The Joy of White Burgundy
If there’s a best white wine in the world, let’s face it, it’s a White Burgundy. The ancestral home of Chardonnay, emulated globally, home to the greatest concentration of grand white wines in the world. There are few greater pleasures in life than a glass of stony, honeyed, chalky, vanilla/nut-laced White Burgundy, and we have one of the best selections in the land: from tiny unknown growers to grand aristocratic estate, from the famed appellations to under-rated corners.
You can try all of the wines mentioned here – plus a few more! – in our White Burgundy Case special.
Bourgogne Cote d’Or – a new appellation for under-rated under-classified whites.
If there’s a best white wine in the world, let’s face it, it’s a White Burgundy. The ancestral home of Chardonnay, emulated globally, home to the greatest concentration of grand white wines in the world. But the Greats are rare, the vineyards and appellations minuscule, prices high. The alternatives have always been further south towards Chalon and Macon, but they’re mostly (with a few splendid exceptions) not as impressive. Plus of course the cheaper regional catch-all Bourgogne Blanc (much of it sourced from the less-prestigious south).
However, for those in the know there was always the joy of Bourgogne Blanc from the great villages but beyond the boundaries of The Greats – yards beyond rather than 50 miles away in Macon. Remember in Burgundy, famously, 50m makes the difference between Grand Cru and turnip field.
Now, finally these wines have been separated from the mass and awarded a new classification: Bourgogne Cote d’Or (encompassing the Cotes of Beaune and Nuits). The whites especially of this new appellation are of great interest, with only 100 hectare allocated as opposed to 1000 of the old Bourgogne Blanc. 100 hectare is 1/3 the size of Meursault, producing only 750,000 bottles – there are individual Bordeaux Chateau with more land under vine. The best are from land around the famed villages themselves – Meursault, Puligny etc but outside the appellation boundary. Top growers simply can’t get more land in the appellations so they farm outside too – same climate, same winemaking, half the price. Happy Times. OK they’re not Macon-Villages prices – we’re talking £20 minimum – but they taste like the Greats, a hint of the Classic, a brush with the world’s best, a shimmer of luxury.
So, we are loading up on these beauties for the summer – so much more fun to be able to explore and try a few against each other.
Bourgogne Blanc Saint Martin 2019 Dom. Bachey Legros £23.99
Terrific white burgundy from a small names vineyard in Santenay but not in the appellation. The Bachey-Legros family have given the name of the vineyard to the wine to show its excellent and singular terroir. It is ripe, exotic, a little oaky and with great presence. We’ve been shipping this for years – great success.
Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2018 Olivier Leflaive £20.99
We are SO excited to be able to offer you this mid-week charmer from the Legend that is Leflaive.
All the grapes come from the communes of Puligny Montrachet and Meursault, from growers in long-term partnership with Leflaive. Made by the same super-star team as Leflaive’s famed Greats (wines so rare you might never see a bottle).
Some pedigree, some bargain! Smells like a hint of luxury! Indeed I’d say this is more eminently deployable than many of those Greats, in a mid-week context. All the markers are there: vanilla; nuts; oatmeal; mineral; honey; tarragon etc. all in an elegant, subtle expression.
“Light nose and lots of vivacious, dancing fruit. Olivier seems to have the recipe and it’s fair value. If I found this in a country pub, I’d be delighted…”
Les Setilles was served at Meghan and Harry’s wedding.
Bourgogne Cotes d’Or Blanc Cuvee Forgets 2018 Patrick Javillier £25.99
From various parcels of vines around Meursault and Volnay. Seriously mini-Meursault. Smells of hot fennel, tarragon, white nuts, white nectarine. Lovely saline evolved palate. Super introduction to the epic Javillier range and style.
“Quite a treat to see a price in two digits, even if it’s for only six bottles. Rather dilute, or delightfully juicy on the nose – depending on your point of view. But the palate offers Javillier substance in spades so I’d go for it. Especially since experience has shown how well Javillier whites age. A light note of white (apple?) blossom. Good value. 16/20”
“Patrick Javillier is one of Meursault’s most consistent winemakers, also one who usually offers some of its best budget wines. “C’est un classique de mon époque,” he enthused as we began tasting from barrels. However, as ever Patrick offers some outstanding value at the “bottom” of his range: a riposte to those that claim Burgundy has become unaffordable. Yes, a lot has, but you just have to look a little harder these days.”
Girardin Bourgogne Blanc Terroir Noble 2015 £16.99 (reduced from £20)
Vincent Girardin exists today as one of the smaller Burgundy houses, owning 13 hectares of prime vineyards. The result is an impressive range of very well made wines from a number of Burgundy’s best villages. Their Bourgogne Blanc is, thanks to Burgundy’s strict vineyard classifications, something of a bargain as the fruit is all sourced from Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault (hence ‘Terroir Noble’) but it can’t be known by any of these famous names. The quality of the fruit however speaks for itself and this is a very elegant, focussed example of Cote de Beaune Chardonnay. Wonderful to find such a well-priced example with age, although it is still remarkably taut and bright – rather like a Premier Cru Chablis in style
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