From £10 in bond, 159.95 Danish krone
As I pointed out in the members’ forum earlier in this Burgundy Week, the 2015 burgundies have been selling like hot cakes. UK-based wine lovers seem undeterred by the small matter of the weak pound and huge price rises and merchants have been reporting unprecedented demand.
It tends to be the small-production, grand, most expensive stuff that has sold out fastest, but it is by no means the case that you have to pay a fortune for good 2015 burgundy. In fact, it is the consistency of the vintage across the board that is so heartening. I found myself writing GV for good value and even VGV for very good value many a time during the tasting marathon that is Burgundy Week in London during which Julia, Richard and I have managed to attend a total of 23 merchants’ tastings between us. We have at least three more in prospect, so it will be a while before our 15 tasting articles are done, neatened and dusted. But members already have access to 1,300 tasting notes on 2015 burgundies in articles grouped by producer (sur)name.
I’m always pleased when I find good-quality Bourgogne Rouge because some producers don’t seem to take much trouble over it. Too often I find examples of these generic wines at the bottom of the price range that have no fruit and not much prospect of ageing gracefully, but the general ripeness of Pinot Noir in 2015 seems to have favoured the production of really superior wine from many a less favoured vineyard outside village and grander appellations in the Côte d'Or.
I was most taken by Domaine Hudelot-Baillet 2015 Bourgogne Rouge, which is currently being offered at £10 a bottle in bond by UK German and Burgundy specialist Howard Ripley. Incidentally, I don’t think you would regret getting yourself on their mailing list anyway. Sebastian Thomas and team regularly hold excellent tastings for their customers and have a fine, hand-picked selection of wines from both specialist areas. In fact Howard Ripley is one of regrettably few German wine specialist retailers in the UK.
I liked all three reds from Hudelot-Baillet that I tasted chez Ripley (I stupidly overlooked the white Hautes-Côtes when I went back to taste the whites after the reds – all too easily done, alas). The Chambolle Vieilles Vignes had excellent drive and structure (£180 for six in bond, 16.5) and the Chambolle Premier Cru Les Cras, a wine that is potentially lovely when from the premier cru portion of Les Cras vineyard (at £264 for six in bond, 17), was really exciting and pungent. Like so many 2015 reds at this stage, this last wine is tasting really rich now. Some 2015 reds seemed too sweet for comfort but this had refreshment as well as a velvety texture.
The really attractive feature of the Bourgogne Rouge is its sumptuous nose. This week anyway it combined opulence with excitement and seemed to have far more layers and nuance than you expect of this appellation. Admittedly, the palate is currently a bit less unexpectedly superior but I would expect it to take on a bit more charm, and suggest drinking it from next year. For what it's worth, I gave it 16 out of 20 but the nose was definitely worth 16.5. The wine is from two different parcels totalling a substantial 1.19 ha (3 acres). Half is 40-year-old vines from the outskirts of the village of Chambolle and the other half from Gilly, mainly 40 years old too but some are 70 years old. They were picked on 10 September just before the heavy rains (like virtually all grapes in 2015!). A week of cold maceration followed, which may have helped its intense colour and perfume, and then femtentation lasted a further week with only two days of punching down the cap, twice a day.
The domaine is run by Dominique Leguen, 52-year-old Breton son-in-law of Joel Hudelot-Baillet who sent this picture with its reminder of the quality of Burgundian stonework. Leguen joined the domaine from the air force in 1998 and has been in charge of winemaking since 2002. He has a total of well over three hectares in Chambolle to play with, a small holding in Bonnes Mares and 1.33 ha in the Hautes-Côtes.
Hudelot-Baillet seem particularly well distributed in Scandinavia and wine-searcher.com (providers of this 2006 label image) has many a listing in Hong Kong, the US, France, Germany and New Zealand so wine lovers there can presumably expect to find these 2015s there eventually. It’s only the UK merchants who are so keen to gather early orders for the latest Burgundy vintage – or at least the penultimate one. Other UK stockists of Hudelot-Baillet wines have included Laithwaite's, sister company Averys, Christopher Piper and The Sampler (whose burgundy 2015 tasting is next week).
If you’re looking out for other Bourgogne Rouge bargains, try Domaine Jean Guiton 2015 Bourgogne Rouge from Stannary Street Wine, Flint’s retail arm. As I write they are currently listing it at £115 a dozen in bond. Like the Hudelot-Baillet example, Guillaume Guiton’s combines seduction with freshness. Howard Ripley are offering some of Guiton's smarter wines, of which I thought the Domaine Jean Guiton, Les Peuillets Premier Cru 2015 Savigny-lès-Beaune was particularly good value at £102 for six bottles in bond – much better value than the more expensive Ladoix from bought-in fruit, in fact.