Age-worthy Burg for Idiots


I am relatively new to (good) Burgundy, most of my Pinot experience is with New World wines (mostly Oregonian) and my experience with Burgundy has been mostly Gevrey-Chambertin and a few Pommards, sometimes 1er but rarely. I don’t have a great sense of what one should expect from different villages and vineyards, when I try to read Clive Coates the words all run together, and I can’t afford $100 bottles to explore what I like, but I can do $30-50.

If you were starting a cellar of " serious" Burgundy at that price range, at auction or new purchase, what would you be looking for, and how would you council a newbie like me? Any and all help appreciated!

How many bottles are you looking to buy at 30-50 dollars?
Cut that amount in 3rd and then buy nicer bottles for cellaring. You’ll find more consistently age worthy wines to cellar at a higher price point.

but trying wines in the 30-50 dollar price range to get a sense of regions is a whole different question.

Faiveley Mercurey Clos du Roy and Clos des Myglands would be a good bet. Get 2010s if you can.

Savigny Les Beaune is a good place to look in this price range. Bize is mostly over $50 now but not always. Pavelot, Guillemot and others are excellent, and they do age well. I recently had a 1989 Guillemot SLB that was in great shape.

I totally disagree with Charlie. There is a ton of good burgundy at $30-50 that is cellar worthy, though it won’t satisfy the “went deep on Rousseau baby!” crowd. The first question is what kind of burg you like, since the styles vary wildly. The second question is if you like your burgs young and fruity or at maturity.

At your price point, you’ll mainly be buying in the cote de beaune. The first thing I suggest is buying a couple of mid level CdB 1999s - nothing fancy, just competent producers from low-level 1ers. The 1999s at that level are starting to come around and should give you an idea if you like mature burgs, and should be available in that price range. Alternatively, you may find some decent 2000s that can do the same from the Cote de Nuits; maybe a decent marsannay from Roty or Clair, or a mid level village wine from elsewhere in the CdN.

You may find that mature burg is not for you. In that case, you know to focus your buying on current releases and early drinkers. If the older stuff scratches the itch, then you have a more complex problem on your hands.

Then, you should try to buy some younger burgs in varying styles. Even at the Bourgogne level, which will be well within your price point, you’ll see wide variations in style from, eg, Lafarge to Angerville to Chandon de Briailles to Comte Armand, just to name some good CdB producers from all over the stylistic spectrum. There’s a ton of good negociant wine in that price range, too - village and lesser 1ers from Drouhin, Faiveley, Jadot, Bouchard, each of which have their own house style.

At some point, you’ll start to get a sense of what you like. Then - and only then - does it make sense to start cutting back on quantity for quality, because you’ll have a palate that can appreciate the diff between a wine from an extraordinary spot of earth and a bourgogne.

One more point: don’t be a slave to producer. There is nothing more important in burgundy than avoiding the bad producers, but the margins between the competent producers are very fine indeed and personal preference prevails over objective quality, whatever that means. It’s far more important to follow your palate than to chase labels. And the QPR in burgundy is such that you don’t have much of a choice but to identify producers that are delicious to you but aren’t faddish.

at that price point, instead use the money for tastings at wine stores or among friends with the same goal–learning about Burgundy–not buying cheap bottles.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time and thought to post this. I’m not sure I want to start Burgundy yet, but I will keep this post for when I am in a couple years.

To add to what Mr.Z has typed…
There are many different avenues to buy Burgundy, not unlike yourself i was interested in Burgundy and went head first about 13 years ago. I went the direction of auctions to purchase mine and scored some really great deals.
Also, and I know this goes against most wisdom for some on this board, but hunt Premier Cru for great deals, I buy only ‘in stock’ wines but have stretched it a bit and have received some amazing deals.

As to discovering the wines, I would start with discovering Bourgogne Rouge in good years, often times they are closed out at your local wine shop or distributor because they don’t carry status and often times are around or under $20.
The hard part is buying current vintages, often times they are not very pretty on release (many 11’s fit into this category) and they don’t really give you a good idea what producer/appellation show because of their awkward state. But since you are a new buyer this is often what you have to chose from so in that case I would find a good retailer you trust and ask them to sell you Burg’s that you are able to drink now, hopefully they will steer you clear of producers like Gouges (at least in the beginning).

