Affordable Burgundy

I’ve been reading a new wine forum, Wine Berserkers, it is quite a fun place. People there seem generally enthusiastic and knowledgeable about wine, and they are a friendly lot too. One of threads I followed was a request for recommendations for sub-$50 Burgundy that is very Burgundian. The fellow posting had little experience of Burgundy and wanted to compare them with the wines he normally drank. Several people said that Burgundy can be quite expensive and that there are lots of different styles made, but we ended up recommending an excellent and well-priced example. You can read the thread if you want to know more.

This discussion reminded me of one of the polls I posted on here: which French wine region produces the best value wines? There were a couple of votes for Burgundy, which I thought was a bit enthusiastic. However, recently I’ve tried some really good Burgundies which have been bargain-tastic. Many people may disagree with this, but I feel that if you can get serious quality for less than £30 (which is about the $50 limit requested on the Wine Berserker thread), then that is a bargain in my book. So here are my suggestions for red Burgundies that provide a lot of of pleasure for not so much money.

Wine of the moment is certainly the [link2post id=”321″]Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Ile des Vergelesses 2005 from Domaine Chandon de Briailles[/link2post]. I loved its beauty, refinement and poise. You can buy this attractive wine for £24.95 (or £23.50 if you order 12 bottles, which can be mixed) from Lea and Sandeman. Note: five days after posting this recommendation (and two days before I could afford more) this wine has sold out. Bums.

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If you like your Burgundies to be slightly more heroic then you cannot go far wrong with [link2post id=”369″]Comte Armand’s Auxey Duresses Premier Cru 2005[/link2post]. A bold wine with lots of ripe fruit and a serious tannic structure. I feel it will age well for such a minor appellation. Also from Lea and Sandeman this costs £23.50 (case discounted to £21.50).

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Some of you might be thinking that these villages are unheard of and so you might desire a more well-known village of origin; Nuits-Saint-Georges is a good place to go. The 396″]Premier Cru Richemone 2005 from Alain Michelot is very good, very Nuits-y expression of Nuits and a steal at £28.93 from Lay and Wheeler. Too expensive? Then how about Alain Michelot’s Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes 2005, an affordable taste of quality Nuits for £18.93 also from Lay and Wheeler. Just five pence under my price limit is the 2006 Nuits St Georges Aux St. Juliens from de Montille, a named vineyard at the village quality level. Like all de Montille wines this is elegant and refined, but this one is quite accessible and with very attractive fruit. £29.95 (or less if you buy a case) from Berry Bros.

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If you know where to look you can find wines from highly regarded producers at a good price. I love Domaine Dujac wines and their ‘Fils et Pere’ range gives you a good taste of their style without breaking the bank. I think the Morey-Saint-Denis Fils et Pere 2006 is a damned-good wine, proper Morey of class and refinement for £28.50 (with a discount for unmixed cases) from Berry Bros.

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Comte Armand are another flash producer, and they produce this well-priced wine from a more famous appellations than Auxey Duresses. The 2006 Volnay is a structured example of this village and again I feel it will age well. £25 (minus an unmixed case discount) from Berry Bros is a good price for a characterful Volnay.

Owning Dominique Lafon wines is normally a very pricey business. However, you can get his charming and fruity, if not stunningly profound, 2006 Monthelie Premier Cru Les Duresses Rouge for a surprisingly affordable £29 a bottle. This is a Burgundy that you can happily drink and enjoy on any occasion.

Berry Bros also sell the excellent wines from David Clark; he has minor appellations but he is focussed on producing the best wines he can from these vineyards, so treats them with more love and attention than most Burgundians treat their very finest Grand Crus. His 2007 Bourgogne Rouge is £18.35 (with a discount for unmixed cases), you’d be hard pressed to find a more compelling Bourgogne for less money than this.

Another beautiful Bourgogne Rouge is the 2007 from de Montille. It really is a baby de Montille wine, with all the elegance and harmony one would hope for from that producer. Berry’s sell it for a quite reasonable £20.40 per bottle (again there is a discount for cases).

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Whilst we are on the subject of Bourgogne Rouge, Alain Burguet’s 2005 ‘Pince-Vin’ is a good performer at this quality level, and 2005 is a top vintage which should be quite mature and ready to drink by now. £20 a bottle from the Wine Society. The wine you really want from M. Burguet is his Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes ‘Mes Favorites’, this is one of the best village wines you can buy. When I popped a 361″]bottle of 2003 just after Christmas our lunch guests were compelled and charmed. It wasn’t in the slightest bit over-blown which can be a problem with some 2003s. At £29 a bottle from the Wine Society this falls a mere pound under my price limit, but it is worth every penny.

There we have it: an array of twelve different red Burgundies all of which are very reasonably priced for the quality they deliver. I suppose some might think my £30 upper limit is too high for these to be real bargains, but I’m afraid if you do you are wrong. Sadly wines of real quality are expensive these days, not only because of the limited production and high demand, but also the British peso weak pound has made all of our purchases from France at least 30% more expensive. These wines are as good as they get for as little as they get.

