This year has exploded into action with the 2002 vintage wines from Burgundy. I don't recall a time when there was such excitement over the latest burgundy releases. Nor such an impressive variety of wines on offer from specialist wine merchants.
2002 advocates Jasper Morris of Morris & Verdin, and Anthony Hanson of Haynes, Hanson & Clark both have burgundy coursing through their veins. So does Roy Richards of Richards Walford, and he prefers the 2001 vintage. Dissenting opinions are typical of burgundy, whether of vintages or individual producers. One of the more fascinating aspects of the burgundy tastings that have brightened the London winter is the multiplicity of different styles obtainable from a single grape, chardonnay in the case of white burgundy and pinot noir in red.
Ripe white wines combine good levels of richness with, for the most part, sufficient acidity for vivacity and freshness. Much of the pinot noir also ripened sufficiently to allow growers to produce perfumed wines with characteristic fragrance and red berry fruitiness. From a snapshot of the hundreds of wines shown and tasted in London this month, the evidence points to a good to very good vintage for both red and whites with a handful of stars in both categories.
Less good news is that prices are up. Burgundy is never cheap, but at €1.40 to the pound compared to €1.60 two years ago, the strong euro has pushed prices up by 5-10 per cent. You can add on as much again for the fact that 2002 is perceived as a good vintage and growers are only too aware that they are not going to make as much from the small, and possibly scorched, 2003 vintage. Maybe it's just as well then that the weak dollar is there to discourage the Americans.
Still, from what I've tasted I'm convinced 2002 burgundy is a vintage to buy (see Cellar Notes, right). It will give pleasure from the word go and the best will keep. Do bear in mind that most of the samples shown so far are unfinished wines. With burgundy in particular, it's more important than ever to find a specialist you can trust not just on quality, but on style too:
A selection of specialists currently offering 2002 burgundy:
Bennetts (BEN). 01386 840392. email@example.com.
Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR). 0870 900 4300. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bibendum (BIB). 020-7449 4120. email@example.com.
Haynes, Hanson & Clark (HHC). 020-7259 0102. firstname.lastname@example.org.
H & H Bancroft (HHB). 020-7232 5450. email@example.com
John Armit Wines (JAW). 020-7908 0600. firstname.lastname@example.org
Justerini & Brooks (JB). 020-7484 6400. email@example.com
Laytons (LAT). 020-7288 8888. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lay & Wheeler (LAY). 0845 3301855. email@example.com
Montrachet (MON). 020-7928 1990. Michael@montrachetwine.com
Morris & Verdin (MV). 020-7921 5300. firstname.lastname@example.org
OW Loeb (OWL). 020-7234 0385. email@example.com
Howard Ripley (HR). 020-8360 0020. Sebastian.firstname.lastname@example.org
Seckford Wines (SW). 01394 446622. Marcus@seckfordwines.co.uk