2017 Burgundies: a hodgepodge

That’s because of cherry picking. I find it humorous that you think that there is any such thing as gouging based on the attitudes here. Why shouldn’t everyone charge what the market will bear all the time? The only reason not to is too take care of customers who buy every year, but now everyone wants to pass on vintages. Why do you think that market prices for Bordeaux are tied to cellar door prices more than Burgundy? That is a misunderstanding of how this market works.

Given how out of whack supply and demand have gotten in Burgundy, any expectations at release for price reductions are somewhere between wishful thinking and self-delusion. I’m hoping for flat price changes, and will buy modestly from producers I like and the few I get to taste. The smart (yet very difficult!) play is to just buy a little and wait a few years for the far more likely long term lower prices (like what we’re seeing now to varying degrees for 11/12/13/14). Here’s to 2017 close outs in 2022!

You seem to think that the way a lot of retailers price Burgundy will make customers want to buy whatever crap the retailers want to sell them so we can be their really good customers. I am getting older and have plenty of wine. What is truly happening is that I am buying less wine. If I cannot buy what I want at reasonable prices, I just will drink what I have.

No, what I’m trying to point out (and have, though it doesn’t seem to be sinking in) is that all of this talk about “gouging” etc. etc. is all a natural outgrowth of a more efficient market. Those of us who can’t/won’t pay market price for wines that we’ve loved and followed for years are SOL. If we want the low prices that more efficient markets bring us, then this is the flip side of that coin. Personally, I liked the way the old market used to work, but I prefer a lot of things like that. It would be nice to be able to go to a hardware store and talk to someone who knows something. All the haberdashers have closed.

I’m not super old, but I also have plenty of wine and follow that strategy, in fact, I always have it’s a good strategy. Most wines are fungible.

I don’t have my notes with me, but for 17s I tasted at the following domaines: Gerard Mugneret, Faiveley, Lamarche, Hudelot-Noellat, Dujac, Clos Lambrays, Duroche, Damoy, Thibault Liger-Belair, Roulot, Lafarge, Y Clerget, Genot-Boulanger, Ponsot, Mugneret-Gibourg and Cecile Tremblay. So take my opinion with a grain of salt given that I think most would agree that most all of these producers are very good.

With 17 the one aspect I would consider is what happened to the appellation in 16. If it got hit hard by hail in 2016 then in 17 the vines naturally tried to overproduce. Somehow the vine seems to know that every year it should produce X and if in 2016 it produced a fraction of X, in 17 the vines tended to overproduce. If the vines overproduced then you have some wines that can appear a bit dilute. Some vigneron seemed to take very different approaches to this, but all agreed that if the vineyard got hit in 16 then the crop was abundant in 17. Faiveley shuffled some of their vineyard managers early to do pruning and training before bud break, others did a green harvest but from Faiveley’s work in the past they have concluded by then it is already too late and you aren’t accomplishing enough. Other vigneron were just so happy to have an abundant harvest after getting hammered in 2016.

I said it here before (and really hoped I would be wrong) was you saw a demand surge with 2015 as it was the next vintage of the century-so prices gapped higher. In 2016 you have a tiny harvest so prices stay firm. Which brings an abundant crop in 2017 and demand is still high and prices do not go down materially.

As someone pointed out up thread-the pricing increased from 2014->today by in large have not come from the producer. Cellar door prices are probably up 10-15%, but retail demand has skyrocketed so prices have doubled or tripled. It is fairly remarkable when you can go to dinner in France and see current release DRC on lists for 400e vs the US retail pricing. When I was there in November we drank Mugnier Musigny 3 times in one week, not because we are huge hitters but because there were 4 of us and the prices were too good to pass up. It is also tough to pass on Rousseau CSJ for 200e off a restaurant list.

It is not a vintage to skip, but also not a vintage to chase. I think the whites are exceptionally good, and many reds are also great.



Bold emphasis added by me.

Now that I have seen both Gilman and Burghound’s reports, I have to say that I am very excited about select 2017s. I very much like what I call the “luncheon” vintages, and lighter wines which are also well-balanced very often have a way of lasting and improving longer than one might think.

That said, I am being very cautious about overextraction because, despite the crop size, the financial impacts of so many small vintages will still be felt- and so I have 2012 Bordeaux on my mind when considering the temptation to try and get too much out of this vintage. 2012 Margaux is a great example- beautiful wine in some respects, but if only they had let it be the light to mid-weight wine it could have been rather than push the limits on oak and extraction. In time it may well turn out okay, but the opportunity for a delicate and lacey luncheon wine for early drinking in the vein of the 1992 was lost.