If either of my readers can suggest anymore bargain Burgundies then please leave a comment.

  • Will

    A fine post, containing some very fine recommendations.

    Some other great wines under the £30 limit and available over here (Ireland), so of no use to most of your readers would be:

    2005 Robert Chevillion Nuits St George VV
    2006 Vincent Dancer Beaune 1er Montrevenots
    2006 Michel Lafarge Volnay

  • David Strange

    Excellent suggestions, Will!

    I love Chevillon and to get a 2005 for less than £30 is a properly Good Thing. Same goes for the Lafarge Volnay, serious example of the appellation from him. I like Dancer’s red wines as well; I’d be happy to have a punt on one of his Premier Crus even a Beaune which is not my favourite red wine village (well, town).

    Thanks for dropping, and thanks for the top suggestions.

  • ed tully

    don’t know who supplies it, but the shooting star also known as Cyprien Arlaud is tremendous value. Not for much longer though I suspect. It will help very few of your audience David, but Engel’s vosne romanee 2004 can be had for twenty notes on Jersey. And it is tasty.

  • David Strange

    Fine and Rare Wines have an excellent selection of wonderful Arlaud wines. However, once duty, VAT and delivery is added to the prices none of them, not even the village wines, come in under my price barrier. I cannot recommend Cyprien’s wines highly enough, and I think for the quality they are well priced; they just cost more than £30 in the UK.

    Engel’s 04s are rather nice, and twenty fun tokens is a great price for the village Vosne; buy some, Mr T, and drink it instead of all that boring Claret you own*. I have some of the Vosne Premier Cru les Bruless 2004 which I picked up in France for £28 a bottle.

    In days of yore (remember Yore? Lovely girl) I got the Brulees 95 and 96 from Berry Bros for about the same price as I paid for the 04 in France. All consumed by now, and what a lot of pleasure they gave. Even the 96s were well balanced and fruity, not suffering from ’96 high acid’-syndrome. The days of getting top Premier Cru Vosne for less than thirty quid a bottle have long since passed, alas.

    *OK, a question for you as a Claret-drinker. What bottle of Claret could you get for £20, the same price as that Engel village Vosne, that would provide more pleasure than the Engel? Not en primeur or buying direct prices.

  • ed tully

    Well, I remember a rather cheeky bottle of Cheval Blanc 47 that cost only £15. And we used to enjoy La Mission 83 for £25. these days, a struggle really. You can get some good prices if you look in unfashionable vintages. The 04 Rausan Segla was selling here for about £28 last year.

  • David Strange

    04 Rausan Segla? What a feeble effort! Not only £8 a bottle more than the Engel but far, far less interesting and pleasure-giving. Claret is over-priced.

  • ed tully

    Oh yes, and the co-op sell alter ego de palmer 98 for £16.50, and that is really not bad at all. Also you can get a pleasurable margaux from M&S -desmirail 05 – which has been discounted to £18 at times. Go on! Have a try. They are “food” wines, of course. But I am beginning to revise my sceptism of that most famous of wine dealers’ euphemisms. This could be an interesting discussion: what’s the most ridulous sales pitch you have endured at the hands of a wine merchant?!

  • David Strange

    Alter Ego 98 (I’ve actually tried it) is piss-boring. I’ll look for the Desmirail.

    My favourite thing that a particular wine-merchant said when I was grilling him about his wines and touched on the subject of organic wine is, “Of course, all wine is organic as it does not contain animal fat.” What could I do but point at him and laugh?

    Another arse of a London wine-merchant came up to me as I picked up a bottle of oldish wine to check the level. He said, “Don’t pick it up, you’ll bruise the wine.” Twat.

  • ed tully

    I like things such as “a classic vintage” and “one for the purist”.

  • Thomas Burg

    I can recommend another winery from the Pernand-Vergelesses region. Dubreuil-Fontane have an excellent white Clos Berthet for, I think, 30 Euros and a fine red Clos Berthet Monopole for 14 Euros. They do ship abroad.

    Cheers

  • David Strange

    Thanks for the recommendation, Thomas. I’ll find a bit more about them and if I like what I read I might well pay them a visit during my next annual pilgrimage to Burgundy.

    Cheers!

  • Brandon Tai

    David, love the blog, been reading through it since you joined the berserkers.

    However, consider this entire blog entry ignored for fear of me pouring my entire Burg-less cellar down the drain. I’ll have to wait until I drink through at least half of my stash before I take the trip down the burgandy brick road, since apparently there is no going back. 🙂

  • David Strange

    Many thanks for your kind words about the blog, Brandon, I am pleased you have enjoyed it.

    Burgundy is an expensive and fickle mistress but, when it is good, oh the wonderful, wonderful pleasure the stuff provides. Some of them, even some of the cheapies I mention in this post, can warp your mind with their beguilingly beautiful personalities. So, when you have some cellar space I suggest you give them a try!

    Thanks again for dropping by.