Bourgogne Online Exclusives

Looming Shortages and Spiraling Prices Drive Drinkers to Find Value in Burgundy’s Fringe Appellations

By John Szabo MS

What I wrote nearly two years ago about Bourgogne is even more true today: future shortages are looming as demand continues to hold up amid shortened supply.

Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Burgundy

In its latest Burgundy 2020: Stocks and sweet spots report, the Liv-Ex fine wine marketplace reports that yields in the region were down -14.6% in 2019, and an even more catastrophic -37.5% in in 2021, thanks to a comprehensive battering from nature that included frost, hail, and Biblical rains. The high quality 2020 vintage was sandwiched between these two smaller than average vintages, with yields up 8.3% in 2020. But although 2020 has alleviated immediate shortages, producers have had to take the 2021 vintage shortfall into account when determining the allocation of 2020 wines, yet to reach our shores.

And yields were not uniformly up in 2020 across Burgundy, either, with vignerons from some of the most sought-after villages reporting alarmingly low production, particularly in red wine. Most problematic for collectors, yields in the Côte d’Or, the heart of the region where the most collectible wines originate, were down in both 2020 and 2021. For example, parts of the Côte de Nuits, yielded “about half a crop” in 2020 and 2021, according to Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW, while the Côte de Beaune saw 2020 volumes higher than those in 2021, but still greatly reduced. Meanwhile the white wine vintage in 2020 at least made up for the shortfall of the reds, yielding just below the maximum permitted.


The short story is that demand far outstrips supply. And if you can manage to find current vintage wines of the Côte d’Or, they will be expensive.

This reality has forced savvy buyers to search off the beaten path for similar style wines. And there are lesser-known areas within Burgundy itself that can satisfy needs. I’ve been hunting around in particular lately in the so-called “Bourgogne Plus” regional designations. Officially known as Dénominations Géographiques Complémentaires, or DGCs, these 14 complementary geographic denominations can be appended to the generic regional Bourgogne AOC, with an additional 27 village names that can be appended to the generic Mâcon appellation for wines that meet the standards, most importantly, of course, having to originate in the specified geographic area. These formerly humble and little-known vineyard areas scattered throughout the region still produce authentic Burgundy in every way: pure pinot noir and chardonnay with region-defining freshness, delicacy and perfume.

The Hautes Côtes de Beaune above Pommard looking east to the Saône River Valley

And quality today is genuinely exciting, thanks in part to climate change. Once marginal, notably cooler areas like the upper hills above the Côte d’Or in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, and the collection of vineyards and villages between Auxerre and Dijon in the l’Yonne department to the north, previously on the edge of viability for grape growing, are now ripening grapes to degrees not seen for centuries (ever?). The top wines are starting to bear an uncanny resemblance to great Côte d’Or wines from the 1980s and 1990s when the world was cooler.

Another reason is economic. Untouchable land prices in the Côte d’Or are forcing a new generation of vignerons to the margins. This younger set of winemakers, well-travelled and quality-focused by necessity, bring a level of ambition rarely seen in the earlier generations of grape farmers on the fringe.

Saint-Bris-Le Vineux

For the record, the 14 DGCs that can appear in conjunction with Bourgogne are: Bourgogne Chitry, Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise, Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois, Bourgogne Côte d’Or (the newest), Bourgogne Côte Saint-Jacques, Bourgogne Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Bourgogne Épineuil, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Bourgogne La Chapelle Notre-Dame, Bourgogne Le Chapitre, Bourgogne Montrecul/Montre-Cul/En Montre-Cul, Bourgogne Tonnerre.

Further south in the Mâconnais region the DGCs represent villages that can append their name to the generic Mâcon appellation. There are some 27 villages in all that have been awarded this status, including perhaps most famously Mâcon-La Roche Vineuse, Mâcon-Cruzille, Mâcon-Fuissé, Mâcon-Loché, Mâcon-Lugny, Mâcon-Pouilly, Mâcon-Vergisson, and Mâcon-Chardonnay itself.

Hautes Côtes de Nuits

Here are a few reputable Burgundy merchants in Ontario, and wines to seek out online via agents and LCBO online exclusives.

Reputable Burgundy Merchants in Ontario

Vinifera Wine Services 
Le Maître de Chai (ON & QC)
Burgundy Direct 
Gibson Family Wines
Mellecey Wine Group
CGU Fine Wines
The Case for Wine

Buyer’s Guide: Bourgogne “Plus”

Goisot La Ronce C├┤tes D'auxerre 2018

94pts Goisot Bourgogne Cote d’Auxerre La Ronce 2018 (Pinot Noir)
LCBO#:  176262 $52.80, Maitre De Chai
Domaine Guilhem et Jean-Hugues Goisot is the leading producer in Saint-Bris, making wines that rival almost anything from the Côte d’Or. The domaine has been certified biodynamic since 2004 even if the philosophy has been practiced since the early 1990s. The vast Goisot range, which also includes wines from the Saint Bris, Bourgogne Aligoté and neighboring red-only Irancy AOCs, is nothing short of extraordinary. These are marvels of purity and transparency, often micro-cuvées of singular parcels, each with their own identity though all showing a confident overarching hand and refined house style. The Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre La Ronce is one of the meatier, less fruity-floral pinots in the range, which puts Goisot’s mastery of texture on full display: always refined even when richly structured.

