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The denomination that makes such a small square of land so valuable is none other than Grand Cru. The price of Grand Cru land hit a new high last year when Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton paid about 100 million Euros for 8.66 hectares of Clos des Lambrays vineyards in Morey St-Denis.
Since no fine wine portfolio is complete without Burgundy, the prices of Grand Cru vineyards in the region do not seem all that surprising. When Bordeaux prices skyrocketed in 2011, Burgundy Grand Crus became more attractive, because they offered a similar investment potential for much lower prices. Over the years, small crops and widening appreciation have kept driving Burgundy prices up and expanded its market share. In fact, Burgundy area négociants (wine brokers) have been known to pay grape growers way above market value in hopes of charging more for the wine.
In recent US auctions, Burgundy and Bordeaux have been the stars, with sales amounting to millions of dollars. While buyers generally tend to favor older Bordeaux and newer, attractively priced Burgundy, some older Burgundy wines have also been performing well. For example, a case of La Tâche 1964, by Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC), recently sold for $55,125. The famous Burgundy estate’s signature DRC has also made some spectacular sales. Always a star at auctions, DRC is probably the winery that makes the largest profits from 25 hectares of select vines in the heart of La Bourgogne.
Time to Invest in Burgundy
The rising demand for Burgundy is no longer news. And yet, it is still possible to find wines offering more interesting investment opportunities than the more established Bordeaux. With prices set to keep rising, supply ever so small due to climatic conditions, and demand not faltering, the time to purchase collectible Burgundy wines is right now.
As a collector, I love Italian wines too, but they seldom offer the secondary market possibilities that are guaranteed with Burgundy. Once you buy a prime Super Tuscan, you are much less likely to make a profit on the secondary market, since Italian wines have not been around as investment wines long enough.
Winemaking World Heritage
On July 4th, 2015, the UNESCO committee recognized Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune subregions, located to the south of Dijon, as World Heritage sites. In its statement, UNESCO celebrated the subregions as “an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages.”
The UNESCO recognition comes as no surprise. Each Burgundy subregion offers unique conditions and a specific winemaking tradition. With its 164,000 hectares located at the center of La Bourgogne, Beaune crafts 29 unique appellations of white and red wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Today, Beaune’s white wines are considered the world’s quintessential whites. A good example is the AOC Montrachet. For both white and red Grand Crus, the mountain of Corton is the most important terroir in Beaune today.
Famous for its exquisite whites with a hint of brioche in their aroma, Chablis et Yonne, located in the North East, offers 14 appellations; the finest being Chablis Grand Cru. Moving towards the South, the Côte Chalonnaise is greatly influenced by its adjacent neighbor Beaune, but its 9 appellations, which include the renowned Clos-Saint Paul Givry, still maintain their own identity. Further North, the celebrated Côte de Nuits subregion boasts an impressive 43 appellations. Among them is Bonnes Mares; one of my recommendations. Côte de Nuits wines are known for their superb aging.
The warm, southernmost subregion of Maconnais is famous for its Pinot noir and Gamay production, but it has lately obtained a reputation for its whites, made from 80% Chardonnay grapes. Among its 9 appellations, Pouilly-Fuissé is one of the most celebrated.
The Best Collectible Burgundy
Burgundy’s unquestionable star is Pinot Noir, and the grape makes up the bulk of the region’s Grand Cru vineyards. Over the last decade, the market has seen a wide variety of interesting collectible wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy, Perrot-Minot, Armand Rousseau, Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, and Comte de Vogue, to name only a few of Burgundy’s top producers. My recommendations combine top winemakers, high expert ratings, excellent vintages, and—my favorite—sheer originality.
2005 Perrot-Minot (Domaine) Chambertin Clos de Beze Vieilles Vignes
This aromatic creation of Perrot-Minot will dazzle with a nose of citrus, wood smoke, candied violets, reminiscent of the homemade violet jams of a Southern Spring, zesty licorice, and cherry. The texture is creamy with well-integrated tannins. The perfume of myriad fruits and the personality and depth one expects from a Pinot combine to make this wine an extraordinary experience. You could drink it now, or wait to be amazed in a few decades.
RATING: Wine Advocate 99-100 Burgound 94
2012 Jacques-Frederic Mugnier – Musigny
The sub-region of Musigny yields some of the finest Pinot Noir grapes in all of Burgundy, and this wine by Jacques-Frederic Mugnier is testimony to that. A rich bouquet of raspberry, wild flowers, and strawberry introduces the wine´s balanced tannins and rich minerals. The wine´s imposing character leaves a lasting impression. If you are still not convinced, here’s a useful tip: rare Musigny was one of the top sellers at recent international auctions.
RATINGS: Wine Advocate 97-99 Burghound 94-97
2010 Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils – Chambertin Clos de Beze
The 2010 Chambertin-Clos de Beze opens with an exotic mix of berries, violets, cassis, and oak spices. The experience continues with a full body, rich in licorice, cherries, and elegant tannins. Time will work wonders for this wine, as it will go from great to even greater when tannins are appeased. If you want to enjoy Burgundy right away, the Beze is not a good choice, as it will be best to drink in a decade and beyond. If you choose to cellar it, both your palate and your investment shall be rewarded.
RATINGS: Wine Advocate 94-96 Burghound 97
Best Burgundy to Drink in 2015
If you have a few bottles of Burgundy in your collection, you probably know the joy of having a glass from a perfect vintage at exactly the right time. 2015 is perfect timing to drink Burgundy from 2000 and 2001. If you own a bottle from 2005, waiting another year or two will really pay off. On the other hand, 2007 Grand Crus are hitting their prime just about now, and will never disappoint.
If just reading about the ultimate Burgundy made your mouth water and you must have some right away, my recommendations of wines from the region to drink right now are the 2001 Bouchard Pere & Fils – La Romanee and the 2007 Lucien Le Moine – Bonnes Mares.
Arguably, there is no red wine today that can surpass a high-end Grand Cru from a superb Burgundy vintage.Whether you cellar it, drink it, save it for a special occasion, or offer it as a gift, once you go Burgundy, you never go back.
Your Burgundy is a treasure, and it requires perfect cellaring conditions to achieve its full splendor in the years to come. Vinfolio can take the burden of storing prime wines from you, offering state-of-the-art facilities to ensure your investments are safe and your Burgundy can age in a controlled environment to realize its full potential.