Burgundy 2013: ‘hard work has paid off’

Diligent quality control from producers and an effort from all sides to keep prices stable looks set to ensure strong interest in Burgundy’s 2013 vintage.

Photo credit: BIVB/Armellephotographe.com

Photo credit: BIVB/Armellephotographe.com

“If you go back 15 months to the harvest, it’s not quite the apocalypse everyone was saying,” reported David Gleave MW, managing director of Liberty Wines, at the UK merchant’s annual Burgundy tasting this week. Indeed, told the drinks business: “It’s looking very good at the moment, particularly the whites, which are really nice and open.”

With poor flowering and rot problems for Chablis and severe hailstorms for the Côte de Beaune, Gleave remarked: “In 2013 producers really had to work hard, first in the vineyards and then to make a careful selection. That hard work has paid off.”

Despite this hard-won quality, he confirmed that a year of exceptionally small supply had put pressure on supply and prices. Although not going so far as Berry Brothers & Rudd, which revealed last week that 99% of its 2013 Burgundy wines had seen a price drop on 2012, Gleave confirmed that among Liberty’s producers “some have stayed stable and some are up a couple of percent.”

Indeed, he added: “We’re trying to keep them stable where we can – I don’t think consumers are in the mood to take price increases at the moment.” Gleave also highlighted two factors softening this financial blow for producers after a run of small vintages. “The exchange rate helps,” he remarked, “and also since ‘13 we’ve seen that ‘14 is not a bad vintage and there are some better quantities available.”

Confirming that demand for Burgundy among Liberty’s customer base continued to grow, Gleave suggested: “It comes down to the enthusiasm from our sales team.” With the next 2014 vintage offering “a very good year with good focus,” he confirmed: “Everyone is keen to get behind it.”

In order to meet this growing demand at a time of short supply, the last year has seen two new additions to Liberty’s Burgundy portfolio in the form of Château de Santenay in the Côte Chalonnaise and Domaine Borgeot in the Côte de Beaune. “That was us really looking very much ahead because we knew what had happened in the 2013 vintage,” commented Gleave.

While noting that these areas are “not exactly undiscovered,” Gleave suggested that certain villages towards the southern end of Burgundy appeared particularly attractive buys at the moment.

“It’s a great time now for places like Saint-Romain and Saint-Aubin,” he remarked. “Or Ladoix, where the wines aren’t especially cheap but offer great value and are delicious.”

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