I have just completed a four-day trip to the Burgundy region; twenty-four visits and 210 wines later, here are my first impressions: it was extremely tough going this January with freezing conditions - thank goodness for warmer cellars heated in order to keep the malolactic fermentation interested. The big surprise was the quality of some reds. Existing stars Ann Gros and Domaine Montille have produced exceptional efforts with the former’s Chambolle Musigny and Echezeaux both showing a luxurious texture and good ageing potential. I spent a wonderful few hours with Etienne Montille tasting some 25 wines, with Corton Clos du Roi, Pommard 1er cru Rugiens, Vosne Romanée 1er cru and Volnay Taillepieds the real stars. Etienne has recently bought Château de Puligny Montrachet and a quick visit revealed wines of true substance and a property that will surely scale the heights in the coming years.

We have recently listed the winesfrom young Justin Girardin, nephew of Vincent Girardin who recently sold his wine business and purchased a farm on the outskirts of Paris. Justin is unquestionably a star of the future and both his 2011s and 2012s showed real concentration punching above the appellation’s weight. A visit to the Rochette family in Régnié-Durette was also a revelation - having just won the top trophy at Villefranche for their 2012 Brouilly, they were in exuberant form and a tasting of their Régnié, Morgon, Beaujolais Villages, Brouilly and Côte de Broullly, both 2011s and 2012s, filled me with confidence that we are representing  one of the true stars of the Beaujolais region.

Tasting in Puligny Montrachet with Alan Chavy

I also spent a day around Fuissé with, as always, a welcoming and rewarding visit to Château de Beauregard and a discovery of another top Mâcon producer, of which more later.

In vintage terms, 2011 is enormously variable in quality and onlythe best will find a slot on our list, but some producers, in my opinion, have made better reds in 2011 than in either 2009 or 2010. Nicolas Rossignol has produced a star line-up in Volnay and Beaune. Generally, the 2011 whites are disappointing and lack ripeness due to a physiological cycle that simply didn’t deliver in 2011. I tasted a considerable number of 2012s and although really too early to make an informed opinion, I was generally impressed. However, yields were so small that Nicolas Rossignol didn’t even make a few of his premier crus, so lack of available wine will be the main story of the vintage.