Merchant looks beyond Côte d’Or to boost offering

15th January, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Haynes, Hanson & Clark is looking to boost its Burgundy offering with wines from the Mâconnais and Châlonnaise as Côte d’Or prices rise and volumes shrink.

`BurgundySpeaking to the drinks business, Siobhán Gillespie said that the merchant was broadening its offering this year to include more Mercurey, Rully and even a little Passtoutgrains to help bolster the smaller quantities from the Côte d’Or which are the tiniest on record.

“We’re looking at these areas more,” she said. “There are lots of producers there that aren’t known but we need producers who can offer a bit more volume as well as good quality and value and are different as well.”

As if to prove a point, Claudie Jobard of Domaine Claudie Jobard told db that the Côte Châlonnaise had had no problems at all during the 2012 growing season.

“No problems, no hail and volumes were fine,” she said.

With the global demand for Burgundy rising and hampered by some small harvests recently and another on the cards from 2013, pricing is another issue facing producers, merchants and collectors.

Fortunately, Gillespie reported that despite the drop in volumes many producers have not raised their prices by very much, if at all.

“The biggest change is at the top end where people are prepared to pay a bit more anyway,” she said, adding that a more favourable euro exchange rate will help this year’s pricing.

Nonetheless, with prices creeping upwards at the top end, Gillespie stressed it was more important than ever to ensure that at the more entry level prices stayed reasonable which was part of the reason for exploring further afield in the region.

As for the 2012 vintage itself, reports at the time have proved to be broadly accurate with many wines showing very bright, attractive fruit and acidity and promising a long drinking window.

One marked characteristic Gillespie picked out was the freshness of the reds, which are almost more so than the whites.

However, among all of the good qualities buyers are advised to pick carefully in 2012.

Gillespie admitted that further south in the Côte de Beaune one went, hail damage and bad flowering had not only reduced yields but also quite heterogeneous wines even within domaines.

“There were some wines within domaines that were very different,” she said. “There were a few that were almost un-Burgundian, super concentrated and almost too ripe and aggressive, particularly in Beaune, Volnay and Pommard.”

The producers appeared happy with the vintage describing it as “early drinking” but with the best appellations capable of longer ageing.

Agnès Paquet of Domaine Agnès Paquet repeated Gillespie’s warning that it is not the most homogenous of vintages (and added that 2013 will be the same) and said that it was a “real winemaker’s vintage.”

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