What is the fair way to compare Burgundy producers - by appellation or by price.
For example, let us say that hot wine producer (say Leroy or Roumier or something) makes a village wine for $80 and a grand cru for $250. Producer 2 (for example Mongeard-Mugneret) makes a grand cru for $80 (about the price actually of their 2008 Echezeaux). Do you compare $80 wine to $80 wine or do you compare grand cru to grand cru. Certainly, grand cru to grand cru puts them on a more level playing field as far as what they have to work with and what they do with it. However, isn’t comparable price the way we really make buying decisions? I am interested in thoughts.
Price is a big factor in the way I decide to buy Charlie. I am intellectually curious that the Superstar Echezeaux at $250 is better than the Unheralded Producer’s Echezeaux at $80, but I am more likely to compare the two wines at the same price to determined which to buy. If SS $80 wine (lower appellation is better), I might well buy it, but if UP makes the better wine I can buy for $80, I would buy it even though I could theoretically buy an even better wine by SS at $250.
Thus, price is relevant to buying and drinking decisions.
Comparing on price alone is silly. So is saying it’s not a factor.
The fact is that I don’t buy on any one criterion. It’s first of all “Do I like wines from this commune? From this producer?” Then, if it’s between two wines that I like about equally, the issue becomes age worthiness and relative quality. Do I want a wine from this vintage that will age 25 years? Hell, at 54 do I want any wine that will take 25 years to hit its stride is an issue so I would also look at how a wine drinks as it ages.
in general, I’d much rather have 1 outstanding bottle than 3 good bottles. However, this isn’t cru based - I’d rather have one killer 1er cru than 3 meh GCs. However, let’s face it, I’m going to want a special occasion to open a $250 bottle… so that factors in too. When it comes down to it, I’m not going to spend 3x the price JUST because of the cru level. But I’m not just going for cheapest decent wine either.
assuming you’re actually asking the question you asked: how do you compare burgundy producers? the only answer is by terroir. i.e., who makes the best _____?
as already shown upthread, “price” is too variable to make a valid comparison. i might pay 3x or 1/3 what someone else might pay for Roumier Bonnes Mares, etc. What I have learned though, over the years, is that many producers price their wines at cellar door in the same range as their neighbors/appelations. it’s the market that eventually distorts it.
On an absolute level it is very important to compare cru with cru. But I think it’s very fair to compare price-points too - as a consumer of wine!
The best example I can think of is Camus - rightly criticised for the absolute quality of their wines. But as producers of €23.50 wines (Charmes-Chambertin) or €38.50 wines (Le Chambertin) ex domaine…
Now when you consider that a ‘trendy producer’s’ Bourgogne pinot noir might cost you €25. That for me is the rub - why by a Le Moine / Bernstein (etc…) when you can buy a cheaper Grand Cru - clearly a very average GC, but no BPN will hold a candle to it…
I’m not clear on what you’re asking here. Compare burgundy producers in what sense?
Are you talking about comparisons of quality within a specific grouping of either appleation or price? e.g., when deciding which wines do I prefer do I look at all Echezeaux as a group or do I look at all $80 wines as a group?
If so then I’d say the former.
If you’re saying how do I decide what to buy then it would more often be within a given price point. E.g., would I rather buy a Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux VV or a Roumier Chambolle Musigny both of which are around $100 or so. And how did that village wine get so expensive anyway?
Jay. No rules here. I am asking all of the above and more. It is based on some threads I have seen lately where one person says he likes a producer’s wine form x terroir and a second person says that a second producer’s wine from that same terroir is much better. Of couse the second producer’s wines are 3 times the price of the first producer’s wines, which made me wonder how relevant a comparison that was. [You know, I almost used the word fair rather than relevant but concluded fair was not the correct word as they are working with the same terroir (assuming similar vine age, vintage, etc.).] I just wanted to see people’s reactions here as to what we think is important, for whatever reasons.
So, throwing it back to you Jay, would you rather buy a Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux VV or a Roumier Chambolle Musigny? For me, between these two I would probably buy the Mongeard Mugneret - I have had too many fine examples of aged Mongeard Mugneret Echezeaux. For other comparisons of producers, I might go the other way.
