Burgundy’s Village wines can provide an affordable alternative to the often high-priced premier crus – if you only know which names to look for. STEPHEN BROOK assesses the 2001 and 2002 vintages, and recommends his top wines from each.

Burgundy village wines bear only the name of the village from which the wine comes, making instant recognition and appraisal difficult to casual observers. The category stands midway between premier cru and generic Burgundy in hierarchical terms. The wines can be good value, even if the vineyards themselves are far from the best in the village. After all, a simple Volnay still has to come from the vineyards of Volnay.

Some producers may bottle individual village sites separately if they consider a vineyard exceptional, such as Denis Mortet’s Au Velle and other Gevrey-Chambertin village bottlings. With rare exceptions, these are wines to be drunk relatively young, about five years after the vintage, although some sturdy Côte de Nuits can keep far longer.

2001

This was a far more patchy vintage than 2002 after unwelcome rain in September. The best red wines tend to come from the Côte de Nuits, although there are good whites from all regions. Because of the unsettled weather and rot in some vineyards, careful grape selection was essential. The most conscientious producers therefore delivered the best results. Hail greatly reduced the crop in the Côte Chalonnaise and southern Côte de Beaune but overall, conditions were significantly worse in the former than the latter. As a general rule, the further north a village lies in the Côte d’Or, the more successful its wines in 2001. The wines can be drunk with pleasure from now until 2012, and the most structured wines will keep considerably longer.

MEURSAULT

Of all the white wine villages of the Côte de Beaune, Meursault probably fared best. The wines are showing an enviable purity and minerality, with little of the rich flabbiness that can affect Meursault in a super-ripe year.

Alex Gambal

Clos du Cromin 2001

Made from 65-year-old vines, this has a zesty lemony nose; it’s tight and concentrated with very fine acidity and length. Drink 2005–2012. £24.50; May

Henri Germain

Mersault 2001

Flinty, peachy nose, lean on the palate, racy, concentrated and elegant with a fine edge. Exceptional for Villages wine. 2005–2012. £21.20; DDi

Champy

Les Grands Charrons 2001

Fresh citric nose, discreetly oaked. Fresh and very youthful, this has elegance and persistence rather than breadth and power. A lovely wine. £25; HHC, Mer

Jadot

Mersault 2001

A big upfront Meursault with ample, rich, ripe buttery fruit, yet without heaviness. Forward and hedonistic. £18.99; HaM

Drouhin

Mersault 2001

Buttery nose with a dash of oak; rounded, plump, and almost sweet but has ample acidity behind it. DrA For details

NUITS

Nuits is a large village, with the inevitable variations in style and quality. Some wines are a touch lean, but most have typical Nuits robustness and density. Should keep well.

Patrice Rion

Vieilles Vignes 2001

Fragrant raspberry aromas; fine purity and intensity on the palate. Delicate, refined, and charming. Not for long ageing. £25; M&V

Bertrand Ambroise

Nuits 2001

This rich Nuits is typical of the Bertrand Ambroise style; big and bold with ample rich fruit, although it comes at the expense of finesse. Drink 2005–2012. £16; Mnt

Faiveley

Nuits 2001

A fairly rich, cherry-scented wine, medium-bodied with quite good acidity giving good length and a lean finish. MMD For details

CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY

Chambolle triumphed in 2001, with very consistent wines that show its hallmark elegance and seductiveness. But they don’t lack backbone and should age well.

Roumier

Chambolle-Musigny 2001

With so much fruit, a seductive texture, and impeccable balance, it’s hard to imagine this is a mere Villages wine. Delicious and a star in 2001. 2006–2014. £22.37; DDi

Christian Clerget

Chambolle-Musigny 2001

Very ripe, concentrated, and spicy, with lively acidity on the finish. 2006–2014. £21.79; DDi

Geantet-Pansiot

Chambolle-Musigny 2001

Behind the oak, ample rich, black cherry fruit; rich and supple yet with fine acidity and elegance. 2005–2012. £23.55; DDi

Drouhin

Chambolle-Musigny 2001

Drouhin excels with Chambolle, always finding the purity and perfume in its wine; not especially complex, but lean, piquant, delicate, and very elegant. DrA For details

Bertagna

Chambolle-Musigny 2001

A modern-style Chambolle, sleek in texture, concentrated, spicy, and almost exotic in its sweetness of fruit. 2005–2012. £22.45; BBR

GEVREY

Gevrey benefited from its northerly location, and produced exceptional wines in this vintage – from fleshy and opulent to more dense and structured. Wines from old-vine sites are hard to distinguish in quality from premiers crus.

Dugat-Py

Coeur du Roy 2001

Wonderfully complex old-vine wine, oozing black fruits and liquorice. Ripe, firm tannins on the finish. 2006–2016. £46.43; ABt

Geantet-Pansiot

En Champs 2001

Remarkably dense wine from centenarian vines: rich, supple, powerful, spicy, persistent. 2007–2015. £26.25; HoR

Denis Mortet

En Derée 2001

Spicy, chocolatey nose, dried fruit aromas; fresh and bright on the palate, invigorating on the attack. 2006–2015. £32; J&B

Pierre Damoy

Clos Tamisot 2001

Old-vine Gevrey that is oaky, vibrant and concentrated; serious wine that needs time to open up. 2006–2012. £26.95; Loe

Thierry Mortet

Gevrey 2001

Sturdy, very typical of Gevrey, with black fruits on the nose; robust and concentrated. 2005–2012. £20.95; L&S

2002

2002 was a uniformly good, even outstanding, vintage throughout the Burgundy region, with quality at roughly the same level as 1999. Such consistency means very good wines can be found in villages away from the heartland of the Côte d’Or. Bargains can be found in the Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis, while stupendous, classic wines can be found in the Côte d’Or’s more prestigious villages. These wines are beautifully balanced and attractive from the outset. To be enjoyed young, or kept for 10 years.

