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10/01/2013

Burgundy 2011: Beguiling, Beautiful, Bang On

by Giles Cooper (Head of Marketing & PR)

Customers at BI's Burgundy 2011 En Primeur tastingIt’s important to start the year with a bang and we certainly managed this at BI with our 2011 Burgundy En Primeur tasting. Held as always in our lovely wine school here at 10 Hatton Garden, the wines showed beautifully considering their fragility and the nature of the long, sometimes painful journeys they had undertaken to get to us. We were also delighted to have a number of our producers in attendance to present their wines in person, answer questions and share their joy and enthusiasm for what is in fact an extremely successful vintage.

Make no mistake – 2011 is a seriously pretty vintage in Burgundy. At any other time over the past 20 years this vintage would be more vocally praised but the fact is it has a very hard act to follow. It had to happen eventually: after the near-perfect joy of 2009 and 2010, we have a vintage which represented a real challenge to Burgundy winemakers.

That said, we are delighted that we have always opted to work with producers for whom challenges are simply opportunities to show their skill and determination – as such, the wines we have tasted (and are thus offering) are absolutely delicious across both reds and whites. As with the 2010s, the remarkable thing is how approachable many of these wines are already; this however seems to be a facet of modern winemaking and does nothing to suggest the wines are not age-worthy - there is plenty of ripeness (both phenolic and fruit), good concentration, acidity and alcohol. In fact, some of our growers’ wines arguably outshine their wonderful 2010s, which shows their rapid rise in skills and experience.

So how do they stack up? What’s the true nature of 2011 Burgundy? Well, opinions, as ever, vary. Even within the office, individuals who would consider themselves to have pretty similar tastes discovered that they found joy in different wines from different communes and different producers. But as a summary I would say that:

  • The reds were more elegant and concentrated than one might expect, with moderate alcohol, good acidity and in many cases, exceptional perfume. In the best cases – Guillaume Tardy’s wines for example – they show very clear vineyard definition. There really is some great purity in the Pinots.
  • The whites are very fresh and approachable, with great freshness, clear mineral characters and lovely balance. Some speak of 2011 whites lacking ‘backbone’ but I don’t feel this is the case: there is genuine concentration in many cases and whilst these may not be the longest lived of all white burgs, there are more than enough wines I would hang my hat on.

Stand-outs? A few from the team:

2011 Lignier-Michelot Morey-Saint-Denis - 1er cru ‘Les Faconnieres’
I loved Virgile Lignier’s 2010s but dammit, these are even better. Concentrated black cherry and wild strawberry fruit, great balance and freshness, and my word, that nose… filled with night-scented flowers and ripe dark fruit. Texture, vibrancy, tension, this has it all. What a treat from one of the nicest guys in Burgundy.
-Giles Cooper (Head of Marketing and PR)

2011 Christian Moreau - Chablis Grand Cru Valmur
Intense, lemon and citrus nose with pleasing, waxy notes. It’s seriously concentrated and expressive on the palate, even at this young age – and yet feels like it has more than enough stuffing to extend its potential. Very fresh, dry and showing all the hallmark mineral characters of the vineyard.  Impressively long; great value!
-Adrian Burns (On-Trade Sales Manager)

2011 Jean Tardy et Fils Fixin - ‘La Place’
Concentrated blackberry fruit leads the way here, with subtle smoky nuances. The 2011 Fixin has good body and finely grained but grippy tannins, but the main attraction for me here is the incredible balance that Guillaume Tardy has achieved. Since taking over from his father Jean in 2003, Guillaume has been making increasingly impressive wines and he is clearly one to watch closely!
-Aaron Turner (Private Sales)

2011 Rene Lequin-Colin - Bourgogne Blanc ‘Back To The Roots’
This will need another couple of months to settle down but in my books this is a MUST have for your house wine. The ‘hands off’ approach is hugely telling: no fining, no filtering and longer ageing. For its lowly Bourgogne appellation, there is bags of concentration, depth and fresh acidity – if you can leave it another year or so you will be justly rewarded. Everyone should take note of this stunning producer, as his Chassagne Vergers was bloody gorgeous too.
-Tom Chadwick (Trade and Private Sales)

[ Visit our Burgundy EP 2011 Page | Read More about BI Events and Tastings ]