Millions of pinot noir lovers who would go out of their way and part with serious amounts of funds still have difficulty finding value in red Burgundies.
Many, if not most grand cru, premiere cru, and even communal Burgundies, are too expensive for hundreds of thousands of wine lovers willing to pay more than $ 20.00 per bottle.
It is true that in Burgundy quality depends much on the vintage, and on average, every decade produces three fine vintages. When the vintage happens to be successful or even great, vignerons try to make up for their losses in poor vintages.
Yet, to those interested in good value and particularly for restaurateurs, there are still a few ways to acquire quality for a reasonable price.
The most common way of obtaining good value is to go to vignerons. In many instances, they are monolingual French. Speaking at least rudimentary French helps a great deal, or an alternative is hiring an interpreter.
Then, equipped with a good map and plenty of research at home, the search can start.
Visiting well-known communes like Gevrey-Chambertin, Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, and Batard-Montrachet just to name a few, would be a waste of time and effort. All vignerons in these villages know the market value of their wines and demand accordingly high prices.
Then you consider visiting small out-of-the-way sub regions like Haute de Beaune and Haute Cote de Nuits. Here you are likely to find vignerons who love what they do and are willing to sell their wines at a reasonable cost, but they want cash and deliver immediately. So you have to literally collect the wine, find a reputable, specialized shipping company in Beaune, and ask them to complete all formalities for export.
Similarly, in jurisdictions with monopolies insisting that only they arrange for shipments, take the address and all the relevant information about the wine including ex-cellar cost. Once at home place the order with the monopoly.
They will arrange for the shipment and customs clearance, and notify you when the wines arrive or you can hire the services of a local agent to arrange for shipment. Small vignerons devote their total attention to their vineyards and wine making. They are less interested in long distance trade.
This is where shippers enter the picture, which facilitates the whole procedure but also makes the wine much more expensive.
Another way of saving is to go to specialized consignment agents who scour small appellations and discover fine wines, but they want to be rewarded for their efforts.
Small vignerons lack economies of scale for their fragmented vineyards and most cannot afford even a modest bottling line. Some bottle by hand, others call mobile bottling establishments that bottle on the premises.
Maranges and Santenay in southern Cotes de Beaune offer excellent value, early drinking wines.
In Burgundy, 1999 yielded excellent red wines, 2000, very good, 2001 good to very good, and 2003 by all accounts is a blockbuster, as are 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Below, please find fine red Burgundy producers and their best values pending vintage quality:
Cote de Nuits Villages – Domaine Denis Bachelet
La Robingotte, Cotes de Nuits Villages – Domaine Gilles Jourdin
Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes – Maison Nicolas Potel
Les Bons Batons Rouge – Domaine Michelle et Patrice Rion
Chorey Les Beaune – Maison Champy
Clos de Tavannes Santenay – Domaine Louis Muzard
Santenay Rouge – Domaine – Louis Muzard
Les Corvees Ladoix- Domaine – Chevalier Pere et Fils
Les Longerois Marsannay- Domaine Bruno Clar
Cote de Beaune Village – Maison L. Jadot
Les Vergelsses Savigny Les Beaune – Domaine Simon Bize
Ile de Pernand-Verglesses – Domaine Marius Delareche
Clos du Champs Fulliot, Monthelie – Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils
Note: Champy, L. Jadot, and Bouchard Pere et Fils, not to be confused with other Bouchards in Burgundy, are well established and reputable shippers with considerable holdings in Burgundy. Those brands mentioned above represent exceptional value in their portfolios.