Early January is always an exciting time in the UK wine trade, the highlight of which is most certainly the release of Burgundy’s latest vintage. Coinciding as it does with our exhaustive tastings across growers and ranges, it is an industrious time for the Mr.Wheeler team as we busily add the final touches our own hand selected offer.
Hot on the heels of 2015’s exuberance and irresistible charm followed by 2016’s elegance and classical refinement, comes the vintage that Burgundian vignerons had been hoping for – 2017; a season offering good yields of healthy, high quality fruit not suffering the ravages of poor weather and any extensive frost damage as witnessed in 2016. 2017 is in fact a vintage which passed the vignerons by without excesses in weather, where terroir has been afforded an opportunity to prevail and where both the white and red wines have proven equally successful across the length and breadth of the Côte d’Or.
So, what of the wines themselves? In 2017, the red wines offer outstanding balance and refinement with an intensity of plush red fruit flavours, however, they are by no means powerhouses. These wines, almost without exception, are harmonious and silky with an undeniable tannic framework, however, the sheer harmony in the glass renders them utterly irresistible even at this early juncture. 2017 appears to be a more concentrated, modern expression of the often underrated 2000 vintage, which at almost 20 years of age is still offering delicious drinking today. The terroir in 2017 is so evident in the glass, creating wines which wear their hearts on their sleeves, are never testing on the palate and yet offer great potential for further development over the coming years.
Where the red wines of the region will be remembered for their bold purity, the white wines of the region will be remembered for their trilling intensity, classical balance and their beautiful proportions across appellations. In keeping with the red wines, they reflect their individual terroirs perfectly. This is a vintage producing impressive Chardonnays with bright fruit, citrus like freshness and fine minerality, indeed, all the components required for greatness. Though there is an assured, accessible side to the whites, the one negative is sadly that production did not match the same levels as the red wines. Special mention must go to Chablis, where 2017 arguably produced some of the greatest wines seen in the region for a lifetime. The promise of huge future potential and certain longevity underpin these wines in 2017. There is a complexity and vibrancy in the whites which one simply cannot ignore.
After extensive tasting, we have honed our selection to one which we feel represents the best of the vintage – worthy of a place in any wine rack or cellar. As ever, the Côte d’Or brings us some of the greatest expressions of chardonnay and pinot noir you will find anywhere in the world, however, time is very much of the essence. With production of the top red and whites in short supply, an early indication of interest is very much recommended. Our full offer will be released later this month, and for now, you can see our first releases.
Martin Wheatley Fine Wine Desk