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Natasha Hughes is a wine and food writer with over a decade of experience. She also judges regularly at international competitions and provides a consultancy service for restaurants and private clients. In her spare time she has been studying for the prestigious Master of Wine qualification, and hopes to graduate later this year. Her website, natashahughes.com, features her own take on wines, restaurants, recipes and much more. Here, exclusively for wine-pages, she reports from the Burgundy 2010 'en primeur' tastings in London.

Burgundy, 2010 vintage

by Natasha Hughes, 01/12

There's been a lot of interest (not to mention column inches) recently surrounding the release of the Burgundy 2010 en primeurs. The hype should come as no surprise - the en primeur system is designed to get wine lovers revved up enough to buy as-yet-unbottled wines that they may not even have tasted.

burgundy bottle So, what's the inside scoop? Is 2010 really as good as the merchants' sales teams would have you think? Or is the buzz all sound and fury, signifying nothing?

2010 in brief

Overall, I'd say that 2010 has provided consistently good-to-great wines across the spectrum of Burgundy, from Chablis in the north to the Maconnais in the south, and from generic-level wines right up to grand cru level. Having said that, as ever with Burgundy there are caveats. A hailstorm just before harvest in Chassagne and the southern end of Puligny didn't help much: some producers in these communes ended up with botrytis. This isn't true across the board, but it pays to choose your wines from these appellations carefully. Meursault was more consistent, showing both good depth of fruit and enough acidity to add backbone to the appellation's usual textural richness.

and in some detail...

The white wines of southern Burgundy - the Côte Chalonnaise and the Macon - were generally of a high standard, although individual producers made wines that ranged widely in style. Up in the north of the region, the wines of Chablis really shone: this was a vintage that played to Chablis' strengths, producing wines with a purity and freshness that was lacking in the ripe 2009s.

Reds were generally good, with some impressive fruit showing through on many of the wines. As with the whites, acidity levels were generally high, and tannins were largely silky and refined (albeit, perhaps, not as big and firm as they were in many 2009s).

Are these wines for the long haul? Perhaps the grace and delicacy of many of the 2010s will fare better in the medium to long rather than the extreme long term, although the thread of bright acidity and the ripe, pure fruit should stand them in good stead. The flip side, though, is that many of the wines (especially those from 'lesser' appellations) were already pretty approachable in their youth.

There is, unfortunately, some bad news. Yields were very low in 2010, which means that many of the best wines were all pretty much sold out by the time last week's tastings rolled around. Unless you've already got a great, long-term relationship with your wine merchant, you're unlikely to get your allocation of DRC, Clos de Tart or any of the other big names. On the other hand, there's much pleasure to be had from the following selection of wines, all tasted at the London en primeurs during the week of 9-13 January 2012.

the wines

There are four sections: white wines under £400, red wines under £400, white wines over £400 and red wines over £400. These prices are per 12-bottle case, in bond. Many of the wines are available from several merchants, and prices can vary from merchant to merchant. The merchant and price named in brackets refers to where that particular wine was sampled.

For a list of all UK merchants offering Burgundy 2010, see wine-searcher.

Whites under £400

Domaine William Févre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses 2010
(£392, Fells). Domaine William Févre consistently makes some of the best Chablis around (not to mention the widest selection of Grands Crus). The pick of them in 2010 may well be the concentrated, complex Les Preuses. Balancing power with precision, the wine is still tightly coiled but should unfold over the course of the next few years to reveal an intense streak of minerality as well as flavours of lemons and dried herbs. 93/100.

Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Blanchots 2010
(£270, Laytons), Les Vaudesirs, Chablis Grand Cru (£275, Flint Wines). Blanchots is always a delicate, linear Cru, and this tendency has been enhanced by sensitive winemaking at Long Depaquit to create a very pure, penetrating wine with notes of white blossom, lemon and chalky that linger on the palate. 91/100.

dampt Domaine Bernard Defaix, Chablis 1er Cru, Côte de Lèchet 2010
(£128, Flint Wines). It's no surprise that Bernard Defaix's Côte de Lèchet is a big on-trade favourite. For relatively little money, it delivers classic, linear, precise Chablis, with hints of struck match on the nose, opening up on the palate to reveal lemon zest-flavoured fruit of terrific intensity. The long finish is like sucking on a piece of chalky stone. 91/100.

