Le Dû's Wines 2018 White Burgundy Review

Le Dû's Wines 2018 White Burgundy Review
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Introduction
Before we begin, I’ll say that the following opinions were based on a series of tastings held in February and March of this year, just under the wire as it turned out. I will also add the caveat that my conclusions often differ from the critical community. For instance, there is an excitement about the reds in 2018 which I do not share. I have largely decided to skip the vintage for red wines in Burgundy. The nature of Burgundy allocations forces me to place orders up to 6 months ahead of the actual arrival date so this is literally me “putting my money where my mouth is”.

Whites in 2018 are a different issue altogether. I have and will continue to invest heavily in 2018 White Burgundy with the caveat that selectivity is vital. It is not a vintage like 2014 where one can order blindly and be assured of quality. There are highs and lows in 2018 but the highs are very high. Additionally, I find myself in disagreement when it comes to comparisons of the last several vintages. I think if you asked most of the critics of Burgundy, whom I hold in high esteem across the board, they would rank 2016 ahead of 2018 in terms of quality then put 2018 and 2017 in a tie. I think this stems from a fundamental difference in perspective rather than opposed quality standards. 2016 is a tightly wound vintage which is more cellar worthy at the higher level than 2018. 2017s are more “classical” in their expression of individual terroirs. But, I am in the business of giving people wines they actually like to drink in the near term. The problem of Premox (see my blurb on Sauzet for a more detailed exploration) has put the whole notion of long cellaring of White Burgundy into question and my suspicion is the Burgundian literati consistently favor potential over immediacy. This is understandable in that their subscriber base are most likely made up of people who are most interested in that very question. I once asked Stephen Tanzer, one of the Burgundy critics for Vinous, why he never reviewed Bourgogne Blancs and he replied that his readers didn’t care about Bourgogne Blancs. Well, I care about Bourgogne Blancs. And I care about how much pleasure a bottle provides, not just its intellectual dimensions. This is all a long way of saying, there is a tremendous amount of pleasure on display in 2018.

“There will be very many extremely attractive wines which will be accessible early.” - Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy

Statements like the above are music to my ears. It is part of the reason I am investing so heavily in 2018. These are wines which are ready to impress and will continue to sing over the next few years. This is not to say they cannot age.

“For those with longer memories, 2018 actually remind me a great deal of the 1982s. If this comparison turns out to be apt, readers who enjoy cellaring their whites for longer periods are in for a treat as the 82s have aged magnificently and in fact are still very much with us.” - Allen Meadows, Burghound

But, I’ve often said “can” and “should” are two different things. With a few exceptions (those wines in the offer marked “Cellar Selection”, for instance), I don’t see a tremendous upside to not consuming these wines over the near term (now to 3 years). This is not to say they are not impressive. “Accessible” is often a dirty word in the fine wine business, serving as a stand-in for simple. This is just not the case in 2018. The wines, at their best, are complex and compelling, just not particularly challenging.

“They are ripe yet somehow manage to remain classic in style.” - Allen Meadows, Burghound

With that being said, the devil in these particular details is “at their best”. As I mentioned earlier, selectivity is key in 2018. Because of Climate Change, there is a new normal in Burgundy (see the entry on Bachelet-Monnot for more discussion on that point) which has not yet resonated with all producers. The same immediacy which makes the 2018s compelling at one address has served to make them lackluster just up the road. When you factor in the prices Burgundy now demands, this level of scrutiny is entirely justified so I’ll state without reservation that it is not a vintage to buy indiscriminately. Put a simpler way, just because you like one 2018, doesn’t mean you’ll like another.

“For the whites, it seems to be more a question this year of producer choices than specifically more or less successful locations.” - Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy

I will end by saying I consider 2018 to be a “Premier Cru” year. To be blunt, I don’t see the point in spending the money on Grand Crus in 2018 so I am not advocating you do so. This is a vintage where there are plenty of village wines which overperform and then the gap between the Premier Crus and the Grand Crus is often very narrow (see my entry on Drouhin’s Marquis de Laguiche). The $75-$125 range is the sweet spot for 2018 White
Burgundy.

In the following offer, you’ll find 6 producers who shone in 2018. There are still producers which have not been released which are not included in this report. While it is true there is more availability to retail with the restaurants shut down or half open, there is also a process which is just beginning where Burgundy is pivoting away from America and looking East so these quantities are still extremely limited.

As always, thank you for the support and I hope you’re staying safe & keeping well.
With High Regards,
JT Robertson
General Manager
Le Du’s Wines
July, 2020
Download the Full Review Here