, and ultimately return on investment.