Neal Martin on Burgundy 2016 in bottle

Burgundy – the best price performer since 2010 and an increasingly active region on the secondary market – remains not only in the trading spotlight but is also in sharp focus from the critics’ perspective. Last week, Neal Martin released his in-bottle scores for the 2016 vintage, which he had previously concluded was “a puzzle that would be fascinating, frustrating and futile to solve”.

Having re-tasted the wines in bottle, the critic summarised that “the reds live up to their billing […] they come with a sense of triumph over adversity”. He described them as “highly perfumed with ripe tannins, expressive, vivacious, harmonious and surprisingly approachable”. Martin commented that “despite everything that malicious Mother Nature threw at the vineyards, at their peak the finished wines shrug off the stürm und drang that surrounded their birth and are occasionally breathtaking in bottle”. He particularly liked the wines of “Nuits Saint-Georges […] in the north toward Vosne-Romanée, such as in Les St-Georges, Les Vaucrains and Aux Cras”.

Pondering the market, Martin noted that “the severe depletion of the 2016 vintage by frost and mildew meant that the wines were difficult to procure when released and remain scarce now”. Still, he wrote that “merchants have reported a softening of prices even at Grand Cru levels since around March 2019, in that the most coveted are no longer snapped up irrespective of price tag”.

Martin went on to explain: “Burgundy-lovers are less inclined to splash the cash when the future is so unpredictable; as I write this, the US government has just slapped a 25% tariff on imported wine under 14% alcohol from France.” For Liv-ex’s latest analysis on Burgundy’s prices and the performance of its brightest star, DRC, click here.

The critic attended Burgfest – a two-week blind tasting held every May and September – which for him presented a “unique opportunity to assess the wines single-blind” that is “more important now than ever, since objectivity is too often compromised by price, rarity or reputation”.

Martin concluded that “the gap in quality between the blue chips and the rest is much smaller than indicated by differences in market price”. His top-scoring wines from the 2016 vintage in Burgundy, with their current Market Prices, can be found in the table below. To read his full article on Vinous, click here.