25 years of Burgundy en primeur

25 years of Burgundy en primeur

Tuesday 5th January 2016
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

In anticipation and celebration of our 25th Burgundy en primeur vintage, we decided to open some bottles. What better way? Albeit quite a few more than usual, though. This was no ordinary night. 

The planning was both thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking as we reflected on the charm, complexity and challenges of this region that has captivated all at Justerinis for the past quarter century. We revisited old buying books and releases over the decades, recounted unforgettable dinners at some of our most treasured Burgundian tables, and traced the growth of our portfolio to over 50 producers. 

We trawled our library stocks and called in one or two favours from domaines to gather, in our opinion, the most significant and memorable bottles to mark the occasion.  The result was a tasting of 23 wines, five white and 18 red, followed by a dinner with 15 accompanying wines, no less. That must be a record for our St James’s Street dining room! The dinner and tasting combined featured over 40 producers and 17 vintages. Not quite our entire portfolio, but a pretty good stab. Here is a summary of my thoughts.



2005 - Still very young, particularly powerful and brooding. Impressive but needs several years to open up. Follin’s Romanee Vivant was stunning, if years away from reaching its peak. Long and elegant, this is one of the more graceful 2005s, yet retaining the vintage’s ripeness and strength.   

2006 - An excellent vintage for Burgundy lovers, but still brooding and too young.  An exception was this most elegant of the wines, the pale but deceptively long and seductive Malconsorts Christianne from de Montille.

2007 - Mostly no more than a pleasant, early drinking vintage that offers enjoyment now.  There are one or two exceptions, though, one of those being Chantal Remy, who waited to pick and got full ripeness - some of the very best wines in the vintage.  Latricieres is particularly good now. 

2008 - A classic vintage that is really starting to find its feet. Racy and taut, with mouth-watering red fruits.  These are wonderful wines. Not the deepest of vintages but plenty of energy.  Vaucrains from Gouges was surprisingly open and showy.  Grande Rue Lamarche is still so young but beautiful - many people’s favourite wine.  

2009 - Probably drinking rather well at villages, but certainly too young for 1er Crus. Chambolle Cras from Roumier, Vosne Les Rouges from Cecile Tremblay and Vosne Beaux Monts from Etienne Grivot, all showed tremendous potential and wonderful textures, but it will be a few more years before their expression and definition will fall into place.

2010 - Young and very intense, as expected, but all of the elements that were there from barrel and throughout ageing in bottle are all still present in perfect harmony. One of the great red Burgundy vintages. Volnay Taillepieds d’Angerville was my wine of the entire tasting - stunning.

2011 - Not the most hallowed vintage at the outset, but really starting to show well and offer some lovely, earlier drinking Burgundy. This continues to become more and more expressive in bottle.  The Clos des 60 Ouvrees from Pousse d’Or was the star.

2012 - An excellent vintage that is starting to shut down. A Morey 1er Cru each, from Hubert Lignier and Perrot-Minot, revealed two very different house styles: the dazzling purity of Lignier compared with the sleek moreishness of the Perrot-Minot.

2013 - A pair of wines from our newest member of the family, Chateau de Marsannay.  Despite its youth, the Vosne En Orveaux 1er Cru made many friends, showing as much quality in bottle as it promised from barrel.  A vintage that is yet to shut down; showing well now, but with great ageing potential.


White Burgundies: 2013 through to 2008.  The 2013 Chassagne Grands Ruchottes from Paul Pillot was exquisite and racy, but needs time to fall into place. The 2012 debut vintage of the new Chateau de Meursault regime yielded a Puligny Champs Canet of open, exotic, buttery fruit and good acidity. ‘A Point’ now.  The 2011 Batard from Bachelet Monnot was also drinking very well, floral, mineral great richness but open and engaging with it.  Bar the 2013, the rest of the wines were drinking very well, apart from the most embryonic wine in the lineup: the electric and full of potential Boisson Vadot Meursault Chevaliers 2010. Corton Charlemagne Rollin 2008 was the last but most enjoyable wine of the flight, offering butter, hazelnut, mineral, honey and fruit zest in equal measure.   



La Romanee, Comte Liger-Belair 2003

Chambolle Fuees Barthod 2002

Nuits Vaucrains Chevillon 2000

d’Auvenay Mazis Chambertin 1999

The 2000 Vaucrains was the closest to peak, drinking beautifully.  The ripe, aromatic, alluring fruit of this so called ‘light’ vintage just kept on giving. The most backward was the d’Auvenay; surly intense and brooding. As the meal went on, it gradually opened up and revealed most of its complexity - mighty and impressive, but a decade off its best at least. Chambolle Fuee was the most racy and mineral, a vineyard with a lot of personality. Starting to drink well, but some years more will do no harm. La Romanee 2003 - what to say about this? Youthful, sleek, complex and precise - no sign of the heat of the vintage.  Far too young surely, but yet so easy to enjoy. One of the two wines of the night. 

Fish course

Puligny Champs Canet Sauzet (magnum) 2009

Chablis Forest Vincent Dauvissat 2008

Meursault Rougeots Coche Dury 2007      

The Sauzet was suave and silky with more freshness from this vintage than expected, drinking beautifully. The Dauvissat was distinctively mineral, showing signs that the razor sharp intensity of 2008 has softened.  The Coche 2007 was sizzling with vibrant, taut fruit - the youngest of the three. Lip-smackingly good.    

Main course

Chambolle Charmes, Leroy 1998

Chambolle Fuees Barthod 1996

Echezeaux Rouget 1995

Chambertin Rousseau 1993

Fuees showed similarly tense, mineral qualities as the 2002, drinking well now.  Chambertin Rousseau was rather tight and stern to begin with but began to open up well, showing savoury herbal and mineral notes as much as it did racy red fruit.  Rouget’s Echezeaux, after a slow start, became the top candidate for wine of the flight by the end.  The nose started off being rather wild, but did settle down. Initially it was compact and all about the silky texture, gradually, beautiful silky darker-style Pinot fruit started to come to the fore.  The early candidate for wine of the flight was Leroy’s Charmes; the most obviously showy and impressive from the word go. An attack on the senses, packed full of primary fruit and secondary autumnal characteristics, very enjoyable indeed.  Towards the end of dinner, though, you were left wanting a little more complexity.


Savigny Les Beaune Dominode Bruno Clair 1990

Corton Bressandes Tollot Beaut 1990

Chambertin Clos de Beze Bruno Clair 1990

Vosne Cros Parantoux Meo Camuzet 1990

What a treat. 1990 is clearly a wonderful Burgundy vintage, holding up very well indeed.  Such fruit and such balance, there is a generosity and warmth to them but not at the expensive of freshness.  The Dominode was one of the evening’s big surprises; wonderful small wild strawberry flavours, so joyful and fruity. The Corton Bressandes was sumptuous; a perfect balance of ripe cherry fruit alongside autumnal smoke and savoury qualities, an example of how magical mature Burgundy can be. Clos de Beze 1990, the other wine of the night, fresh small red berry fruits, alluring and demure, all of the graceful power a great Grand Cru should give you, wonderful. The Cros Parantoux, in keeping with the vineyard’s typical characteristics, was the most taut and least expressive of the line-up, clearly too young still but aeration saw some of the minerals and red fruits come pouring forth. 

On to the 2014s, releasing in what has become a well-established ‘Burgundy Week’ each January for top merchants in London. That these wines are a sound investment is widely known, but given the incredible efforts from vine to bottle to make them, I am heartened to know that the overwhelming intention of a Justerini & Brooks customer is to drink and enjoy.

We look forward to welcoming many of you to our upcoming Burgundy tasting next week. 

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