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DWWA 2014: Burgundy & Beaujolais insights

Hear from our Burgundy & Beaujolais Regional Chair Jasper Morris MW on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

Burgundy can be a tricky category in wine competitions – the region is so fragmented that there’s little available of any given wine, so there’s less incentive to enter competitions when there is not the weight of a brand behind it. This shows particularly in the shortage of wines – especially reds – from the village, premier cru and grand cru appellations of the Côte d’Or. Yet we were very enthused by the overall quality right down to Commended. There were some great individual results in lowly categories such as Bourgogne Blanc, Beaujolais Villages and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, while the flights of Chablis were stunning.

What should we buy from here?

For the whites, the north and south of the region, Chablis and Mâcon, offer the best value and the greatest interest. Chablis certainly enjoyed considerable success in this year’s competition and it was a pleasure to taste so many wines that properly reflect the region, rather than just more international Chardonnay. Prices have risen sharply for red wines at all levels, but fortunately not so much for the lesser appellations. There’s some great generic Burgundy to be had including from the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Nuits, which may have benefited from global warming. But if you want exciting, individual wine at a relatively affordable price (either side of the £15 mark) look to the crus of Beaujolais.

What should we leave on the shelf?

2011 is less compelling than the vintages on either side (though don’t ignore it from your favourite producers). Some of the wines seem lean and green now, though they should fatten up later. It’s a difficult time for Crémant de Bourgogne after successive short crops have slashed the supply available for sparkling wine programmes, increased the price and perhaps affected the style.

What should we keep an eye on?

Beaujolais and Mâconnais are enjoying a renaissance thanks to a new generation of growers who have escaped the mindset of the deflationary spiral of lower prices and rising costs. This trend is set to continue with some brilliant, fresh and imaginative wines from Beaujolais, and Côte d’Or challengers from the villages of the Mâconnais. In the background are the lesser reds and whites from the Yonne, from such appellations as Epineuil, Irancy, Côtes d’Auxerre and Bourgogne from Tonnerre or Vézelay. We didn’t have enough examples to form a compelling argument this year, but it’s surely an area to watch for attractive, affordable wines.

Written by Decanter

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