Burgundy 2006 with cheese
This week sees the 2006 Burgundy en primeur tastings in London. There are a lot of them – I've been invited to at least eight, and there are others, too. I'm not sure whether there's a lot to be gained from spending a whole week of my life tasting barrel samples from just one vintage...it's not that I'm widely regarded as an expert on the region's wines, after all. I reckon that I can spot decent Burgundy when I see it, but I don’t have the breadth of experience to be able to give ‘expert’ buying advice across the appellations.
Indeed, such is the complexity of Burgundy, with its terroir-based patchwork quilt of vineyards that are shared among many growers (in most cases), if you want to be a real Burgundy expert you have to devote most of your working life to this region.
So what about the 2006s? I went along this afternoon to the Berry Bros & Rudd tasting in the splendid setting of One Great George Street, near Westminster Abbey. I didn't spend an awful lot of time tasting, so I can't really give the definitive answer on the vintage. But I did have a nice time catching up with colleagues (I spoke with Joanna Simon, Tim Atkin, Charles Metcalfe, Victoria Moore, Neil Beckett, Anthony Rose, Natasha Hughes, Jane MacQuitty and Jasper Morris among others). It was also nice to bump into Francis Percival, the food writer, who was there to demonstrate a couple of Neals Yard cheeses for the private customers who were soon to arrive (pictured). I tried a Berkswell, which was made with late lactation milk and is therefore a bit funky because of the high solids, and a really lovely Montgomery Cheddar that was complex, spicy and delicious.
Jasper's take on the 2006 vintage seems a fair one. ‘It’s totally different to 2005, which was a truly great year’, he began. ‘This was a nice year, producing some stylish wines that show perfume and which taste like Pinot Noir and Burgundy.’ He anticipated that customers would taste through the wines and find many that they liked. ‘There is variation here’, Jasper cautions. In terms of pricing, the reds are stable or down and the whites stable or up from the previous year, ‘but Burgundy doesn’t move a lot’, he said.
The wines I tried were exclusively red, and were at the light end of the spectrum. Some were showing firm tannins. They seemed a bit expensive, on the whole. It was really nice to have a chance to chat to newcomer David Clark, a Scot who has recently established himself as a Burgundy grower with 2 hectares of vines in relatively lowly appellations, which he’s farming with meticulous care, producing some really nice wines. More on him later.