2006 Burgundy – the best of what is left

I have been fortunate enough to try a few more 2006 red Burgundies in recent weeks and it strikes me that there are still some rather good wines out there. Below I present my trawl of merchant’s websites for the best of the bunch.

As an aside, I have found a lot of those I have tasted to still be showing a degree of youthful approachability, so if you pop a few of them now, within the next six to nine months at the outside, you will not be punished for your act of infanticide. That being said, with the best of these wines you want to be sticking them in the cellar for medium-term ageing. They will be ready before the 2005s, but are certainly meritorious of some cellar time.

Lay and Wheeler have a small but completely desirable collection of 06s left. Their least flash offering is Alain Michelot’s Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Aux Champs Perdrix at £376.32 per case. It may not be the most pant-wettingly fine wine experience but will provide ample pleasure for a good few years to come.

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For a few fun tokens more you can get the elegant little charmer that is de Montille’s Beaune 1er Cru Greves. At £411.60 a case this will keep you chortling with mirth throughout the next decade. Considerably more serious is de Montille’s Pommard 1er Cru Les Pézerolles which is priced at a serious £570.24 a case. This will colour any lovers of Cote de Beaune wines distinctly florid with happiness; it is an enchanting wine.

So we’ve reached the serious wines – that is what we are all interested in anyway even if buying the stuff is a pipe-dream. Domaine Dujac made top drawer 2006s and Lay and Wheeler have a couple of goodies to pry your wallet open. The Morey-Saint-Denis is anything but a basic village wine. Available by the bottle at £34.89 this is an explosively vibrant and vivacious wine that is infused with a degree of class far beyond its modest appellation. For £575.94 you can score a six-pack of Dujac’s Morey 1er Cru. 1er Cru wines are rarely more complex and such compelling expressions of their origins than this beezer beauty.

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Lay and Wheeler are also blessed with an embarrassment of Sylvain Cathiard wines. This chap makes some of the most desirable wines on the Golden Slope and being able to buy any is a rare treat, especially at such prices that approach the idea of reasonableness. Certainly his Vosne 1er Crus are highly desirable, but I’d go for the Nuits 1ers. The 1er Cru Thorey is a great vineyard and £681.84 doesn’t really seem too much for a case. If you can only stretch to a single bottle to see what all the fuss is about snap up a 1er Cru aux Murgers for £64.85: this is an amazing wine, so engorged with beauty I am moved just to think of my last little taste.

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The other wines that caught my eye were the thoroughly lovely but eye-gougingly expensive Anne Gros offerings. Her two village wines are undeniably scrumptious but oh those prices… Considering the quality, her Clos Vougeot Le Grand Maupertui is probably worth a hint over one hundred and thirty mirth vouchers, but since you have to buy it in six packs I sincerely hope that if any of my readers do plump for what is an amazing wine they will do the decent thing and send me a bottle. Unless you have some twisted perversion about dropping lots of money to experience gustatory flagellation, do not, I repeat do not even think of buying any Grivot. Impressive they may be but they totally lack charm and sensuality.

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If we move to ever-voguish Chelsea, Lea and Sandeman have a handful of desirable wines on offer. Comte Armand’s Auxey Duresses 1er Cru is a cracking wine at £25.50 (or less if you buy a case, which can be mixed). It has flashes of the class and style shown by Comte Armand’s thrillingly sophisticated top wine, Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux, that they also have for £60.95 a bottle (again there is a case discount); they’ve got mags and jeros of this as well (but see below). At their different price points it is hard to beat these two wines in terms of outstanding flair and panache; they were superlative successes in 2006.

On the subject of Pommard, L&S also have some de Courcel wines on their list. I cannot recommend the £49.95 Pommard 1er Cru Grand Clos des Épenots highly enough, it is a supremely balanced and radiantly complex wine that gives even my beloved Clos des Epeneaux a run for its money. High class wine, incontrovertibly top bunny.

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The winemaker of de Courcel, who is a bit of a curmudgeon, has his own domaine, J Confuron Cotetidot, and L&S sell two of their 2006 Grand Crus that are knockout bargains. The Clos Vougeot (£76.95, case discount etc etc) might be a tannic ogre at the moment, but when I last tasted it I felt sure it would age gracefully and deliver high-value aesthetic loveliness points when mature. Currently more approachable is the Charmes-Chambertin at £73.75 per bottle (case discount, blah, blah…), which has a complex composition of flavorous fruit, elaborate earthiness and a supple, silken structure. It’ll also age well. These are properly corking wines priced at a level that will keep your credit card from smoking: should you need some Grand Crus, and we all need some Grand Crus from time to time, you really cannot go wrong. If I were having my arm twisted and forced to chose I’d snap up the Clos Vougeot. Oh… actually I did, I got a bottle of this as a christmas present to myself last year.

Berry Brothers and Rudd’s Burgundy selection has improved markedly since they snapped up Jasper Morris’s operation, they have plenty of 2006s.

The Volnay 2006 from Comte Armand is a delightfully charming little number that probably doesn’t need much more age, its pretty fruit is up for enjoying right now; it is keenly priced at £24.95 per bottle (case discount if you want 12 of them).

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More in the minimalist beauty style is Lafarge’s Volnay which I would also suggest drinking over the next few years. It is a bit more expensive, at £29.95 a bottle, but to drink Lafarge is to suck at the ‘high-cream’-teat of Volnay. But sweaty tests to that wine, get his Volnay Vendanges Séléctionées which is well worth its £35 a bottle. When I last tried it I thought it was an entity of arrant beauty with enough class to compel the most jaded of Burgundy drinkers.

The other big name as far as pellucid expressions of graceful Volnay goes is de Montille. £49 a bottle is an absolute bargain for the svelte, silky charmer that is their Volnay 1er Cru Champans. This is Volnay at its most sparklingly refined, a consumingly compelling wine. Their 1er Cru Les Taillepieds is a similarly glistering wine at £53 a bottle.

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Before leaving Berry’s list I have to point out a few mirth-tastic bottles of a type every wine lover should own: magnums of top-flight Burgundy. I think these three are of pretty equal quality so it is a question of style as to which you cannot hold back from instantly buying. I’ve mentioned the characters of de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds (£110 per magnum) and Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux (£113 per magnum) already, but if you want a slightly more refined Pommard then the de Montile 1er Cru Rugiens (£135 per mag) is my suggestion. Whichever magnum you score it is certain that an enlightened friend and you will be well-provisioned for a solid lunch-time’s drinking in several years’ time.

There are more good 2006 Burgundies out there so do feel free to add a comment if you have encountered any notable bargains. When you buy from the right producers 2006 is undoubtedly a vintage with a high pleasure quotient and as such they would grace any collection with their inclusion. I will certainly be trying to score some more for myself especially as, when I think of the prices the 2009s are likely to go for, 2006s are suitable for my ‘hard of income’ status. Those magnums are deeply tempting…