It can sometimes prove difficult to articulate a wine’s appeal, but not so for MW Wines managing director Nick Stamford. At least, not when it’s about red Burgundy. “I think what makes the wine so beguiling is this concept of power and complexity, of interest without palate weight,” Nick says of France’s much-loved pinot noir. “It’s this light, ethereal-looking wine that just delivers so much impact and also finishes so savoury and fresh. It leaves you wanting to come back and have another glass.”
Nick was enthralled with Burgundy from his first sip. “It was a bit of an epiphany in the sense that I’d loved Aussie pinot noir for a few years, and what I tasted was a pretty low-level, affordable Burgundy at the time, but I found it offered something different,” Nick says. Soon after that first taste, he took his first trip to the French region and the rest is history.
Today, MW Wines claims the broadest collection of old and rare Burgundy in Australia; the company’s Museum Wine Shop stocks more than 500 red Burgundies, equating to about 2700 bottles. This makes up around 30 per cent of their offering, with the portfolio also comprising old and rare wines from Australia, New Zealand, elsewhere in France, Italy and the US. In addition to their store, MW Wines operates as a wine storage facility and is Australia’s largest independent wine auction house.
While Nick plays an integral role in curating their wider collection, it’s clear he has a soft spot for Burgundy. The relationships he has built with wineries, merchants and collectors across France have also given MW Wines an advantage in sourcing the very best wines they can find. That’s no easy feat when Burgundy has become such a rare and inaccessible gem in the world of wine. Prices may be sky-high – the pinnacle of current vintage Burgundy releases can cost up to $25,000 a bottle – but Nick believes value can still be found.
It all means taking the time to get to know red Burgundies, which Nick acknowledges can be “absolutely, deeply intimidating” due to the region’s complex geography, terroir hierarchy and “the fact the labels don’t even list the grape varietals”. So, where to start? The most important thing, Nick says, is to attend as many tastings as possible. “Talk with merchants and friends, and people who have experience with Burgundy,” Nick says. “And by attending tastings, you’ll get a handle on what you like in terms of the villages and styles.”
Five Burgundies to try
by Nick Stamford
2015 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
From an outstanding vintage, this wine is showing all of 2015's charms – fantastic fruit intensity, nice length, and a sneaky structure that can only come from old vines. Lovely Gevrey earthiness and red fruits abound. This balanced beauty will comfortably cellar for 10-plus years.
RRP $105 | Find out more
2010 Domaine de Montille Beaune 1er Cru Greves
From the legendary Hubert de Montille, who passed away in 2014, this 2010 vintage showcases all the hallmarks of the style – elegant, but powerful and perfumed, with fantastic length and structure. It’s delicious now, and has years ahead of it.
RRP $145 | Find out more
2015 Domaine François Bertheau Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
Pitch-perfect Chambolle-Musigny from one of Burgundy’s quirky characters. A lovely floral perfume and an array of red fruits in a long, sophisticated frame, with some beautiful acidity and minerals emerging on the finish. It just leaves you wanting another sip. For those that have never tried a high-quality Chambolle, this is a great place to start. Provides plenty of pleasure now, but will improve with age and last more than a decade.
RRP $199 | Find out more
2010 Domaine Comte Georges de VOGÜÉ Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
This is a serious, age-worthy Burgundy from one of the region’s established stars. Powerful, complex and balanced, with a firm structure and incredible length, it’s just starting to show what a monumental wine it will be. Give it another five years, and then drink over the ensuing 20.
RRP $699 | Find out more
2012 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru
Rousseau’s Chambertin is one of Burgundy’s legendary wines, and the Chambertin vineyard is considered one of Burgundy’s greatest Grand Crus. This wine is firm and brooding, with serious power and length. It demands time in the cellar to gain further complexity and expressiveness. Leave for 10 years, if you can, and drink over the following 20. A must for any serious Burgundy collector’s cellar, this wine is becoming extremely difficult to find.
RRP $2499 | Find out more