Value red Bur­gundy

You can eas­ily spend a small for­tune on a bot­tle of Côte d’Or Pinot Noir if you so de­sire – but you don’t have to. Tim Atkin MW was im­pressed with the qual­ity of these 32 best buys

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You don’t have to spend big. Tim Atkin MW se­lects 32 great buys at £25 per bot­tle or less

To Lis­ten To some peo­ple, good value red Bur­gundy is an oxy­moron, right up there with friendly fire, jumbo shrimps and Hell’s An­gels. it all de­pends on what you mean by value, of course. if you’re in search of a £5.99 bot­tle of Gevrey-Cham­bertin – the uni­corn of the wine world – you are al­most cer­tain to be dis­ap­pointed. But that doesn’t mean that all Bur­gundy is sec­ond mort­gage ma­te­rial.

The very top wines are in­deed ex­pen­sive, strato­spher­i­cally so in some cases, but Bur­gundy also of­fers lots of reds that are com­par­a­tively af­ford­able. only 1% of what it pro­duces, both red and white, is sold as grand cru, with a fur­ther 10.5% of premier cru. This leaves a lot of wig­gle room for other wines. We looked for wines avail­able at £25 a bot­tle or less, to see what the re­gion could of­fer.

Bur­gundy is pre­dom­i­nantly a white wine area, so there’s less red to go round (28% by vol­ume if you in­clude a lit­tle bit of rosé). Most of this is made from Pinot Noir, of course, but don’t for­get that Bur­gundy grows some Ga­may too, de­spite the grape’s ban­ish­ment by Philip the Bold in 1395. Ga­may doesn’t just pop up in generic ap­pel­la­tions such as Coteaux Bour­guignons and Bour­gogne Passe-tout­grains, but also in the Mâ­con­nais, es­pe­cially the closer you get to the Beau­jo­lais. As in­ter­est in cru Beau­jo­lais has grown, so peo­ple are be­gin­ning to look at Ga­mays from south­ern Bur­gundy too.

But what about Pinot Noir? Any joy there? Yes, in­deed. Drink­ing ba­sic red Bur­gundy is much less of a risk than it used to be. There are sev­eral rea­sons for this: cli­mate change (and gen­er­ally ear­lier har­vests); a run of good to very good vin­tages (the last aw­ful crop was 2004); the wide­spread use of sort­ing ta­bles, even for ba­sic wines; and in­creased com­pe­ti­tion. Plenty of top pro­duc­ers make ex­cel­lent Bour­gogne Rouge, as well as their swankier wines.

Nor is the Côte d’or com­pletely off lim­its. Chorey-lès-Beaune, Fixin, Maranges, Marsan­nay, san­te­nay and sav­i­gny-lès-Beaune are all ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing wines that won’t as­sault your credit card. Fur­ther south, the Côte Chalon­naise pro­vides even richer pick­ings in the Pinot Noir-fo­cused ap­pel­la­tions of Givry and Mer­curey, as well as in more Chardon­nay-dom­i­nated Rully. Reds from here stack up ex­tremely well, not just against Côte d’or wines, but against those from the more cel­e­brated Pinot-pro­duc­ing coun­tries of the New World, such as Aus­tralia, Chile, New Zealand and south Africa.

And yet for all that, any red Bur­gundy drinker look­ing for a bar­gain will gen­er­ally find him or her­self drink­ing generic or re­gional wines. The rules that ap­ply to buy­ing grander wines from the re­gion ap­ply here too. Choose your pro­ducer with care and know a lit­tle bit about vin­tages. The best grow­ers and né­go­ciants (the lat­ter of­ten have ex­ten­sive vine­yards too) con­sis­tently pro­duce good wines. And the warmer and drier the year, the more you can put a foot on the lower rungs of Bur­gundy’s qual­ity lad­der. This tast­ing proved that, jumbo shrimps be damned, the re­gion can in­deed pro­vide value for money.

‘Plenty of top pro­duc­ers make ex­cel­lent Bour­gogne Rouge, as well as their swankier wines’

Tim Atkin MW is a widely pub­lished and awarded wine writer, pho­tog­ra­pher, judge and com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Among other hon­ours, he is a mem­ber of the Con­frérie des Che­va­liers du Tastevin in Bur­gundy

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