If you find that you like Oregon Pinot (and this is a blanket statement) you are already half way there to liking Burgundy and it shouldn’t be that far of a leap.

I can’t find much to argue with here, though I do think it is worth picking up a few “extravagant” wines to cellar if it fits within your budget.

I’m with David, I think - Even though personally I’m at the point where I’d rather have fewer bottles on a higher price point, I think there are lots of bottles you can find to explore burgundy villages/terroir at very reasonable prices (ignore the snobs!):

I’ll give some choices as best I can- these are all quality producers and should be good and representative examples (though note that these are producers to my taste and aren’t going to be on the riper/modern style which isn’t my personal preference):

Nuits St. Georges - '09 Drouhin NSG villages (several stores under $50), 2010 Chevillon NSG villages $45 from JJ Buckley

Chambolle - NY wine warehouse - '09 hudelot Noellat Chambolle villages - I’ve had this numerous times and I think it does a good job of classic Chambolle; Grapes the Wine Co - either '10 or '11 Hudelot baillet Chambolle for $47 - the proprietor is Frederick Mugnier’s vineyard manager

Morey - 2007 pascal Marchand Morey St. Denis Clos des Ormes 1er $41.35 wine

Vosne - 1999 Champy VR Beaux Monts @ HDH for $45, 2005 Jadot Vosne village $50 from Cornwall wines,

Volnay - 2005 Jean Marc Bouley Volnay Clos des Chenes 1er $50 from Vinfolio

Beaune - '05 Jadot beaune Greves 1er from Vinfolio $48

My first question would be: Do you like aged wines?

I don’t know your experience with aged wine, but not everyone likes tertiary flavors; they prefer primary. So My recommendation would be: before you go off buying a bunch of burgundy to hold for 5-20 years, get a couple of moderately priced premier cru burgs solidly in their drinking window and make sure you like where they will “generally” end up. I would check local wine shops, Benchmark, Winebid, etc. and get like 4.

geez, someone advocates spending more on wine to collect makes them a snob.

To me he’s asking two very different things within his post.
a) He doesn’t have a sense of what he should expect and he wants to explore
b) He was to start a cellar of “serious” burgundy and what he should be looking for.

Giving advice on exploring and getting a sense of what he would like is what you and david are commenting on and I don’t have any strong recommendations.

But I strongly disagree with the idea that you should only cellar burgundy at $30-50, that’s what my reply was about and what I thought the original poster was talking about. There is a whole world out amazing burgundy out there. I’m not advocating to not buy any wines at $30-50, but to focus on only $30-50 to collect (which I assume means many bottles) would be an error. So trim the focus. If you were going to buy 50 $30-50 bottles, maybe buy 25 instead and buy another 10-15 bottles of $60-100 bottles.

Didn’t mean it as an attack on you or anyone, was said basically in jest - apologies.

I agree that if you are holding for the long term you might do what you are suggesting - I just think the exploration should come first, including trying some of those modern style producers I don’t love. Just trying to give some advice on differentiating the terroir.

I agree, that’s why I was saying he’s actually asking two distinct questions but just isn’t phrasing it that way.

So far some really good suggestions. But why are you interested in Burgundy? You are merely trying to expand your Pinot horizon, or are you wanting to try out the cheap end to see if you like it and then move up? Because if you’re merely trying to expand your pinot horizon you can do that in Burgundy, but it really isn’t that cheap, and you can probably spend the same money elsewhere for equal pleasure. If this venture in your ‘entre’ into Burgundy and then, depending on whether you find it a good fit, you expand up that makes sense, and given the current pricing, you will likely end up spending a lot more on burgundy than you initially thought possible – often without batting an eye.

Really some good suggestions so far, with an eye overall at getting a sense of Burgundy, and wines that will probably drink well, but also do well with some age. Some others I’d include would be:

Charles Adoin: Makes very good Marsanney; this comes from a high altitude, cool section of Burgundy, so better in riper vintages, but can be a good deal in you price range.
Tortochot in Gevrey-Chambertin: Really good value Burgundy, and maybe a little austere, but a good introduction into traditionally styled burgundy.
Frederic Esmonin: Also from Gevrey-Chambertin: Well priced wines, and for the price, very good value really for pinot produced anywhere in 2009 and 2010 vintages where the premier crus can be had for around $50.
Nicolas Rossingol: In Volmay makes a number of wines, but the cuvee l’heritier bourgonge, and Volnay clos de Angles are within you price range and good quality, though a different style from those above.
I’d also say don’t discount Gouges entirely. The premier crus may not be that friendly early on, but the basic bourgonge in 2009 and 2010 was very good, and not what one would typically expect from Gouges, and clearly built for early consumption.

