Burgundy fever in Britain

by Charles Metcalfe

London has seen an unprecedented level of interest in the offerings of 2005 Burgundies en primeur . The first full week of January after the Christmas and New Year holidays always sees a number of merchants showing the Burgundies they have selected

from the harvest two years back; but in 2007, it has been a frenzy. The Wine & Spirit Trade Association website showed nine tastings organised this week, but actually there were probably over 20. On Tuesday 9th January alone, there were eight tastings in one day.

For the first time, some of the wines had already gone before the catalogues were printed, leading to sold out notices beside the names of some wines shown - and allocations of those still available at the start of the day often ran out during the course of the tasting, leading to frustration among many of the buyers who had turned up. Quantities of fine Burgundies are much smaller than of most of the big-name properties in Bordeaux, which is a major reason why the resale market for Burgundy is almost non-existent: the small amounts available are bought and then drunk by the buyers. Only a handful of Burgundies are purchased with an eye to their investment potential, the most important of these being the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Simon Berry, Chairman of Berry Brothers & Rudd, whose tasting was on Tuesday 9th, said: There s not much left! At all levels it was a really encouraging event, particularly that the producers hadn t raised their prices more. We had to make it an invitation-only event. He went on to tell how one customer, getting to the end of the tasting, said the most comforting words he had heard all evening were told by a salesman who said that wines had already been bought on his behalf.

Average price rises for 2005 Burgundies, compared with the 2004s, look to be in the region of 15%, compared with up to 300% for the top 2005 Bordeaux.

Ben Kennedy, in charge of broking for Justerini & Brooks, whose tasting was on Wednesday 10th, declared the campaign a massive success . Our orders table was blocked from the start, he said. We had 300 people, with no guests allowed, and 120 wines. Three years ago, we sold £1 million worth of wine on the day at our tasting of the 2002 Burgundies. This year, we had about £2 million of wine, and we sold between £1.25 million and £1.5 million on the day. We haven t done the maths yet, but it s going to be a very short campaign.



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