Clive Platman selects some affordable gems from the wonderful 2010 Burgundy vintage.
Every January, there is an intense frisson of excitement as the latest Burgundy release is offered to the trade and press alike. The hype is nowhere near the frenzy associated with the spring campaign in Bordeaux, but then Burgundy is a fraction of the size and, apart from Domaine de la Romanee Conti, the wines lack the same investment potential.
The quantities are simply too small to be traded in such a fashion, and the best parcels are snapped up by collectors, restaurants and enthusiasts at the outset, never to re-appear.
The opportunity to purchase Burgundy, once it has been released, is therefore fairly restricted.
Within the first decade of the millennium, there have been three outstanding red vintages – 2002, 2005 and 2009.
The wines of 2010 will again be exceptional, and the inside track is that the vintage is tipped to surpass the previous year.
The harvest was affected by three extreme weather events. In December 2009, temperatures plummeted to -21˚C, either killing the vines outright, or damaging primary bud growth. This meant secondary buds took over, severely reducing the crop.
The following June, the weather turned cold and wet, resulting in a condition called “millerandage” whereby the grapes grow to one-third of their normal size, but reducing the number of pips per grape to one or two. This has allowed the creation of gentle, silky textures.
Finally, in mid-September, the region was hit by a massive hailstorm, with devastating damage to white grapes in the Cote de Beaune. Nevertheless, due to low yields, the vines were able to focus their energies on the remaining bunches, and the grapes ripened in perfect health.
Unusually, there are superlative wines in both hues, compared to the norm, where pinot does better in hotter years and chardonnay in cooler.
The only downside is that volumes are low, so there is not much to go round.
It is the producer though who will always be the best guide to the quality, so it pays to “study form” or buy from a reliable Burgundy specialist such as Connollys.
Customers were even given the privilege of tasting a few of the releases before purchase, and naturally, I went along to sample the selection. Since losing his birthright at Domaine de la Pousse d’Or in 1996, Nicolas Potel has been a name to follow.
Establishing himself as a micro-negociant, he has garnered many plaudits for developing a style that is always pure, elegant and true to the terroir.