Burgundy 2022: your questions answered
Here, our Burgundy Buyer, Adam Bruntlett, responds to more of your questions that were sent in during or after the webinar.
Are there any new names to watch out for? Are there producers that may be briefly affordable now before becoming hugely popular?
It’s rare that one of these comes along every year. Personally, I believe that Domaine Rion is making some of the very best wines in Burgundy. That estate has taken some significant steps forward since around 2016 but it has still stayed below the radar. With some new vineyard holdings in 2022, it’s now a very compelling offer. Domaine Rossignol-Trapet is also still undervalued.
Should those on more modest budgets now be looking to Mâcon for their red bargains, or is there still value to be found in the Côte de Beaune and the Hautes-Côtes?
There is still relative value in the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. The quality of the “humbler” villages and appellations has never been better. In the Côte de Nuits, Marsannay, Fixin and Côte de Nuits-Villages are all worth checking out. In the Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune and Chorey-lès-Beaune are really overperforming these days too. Monthélie and Auxey-Duresses are good substitutes for Volnay and Pommard respectively.
I’m also a big fan of the villages at the southern end of the Côte de Beaune – Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay and Maranges. The tannins are much riper these days, and growers tend to make the wines in a more friendly, approachable style, recognising that nobody wants to cellar these wines for 10 years before approaching them. The Hautes-Côtes remain my hobbyhorse, offering wonderful freshness and vibrancy in warm years.
Beaujolais – especially the crus such as Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent and Côte de Brouilly – is still incredibly affordable given the nature of making wine there. It’s nearly all manual work because the vines are goblet-trained, meaning that you can’t use tractors. A few are replanting in the Burgundian style so that they can work their vines by machine, but most have not. The vineyards are also very steeply sloping, making them hard to work. And the soils are poorer and stonier, so yields to be lower than in the Côte d’Or – especially in dry years. The very top wines are rarely more expensive than many Bourgogne-level wines from the Côte d’Or.
How would you compare Burgundy’s 2022 vintage to 2017, both in terms of drinkability when young and longevity?
I see some similarities with 2017, but 2022 has a little more density and weight – and therefore greater ageing potential. The wines do share the same approachability and drinking pleasure, and I will probably broach them before 2018, 2019 or 2020 on that basis.
Do you recommend waiting for bargains in next year’s 2023 vintage release, given it will be the second of two back-to-back vintages with decent volumes?
Prices may come down slightly in 2023, but it all depends on the size of the 2024 crop as well as economic factors. As ever, volumes are limited, even in a decent-sized crop like 2022, and we always allocate sought-after wines to our customers based on past purchases. I also expect 2022 to be more consistently successful than 2023.
The 2017 vintage was a good one for Volnay. How would you say the 2022 and 2017 Volnay wines compare, in terms of the flavour profile, at the pre-bottling stage?
There are some striking similarities. Both vintages are perfumed and aromatic, with the focus on red fruit. My main observation would be that the 2022s have more weight and density, a little bit more flesh on the mid-palate. I don’t find the 2022s to have more tannic structure, though this may come later, once the wines are bottled.
In the webinar, Adam commented that villages that have historically had issues with ripening are now benefiting from warmer growing seasons. In light of this, can you share any thoughts on St Aubin?
I’m a big fan of St Aubin. But it is quite a small appellation, and with prices still a touch behind its more famous neighbours, demand is already high. I would also add that soils tend to be quite shallow and the vineyards often steeply sloping, meaning that drought stress can be an issue here. Picking in good time is even more important here than in villages with deeper soil, such as Chassagne-Montrachet or Meursault, or those with a plentiful supply of water as there is in Puligny-Montrachet (where the water table is higher, so they have no underground cellars).
How does the quality and adjusted price of the 2022 vintage compare with 2015?
Although 2015 was not long ago, it feels as though some big strides have been made across grape-growing and winemaking since then. It was another early vintage, but I think 2022 is more successful at keeping a Burgundian freshness. It’s impossible to put a percentage-increase figure on such a broad range of producers over a seven-year period. Some have increased their prices by only modest amounts, whereas others have gone from complete obscurity to superstars, and their prices have increased accordingly.
How long should 2022 vintage white Burgundy be stored for before drinking?
The 2022s were generally quite approachable when we tasted them from barrel in the autumn, so I expect them to be relatively approachable when young. The modern style of white wine tends to be less austere and structured than in the past, so there is less of a need to wait before opening them. Each of the wines in our offer has its own recommended drinking window which you will find in our Price List or on our website. In general terms, I would suggest the following dates for the 2022s from the Côte de Beaune.
Regional wines: drink from 2023 onwards
Village-level wines: drink from 2024 onwards
Premiers Crus: drink from 2025 onwards
Grands Crus: drink from 2027 onwards
Obviously, this depends on your personal preference. If you prefer wines with a nutty, savoury style, then wait a little longer before pulling the cork. I’m always aware that many people might be disappointed in wines that don’t have as much primary fruit as they would like – and might accidentally hang on to wines for too long.
Could you talk a little more about the level of acidity in Burgundy today? With climate change, is there not a lack of acidity in both the whites and reds – and is this going to become more pronounced in future vintages?
Acidity levels are typically lower today than in the past, and pH levels are higher. This does change the flavour profile of the wines compared to cooler vintages. What we are seeing is a change in the makeup of the acidity in the wines: there is more of the harder tartaric acid and less of the softer malic acid (which converts to creamy lactic acid during malolactic conversion). Wines with lower acidity are part of the “new normal” and winemakers are adapting to it by picking earlier and changing their approach in the vineyard and winery. So far, I think they have been very successful. Ultimately, it is a question of balance and perception.
Maison Gautheron d’Anost
Domaine Simon Colin