Anthony Rose: Great burgundy vintages are usually thought of as red. But in 2007 the whites are better than the reds

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Indy Lifestyle Online

I wasn't going to comment on the latest burgundy arrival because the word on the grapevine wasn't sufficiently enthusiastic to justify it. That was before tasting the wines, and while I still don't believe 2007 is a vintage in which to sink your life savings, it merits attention for unexpected reasons. A great burgundy vintage is usually thought of as red, as in 1999, 2002 and 2005, and red wines and laying down are synonymous. 2007 is about the whites.

Unlike bordeaux, where white is of secondary interest, burgundy splits neatly between pinot noir and chardonnay, and when the whites are better than the reds, this gets overlooked. In 2007 they are better. Without the residual sugar that builds structure into ageworthy sweet whites, a good white burgundy should have enough structure to continue to develop for a good five years. The 2004s, for instance, are coming into their own now.

2007 is patchy for reds, but it's a finer vintage for whites. After a miserable summer, the harvest weather was sunny, resulting in ripened chardonnay grapes, whose features are fruit purity, elegance, acidity and mineral quality. There are some good-value white burgundies that will repay keeping for five years plus.

The wines of southern burgundy's Mâconnais are improving enormously. Find a good grower and it's hard to go wrong if you're looking for an affordable "house white burgundy" for drinking over the next two to three years. The St Véran of Domaine des Vieilles Pierres, £90, J&B, is a case in point, ditto Comtes Lafon's Macon-Milly, £105, J&B, and Clos de la Crochette, £126-£130, BBR, J&B, for their appley purity, and the bone-dry Petit Chablis from Dauvissat Camus, J&B, £100.

Buying a good bourgogne blanc from a recognised producer can be a better bet than a "superior" wine from a well-known appellation. The pure chardonnay qualities of Pierre Morey's Bourgogne Blanc, £120, J&B, the mineral qualities of Comte Armand's Bourgogne Blanc, £54, six-bottle case, HR, and the complexity of Domaine Roulot, £138, HR, make these more interesting than the apparently humble appellation would have you believe. In St Aubin, Hubert Lamy's premier cru Clos de la Chatenière, £228-£249, BBR, L&W, is superbly aromatic.

You can pay £1,000 a pop for a case of Bâtard Montrachet if you want, but I wouldn't advise it. Much better are a handful of village and premiers crus that will repay five years' keeping. For chablis, the premier cru Vaillons, £103, six-bottle case, HR, is excellent, its grand cru, Vaudésir, £525, Jero, £239, six-bottle case, HR, exquisite. The Côte de Beaune brings its own seduction in the crafted qualities of Vincent and François Jouard's Chassagne Montrachet, £90, six-bottle case, HR, Paul Pernot's sexy premier cru, Les Folatières, £186, six-bottle case, HR, the complexity and textures of Jean Noël Gagnard's Chassagne Montrachet Les Chenevottes, £265, J&B, Pierre Morey's toasty Meursault, Le Tesson, £425, J&B, and the elegant lightness of touch of Fontaine-Gagnard's Chassagne Montrachet premier cru Les Vergers, £360, L&W.

J&B: Justerini & Brooks, London SW1 (020-7484 6400, justerinis.com ) HR: Howard Ripley, London SW18 (020-8877 3065; howard ripley.com) L&W: Lay & Wheeler, Suffolk (0845 330 1855; laywheeler.com) BBR: Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (01256 340123; bbr.com) Jero: Jeroboams, London N1 (020-7288 8858; jeroboams.co.uk) Wines are per case of 12 (unless stated) "in bond", with duty & VAT paid on delivery later in the year

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