burgundy 2009 en-primeur (round 1 – uk)

Update 13.1.2011(14.1.2011)billn

Last year I listed a few merchant offers that the merchants themselves paid for – not much, just the equivalent of a bottle of premier cru – I haven’t done it this year, simply because the wines are selling (have sold!) so fast. One year later the same amount of cash that bought that bottle of 1er cru, for a certain sector of producers, might only pay for a bottle of villages wine! Times change, but for a certain segment of producers prices have doubled since only the 2005 vintage and a majority of that increase came since the 2008 offer; the £100 premier cru is becoming common-place.

Let’s be open: Bachelet, Cathiard and Fourrier are the ones pulling in the extra £££s this year – and putting daylight between themselves and people like Arnoux, Grivot and Ponsot. But don’t fret about the increase, while you’ve been scratching your head looking at the offers, the wines have already sold out – okay perhaps the merchant will do you a favour and find a few bottles of villages wine for you! It’s a measure of the demand for 2009s that so many people can so easily put to the back of their mind that they are paying double, yet still be ‘thankful’ that the merchant honoured them with the opportunity to ‘be allowed to’ purchase 2 bottles! Given the potential quality of the red 2010s (at least based on the raw materials) it certainly won’t be easier next year. One cheeky chappie told me that some merchants were posing as private buyers to augment their own stocks, but with a view to shifting the wines to Hong Kong…

Three quirks of this EP offer: everyone has identical prices for Bonneau du Martray and Domaine Leflaive – what a coincidence 😉 – this is the first vintage where the £400+ case of Nuits 1er cru is commonplace – and the insidious arrival of the 3-bottle case price. Okay the latter has been a feature of DRC offers for the last few years, but I had to laugh as a former buyer of Fourrier to see the 3-bottle ‘cases’ of Clos St.Jacques and Griotte; I used to like buying many different wines in 3s instead of just a few 12s, but the merchant moved to minimum 6-pack orders so I lost my allocation because it couldn’t increase, now they sell in threes. Clearly the introduction of the three-pack has a very different goal to that of the 6-pack; it is designed with just one aim, to reduce the headline price of the wine, the 6-pack was about flexibility and portability – 12-packs are heavy.

I really don’t need to add anything to what I’ve said in this place about the character or quality of the vintage, but there are clearly some producers in the lists who chose not to make major increases – here there is quite some value if you steer away from the crowds. I suggest buying in the lower tiers of the appellations, but at the top buy some 2008s instead – you’ll save plenty of cash and often have classier wine!

My broad-brush view of the offers is as follows:

Small but perfectly formed: AB Vintners and Private Cellar
Large but still perfectly formed: OW Loeb
Comprehensive with bespoke service (It’ll cost you!): Berry Bros & Rudd

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 2 responses to “burgundy 2009 en-primeur (round 1 – uk)”

  1. Mark Gough14th January 2011 at 11:29 pmPermalinkReply

    You didn’t mention J & B, Bill. My thoughts are unprintable and the same could be said as to how BBR went about their ‘offer’.

    Top marks for me for customer service to Montrachet Wines.

    ABV , yes I agree there whole heartedly.

    • billn15th January 2011 at 5:12 pmPermalinkReply

      What to say about J&B Mark(?): A large offer with prices close to those of BB&R, though with the same service?

      For me it was just a long, fairly unoriginal list, with little of the fun of (say) the Bibendum offer which had hints on where to eat or visit. The list reminded me more of a financial prospectus – a good fit for their target clientelle? – rather than showing the people, their land, and finally their wines.

      I don’t remember seeing the Montrachet offer…

  2. Tom Blach16th January 2011 at 12:51 amPermalinkReply

    Pish. Good wine belongs at the dining table. It is absurd that it should cost so much more than the very best things to eat. No burgundy is better than a well hung and roasted grouse, yet even quite modest ones can cost five times as much. I am out of this market.

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