RULLY

In cool years, these Côte Chalonnaise wines can be rather tough and rustic. In 2002, grapes ripened perfectly, so even a modest village such as Rully produced some delicious wines at bargain prices.

Chateau de Rully

Chateau de Rully red 2002

Stern nose, cherries; lush with solid fruit and ripe tannins, will benefit from brief cellaring. Drink 2005–2008. RBa For details

Charles Thomas

Rully white 2002

Lean, spicy aromas; on the palate rich, firm, juicy, plump, with modest acidity and reasonable length. £10.49; ChR

Albert Sounit

Rully Meix Guillaume red 2002

Strawberry-scented, medium-bodied, light tannin; fair acidity and length. £10.49; EnW

MEURSAULT

The 2002 Meursaults are lush, hedonistic and consistent in quality; they’ll give much pleasure over the next five years.

Pierre Morey

Tessons 2002

From one of Burgundy’s white wine masters: nutty, oaky, full-bodied, it has the grip to carry into the next decade. 2005–2012. £33; J&B

Boyer-Martenot

Narvaux 2002

Vigorous and oaky on the nose, with a distinct citric minerality on the palate; rich and full-bodied. £19.50; Mnt

Jean-Philippe Fichet

Tesson 2002

Refreshing lime aromas and flavours, this is a taut, forceful wine; good concentration and length. 2005–2012. £25.85; M&V

Patrick Javillier

Tête de Murger 2002

A blend of two Villages sites: rich, supple, and a touch broad, with mineral tones and a spicy finish. 2005–2010. £38.68; Loe

Michel Bouzereau

Grands Charrons 2002

There’s white pepper and spice on the nose; on the palate it’s plump and rounded, already drinking well. £16.83; Mnt, M&V

ChAteau de Meursault

Meursault du Château 2002

A blend from three vineyards, this is elegant and spicy on the nose, rich and plump on the palate, with fair acidity. £19.99; Sai, Maj

VOSNE-ROMANEE

Vosne can be the epitome of great red Burgundy, and the 2002s are splendid. Styles vary considerably, and most of the wines have a firm, tannic backbone. These Villages wines are mostly worth cellaring for a few years. But they are expensive.

Grivot

Vosne-Romanée 2002

Discreet and elegant, yet finely concentrated. Very long finish. 2007–2020. £23.50; HoR

Mugneret-Gibourg

Vosne-Romanée 2002

A fine Vosne: violets on the nose, lush fruit on the palate, with concentration and a long spicy finish. 2007–2020. £22; HoR

Confuron-Cotetidot

Vosne-Romanée 2002

Intense raspberry aromas; unites fleshiness and charm with good tannic underpinning and length. 2006–2014. £20.50; Loe

Bruno Clavelier

Combe Brulée 2002

Medium-bodied, ripe, sleek; elegance and length more than power. 2005–2012. £20; HoR

Rene Engel

Vosne-Romanée 2002

Fruit pastilles on the nose, and a pert charm on the palate. Should fill out with time. 2005–2012. £20.50; M&V

Vicomte Ligier Belair

Clos du Château 2002

A minty nose, with a hint of glacé cherries; lean and minty on the palate; has elegance and length. 2006–2012. £32; J&B

CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY

The ripe, voluptuous character of the 2002 vintage suits Chambolle perfectly. The wines are spicy and opulent, enjoyable young but certainly structured for a long life.

J C Boisset

Chambolle-Musigny 2002 HHHH

Sweet raspberry aromas, with ample oak and plenty of fruit; fine acidity, bright and stylish. 2006–2012. £25.95; Lib

G Roumier

Chambolle-Musigny 2002

Sweet, elegant nose, with much charm; lush and vigorous on the palate, a robust core of acidity. 2005–2012. £26; DDi

Louis Boillot

Chambolle-Musigny 2002

Nose of good cherry fruit, rich, concentrated, spicy palate. Vigour and delicacy too. £18; Mnt

Drouhin

Chambolle-Musigny 2002

Light floral nose; delicate, a touch candied, but sleek and enjoyable. DrA For details

GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN

Gevrey was the star village in 2001, and the 2002s are as good, if not even better. These are rich, powerful wines built for long ageing, though their ripeness and succulence will make most enjoyable when fairly young.

Jadot

n Gevrey-Chambertin 2002

Muted raspberry aromas; plump, supple, packed with zesty fruit and an oaky bite on the finish. £19.99; HaM

Fourrier

Aux Echezeaux 2002

Sweet, oaky nose; stylish, pure, not extracted though quite tannic, peppery finish. 2006–2012. £18; ABt, HoR

A Rousseau

Gevrey-Chambertin 2002

Deceptively light in its youth, gentle raspberry aromas, medium-bodied, gentle and plump on the palate. £300; HoR, J&B, L&W, Loe (case of 12)

Bouchard Pere et Fils

Gevrey-Chambertin 2002

Intense, charming nose of raspberry and violets; fresh and delicious, enjoy young for its primary fruit. Fel For details

Louis Boillot

Le Carougeot 2002

Delicate, spicy, oaky nose; quite lush, lacks some stuffing and flesh but balanced and long. £22.95; CTW, L&W

Stephen Brook is a contributing editor to Decanter. For UK stockist codes and contact details, see page 200.

Written by Stephen Brook, November 2004