And to second what you and Paul have said about pricing- that is all happening in the distribution chain, and ironically it is concentrated in the direct import operations that enjoy reputations for having good prices. The “evil” three tier system so many like to complain about has been pretty good to loyal burgundy collectors in 2015 and 2016 when it comes to pricing.

Great example- Meo-Camuzet Echezeaux. Via regular channels I paid about $260 for the 2014- and then a legit bump (meaning ex-cellar and then on up the chain) to $380ish for the 2015. And I paid the same for the 2016 even though prevailing retail and prearrival was over $600 from some of the national “discount” retailers.

Frankly, some of the mid-tier markups on 2015 and 2016 have been so absurd that even if just those evaporate a good number of more in-demand wines will see US price drops of 20-30%. At those levels, I think there will be good appetite for the 2017s if the wines prove as Gilman and Burghound report.

Time will tell. For my part, I am in for 3 favored producers. Not much, but a bit more than planned because I desperately need and want a lighter and more charming vintage in the cellar as I wind down and wait for all these 15s and 16s to mature.

We tried a small but interesting sample of '17’s when we were in Burgundy last year:

So from what we saw the whites generally seemed quite pure and lovely, the reds more elegant and pretty - overall a good drinking vintage for sure IF you get the right wines, noting my bolded comment from above…

And a shame about the pricing - if these were 15-20% below '15/'16 prices, you’d be pretty tempted, but not so much at the same level or higher.

Given currency movements of the last year you would hope US prices manage to go a little lower (since London prices seem flat to slightly lower).

The first part of my report for TWA came out January 4th and Neal’s for Vinous came out yesterday, so between us, John and Allen, there is now no shortage of opinions.

Interesting to see people writing of over-extraction. I think those comments simply reflect the fact that the tannins were not as ripe or as fine quality as tannins in 2016 and 2015. Since I was there tasting grapes and fermenting tanks, I can say that with some certainty. Some producers tried to compensate for the comparative lack of tannin by extended macerations and keeping their tanks heated, which I think was a mistake. But I can only think of a couple of producers that might be said to have ‘over extracted’. It’s far from being a theme of the vintage! Would be interested to hear which producers folks were singling out, as perhaps I didn’t visit them.

Regarding buying decisions, I think Robert’s observation that “When one thinks about vintages 2000 and 2007 and how tasty and well they are drinking now, I think it would be a mistake to skip 2017, except you have a cellar full of ready to go bottles for the next 5-10 years” is truly spot on. A number of recent vintages have been billed as classically balanced, charming and likely to drink well young, but of all of them, 2017 gets my bet as the vintage the most likely to honor that promise. I am certainly buying selectively but quite aggressively for my own cellar.

Sounds like a vintage I want to buy. I tried and failed to get to London en primeur week, so I won’t have the chance to try the wines in advance. But that is no different from any other vintage for me.

My sources for evaluating the vintage are the same every year. I read Doug Barzelay’s old vine notes website. Many of Doug’s notes relate to wines that are in a space in which I can’t play, but Doug’s evaluation of village and 1er cru wines is extremely helpful and, interestingly, not necessarily tied to hierarchy in the same way as other reviewers (I think I can generally predict where meadows is going to score a wine because it is almost the same every year).

I also read Sebastian Thomas’s notes and he has been the source of every under the radar burgudny producer that I’ve discovered over the last however many years.

And then I try to keep in mind that I find the concept of vintage to be least useful and most unpredictable of the vintage-producer-vineyard triumvirate, so I take all broad proclamations with a grain of salt.

But based on what I’ve seen, it sounds like there is general consensus that the good wines will taste good in the near future, and perhaps they won’t live as long as some other vintages. That seems fine to me. As in other vintages, there is an ocean of burgundy at a decent price point for my budget, although burgundy remains an expensive proposition.


I was able to get to a few of the En Primeur tastings this year. My tenth consecutive vintage, yay. Honestly, the best thing about Burgundy week is that it provides an excuse to meet up with friends and drink ridiculous wines. After the fourth Coche, my buddy and I agreed we had a great year last week.

As usual my focus was on the red wines.

The samples were all already wine. By which I mean there was none of the usual EP tasting challenges. Shit was easy to drink. (I didn’t try Gouges which is the most frequent WTF? EP offender.)