Domaine Denis Carré Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune La Perrière Rouge 2018

93pts Domaine Denis Carré Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune La Perrière Rouge 2018
$50.00, Consignment via Gibson Family Wines
Domaine Denis Carré, now under the stewardship of second-generation siblings Gaëtane and Martial, sits above Pommard in the hamlet of Meloisey with some 13 hectares under vine. Like many, the Carrés own some vineyards down in the Côte d’Or, but this Hautes Côtes bottling of pinot comes from the lieu-dit La Perrière, Bourgogne patois for “stony” (“stone quarry”), a gently-inclined south-facing parcel near the village. And this 2018 is indeed all perfume and stoniness, so fantastically delicate and refined, an amazing feat in this torrid vintage. I love the fresh, sweet red berry perfume, the pomegranate and raspberry, morello cherry and red currant, so delicate and detailed, with no evident wood influence, just purity of crystalline fruit. Yet depth and length are also in evidence — the finish lingers on and on. Such a pretty wine, especially with a light chill. And while drinking superbly now, another 2–4 years should see positive evolution.

Domain Lucien Jacob Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune Rouge 2018

92pts Domain Lucien Jacob Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune Rouge 2018
$44.00, Consignment via Gibson Family Wines
In the Hautes Côte above Ladoix-Serrigny in the hamlet of Echevronne, Domain Lucien Jacob farms about half of the estate’s 15 hectares here on the border between Beaune and Nuits, with additional holdings down in the Côte de Beaune. The 2018 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune is a deliciously forward and fruity, lush and ripe wine, yet still retains poise and freshness — such is the advantage of being in these higher elevations in hot years, like this vintage. Tannins are supple yet relatively abundant, boding well for further development in the cellar, while acids are creamy-balanced. There’s lots of pleasure on offer here, and it’s an attractive entry into Burgundy, delivering well above the appellation mean.

91pts Maison Laroze De Drouhin Bourgogne Côte D’Or Pinot Noir 2018
$49.95 Consignment via Mellecey Wine Group
Maison Laroze de Drouhin’s Côte d’Or pinot is sourced from several lieu-dits (Bourgogne Aux Pruniers, Bourgogne Grand-Champs, Bourgogne Moutiers) on the lower end of the slope in the villages of Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey Saint Denis. In the 2018 the result is a dark and substantial wine, ripe but still quite rugged and grippy on the palate, with fine succulence and concentration. I like the juicy black cherry fruit and the thrust on the palate — it’s not a Bourgogne of particular refinement or finesse, but it delivers a substantial amount of flavour while staying relatively lively in the (warm) vintage context. Length is also very good. You might give this another year or two in the cellar to polish up the rougher edges.

Danjean Berthoux Bourgogne Chaume Ronde Vieilles Vignes 2019

90pts Danjean Berthoux Bourgogne Chaume Ronde Vieilles Vignes 2019              
$33, Consignment via Gibson Family Wines
Although bottled under the simple Bourgogne appellation, this wine is from the lieu-dit Chaume Ronde, a single vineyard just outside the hamlet of Le Moulin Neuf within the Givry appellation where the Danjean-Berthoux domaine is located, and could be labelled as Bourgogne Côtes Châlonnaise. It pours a fairly deep red with ruby edges, still very youthful, matched by the clean, ripe fruity aromatics on display. Raspberry and sweet strawberry flavours lead on the supple, silky palate — tannins are very supple and smooth — while acids are relatively ripe and creamy; there are no hard edges here. Length and depth are excellent in the category. Lovely wine, ready to enjoy or hold short term.

Merlin Macon La Roche Vineuse 2019

91pts Merlin Macon La Roche Vineuse Blanc 2019
$36.00, Consignment via Vinifera Wine Services
Olivier Merlin’s classic Mâcon from his home village of La Roche Vineuse, whose very name indicates a long connection with wine (and indeed the first written mention of chardonnay dates back over 500 years to this village), is a wine of marvelous fragrance and satisfying depth in the warm 2019 vintage, weighing in at a heady 14.5% alcohol declared and with almost new world richness. Yet bright acids keep the texture buoyant and counterbalance additional creaminess added by lees contact. I love the ripe, white-fleshed orchard fruit flavours and sweet citrus alongside fresh bread dough and apple blossom, with no detectable oak influence, and the long, satisfying finish that lingers of wet chalky notes. I’d suggest enjoying this over the near term in the flush of youth with all of the billowing fruit intact. Lots of pleasure on offer for the money to be sure.

John Szabo, MS