2011 red Burgundy

Before I publish my individual tasting notes from the tastings I attended in London’s 2011 Burgundy en primeur week I will give you an overview of the 2011 red Burgundy vintage. In this post I will also suggest a top pick from each of the tastings I attended of something that, at this early stage, seems like a wise investment. As I add individual producer’s tasting notes in subsequent posts I’ll update an index at the bottom of this page that you can click on to take you straight to notes on that producer’s wines . I’ve got a lot of wines to write up.

At the start I would like to thank Clark Foyster Wines , Hanyes, Hanson and Clark and Howard Ripley for inviting me to their events and giving me plenty of time to taste and chat to producers when they were present. Without being able to take time at each of these tastings there would be no hope of getting a decent impression of the wines in order to draw what conclusions one can from wines at this early stage in their development. You may not have much sympathy for me, but even though I’ve been doing it for twenty years it’s damned difficult tasting cask samples and there is only so much you can tell from them.

Davy pours Gevery-Chambertin You may already have read my report on 2011 white Burgundy in which I conclude it seems like a very good to excellent vintage. 2011 red Burgundy is undoubtedly more variable than white, but quite a lot of good to very good wines produced, with a few really excellent ones. It’s a vintage where you have to chose carefully as even some top producers have made some wines that seem, based on cask samples, to be complete failures.

Where the poor wines fail is when they display a tough, bitter astringency which can be rather green in nature. Whether this is down to simple unripeness or the oft-mentioned ladybirds that seem to infest every Burgundy vintage people have decided not to like I cannot say, but there are some pretty hard old meanies out there.

Where the vintage succeeds is when, like in the white wines , there is a good interplay with attractive, ripe fruit and bright, fresh acidity. These wines are wonderfully winsome and, even if they go through an awkward few months after bottling, will be hilariously good drinking when young. I suspect they’ll have a pretty accessible ageing profile too, with not too many shutting down for a difficult middle-aged period. Middle age (three) hasn’t shut me down.

As far as ageing in general goes I suspect this is a vintage for drinking younger rather than older in order to appreciate the more lubricious pleasures of the wines. Most quality wines will certainly last for the medium term, and a magic few will age gloriously into entities of poised beauty, but I find myself asking “Why bother?”. At an early stage these wines will provide extreme hedonistic joy and visceral gratification so, if I can afford any quantity, it’ll largely be down my gullet within a few years.

I would suggest this is a vintage for buying up the quality end. There are certainly some good generics out there, but the bottom of the heap seems to be more affected by the green toughness than those wines further up the quality ladder. Not many of the Bourgogne Rouges I tasted were bursting with the fresh, gorgeous Pinot deliciousness I want from wines at this level.

Look at as many tasting notes as you can before making your choices, you need to be informed to avoid the dross. Over the next few days I will report on the tastings I attended and put links in an index below to each producer so you can jump straight to their notes, whatever post they are lurking in. For now I will leave you with a recommendation from each of the tastings I attended. Not necessarily the most expensive or flash wine on show, but something really good that captures the quality of the vintage, will age well (as well as being accessible young) and will give you the most pow-zap-wow for your pound.

Clark Foyster Wines

Domaine Confuron-Gindre aced this vintage and strike me as being the new Rene Engel – a fabulous source of Vosne that doesn’t leave your credit card smouldering. It would be tempting to suggest their Bourgogne Rouge as my pick from Clark Foyster, it was absolutely scrummylicious, but this is Elitistreview, for bum’s sake, we want the best. Confuron-Gindre’s Grand Cru Echezeaux (£588 for 12 in bond) was one of the very greatest examples of that vineyard I’ve had as a cask sample. Elegant, perfumed with all the complex grandeur one wants from a Grand Cru. An amazing wine I cannot recommend highly enough.

Domaine Confuron-Gindre Grand Cru Echezeaux

Haynes, Hanson and Clark

I’m being an elitist swine and choosing a Grand Cru again from HH&C but it’s a relatively affordable one and really shines with the qualities of the vintage. Domaine Champy’s Corton-Rognet (£465 for 12 in bond) was a beautiful, poised Corton with none of the toughness or austerity Corton can often show. It was extremely elegant whilst burning with the fulgurating intensity of a really top vineyard. Superlatively good.

Champy Grand Cru Corton-Rognet

Howard Ripley

An embarrassment of riches here but one wine really stood out as being true to the vintage and its origins. De Courcel’s Pommard Premier Cru Grand Clos des Epenots (£288 for 6 in bond) was a great Pommard with real grip and energy. It wasn’t short on lovely fruit either but this solid number will give pleasure throughout a long life.

Domaine de Courcel Pommard 1er Cru Grand Clos des Epenots

Index of tasting notes by producer