Burgundy's 2014 Wines Priced in U.K. Below Previous Vintages

  • `Consistent' whites outshine reds for Berry's Morris
  • Yields reduced by June hail storm, suzuki fruit flies

Burgundy 2014 wines on show at London tastings over the past week are being offered at U.K. prices below those for the 2013 and 2012 vintages, helped by favorable harvest weather and sterling’s strength against the euro.

White wines are showing more consistent quality than reds, after chardonnay ripened well in sunny September conditions that year, according to merchants Justerini & Brooks Ltd. and Berry Bros. & Rudd. Pinot noir grapes were held back by cool temperatures during the summer growing season, and were damaged in some regions from hail in late June.

Burgundy vineyard

Photo: Guy Collins/Bloomberg

The annual Burgundy en primeur tastings, in which samples of 16-month-old wines are shown to prospective buyers ahead of physical delivery later in the year, came as wines from the region have gained in popularity with collectors following four years of declining prices for rival top Bordeaux producers.

“The whites have sold really well,” Jasper Morris, Burgundy director at Berry Bros., said in an interview at a tasting Jan. 12. The vintage “is the most consistently fine I’ve seen. It’s balance, elegance, beautiful flavors.”

Puligny-Montrachet Sous le Puits Premier Cru from grower Jean-Claude Bachelet & Fils was priced at 198 pounds ($282) for a six-bottle case before tax, according to Berry Bros.’s catalog. That compares with the current offer of 230.70 pounds for similar wine from the 2013 vintage listed on Berry’s website.

The view that 2014 will be more a vintage for whites than reds in Burgundy, with quality boosted by the favorable harvest weather, was in evidence at other London tastings as well. “It was a better September than August,” said Giles Burke-Gaffney, buying director at Justerini & Brooks. “Chardonnay was plain sailing.”

“The most important thing is there was a long enough window to pick in,” helping boost the quality of the vintage generally across the region, Berry’s Morris said. “The grapes didn’t fall into over-ripeness.”

While prices in Burgundy for the 2014 wines have been stable or fractionally higher compared with those from the 2013 vintage, Morris said that “we can present everything cheaper in sterling.”

The pound has risen 8.5 percent against the euro since the end of 2013, and traded at 1.3061 euros on Jan. 15. That has given French wines a boost in the London market.

“I like Burgundy because it’s still accessible,” said Dan Jago, Berry’s chief executive officer, referring to the range of prices at which the wines are available in the U.K. market. “The challenge in Burgundy is low yields.”

Grapes in the region suffered some damage in 2014, not only from the summer hail in areas such as Beaune and Pommard but also from suzuki fruit flies. Morris described the 2014 vintage for Burgundy reds as generally very nice but “not quite as consistent” as for whites.

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