Domaine Moreau-Naudet, Chablis 1er Cru, Montèe de Tonnerre 2010
(£149, OW Loeb). Although it may be the modern label design you notice first about a bottle of Moreau-Naudet, it's the quality of the wines that will stay with you long after you've finished the bottle. The Montèe de Tonnerre is a smoky, peaty, mineral-driven wine with a core of ripe, crisp fruit. Tight, linear and powerful. 91/100. The same producer's Chablis 1er Cru Montmains (£138, Lea & Sandeman) shows a touch of the same smokiness, along with juicy, expressive peach stone and pink grapefruit flavours and a leesy mid-palate richness. An incisive, elegant wine with a long, stony finish. 90/100.

Domaine Vincent Dampt, Chablis 1er Cru, Côte de Lèchet 2010
(£170, Corney & Barrow). Pure and crisp, with a yoghurty character derived from lees contact and a trace of stony minerality. The fruit is all lemon zest and orange blossom, although there's a hint of honey on the elegant finish. An elegant wine. 90/100.

Domaine Arnaud Tessier, Meursault 1er Cru, Genevriéres 2010
(£378, Flint Wines). A rather restrained nose, but the palate hints at layers of buttered toast and nuts, with ripe, fleshy citrus fruit. Good concentration and length. 90/100.

Bret Brothers, Pouilly-Vinzelles, Les Quarts 2010
(£210, Berry Bros). Vibrant, tightly coiled pineapple, quince and citrus fruit. Ripeness held in check by bright acidity. May need a year or two to settle into its stride. 88/100.

Domaine Patrick Javillier, Bourgogne Blanc, Cuvèe Oligocéne 2010
(£150, OW Loeb). Javillier's Cuvèe Oligocéne, made from grapes grown in a vineyard that straddles the border between the appellation of Meursault and generic Bourgogne vineyards, is a consistent, reliable Burgundy. It's not fancy or hugely complex, but it has a rich, creamy texture, pleasing peach and pink grapefruit flavours and a delicious streak of acidity. 86/100.

Domaine A & P de Villaine, Rully, Les Saint-Jacques 2010
(£175, Corney & Barrow). The family-owned domaine of DRC's co-director Aubert de Villaine consistently delivers great value at moderate prices. This Rully shows very clean and pure, with a linear structure driven by crisp acidity. The subtle fruit is tinged with lemons and dried flowers. It's quite Chablis-like, albeit with a tad less minerality and a shade more fruit. 86/100.

Domaine Daniel Barraud, Pouilly Fuissè, Les Crays 2010
(£201, Lea & Sandeman). Chalky and restrained, with minerality fleshed out by juicy peaches and crunchy red apples. The oak is sensitively handled. Sinewy, lithe structure. Flavour builds on the finish. 90/100.

JP Fichet, Meursault, Les Chevaliéres 2010
(£395, Genesis Wines). A lovely smoky, toasted nose. The palate is rich, but not overblown, with a pleasing streak of lemon and limes and the added weight of judicious toasty oak. Racy acidity supports a long finish. 91/100. For slightly less money, Fichet's Meursault, Meix Sous Le Château (£305, Genesis Wines) provides slightly simpler, but still limpid lemon and lime blossom fruit allied to shiny, bright acidity. 88/100.

Domaine Fernand & Laurent Pillot, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru, Vide Bourse 2010
(£318, Lea & Sandeman). Proof that not all the Chassagnes were tainted by hail damage. A rich but restrained wine, showing layers of spicy, oak-tinged fruit with some real minerality and focused pineapple and citrus fruit. At the moment it's very tight, and the oak is somewhat gawky - everything needs time to settle into place. Not cheap - is the name some kind of ironic post-modern joke? - but some class. 93/100.

Domaine Rèmi Jobard, Meursault, Chevaliéres 2010
(£321, Lea & Sandeman). Smoky, toasty aromas. The palate has some creamy richness and fruit is balanced by nicely judged oak. Quite a savoury style. Concentrated and focused. 88/100.

Reds under £400

Lignier Michelot, Bourgogne Rouge 2010
(£115, Genesis Wines). Fancy scoring yourself a good everyday Pinot Noir? If so, you won't go far wrong with Lignier Michelot's entry-level Bourgogne Rouge, which displays juicy, ripe raspberry and strawberry fruit and supple tannins. Not complex, but fresh, lively and good value. 85/100.

