2012s tasted in Beaune last week…
Are we seeing a peaking of Burgundy consumer interest – despite the mini industry that has become the London En Primeur tasting ‘circuit’…(?)
I heard that there were to be 34 tastings in London this month – a new record – and certainly last week when I was in Burgundy, producers were busy, preparing their samples. Yet despite more and more producers donning a smart jacket or getting their hair done for a few days in the UK’s capital, it seems to me that the general level of ‘chatter’ surrounding this vintage is lower than at any time in the last 10 years.
Next year’s 2013s will be no better in terms of supply and price, the latter probably higher again, and will certainly, on average, be a lower quality vintage than 2012 – except maybe the whites, but that’s something to discuss in 8-12 months time. Pricing over the last couple of years seems to have had a dramatic effect on the market – Grand Cru tasting notes are fewer and farther to be seen, and I look at my own cellar and the wines 1993-2005 seem to be almost 50% Grand Cru – 06-12 could be as low as 10% but I’m pretty sure that I don’t spend less!
The UK, depending on which measure you use, has, for some time been the number 1, or number 2, export market for Burgundy wine – yet it seems that this ‘metric’ maybe becoming more and more limited in its value. Smaller merchants, and those who claim to be ‘in the know’ suggest that covetable wines delivered to the larger UK merchants are more often than not, being shipped to their Hong-Kong offices, so leaving fewer bottles for actual UK customers. Certainly allocations, from a select list of producers, were way down long-before their vineyard yields started to dwindle. Another answer could simply be that those customers who spent the most cash at their merchants, were rewarded with higher allocations – that’s what the (big) merchants will tell you – whatever the truth, the diffusion of the best wines into the UK market is significantly less egalitarian than 10 years ago.
Stratospheric pricing of the top Bordeaux cuvées has hardly put a dent in the number of words written about that region, yet those words are now more likely to appear in magazines like Paris-Match or Vogue than traditional publications – yet, fewer and fewer of the wines actually seem to be opened. Burgundy appears to be heading in the same direction. One positive that comes from this situation is that merchants (and critics!) are having to work much harder to find interesting new names with bottles to sell; they must showcase the Regional and Communal wines where once they would, lazily, talk only about ‘the location of the vines within the Clos de Vougeot‘. In most respects, this is a good thing for the consumer, except, and unfortunately, that the first Burgundy wine that leaves a Syrah- or Cabernet-drinker forever smitten, is very unlikely to be a Bourgogne Pinot Noir.
So how will Burgundy grow their next generation of connoisseurs?
[Edit:] Perhaps it’s telling that Victoria Moore’s description of the vintage is now clased as ‘Luxury‘…