This is a fruit driven vintage, and not terribly acidic or tannic. Better palates than mine claim there is a lack of nuance and complexity. Maybe, but I liked what I tasted. They should drink well early and buying these wines will help you save the wines that need more time. I like the 2007 parallel. Ask most burg fans which 21st century vintages are drinking well now, and 2007 will be high on their list, despite it being in the bottom five for overall quality. 2017 should be like that, but is better and more consistent, imho.

When I say they should drink well young, remember I am talking Burgundy. Down to village level, they should be good for ten years. Probably a lot more. And when I say good, I mean they will likely improve notably from the EP samples over time.

I disagree that one has to be any more careful choosing producers than usual. That’s just critics justifying their product. Producers you’ve had before and liked will have done fine. That is the way to buy Burgundy, imho. Consistently buy producers you’ve liked, and try all the new producers you can. Tastings, quality merchants and friends are key.

Pricing seems unchanged from 2016 to me. I’d have loved it go down, but that seems optimistic given how little Burgundy is being chased by too many consumers and speculators. I’m not sure how this impacts US pricing.

Second to last thought… I will buy my usual subjects. Bits of Fourrier, Roumier, Dujac, Jouan, Bertheau, Hudelot Baillet, and a few others. I am not saying these are better than other makers in 2017, merely that they suit my palate.

Last thought… Take everything I say with a grain of salt. I learned years ago I know nothing about Burgundy, and seem to know less every year. This goes double with EP campaigns.

Where did you taste Coche? I am jealous…
But it was very nice to see you.

Thanks Brady.

Three bottles at a Domaine Direct dinner at Noble Rot, and one on Thursday, when I thought you were busy.

Agreed, it was good to see you too, but next time we must pre-select a meal time, and record it with pen, not pencil.

Be well! Come to Portland!

It’s been far too long, Julian!

I did PM you a couple of months ago :wink:

I’m kind of surprised at how little people are upset over the pricing. 15 went up because it was a smaller and high quality vintage. Then 16 was even smaller and still high quality. Now a vintage comes along that is both plentiful and lighter and the price stays the same ? Sorry I’m not happy about this. I’ll take my allocations as usual and that’s it. Looking forward to another good white vintage though.

The only time I’ve ever seen prices go down through official channels was if there was a big currency fluctuation. I’ll also be taking my allocations which if the prices are the same will be a nice respite after increases in 2015 and 2016.

For Mugneret-Gibourg Feusselottes: 2013 to 2014 +8%, 2014 to 2015 + 19%, 2015 to 2016 +24% (admittedly weird, only bottled in mags, 90% crop loss). 2013 to 2016 +57%.
For Fourrier CSJ: 2013 to 2014 +6%, 2014 to 2015 +7%, 2015 to 2016 +19%. 2013 to 2016 +34%.
For Barthod Cras: 2012 to 2013 +0%, 2013 to 2014 +7%, 2014 to 2015 +12%. 2012 to 2015 +19%.

The way of the world, I suppose. Personally, I’m looking forward to having some Burgundy that drinks young as I don’t think any of 2013-2016 will and I don’t have many 2011s and 2007s are all gone.

Agreed. Historically, Dujac and DRC have been the only producers who regularly adjusted their pricing to both vintage quality and market demand. Presumably both still do- but it is just less obvious with the unprecedented long term upward demand curve we have seen. 1999 DRCs were cheaper than the 1997s for example- all because of predictions of market demand. No joke- one of the best vintages of our generation was cheaper at release than one of the weakest. The difference on RC was about $250 a bottle.

Otherwise, prices tend to take their strongest upticks at the next really great vintage, regardless of production, and then either hover or go up from there. The ultimate random walk.

I am with Nathan on the 2017 decision. Even though I am winding down in a big way on new wine purchases, I do not really have much that will be ready to drink in the short to mid term in terms of younger vintages. And so 2017 is not only a natural fit- but I welcome it with open arms. In my younger burgundy drinking days, 1992s, 2000s and even some 1997s (the only vintage I truly dislike overall in all my time buying burgundy), provided not only a much needed supply of wines to enjoy while bigger vintages matured- but they provided something unique in their own right in allowing you to see a good bit of terroir and detail in a wine that is still very primary. That is a special and enjoyable experience that you will never have with the bigger vintages on a reliable basis- it is only for a short time that is not predictable, and even then only with certain wines. Luck, as it were.

I saw price decreases in 08/09 and 14. Anyway doesn’t much matter what we think. I’m 55 and so I’ve been drastically reducing what I buy.