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FRANCE: White Burgundy

It’s good year after year, but in this year’s competition white Burgundy soared to even more impressive heights of excellence

There are times in the Sommelier Wine Awards when you just have to say ‘Wow’. And this was one of them. White Burgundy is often one of the most popular categories. Cynics might say ‘can’t think why’, but to hell with them. Let them drink Lieb.

It outperforms its red counterpart significantly year after year, so we’re used to seeing a few Golds and to hearing plenty of positive feedback. But this year re-set the bar at an astonishing level.

Six Gold-Listed wines was an extraordinary effort, particularly since, by Burgundy’s standards, they weren’t ridiculously expensive either. Everything under £30, one around a tenner, and the unbelievably priced Vieux Quartier at a squeak over £6; the cheapest white Gold we’ve had here for many years by some distance. It fully deserved its Food Match and By The Glass awards as well…

‘It was amazing value,’ said consultant Annette Scarfe MW. ‘This could go on a list at just under £30, or £7.50 by the glass. It had real Burgundy character, was well made and was really good value.’

The medals were more or less evenly split between 2010 and 2011, which augurs well for next year’s competition, too. Clearly both vintages have the minerality and freshness that the on-trade look for and interestingly, given that there’s a lot of talk about the influence of China on pricing, the numbers stacked up well too.

‘Burgundy can be pricey, but here we found wines that were very well balanced, showing typicity, that also delivered at the price point,’ said Etrusca Restaurants’ Luigi Buonanno. ‘There were simpler, but still good, wines at the “entry” level, but also some very complex wines at good prices higher up.’

In the enviable position of being spoiled for choice, our tasters were thus able to put together an attractive ‘ladder’ of styles and prices to suit every pocket and every occasion for our Gold List. Whether cheap or expensive all the wines over-delivered, with the most expensive Gold, the Clos des Mouches, reckoned by one taster to be a Puligny.

‘There was little sign of flabby or flashy styles, with wines like [the Domaine Ferret Tête de Cru] outstanding, and lots of very good value for money to be found,’ said Home House’s Jacques Savary de Beauregard. ‘You sometimes struggle with white Burgundy, but this flight really delivered with some very attractive, complex and well-made wines.’

‘The whites were really an impressive spread,’ said Hakkasan’s Christine Parkinson. ‘Wines that really said where they were from. Really appetising.’

‘We found a lot of fresh, well-made, complex wines, with good acidity; elegant wines throughout.’
Jacques Savary de Beauregard, Home House

‘People are prepared to, and expect to, pay for Burgundy so it made sense to spend up a little and have really good and expressive examples on the Gold List.’
Simon Woods, team leader

‘It was good to see that wines at some quite reasonable prices were showing classic Burgundy characteristics and some complexity.’
Angela Reddin, team leader