It’s been Burgundy Tasting Time, when Burgundy obsessives fret over the latest vintage. And 2013, the current vintage in question, has certainly been one to fret over. Most of the wine writers have given it a cautious “okay” rating, with some being more generally enthusiastic than others. Myself, I’m always amazed at the certainty people seem to be able to demonstrate regarding these tasting samples. I’m also reminded how much drinking pleasure I’m getting from another unfashionable Cote d’Or vintage right now – 2007!
The most interesting tasting for me this year, and therefore the one I chose on a day of at least four good tastings, was at Vinoteca St John Street, the annual Haisma/Le Grappin bash. I’m sure most readers of this blog will know, at least by reputation, these two Ozgundians, Aussies working in Burgundy. Mark Haisma requires little introduction, having crafted iconic Yarra wines before setting up his now pretty well established negoce business. Andrew Nielsen followed a different route, working his way round some iconic producers before a spell at Simon Bize helped him settle on his true vocation as a micro-negoce seeking out some tasty hidden, often unloved, parcels on the Cote.
Andrew has concentrated for 2013 on Savigny, Santenay and Beaune. I was impressed by the wines when we visited his atmospheric cuverie under the northern ramparts of Beaune in the summer, and the wines are no less impressive now. All are lovely, all are very different to each other, which shows that terroir has triumphed over winemaking. All display what I think is a Le Grappin trait, an almost lacy elegance (mirrored so well in the exquisite labels). My favourites are the two Beaune 1er Cru, white Grèves and red Boucherottes, but I’ll be drinking them all.
Mark Haisma has a slightly different spread of interests, including some top vineyard parcels, and an interest further south as well. I began tasting Mark’s two parcel wines from Saint-Romain with real interest. I’m old enough to remember when people thought this village was more Haut than Cote and here we have two separately bottled lieu dits, Bazin and Jarron. Both are not only clearly delineated, but very nice wines. Yet the high points of Mark’s range do, for me, come with the reds. The Bourgogne Rouge is always a bargain (as we discovered at a recent Haisma v Chacra dinner at Picture in Marylebone), but the standout here was a lovely, indeed quite stunning for me, Morey-Saint-Denis Les Chaffots 1er Cru. The only wine to overshadow it on the day was his 2010 Bonnes-Mares, already showing a nose worthy of the vintage.
The other interest for Mark is Cornas. He’s been making characterful Cornas for a few vintages, and the 2013 is no exception, an impressive wine. In fact it impressed me as much (at the very least) as Vincent Paris’ Cornas’ shown alongside. I was only sorry that with the busy crush of eager customers, I was unable to chat to Mark about his current project in Romania, which interests me enormously. I’ll have to email him!
This was a delicious tasting, all the more so because of the interest now being shown by the wine press in these two very likeable producers. They both seem totally unpretentious, yet getting on with crafting very singular bottles from small parcels, showing both what can be done, and that Burgundy isn’t the closed, unfriendly place some make it out to be. And the wine-ghost of that other wonderful temporary Burgundian, David Clark, lingers on as well – Andrew has his old bottling machine.
Before leaving Le Grappin I should mention another side to them, known as “du Grappin”. This sees wines made largely from Gamay parcels, including this year some Fleurie, sold at various South London Markets, where you will probably meet Andrew’s wife, Emma, and sold in various alternative containers. These include the (hopefully trademarked) 1.5 litre wine bags they call “bagnums”, as well as refillable bottles. A great idea which backs up the sustainability ideals the couple espouse. Well worth trying to track them down in places like Brockley or Horniman markets after Easter. I’m sure the web site will have details.
These two producers are highly recommended if you want something a little different from Burgundy. I’m not pretending they are Fourriers or Roulots. The wines are not actually cheap either, all these short Cote d’Or vintages have seen to that. But I do believe that the quality and individuality of these wines makes them stand out as good value.