Like many on this forum, I am tremendously enjoying Bill's book that reached me last week.
I think one chapter is particularly interesting and important and also calls for discussion: chapter 7, on WHEN to drink Burgundy. So I thought it merits a separate post on the forum.
Limiting my comments to reds, I have to start by praising, and agreeing with, many fundamental points that Bill makes very clearly: that understanding the drinking window is crucial for burgundy appreciation; that there is a complex curve with an early window, quiet period, maturity plateau, and fading away; that tastes matter; that vintages matter; that the hierarchy matters, etc.
But there are a couple of points I want to challenge or ask Bill to clarify.
First, I was surprised to read that the basic aging curve is similar for all red Burgundy, because Pinot Noir is Pinot Noir. Although I have limited experience with PN from other regions, that has not been my impression with, e.g. New Zealand PN. Also, it sort of contradicts the 'heirarchy matters' poin.
A somewhat bigger surprise for me was Bill's opinion that an average premier cru, of an average vintage, does not reach it's peak until 20 years. With all respect, I beg to disagree. While I am unlikely to open my 99 Clos St Jacques for at least another 5-7 years, I find, for example, that most 1er crus of 2001 (a normal vintage in Bill's book) are ready to drink now and unlikely to improve much. I believe that 10-12 years wait for a 1er cru is a more reasonable general guess -- that has to be adjusted up or down in accordance with the vintage and the vineyard. Maybe 20 years wait is the right generalization for Grand Crus -- but I don't have enough experience to form an opinion.