Burgundy 2018 Round Two

2018 Summary
Mother Nature and the magical terroirs of Burgundy sometime cooperate in the most mysterious ways to produce genuinely remarkable results. 2018 would be one of those sometimes because no one, or at least no one that I spoke to, expected the whites to be anywhere near as good as they are…. most are fresh, vibrant, delicious and reflective of their individual terroirs. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that 2018 is one of the most surprising white Burgundy vintages in quite some time. BURGHOUND

I discovered whites with surprisingly zingy acidities that impart more tension than anticipated, far fewer obvious tropical notes and far greater articulation of individual terroirs. This partly informed the title of this report, inasmuch as the white wines confounded my expectations, just as they seem to confound those of winemakers. NEAL MARTIN

As I mentioned late last year, with our first larger 2018 Burgundy offer, we would normally have done a number of these over the course of offering a vintage. However with the challenges of 2020 (now hopefully behind us) it didn’t happen that way as many importers had disruptions to shipping and there were delays with releases. Thankfully we are back on track now and very excited to be offering the second round of 18s that encompasses a number of producers.

In this offer there are a handful of some of the region’s more exciting white producers including Jean-Marc Pillot, Matrot, Latour Giraud and Bonhomme. As I have discussed, in previous offers of 2018 whites, the year gave everyone a bit of a shock, a pleasant one but unexpected nonetheless. In what was a year where we would normally expect to see a bevvy of riper wines that may lack acidity and freshness we instead were delivered whites that are a wonderfully charming mix of powerful fruit, bright, clear acidities and expressive terroirs. There are a number of theories as to why 18 whites are so good, and they are really good, but the all important thing to take from this is that the wines are full of immediacy and upfront pleasure, many are harmonious right out of the gate, but they also have the requisite stuffing to cellar if that is your bent. For me much of the joy of the year is that the wines are so good so early. I mean lets be honest, most of us drink out white Burgs within a handful of years now and these are perfectly suited to just that. Everything you want in abundance and they lack absolutely nothing in terms of clarity and freshness. What more could you want?

It is a pretty remarkable line up, Jean-Marc Pillot is, as I have said on any number of occasions, one of the region’s most gifted winemakers and one of the top two or three producers in Chassagne today. I can’t speak highly enough of the domaine or his 2018s, which are flat out superb.

Matrot produce some of the most precise and site specific wines in Meursault. They are wines that really speak to the Burg lovers among us. Unencumbered by artifice these are pure, and purely gorgeous, renditions of their time and place.

Latour Giraud may not be on everyone’s radar yet but they should be and they are beginning to see the attention they deserve. Very different Meursault to those of Matrot, here you see really meticulous and studied winemaking that draws out character and adds detail. These are sophisticated wines of real energy, intensity and character. They remind me of a couple of producers in the region who make similar styles but without the associated price tags. They are on my hit list, that’s for sure.

Lastly but not least is Bonhomme. This Vire Clesse based producer was actually the first to bottle wines under the appellation in the Maconnais. While today the region is synonymous with high quality and reasonable value it is on the backs of families like theirs that they got there. His wines are excellent and offer thoroughly convincing expression of white Burgundy at a tiny fraction of their northern cousins. His wines tend towards a more lively expression than a lot of their neighbours. Less about overt and ripe fruit and more mineral punch and energy. They certainly aren’t lacking the Macon richness but they are cut from a different cloth and could be easily mistaken as coming from somewhere with a little more clout. The 18s I tried were really good and ready to roll straight out of the gate.