Three Burgundies for a non dry January

Chateau Barbanau 

Chateau Barbanau - Credit: Archant

This is the time of year when – normally – enticing scents of burgundy waft out from the many places where London merchants are opening bottles of the newly released vintage.

But the wines of 2019 are, for many would-be tasters, remaining mysterious. If you want to buy examples of a vintage which is receiving a lot of praise, you largely have to rely on the palates of the privileged few who have had opportunities to sample.

You can, though, do some homework. For wise independent opinion, look at where there are good free articles and more detailed ones for members, or subscribe to an expert site such as The cost will be less than a mistaken case purchase. All the main merchants have reports in varying styles and levels of detail –,, or are all good starting points. Choose sensibly, and there will be much delight ahead.

Meanwhile, a burgundy to start the present pleasures: Bouchard Beaune du Château Premier Cru Rouge (£30-£33,, I enjoyed the classic, complex elegance of the 2017, and I suspect that the available vintages, 2016 and 2018, will be as appealing, given that this is a blend from more than 15 different vineyard parcels.

Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru

Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru - Credit: Archant

Classic too, but in a delightfully citrus-fresh, engagingly drinkable way, is Chassenay d'Arce 2008 brut champagne (£38.50, from the large but little known Côte des Bar, southernmost of the champagne districts. It made my New Year's Eve special. The innovative co-operative that produces it also offers a rare 100 per cent pinot blanc champagne, intriguingly reminiscent of good English fizz though rather pricier (£71.50, same stockist).

To dream of summer ahead, open Château Barbanau Clos Val Bruyère (£14, where an accomplished blend of clairette, marsanne, ugni blanc and sauvignon blanc grown organically overlooking the sea in the tiny appellation of Cassis evokes all Mediterranean pleasures – there's a salty, savoury tang to its dry yet tasty fruit.

And as a sustainable start to 2021, resolve to buy wine in lighter bottles. The extreme is the slip-through-a-letterbox flat PET bottle developed by Garçon Wines. Banrock Station Merlot 2020 (£7.50, Co-op) comes in it; I hope there will be rather more exciting wines to follow.

Banrock Station

Banrock Station - Credit: Archant