May 2019

May news and views from Nick Jackson MW

In this newsletter: some non-wine travel; an update on all things Burgundy; the new vintage of port to be released and the best wines I drank this month


I spent much of May in beautiful Peru for some non-wine vacation. Some friends and I undertook the five day Salkantay trek, arriving on the final day at the great Inca site of Machu Picchu.  We trekked among some of Peru’s highest mountains (we reached 15,200 feet) and then plunged down into the jungle - an amazing experience.

Burgundy: spring update

Burgundy is hard to understand at the best of times, so here is an update on where we stand in spring 2019.

  • Current vintage on the market2016.  Small volumes, good quality but need to wait because red wines are compact and fruity.  White wines are good. Arriving in the summer/fall: 2017.  These are mid weight, bright reds with good terroir expression, if not profound.  The whites are very good - the best since 2014.  2018: all signs indicate an excellent vintage and much more ageworthy than the 2017s.  

  • Best vintages for drinking nowwhite: 2014, 2012, 2010.  Red: 2011, 2007, 2002, 2001, 1999

  • Under-rated/value producersFaiveley (the 2016s are outstanding across the board from this revitalised house); Bernard-Bonin (lovely Meursault); Berthaut-Gerbet (single-handedly reviving Fixin’s reputation); Duroché(charming Gevrey-Chambertin); Coquard-Loison-Fleurot (buy everything you can while the prices remain this low).

2017 Port

Vintage port declarations are rare, and it almost never happens that two successive vintages are declared.  But that has happened with 2016 and now 2017 - both great vintages, but as I discovered this month when tasting the 2017s, with very different styles.

While 2016 is straight-laced, linear and intellectual, 2017 is more frank and open, with great generosity of fruit while remaining finely etched and pure.  The 2017s are both hedonistic and cerebral - I loved them.  While all the big names made wonderful wines, the following were showing particularly well already: Cockburn(for value), Dow and Noval.  And if you can find them, any of the rare single vineyard wines will make for great investment choices: Noval NacionalTaylor’s Vargellas VV or Graham’s Stone Terraces.  All the wines will hit the shelves in the coming months.

The Best Wines I Drank in May

  • René Engel Grands Echezeaux 1985 - an unbelievable privilege to drink this, one of 600 bottles made, from a legendary vintage.  A perfectly weightless, serene, silky, gamey beauty.

  • DRC La Tâche 1996 - shows all the complexity and beauty you look for in DRC, and avoids the excessive acidity of many ‘96s.  Gorgeous to drink today, but has the substance to improve over the next 15+ years.

  • Dujac Clos de la Roche 1995 (magnum) - from an unsung vintage, this was glorious, mature, gamey Burgundy - pure pleasure.

  • Corison Kronos Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - never let it be said that I don’t enjoy American wines!  At a vertical tasting with Cathy Corison, this was a treat - sumptuous, velvety and irresistible today.

  • Domaine Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet Boudriotte 2014 - from my favourite recent white Burgundy vintage, this is sheer, dazzling Ramonet brilliance, with layers of glorious flavour.  Top white Burgundy.