Travels in Wine / Burgundy

Travels in Burgundy: Officially Beguiled!

Contents

Matthew Horsley Matthew Horsley / 13 March 2019

Shadowing Toby Morrhall on his trip to source 2017 Burgundies was like taking an extended masterclass in the region's wines.

It is extremely rare to get the opportunity to taste so many different wines of such pedigree alongside each other, even if you are inthe wine trade! As I know what a privilege it is to have had this opportunity, I wanted to share the experience as best I could with fellow members. It's no substitute for tasting the wines, granted, but I hope it has sparked interest in this region's great wines and revealed a little of what goes on behind cellar doors in the interest of seeking out the best wines we can.

Burgundian villages even in winter are pretty delightful
Burgundian villages even in winter are pretty delightful

Domaine Georges Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny and a highlight of the trip

For me, this was the undisputed highlight of the trip, so forgive me if I wax a little lyrical! It isn't just that the wines of Roumier are sensational across the board; they are incredible representations of their individual terroirs. Like friends at a dinner party they each have different personalities, styles, accents and physiques. Les Cras, a vineyard famed for its limestone soils smells smoky and mineral with a salty/saline palate. Ruchottes-Chambertin, hidden just above Clos de Bèze, is shy and pretty but with steel; like the unassuming guest of their more extrovert neighbour. Clos de la Bussière is stern and takes a while to relax. Bonnes-Mares is rich and meaty with leather and spice – the Master of Ceremonies. And finally, Les Amourouses – the Lady in Red with her silk dress, curves and irresistible perfume – the star of the show. My red Burgundy 'wow' moment. I know, what a cliché, I hear you say!

Style-Summary: Immensely elegant and individual wines with a real sense of place – one of Burgundy's great properties.


Find 2017 wines from Roumier in our current en primeur offer

From belle of the ball to king of the castle…

Worth a visit. The 16th century cellars under the Château de Meursault ©Hans Strand
Worth a visit. The 16th century cellars under the Château de Meursault ©Hans Strand

Château de Meursault

I've been lucky enough to try Château de Meursault's whites on a number of occasions – wines that I believe showcase how good relatively humble Meursault can be. The whites, as expected, were very good, but I was taken rather by surprise by the reds. The highlights for me were their Volnay Clos de Chênes 1er Cru that was deep and spicy with notes of cinnamon and plum, and the Pommard Clos des Epenots 1er Cru – pinot on steroids with immense weight and dark fruit. Of the whites, particular standouts were their Charmes Dessus, a wine with a subtle, withdrawn nose but incredible concentration, weight and attack on the palate; Perrières with its immense focus and streak of minerality surrounded by creamy oak, and Champ Canet, a delicious combination of the two.

Château de Meursault is something of a rarity in Burgundy where grand properties are the exception rather than the rule. But here is a truly grand building with ancient cellars dating back to the 15th century running beneath it. You can visit the château (though you need to make an appointment) and I would thoroughly recommend it: it's an amazing experience for anyone in the area.

Style-Summary: Broad, rich whites and impressively supple, generous and seductive reds.


View Toby's selection of 2017 wines from the château in our current en primeur offer

…and into Beaune, the epicentre of Burgundian wine

Domaine Chanson, Beaune

Domaine Chanson – a beautiful town house in the middle of Beaune
Domaine Chanson – a beautiful town house in the middle of Beaune

Our final day started with a trip to Domaine Chanson – a beautiful town house in the middle of Beaune - where we met head winemaker Jean-Pierre Confuron. Chanson have a huge range of wines from across Burgundy and we had a chance to taste pretty much across the board. The reds stood out for their fabulous fragrance and fruit-forward style. Highlights were the Côte de Nuits-Villages 2017, a wine that outshines its lowly 'village' classification, the Savigny-lès-Beaune Dominode Premier Cru for its dense red fruit and baking spice flavours, and their Beaune Clos du Marconnets Premier Cru which showed amazing ripeness with a soft, supple palate and long finish.

Style-Summary: Delicious, fresh and fruit forward reds for the early-to-mid-term drinking.


Find Chanson's 2017 wines in our current en primeur offer

Volnay in the background
Volnay in the background

Domaine de Montille, Volnay

Recently I've developed a real interest in California pinot noir, especially those from coastal areas like Santa Barbara or Sonoma coast that have used part or whole-bunch fermentation; a once traditional technique that has become fashionable again. What does this do to the wine? The main effect is that, despite increasing potassium levels and therefore decreasing acidity, the flavours and aromas that result give the wine extra lift and freshness and some say, silkier tannins.

One Burgundy property that fully supports whole-bunch fermentation is Domaine de Montille (as well as other famed properties such as Dujac) and as a result their wines, under the careful supervision of head winemaker, American-born Brian Sieve, have amazing energy and life to them. In fact, freshness is so key to Brian that he doesn't pick his grapes based on ripeness and potential alcohol… he picks based on acidity.

This ethos was highlighted for me in a pair of cracking Volnays. The first 'Les Mitans', is 2/3rds whole-bunch fermented giving a surprisingly full, Oriental spiced red with sensational structure, grip and acidity. The second, 'Les Taillepieds', named after the sharp gravel on which growers slashed their feet while digging in to the earth, is 100% whole bunch and showed an amazingly compact character that was both robust and mineral as well as exotic and spicy all in perfect harmony. Even at the lower end I found the wines of de Montille outstanding – including their Beaune Premier Cru Grèves and straight Bourgogne! It'll be fascinating to see how these wines develop as they age.

If you're tempted, Toby has selected quite a few of the 2017s to offer en primeur

Style Summary: fresh, bright, whole-bunch fermented reds intended for long cellaring and amazingly elegant whites.


The 2017 Vintage

This trip was all about assessing the 2017 vintage and though I only joined Toby for a small part of his time in the region and being a newcomer to the area, it was clear that a distinct vintage style was emerging.

The 2017 vintage was, for me, a joy to taste – the wines are deliciously pure, finely structured and are a fabulous reflection of their terroir. You can read Toby's fantastic report on the vintage and mouthwatering range of wines in our current en primeur offer. Toby spends many weeks across the year out in Burgundy to really get a feel for each vintage, no region is as diverse year on year as Burgundy and it is quite an art getting the producers to be truly frank about it. This is where the time and effort put into these relationships really pays off and it's what our buyers are masters of.

Browse our 2017 en primeur offer and read Toby Morrhall's assessment of the vintage here

Where to go next?

Back to the beginning of the trip – Baptism by Water!

Back to Travels in Wine homepage

Members' Comments (0)

There are no comments for this article.
Society Promise
Members before profit
Awards

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.

Close

4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies:

4.4.4.1. Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended.

4.4.4.2. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit.

4.4.4.3. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic.

4.4.4.4. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.