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Small Rant on the Subject of Burgundy

The terroir of the departed, Savigny-lès-Beaune

Burgundy is a magical, mystical place for wine merchant and aficionado alike, source of some of the world's most stunning wines, at best extraordinarily scintillating amalgams of the most beautiful fruit and profound terroir. It's also a place - and a wine - that frustrates the hell out of me.

I think most wine consumers, by now, understand the significance of Burgundy in Planet Wine; its place at the head table; the manner in which it becomes an obsession for those who start out on a journey of burgundian discovery. Yet if the volume of bordeaux we sell in any given vintage can be expressed as x, the volume of burgundy we sell is 10% of x. There are reasons for this phenomenon; reasons, but little sense.

The fact of it is that many consumers avoid burgundy due to them finding it beyond their comprehension. Too complicated to understand, it gets left on the shelf. Many would rather put away a further tranche of bordeaux (on which subject they feel they have some grasp) than visit unknown territory and purchase burgundies that are utterly outwith their ken.

Sad to say, I suspect that this is the legacy of Robert Parker, before the advent of whose publications most consumers were happy to delegate their wine knowledge to a trusted wine merchant. I would suggest that, rather than freeing the tastebuds of the wine collector by the provision of comprehensive and easily-accessible information, many of today's wine writers have done exactly the opposite: they have instilled in the mind of the wine consumer a requirement for understanding. This is a travesty and a great shame. Wine consumers are missing out on some of the world's finest wines...and I am missing out on the bottom line.

Let me say now that my knowledge of Burgundy and burgundy is woefully underdeveloped. A big part of visiting the region every year and tasting the wines on a regular basis is the satisfaction taken in the expansion of that knowledge: identifying the questions and researching the answers; above all, asking questions. I am sorry to report that if you are saving your burgundy buying until such time as you have an opportunity to do some research of your own, you will, most likely, remain under-endowed in the burgundy department.

The answer is to buy burgundy from Bowes Wine. And yes, of course I would say that. But the fact remains, I am under no obligation to buy any of the wines you see on our burgundy offer; indeed, I am not obliged to sell any of the wines we offer at all. My levels of faith in all these wines is 100%. Please feel free to buy with confidence. Should you end up disappointed when you come to drink these wines, we would be happy to make amends...but I consider it extremely unlikely it would ever come to that...

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