Monday, 28 January 2008

An early eye on Burgundy 2006

You can get obsessed with the gossip and the day's agenda in any trade. Whether the wine trade is worse than others I don't know, but in the January week when the only topic was the new release of Burgundies en primeur it felt pretty bad. Yes, decisions had to be taken. "Short supply" say the distributors. "You'll miss the best if you don't decide". A few decisions were easy: I went mad on some Chablis (I always do) and some smarter white Burgundies from Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault and St Aubin. New red Burgundy (and some of these wines, especially the best, are still in their barrels) poses deeper questions. The Pinot Noir is a funny grape: it can gain body, colour, roundness and flavour from what seems a thinnish start - or sometimes go the other way. I look for yummy cherry-brandyish flavours and a long finish in samples of any age. There weren't many (cherry-brandyish flavours, that is), but I suspect there are more to come.

"One of the biggest bargains on The Club's list ..."

'Economic downturn' is the catchphrase of the month. If it makes us look at the right-hand column a little nearer the top it's not all gloom, though. It's when you feel too strapped for cash to go for the safe names (and if they didn't charge a premium, what's the insurance business all about?) that you stumble on bargains. One of the biggest bargains on The Club list (now, for a long time, and I suspect far into the future) is our lightest and driest sherry, Thomas Abad's Fino. How and why does The Club sell a grownup white wine like this, with four times the flavour of almost any Chardonnay and at 15% only a tad more alcohol, for less than any of our amazing range of 40 different Chablis? For a really silly reason. Because you don't buy it. I sometimes wonder if it would move up the charts if we doubled the price. It would still be a steal. Do you ever eat smoked salmon? Do me a favour: give yourself a glass of cold Fino with it - and then another. Mystery: why did restaurants never sell Fino by the bottle? Very suspicious; they make a massively higher margin by the glass, and they know you wouldn't bother with any other white wine once you had a bottle within reach.

Hugh Johnson,
Club President