From humble villages to great names, Burgundy 2015 is delicious, and suits everybody’s pocket. William Kelley finds wines for celebrations and weekday suppers
2015 is an historic vintage for Burgundy, and as the wines begin to hit retail shelves they are worth special effort to track down and purchase. A warm, sunny growing season, interrupted only by much-needed showers in June and August, ripened a below-average crop to perfection. While many of the resulting wines will be both scarce and expensive they emphatically deserve your attention.
The rich, concentrated reds combine structure for the long haul with ample fruit which will lend them impact on release; and the distinctive signatures of site that make Burgundy’s wines so compelling are clearly and authoritatively articulated. The great 2005 vintage presents the most obvious analogy to the 2015s’ style and quality, though producers with longer memories look back to 1990, 1959 and even 1929 for comparisons.
The whites present a more complex picture: some are flabby and open-knit, showing the year’s warmth and evoking sunning vintages such as 2009 or 2006; others are concentrated, tensile and precise, defying stereotypes—reminiscent, say old hands, of the excellent 1985s. 2015 white Burgundies, then, should be purchased with more discrimination than their red counterparts; but it would be a mistake to neglect them entirely.
Below-average yields and unprecedented international demand mean that 2015 Burgundies will be expensive, but that cloud has a silver lining: the vintage’s excellence is evident even in the most humble of appellations, and the most unfavoured of sites were elevated to qualitative heights they would normally struggle to attain. So while the grandest domaines and vineyards will be hard to find and still harder to afford, great wines can nonetheless be found for a modest tariff. In short, there has never been a better time to explore Burgundy’s byways.
For an aperitif:
2015 Domaine Rapet Père & Fils Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes (white)
The beautifully elegant (though hard-to-pronounce) white wines of Pernand-Vergelesses make for the perfect aperitif, and this is an excellent example that has handled the warmth of the vintage well. Notes of white stone fruit, confit citrus, spring flowers and pastry cream, introduce a refreshingly crisp wine with a nice core of concentration and minerality. The Rapet family have been making wine since at least 1765 so they know what they are doing.$30 / Fine & Rare, Four Walls (UK); Chris Youngs (USA).
2015 Olivier Merlin Mâcon-La Roche Vineuse “Les Cras” (white)
Olivier Merlin is one of the wizards of the Mâconnais—a region often regarded as the rustic country cousin to the Côte de Beaune’s grand whites—and his wines offer a terrific quality-to-price rapport. While some 2015s from this region are blowsy and sun-kissed, Merlin’s Les Cras is delightful, bursting with notes of apricot, peach, pear and subtle pastry cream, followed on the palate by a powerful, glossy wine with lovely concentration, freshness and minerality on the elegant and refined finish. $25-30 / Berry Bros & Rudd (UK), widely available USA.
For your Thursday evening supper:
2015 Maison Verget Chablis “Cuvée de la Butte” (white)
Jean-Marie Guffens, the iconoclast Belgian genius, has been stirring up Burgundy for decades—not least by producing colossally good value wines from purchased grapes under his Verget label like this Chablis. Pretty aromas of ripe citrus, white flowers and crushed chalk precede a textural, intense wine with great length and depth. It’s hard to believe this isn’t a lot more expensive. $15 / Ideal Wine & Spirits (USA); Farr Vintners (UK).
2015 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey La Framboisière (red)
In French, “framboise” means strawberry; and, sure enough, this pretty, delicate red reveals beautiful notes of strawberry and fruits of the forest: perhaps it’s just the power of suggestion. Supple, juicy and intense, with an extra dimension of concentration and ripe tannins in this special vintage. Amazing value. $20-30 / widely available.
2015 Domaine Joblot Givry 1er Cru Clos de la Servoisine (red)
The Domaine Joblot, Givry’s leading producer, has been pushing the parameters of the possible in this appellation for decades, and the 2015 vintage provided their talents with a brilliant canvas. Of their premier cru reds, the Clos de la Servoisine is the most fragrant, with a nose of wild berries, licorice, burning embers and even violet, and a deep, full-bodied palate impression underpinned by a chassis of ripe, refined tannins and juicy acids. A really smart purchase. $28-39 / Domaine Select, MacArthur Beverages (USA); £23 / GP Brands (UK).
2015 Camille Giroud Maranges 1er Cru Le Croix Moines (red)
Maranges is another overlooked appellation which excelled in 2015, and this is a lovely old vine cuvée, bursting with beautifully pure aromas of red cherry and chalky soil tones. On the palate the wine reveals good balance, ripe tannins, juicy fruit and a long, penetrating and mineral-inflected finish. $25-40 / Grand Cru Selections, Veritas Imports (USA); Berry Bros & Rudd (UK).
For a dinner party:
2015 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre (white)
Louis Michel produces steely, mineral Chablis; a style which elegantly tempers some of the ripe extravagance of the 2015 vintage. Many would consider Montée de Tonnerre a de facto grand cru and Michel’s rendition is reliably excellent: notes of ripe citrus, white flowers and wet stones precede a full-bodied, textural wine underpinned by great cut and tension. Perfect with simply-prepared seafood. $35 / K&L, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill (USA); £27 / O. W. Loeb (UK).
2015 Domaine Thierry Glantenay Volnay Vielles Vignes (red)
Thierry Glantenay is one of Burgundy’s rising stars and his wines are still priced much more keenly than some of his famous neighbours’ offerings. A brilliant village wine, which includes some 1er Cru from parcels too small to be bottled on their own, his old vine Volnay bursts with wild berries, violet and woodsmoke, introducing a deliciously silky wine, its fine tannins enrobed in supple, juicy fruit. $40-50 / Weygandt Wines (USA); Raeburn Fine Wines (UK).
For your cellar:
2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis “Triologie” (red)
The Domaine Lignier is one of the Côte de Nuits’ benchmark producers, and even though this is only a village wine it is made to age effortlessly for decades. The fruit of old vines and low yields, this Morey leads with notes of plums, black cherry and spice; the prelude to a full-bodied, richly structured wine with great depth and persistence and an underpinning of fresh acids. You really sense the creamy concentration from the old vines here. Let this slumber for a decade plus. $45-70 / Neal Rosenthal (USA); Robert Rolls (UK).
2015 Domaine Michel Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru 1er Cru Clos du Roi (red)
The affable Michel Juillot quietly turns out lovely examples of red Mercurey, and he hit a home run in 2015. His Clos du Roi bottling hails from a parcel planted in 1932, the domaine’s smallest holding, and he typically bottles this exceptional wine exclusively in magnum. A refined, complex bouquet of wild berries, rich soil and incipient notes of roast squab precedes a supple, deep, full-bodied wine with a lovely chassis of fine tannin which will come into its own after a decade in the cellar—when it will taste like something considerably more expensive! $90 (magnum) / Weygandt Wines (USA); Laytons, Bancroft (UK).
For your anniversary:
2015 Domaine Tollot-Beaut Corton Bressandes Grand Cru (red)
Great renditions of Corton are still very competitively priced compared to the Grand Crus of the Côte de Nuits: the only problem is finding one. There is no doubt about the quality of Tollot-Beaut’s 2015 Corton Bressandes however: a brooding nose of kaleidoscopic complexity featuring notes of red and black cherry, cassis, iron-like soil tones, woodsmoke and cocoa introduces a deep, full-bodied and beautifully mineral wine, structured by fine tannins and juicy acids. Serious stuff which will be better at age twenty than at age ten. $80 / O. W. Loeb, Justerini & Brooks (UK), widely available in USA.