Domaine Jean Guiton, Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru, Les Vergelesses 2010
(£185, Flint Wines). There's a very pure core of focused cranberry and mulberry fruit here, along with hints of autumnal leaves. Brisk acidity and crunchy tannins provide a good framework. 89/100. If you're on a budget, the same producer's Bourgogne Rouge (£95, Flint Wines) provides lovely, bright cherry and redcurrant fruit draped around some slightly chunky tannins. Not the most concentrated or complex wine in the world, but easy to drink and great value. 85/100.

Domaine de Montille, Beaune 1er Cru, Perriéres 2010
(£297, Berry Bros). A vivid, fruit-driven wine with plenty of bright strawberries and cherries on the palate. Crisp, refreshing, albeit somewhat simple. 85/100.

lambrays Domaine Hudelot-Noellat, Chambolle Musigny 2010
(£275, Flint Wines). A very pretty wine, with a palate full of Chambolle's characteristic floral, raspberry and redcurrant fruit, supported by a trace of spicy oak. The tannins and texture are both silky. Very accessible now. 89/100. If you're after something a bit more concentrated and long-lived, but with the same graceful style, Hudelot-Noellat's Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru, Les Charmes (£590, Flint Wines) should do the trick. 91/100.

Dujac Fils et Pére, Chambolle-Musigny 2010
(£265, OW Loeb). A large (60%) proportion of whole bunch fermentation (very much the house style chez Dujac) has created a pale wine with heady aromatics of rose petals and strawberries with dollops of earthiness. Silky, charming and long. Racy acidity brings it all into focus. 90/100.

Domaine des Lambrays, Morey-Saint-Denis 2010
(£350, OW Loeb). While anyone in receipt of a City bonus might be well advised to invest in the seductive, complex and long-lived Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru (£990, OW Loeb), 97/100, mere mortals may have to 'settle' for the Morey-Saint-Denis. Not that it's any hardship when the wine shows many of the same aromatic characteristics of its more expensive sister: silky tannins and smoky strawberry fruit, with a slight woodsy note on the finish. Not as concentrated or as complex as the Grand Cru, but great value, relatively speaking. 88/100.

Domaine Pascal Prunier-Bonheur, Pommard, Les Trois Follots 2010
(£205, OW Loeb). Attractive nose of cherries, spice and flowers. A big wine, but so generously fruited and fleshy that you hardly notice its firm framework. Nicely balanced. 92/100.

Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lés-Beaune 1er Cru, Les Vergelesses 2010
(£325, OW Loeb). Plenty of nervous tension here, with bright, concentrated raspberry, cherry and floral fruit caged in by relatively firm tannins. Perfumed length. Needs time to settle but will be very attractive in its maturity. 90/100.

Domaine François Lumpp, Givry 1er Cru, Clos Jus 2010
(£186, Lea & Sandeman). All the domaine's wines seem to flirt with the idea of only-just-ripe-enough-ness. If you like that style, you'll enjoy this wine, which reveals very pure, crunchy fruit and a hint of minerality on the surprisingly persistent finish. Pretty and perfumed, but not powerful. 88/100.

Domaine Comte Armand, Auxey Duresses 1er Cru 2010
(£216, Lea & Sandeman). Not the most concentrated wine in the world, but pure and linear. Chalky tannins and fresh acidity provide a structural thread for the bright raspberry, redcurrant fruit. There's a twang of minerality on the finish. 88/100.

Domaine de la Douaix, Côte de Nuits Villages, Vielles Vignes 2010
(£177, Lea & Sandeman). Great value for this amount of concentrated dark cherry and damson fruit bound up in firm, fine-grained tannins. Lively acidity brings the long, earthy finish into focus. 93/100.

Domaine Huguenot, Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru, Fonteny 2010
(£372, Lea & Sandman). Somewhat reductive at the moment, but the beautifully silky texture suggests an elegant future. Lively, delicate red fruit and elegant tannins. The oak needs time to integrate fully. A graceful wine with a poised, perfumed finish. 91/100.

