Bag a Bourgogne bargain.
From €21, £21.88, 4,180 Japanese yen, $49, SG$70
In these days of information overload, there's something quite charming about a wine whose internet presence is so minimal. Perhaps that's why this red burgundy, from the off-radar Hautes-Côtes de Nuits appellation, is such a smart buy.
What we can glean is this: Aurélien Verdet was born in 1981, and succeeded his father at their family domaine in 2005, where he owns 4.5 hectares (11 acres) of vines near the village of Arcenant, pictured above. These vineyards have been farmed organically since the 1970s, and Aurélien himself favours minimal intervention in the winery too.
And that's pretty much it.
Thankfully, the wine does the talking. When I tasted Aurélien Verdet, Le Prieuré 2018 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits earlier this month, I was struck by how typically 'Nuits' it seemed to be: plentiful dark fruit combined with subtle, fecund earthiness and vivid floral scent. The structure is lighter and looser than the archetypical Nuits-St-Georges, although I'm certainly not complaining about that.
A supposedly lesser appellation, these 'higher slopes' are increasingly valuable in a changing climate. As village-level wines tend towards increasing ripeness (even more so in the premiers and grands crus), the historically cooler sites increasingly represent a style that is otherwise being evaporated out of existence.
(Incidentally, when I asked Burg-brain Jasper Morris MW if the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits had been damaged by the dreadful frosts last week, he thinks that because the growth cycle is later in this cooler region, and because Pinot Noir ripens later than Chardonnay, he believes that the damage there was minimal – another advantage to a 'lesser' site?)
The 2018 vintage of this wine appears in our tasting notes database twice already, cited as VGV (very good value) by Jancis when it was being sold by Armit Wines for £14.70 last May, and GV by Tim when he tasted it en primeur. I might go further and describe it as VVGV or even BGV, because there are precious few burgundies (or indeed Pinot Noirs from elsewhere) that can be bought for around £20 per bottle that are so classically satisfying. Some assembled quotes from our tasting notes: 'correct, Nuits-like flavours […] admirable purity […] giving plenty of pleasure'.
Jancis also observes that it should be served cool, both to complement the medium body, and to emphasise the lifted aromas. That certainly worked for my bottle, which I enjoyed at around 12 °C (54 °F), and which I scored 16.5+ because I feel confident it will improve in complexity over the next few years, thanks to the intensity of its fruit.
For the impatient British buyer, six vintages of Le Prieuré are available from Verdet's UK importers Lay & Wheeler, variously in both magnum and bottle formats. Elsewhere, the 2018 is readily available in the US, Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands and France, and on request in Hong Kong. According to Wine-Searcher, other vintages are scattered more widely.
Jancis adds Back in 2006 I chose Aurélien's 2006 Rosé as my wine of the week and ended my enthusiastic description with 'I hope merchants elsewhere will take note of what looks like an exciting if not widely known Burgundy producer.'
Explore our comprehensive coverage of 2018 Burgundy.