Some of the top producers of burgundy were rocked by scandal last year. But, as Anthony Rose, Glenfiddich wine writer of the year, 1999 was an excellent vintage

Before Christmas, Beaune police arrested 10 people for shady dealings in burgundy. They're suspected of doctoring premium wines with plonk and selling yet more plonk under fancy labels such as Volnay and Gevrey-Chambertin. The scandal drew attention to the release of the 1999 burgundy, a vintage that will appeal to burgundy lovers and even wine drinkers who normally find it hard to venture beyond the straight and narrow of claret.

Before Christmas, Beaune police arrested 10 people for shady dealings in burgundy. They're suspected of doctoring premium wines with plonk and selling yet more plonk under fancy labels such as Volnay and Gevrey-Chambertin. The scandal drew attention to the release of the 1999 burgundy, a vintage that will appeal to burgundy lovers and even wine drinkers who normally find it hard to venture beyond the straight and narrow of claret.

Fine growing conditions produced a healthy crop of grapes. But with quantities far outstripping the last five years' average, there's a possibility of dilution. That hasn't stopped people predicting greatness: "a great vintage," says Bibendum; "an exceptional vintage, particularly for the reds," agrees Hayes, Hanson & Clark; "some of the greatest burgundies in living memory," claims Goedhuis & Co. Yet, when these and three other specialists showed samples of the vintage last week, the 1999 reds showed well but were more uneven than expected.

Often seductive with ample, fleshy fruit and adequate fresh acidity, some wines were dilute, some over-oaked and there were even aggressive tannins, largely perhaps to compensate for high yields. The better reds are likely to be enjoyable relatively young and their ageing potential looks promising. There are some fine whites too, but many lack richness, particularly at the cheaper end. One advantage of the abundant crop is that it has put a break on prices. However, many of the wines are incomplete and could end up differently once in bottle. Should you buy now and risk disappointment or wait and risk losing out? Or persuade a merchant to mix a case and spread the risk.

Whites

1999 Le Moulin du Pont, Macon-Solutré, Auvigue, £7.75-£7.99, Noel Young Wines, Cambridge (01223 844744); Peatlings, Suffolk (01284 755948). Great value Pouilly-Fuissé lookalike with a light touch of oak adding depth to delicious flavours.

1999 St Aubin 1er cru en Remilly, Marc Colin, £125a , Bibendum. Fine aromatic power and intensity with lingering buttery fruit richness and a degree of finesse.

1999 Meursault Les Tillets, Guy Roulot, £170.80w, HHC. Super floral and nutty aromas with a winning combination of richness and elegance.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er cru Les Chenevottes, Jean-Noel Gagnard, £222a, J & B. Outstanding, seductive dry white with intense aromas, minerality in the flavour and deliciously nutty fruit.

Reds

1999 Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Didier Fornerol, £65, Howard Ripley. Perfumed, almost gluggy young red burgundy at an affordable price.

1999 Mercurey Vieilles Vignes, J & F Raquillet, £90*, M & V. Rich colour, youthful, succulent, raspberry fruit, very pure, with some tannic grip to it. A find.

1999 Gevrey Chambertin, Aux Echézeaux, Vieille Vigne, Domaine Fourrier, £165b, Howard Ripley. Not one but many old vines make up this delightful red burgundy with its delicate touch of oak and seductive, clean fruitiness.

1999 Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Denis Bachelet, £195*, M & V. Vivid ruby hue and wild perfume with vibrant loganberry and mulberry-style fruit on the palate framed by spicy oak.

1999 Volnay 1er cru Les Caillerets, Champy, £198.85w, HHC. Densely coloured, this is an intense, modern pinot noir with hedonistic and cherryish flavours that are enhanced by new oak spiciness.

1999 Savigny-lÿs-Beaune, La Dominode, Bruno Clair, 1er cru, £210a, J & B. Made from old vines and regularly one of Bruno Clair's top reds for its excellent colour, fragrance and old vine concentration of fruit.

1999 Chambolle-Musigny, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, £214.80b, Howard Ripley. All Géantet-Pansiot's wines are fabulous, wonderfully full-flavoured and still under £20 a bottle.

1999 Echézeaux, René Engel, £260*, M & V. Fine pinot noir fragrance and super-rich fruit quality enhanced by classy oak and fruit tannins, finishing with elegant poise.

Specialists' current offers

Bibendum, London NW1 (020- 7916 7706 email: sales@bibendum-wine.co.uk)

Goedhuis & Company, London (020-7793 7900 email: goedhuis@btinternet.com)

Haynes Hanson & Clark (HHC), London (020-7259 0102 email: london@hhandc.co.uk)

Justerini & Brooks (J&B), London (020-7484 6400)

Lay & Wheeler, Colchester, Essex (email: angela.lawes@=laywheeler.com)

Morris & Verdin (M&V), London (020-7357 8866 email: sales@m-v.co.uk)

Howard Ripley, London (020- 8360 0020 email: info@ howardripley.com)

Seckford Wines, Suffolk (01394 446622 email: sales@seckford wines.co.uk)

Key

* = Duty paid (VAT to be paid) a = In bond (duty and VAT to be paid) w = Ex-cellars (duty, VAT and shipping to be paid) b = Duty paid, price to be confirmed

Prices exclude VAT or excise duty (unless in bond) and sometimes a small transport charge - payable when wines are shipped after bottling for delivery later in the year or early next year

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