A line of bottles of white wine

2018 White Burgundy Retrospective

7 December 2022

Giles Burke-Gaffney

The burgfest team convened earlier in the summer to assess the 2018 White Burgundy vintage in bottle.

Burgfest is a crack team of 10 Burgundy specialists, a mixture of wine merchant buyers and journalists, gathered in the peaceful setting of the wonderful Hameau de Barboron just outside of Savigny Les Beaune.

The tasting gives the lucky participants a unique perspective on a vintage; the ability to taste 1ers and Grands Crus from the top producers, both established and up and coming, from right across the Cote d’Or and Chablis, is a privilege not lost on the tasters – tasting 4 Montrachets or a flight of 8 Chevaliers Montrachets side by side is certainly not a responsibility taken lightly. The wines are tasted in flights grouped by village and then by single vineyard (if enough samples to form a flight will allow) or failing that are grouped by style / location of vineyard – eg high slope Chassagnes. However, thereafter the identities of the wines and producers are not known. Tastings are in the mornings only, to avoid palate fatigue, to allow group discussion and also to give tasters time to formulate as accurate and reasoned a view, wine by wine, as possible.

The average results and group conclusions from the tasting will be covered extensively by the World of Fine in their January issue, which will also include the results of the forthcoming Red Burgfest 2018 tasting in September.

In the meantime, herewith my own personal conclusions on the tasting , after four mornings of tasting 203 wines across 32 flights and 78 different producers.

We opened with Chablis, perhaps this unfairly disadvantaged the region but it certainly felt like the most inconsistent and disappointing of the villages we tasted.  A flight of mixed right bank Premiers Crus was followed by five single vineyard flights (including their subzones) that comprised Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montmains,  Mont de Milieu and Montee de Tonnerre.   There was little to chose between the different vineyards, save for a couple of flashes of brilliance from Montee de Tonnerre and Vaulorent, the latter of which was lumped in with the a mixed Grand Cru flight without looking at all out of place.

Overall my top performer was consistently Samuel Billaud, his Montee de Tonnerre just pipping his Sechet as one of the best Chablis I tasted – an accolade it shared with an excellent Butteaux from Julien Brocard, a Clos from Duplessis and a surprising La Moutonne from Long Depaquit which for me outshone their other wines by quite a distance.  The four flights of Grands Crus revealed more consistency than the Premiers Crus, without necessarily hitting the heights they should.

Next up was Meursault. A strong performer and clear notch up on Chablis. Of the four flights - a mixed Goutte d’or/Poruzot/Boucheres; a Genevrieres,  Charmes and Perrieres, for me the Charmes flight was a clear highlight – the naturally sun-imbued, fleshy yellow fruit of the vineyard coupled well with great freshness and tension; the site and clay rich limestone soils seemed to deal very well with the 2018 conditions. The most successful wines were the Charmes of Henri Germain and Ballot Millot, but there were consistently good scores from the rest, the best of which were Ch de Meursault, Fabien Coche and Olivier Leflaive.  Genevrieres was more inconsistent than Charmes and did not hit the same heights, though the two best examples were a clear step above – these were from Antoine Jobard and Domaine des Comtes Lafon. Though pipped by Charmes this year as the best Meursault flight ( a turnaround from previous vintages), the flight of 9 different Perrieres was a very enjoyable one, with Ballot Millot taking my stop spot once again, and Ch de Meursault a close second – the tasting marked this up and coming producers’ best all round Burgfest performance yet.

Heading south and in land St Aubin provided some very good wines, no longer a dark horse, the group have come to expect some excellent things from this once underrated valley.  The scores were not quite as consistently high as they have been in the past, however, perhaps having earned the right, in recent years, to higher expectations ? The great En Remilly vineyard provided the top two wines, Olivier Leflaive the best, with that of de Montille a close second. Both showing attractive yellow fruit, and a coiled core of zesty tension.  Of the remainder Montceau from Marc Colin was head and shoulders above the rest.

The next village, Chassagne, was, for me the stand out village of 2018, seek them out!  Eclipsing, for once, some very lofty (and more expensive) neighbours in Puligny.  Results at Burgfest can often be surprising and confounding, but if there seems to have been one constant over the last few years, it is the performance of Paul Pillot, for me one of the very top Domaines in Burgundy.  For Pillot the only question is which of his wines will come out on top, the only variable in this incredibly consistent domaine.  This year it was the Grandes Ruchottes that shone above all other Chassagnes, closely followed by his Grand Montagne, and  then by Abbaye de Morgeot from Olivier Leflaive, Chaumee Clos St Abdon from Philippe Colin, and Vergers Bernard Moreau – one of three high performing Vergers (the others being Philippe Colin and Olivier Leflaive) an interesting trend and one for the canny buyer to note; it is not a vineyard that usually forms part of the upper echelons of the Chassagne hierarchy, and is priced accordingly.

The top wines of Puligny were among the very best of the tasting, but overall the commune was a shade below expectations.  The deeper, clay soils of Chassagne seemingly won the day.  There is no doubt that Domaine Leflaive is at full throttle, their Pucelles was one of the best wines in the whole of Burgfest, silk and complexity matched by a searing verve and drive – both of these latter characteristics being a feature of their other wines too. Leflaive’s Combettes was equally good, a wine of scale, stature and tension. The next best was the Folatieres (a little disappointing as a flight, however) from Sebastien Magnien, whilst Olivier Leflaive performed well too, with their Folatieres and Pucelles.

13 Corton Charlemagnes produced a better performance than usual, showing great consistency if not ever hitting the heights of the week’s top wines.   Those of Olivier Leflaive and Bonneau du Martray shared top spot, for showing an energy and zest to counter Corton’s more natural inclination towards unctuous stone fruit.  The chasing pack was lead by an oakier but equally vibrant yet full bodied wine from Tollot Beaut.

A quartet of mixed Criots and Bienvenues, trumped a rather mixed flight of Batard. Jacques Carillon’s Bienvenue a clear winner, here – wine that carries its Grand Cru stature and complexity with effortless grace.

Chevalier Montrachet represented a level up in intensity, if not consistency. The best wines showing a tension and almost textural crunch – the stand out amongst the eight wine flight once more was that of Domaine Leflaive, beaten only by a Montrachet as my favourite wine of the tasting.  2018 white burgfest has been Domaine Leflaive’s best for quite some time, and suggest that Pierre Vincent has ushered in a great new era at this domaine.

The week was capped off with four Montrachets, presenting richer, more dense propositions than the Chevaliers. Olivier Lelfaive’s was the winner and my top wine of the entire week, a wine that wears its multiple layers and concentration so well.  Comte Lafon’s, in a more open-knit fragrant style came second

Overall the tasting reconfirmed barrels tastings, there are some excellent white wines in 2018 that are well worth seeking out. Whilst in a fuller style than cooler years there is plenty of citrus-styled fruit tension and freshness to enjoy. The highs may not be as consistently great as 2017, but this a very good white vintage worth having

See below for the runners and riders (note the wines are listed in flights in the order in which they were tasted.


Côte de Lechet

Daniel Dampt & Fils


Gilbert Picq & Fils, Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin


Gilbert Picq & Fils

Les Vaucoupins

Domaine Long Depaquit