Sign up for Envoyer’s website, Greg finds some great wines in all price points- a lot of them with age. Careful though, it’s a slippery slope.
I have managed to keep the vast majority of my Burg buys south of $50, but I am not trying to amass a trophy cellar. Just like to enjoy good wine to drink in the not too distant future. I have found many burgs, both white and red in this price range that are light years better than most of what comes out of California/Oregon. Most, not all.

If Burgundy can’t make a good wine for $50, they should quit making wine. As someone suggested above Bourgogne Rouge is a good place to start. Should be able to find some good ones in the $20-25 range. Some producers that I have found to be mostly reliable. None will be expensive, relatively.
Domaine Forey
Domaine Rossignol Trapet - these wines have become hard to find over the last year or two
Jacques Girardin

A good (red) Burgundy from a good producer and from a good to very good to great vintage
can/should be cellared at least for 10 years, often 12, 15, 20+ years.

That is true for almost anything above general (Bourgogne) and regional (Hautes Cotes … Cotes-de-Beaune-Villages) level … so for all (better) Village wines.

Before buying you should check which style (Village, producer) you like. There is a huge difference between a structured, often a bit rustic Gevrey-Chambertin or Pommard - and a Chambolle-Musigny or Volnay for instance.
The same applies for producers style … traditional, modern, semi-traditional, destemmed, whole-cluster, more or less oak … and also of course the quality level of wine-making (unfortunately also a pricing criteria).

Buying mature wines at auction brings the question of proveniance into play.
If bottles have been carefully shipped and well stored there is rarely any problem.
On the other hand: shipped at 25+° C though the Panama canal for a week - and no matter what it is, it´s ruined. This is often hard to tell from an auction catalog.

Since I have no idea what is available for you I don´t give any specific recs, but vintages to buy:
2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 …
2012 will come out soon, and the judgement about 2011 is currently going on …

BTW: I have seen and met so many idiots, I wouldn´t depend it on whether one has an idea of Burgundy or not [wow.gif]

Chandon de Briailles village, 1ers and GCs for the occasional splurge

Thanks already for the great responses - they are much appreciated.

I guess I am interested in both exploring different regions of Burgundy to taste the regional character as well as beginning a cellar. I know I like the flavors in mature Bordeaux, Rhone and Oregonian pinot, as well as Rioja so I figured I would similarly appreciate that of mature Burgundy. When I lived in New York, my next store neighbor was the Burgundy Wine Co and I was able to go to a number of tastings where I had some powerful and wonderful wines, but that was also before I knew anything at all about wine and so have zero memory of what was what.

I think, basically, that I’m primed to like good and mature Burgs, but I want to build my knowledge without spending a ton, and get a better sense of what it makes sense for me to actually splurge on, given the absurd number of choices. I buy much of my wine at auction right now, so I can try some 90’s bottles and see what mature Burgundy tastes like. It’s just so hard to know where to start in terms of quality, finding producers and wines that would be representative. I’ve had many bottles of “Bourgogne Rouge” that was standard light, red fruit, without much structure. I know I like heavier body and more powerful wines in general, so that’s where I’m starting.

As far as my long-term intentions - I’m starting to build a cellar, buying some mid-level Bordeaux and California futures, some Oregonian and Washington syrahs, some Felsinas and mid-level Italians and picking up bottles here and there of things I think I’d like. I’ve got very few pinots on the whole, though a few bottles of 1999 Chehalem Rion Reserve I got at Winebid were really wonderful and are prompting my exploration.


Noah…reading your latest response, I’d agree with Dr. Weinberg on this issue. It seems you are seeking mostly to educate yourself. And, for that…given what you’re seeking to spend, I think you’ll need to pool your budget with others…friends or strangers. You won’t get much bang for your bucks otherwise, given the range you want to spend…and the youth of what you’re likely to be able to buy with those funds.

Then you’ll be in a better position to figure out what you can buy that meets your goals.

good luck