White wines over £400

Maison Albert Bichot, Criots Batard-Montrachet 2010
(£1,600, Genesis Wines). Bichot has really hit its stride in recent years, and on the evidence of this year's line up 2010 looks to be another good year for the house. Nevertheless, I found many of its whites to be too tightly coiled at the moment to do more than hint at their potential. The Criots Batard-Montrachet was one of the more expressive cuvèes, although it currently reveals far more on the explosive palate than it does on the nose. Layers of flavours and minerality promise great things to come, as does a sinewy, lithe structure and a rich, creamy texture. 95/100

Domaine Arnaud Ente, Meursault, Clos des Ambres 2010
(£594, Berry Bros). This is a serious wine whose tightly coiled, vibrant palate is currently dominated by racy acidity. Give it another couple of years to settle, though, and the opulent, mineral driven fruit and creamy mid-palate should come into focus. 93/100

Domaine Antoine Jobard, Meursault 1er Cru, Poruzots 2010
(£570, Berry Bros). Another wine that demonstrates why 2010 has been such a successful year for Meursault. There's toasted hazelnuts and buttered toast on the nose, but the palate is driven by an almost fierce minerality, with a seam of dried herbs and grapefruit hinting at the fruit to come. Concentrated and rich, but the bright seam of acidity prevents it from being at all overblown. Deliciously long. 92/100

Domaine Henri Darnat, Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Champs Gains 2010
(£410, Corney & Barrow). A solid, workmanlike Puligny 1er Cru. Bigger and bolder than many wines from the appellation, with a twangy, vibrant palate of ripe fruit and rich oak that needs time to integrate fully, but with a long, opulent finish that promises well. 89/100

cathiard Domaine Henri Boillot, Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Pucelles 2010
(£558, Lea & Sandeman). An intense, layered nose of hazelnuts and oak-derived vanillin. A limpid, focused palate with layers of lime and quince, interwoven with a smoky minerality. The oak currently stands proud, but over time should knit together seamlessly. Elegant but potent. Very long. Thoroughly delicious. 96/100

Red wines over £400

Frèderic Magnien, Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2010
(£1,045 est, Genesis Wines). Although the fruit is still showing a bit shy, there's great energy and tension on the palate, with hints of wild strawberries, smoky spice and sloes on the palate. A silky and seductive texture, with slippery, fine-grained tannins and an aura of brooding intensity. A prolonged finish builds to a vibrant conclusion. 93/100

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru, Rugiens 2010
(£640, Flint Wines). A bit muted on the nose, but there's some ripe, almost sweet floral-tinged cherry and berry fruit on the palate. It's a powerful wine, but sinewy rather than chunky. Long and perfumed. 90/100

Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot, Vosne-Romanèe 1er Cru, Les Suchots 2010
(£530, Flint Wines), Echèzaux Grand Cru (£850, Flint Wines). Complex, concentrated palate full of meaty damson plums, violets and a hint of game and juniper. Great depth of ripe fruit enlivened by brisk acidity. Taut, grippy tannins. Thoroughly delicious. 93/100

Domaine de l'Arlot, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, Clos de l'Arlot 2010
(£495, Corney & Barrow) and Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Forêts (£495, Corney & Barrow). Do you like your Nuits-Saint-Georges pretty and silky, with charming red-berried fruit, or do you prefer it dark and earthy, with a more rigorous, powerful structure? If the former, the Clos de l'Arlot may well work for you, if the latter you'll probably prefer the Clos des Forêts. Both 89/100

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, Richebourg Grand Cru 2010
(£2,202, Lea & Sandeman). At the moment the nose reveals little, and even the palate is tightly coiled in on itself, hinting at layers of dense, dark fruit to come. However the plush, deep-pile velvet texture hints at a great future, as does the caress of fine-grained tannins. Very long. Powerful. Needs time to unfold. Expensive, yes, but the best costs. 96/100

Domaine Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Les Gruenchers 2010
(£630, Berry Bros). At the moment, taut, sinewy tannins dominate the perfumed fruit, but given time this should unwind to reveal some beautifully perfumed, slightly earthy fruit. Good concentration and length. 89/100

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard & Fils, Vosne-Romanèe 1er Cru, Malconsorts 2010
(£1,500, OW Loeb). An elegant wine that somehow manages to express both an ethereal quality and power at the same time. Ripe damson and liquorice fruit, earthy, draped around fine-grained tannins. Has that effortless quality of a truly great wine. 96/100

For a list of all UK merchants offering Burgundy 2010, see wine-searcher.