The Burgundy Briefing provides an assessment of the current vintage - its style and quality. There are 'en primeur' tasting notes on wine from a wide range of producers. It is a lively and current insight into the region aimed at those who wish to keep informed about Burgundy's latest vintage and its people.
Issue 17 covers 2014 red and white wines from the Côte d'Or. As usual there are comprehensive vintage reports for both red and white wine, which covers not only the season, but how the vintage was handled in winery and a technical analysis of the wines.
Over the past few seasons I have expanded the section which focuses on the principal villages, assessing the performance of each village as a whole and the premier and grand crus within them.
As ever the style and quality of the vintage are considered with plenty of contributions from the growers. Comparisons, where possible, are made with other vintages and advice on when to drink the wines.
The bulk of the report consists of tasting notes with introductions to each domaine.
Finally there are 'hit' lists of favourite wines and this year I have added a new section to the reds 'the Cellar Collection.' These are groupings of wines to serve with meals - from simple suppers to smart dinners and four collections, grouped by style, for putting away in the cellar.
As usual I like to include some vertical flights of premier cru to consider how past vintages are developing and when it is best to drink them. The highlight for the reds this year was a tasting of Domaine Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny, Les Cras 1999 to 2008.
There is a vintage review of white wines from 1999-2013. This year the vertical tastings included Domaine Patrick Javillier, Meursault, Tete de Mergers 1999-2013; Domaine Jean-Claude Bachelet et Fils, Chassagne-Montrachet, Blanchot-Dessus 2002-2013; Domaine Ballot-Millot, Meursault - a combination of Perrieres and Genevrieres 2000-2013; and Remi-Rollin, Pernand-Vergelesses, Les Cloux.
Issue 17 is £85. This price, which has has not risen for five years, reflects the costs of lengthy trips to Burgundy to individually visit the domains. The time I spend with each grower and negoce seems to get longer each year! This is reflected in the introductions to each of the producers where their impressions are recorded; for example the effect of the vintage on terroir and on techniques in the cellar. Growers seem to have more wines to taste each year, as many also make some negociant wines. Additionally it is useful to taste previous recent vintages for comparison and to keep an eye on their progress. I don't dash in and out of domaines to visit as many as possible, but take my time speaking with the growers and recording their thoughts to include in the Vintage Report.
The first issues of The Burgundy Briefing contained fewer tasting notes, but included a selection of the subjects in the box below. This list indicates areas which might be covered in any issue. However I must stress that the content has evolved since issue 1, the complimentary sample issue, to focus exclusively on tastings with a much more in depth analysis of the current vintage - style; quality; ageing capacity for both red and white wines and an individual overview of each principal village. I have expanded this village overview in the past four issues to help subscribers select wines from domaines I have not visited, as it is only possible to visit a small percentage of the total. The contents in the box should be considered therefore as examples of anything which might appear in an issue.