I don’t think that comparing producers is relevant unless you are talking about the same cru. When you introduce price then the question changes to what is the better burgundy for $XX.XX and the comparison is not producer based but vintage/village/cru/readiness to drink based. I would even say you have to introduce vintage in order to make the producer comparison truly relevant.
AS a comparison of quality it’s fine. It’s up to the reader whether they can or would pay the difference. For example, d’Angervilles Taillepieds is 2x Dubleres but from what I’ve tried I’d rather have 3 d’Angerville than 6 Dublere. Others might only have enough for 3 Dublere and thus might opt for that.
I used to be mostly biased against pricey wines but now I thikn that the right approach in collecting is to avoid the mid-price/mid-quality stuff and do this:
Seek out the killer deals for under $40-50. Acknowledge that these might not reach the heights of what can be done in Burgundy but they can be damn tasty and many examples age well for 10-20 years.
Buy high end/very high quality bottles.
Keep an eye out for medium priced/High quality bottles.
Avoid medium prices/medium quality bottles.
#4 is key - often those bottles are in the $50-100 range so aren’t inexpensive, but are too much for what they offer. Your money is usually better spent either moving up the quality scale even if that means fewer bottles or moving down the price scale and getting more modest but really nice bottles. I think of it this way. If I have, say, $1000 to spend, do I want 12 good bottles (average about $80 per) or 6 killer bottles (for about $150 per)? Or, depending on where I’m at in collecting and what’s on offer, might I be best off doing 3-4 killer bottles and 6-8 really nice inexpensive bottles?
The first category holds a lot of wines aside from village level wines. However, you move out of the sexy name communes. You’re not in Nuits, Vosne, etc but are in Savigny, Pernand, Santenay, Monthelie and the like. In whites you’ll be in St Aubin or some parts of Chablis. You’ll also probably find fewer of these in very highly rated vintages… more in vintage that don’t bring in the part-time Burg collector who cherrypick years. But these really aren’t that hard to find. Whether someone likes the flavor profiles is an issue, but they’re not really rare in my experience. If you’re willing to compromise on ageability wines like Drouhin’s Cote du Nuits Village for $20ish is usually killer and good for a few years. For current drinking, I can throw a dart at the Bourgognes in a well-stocked store.
The second category is expensive by its nature. Again, people need to be willing to let go of names and do some investigation. No, you’re not getting a Rousseau GC for $100 anymore… but look at the example we have here of Mon-Mung Echezeaux for a freaking $80.
Medium price to me is $50-$100. Given that I can find a lot of wines under the $50-ish mark, I start to look a wines for, say, $70 and ask if I’m getting significantly more something. That something can be a different character, quality (as I perceive it), etc. My point is that often I don’t see the value here. The exceptions tend to be lesser known overachievers.
#4 is easy to get sucked into… It’s much easier to move from $45 to $70 when buying… if you have a fixed amount to spend and can get 6 bottles for $45 or 4 bottles for $70, well… it’s close to the same quantity. But too often I’ve opened bottles in this range and just felt they didn’t have the extra something I should get for the difference.
Also, what you say about the $40-$50 wines is very true. I think people often lose sight of that when buying Burgundy - I know I have to fight it sometimes - just because you’re not getting a premium Vosne 1er, you’re still (at least if you buy right) getting a pretty awesome wine with a substantial aging curve.
It is a very interesting question. I think I compare both cru-to-cru and price-to-price. But at the price ranges you mentioned, price has to dominate. Truth be told, $80 is already multiples of my price point for everyday consumption. And I only buy $250 bottles for very special occassions.
But at lower price points, the terroir would dominate the price. When choosing between a $13 Anthony Road reisling and a $16 Herman J. Weimer reisling the question is do I want Anthony Road of Herman Weimer. But the difference in dollar value has to be low enough that the price doesn’t dominate my thinking. Unfortunately, for Grand Cru Burgundy’s that is rarely the case.