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Goodbye to The Society's Red Burgundy


#1

Hello everyone!

The eagle-eyed Burgundy fans among you might already be aware (thanks to a short explanation in the intro to the Burgundy section on page 37 of the latest List) that we’ve taken the tough decision to discontinue our Society’s Red Burgundy.

Our buyer Toby wanted to give some extra information about why we’ve done this, and what alternatives he recommends. He’s shared this with me to post here:

Buying good cheap red Burgundy is one of the most difficult challenges, perhaps like looking for The Holy Grail! Pinot noir’s quality drops off a cliff when it yields much above 55hl/ha in Burgundy. (Most other varieties around the world make wines of declining but still interesting quality up to say 100hl/ha). As yields increase to meet certain price points quality goes down. Bourgogne rouge is planted in the more clay rich soils at the bottom of the slope which are more vigorous, hence producing more yield, but are colder, so the ripening ability is reduced. It’s trapped in a vicious circle of high yields but with less possibility of ripening.

Bourgogne rouge succeeds best in the very ripe years like 2003 where clay soils retain water and the extra heat helps ripen the high yields. But this is infrequent. Despite my entreaties for Burgundy beginners to start higher up the price range, many begin with The Society’s bottling. At this level red Burgundy is a modest, quite austere wine that some really like but many do not. This style is perhaps falling out of fashion.

Going forward I will buy a similar but slightly higher grade wine than the current Society’s Red Burgundy, called Le Levraut, but only in the riper years when the wine is a little sweeter and richer than in the poor or average years, and mature it mainly in large oak foudres to soften the tannins without over oaking the wine. I have bought such a wine in the ripe 2018 vintage which we will sell next year.

For those looking at alternatives sooner than that, I suggest The Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir:

Also Beaujolais can produce similar wines below £10 a bottle in a slightly less austere style. They have a little more fruit and slightly softer tannins and acidity than similarly priced red Burgundy so have a wider appeal.

So there you have it. It’s worth noting, you can still buy The Society’s Red Burgundy as we haven’t yet sold out of our current stock:

But I’d also be really interested to hear what you guys think, and what you’d suggest as good alternatives based on similar styles of wine you’ve enjoyed? Comment below! :point_down:


#TWSTaste: Burgundy grapes, Alsace style [7th Nov 2019, 8pm]
#2

Fair enough - good call from T.M. He was on a hiding-to-nothing.

I have previously bought, enjoyed and positively reviewed TWS Burgundy. But tastes change whilst Burgundy costs ever more & new world PN alternatives get better - cest la vie (with a Gallic shrug).

This sells out very fast, but in my opinion is very good at the price point.


#3

I rather enjoy this Beaujolais as a cheaper alternative to Burgundy Pinot Noir. Goes very nicely with chicken, turkey, pork and ham dishes.


#4

I feel this is a real shame, although perfectly understandable. For me, this is about misplaced expectations rather than anything wrong with the wine and Toby’s choices.

I thought the 2015 and 2016 perfectly good, very honest, wines that were exactly what they said on the tin. I quite understand that they would not be to all tastes.

As to an alternative, to my mind there isn’t really - Burgundy is Burgundy, even at the cheap end. Plenty of perfectly good other wines and I do really enjoy Beaujolais but I shall look forward to the 2018 Le Leveaut.


#5

I’m thinking something similar to Olivercg, in that there isn’t an “alternative” as such. But if the wine is being delisted because, in general terms, it’s not very well received, then surely a similar alternative wouldn’t be well received either. Are you looking for something that’s similar, yet somehow much better? It seems a bit unlikely to me. If it’s similar it probably won’t be popular, and if it’s different then it’s not an alternative but just another wine. I guess I don’t understand the question well.


#6

Hiya Andy,

Perfectly fair question! I guess what I meant was, The Society’s Red Burgundy will have been enjoyed by people here for various specific reasons - maybe because it’s a relatively inexpensive pinot noir, maybe because it’s a lighter red, or maybe because it was a good example of inexpensive Burgundy (even if the style of this wine is maybe going out of fashion).

So while there’s probably nothing out there that tastes exactly like it for the price, there’s bound to be various alternatives people could recommend that would fit with the above reasons and beyond - great examples being @EdMcK’s Beaujolais pick and @lapin_rouge’s excellent Moselle pinot suggestion (thanks!)

Throwing my own hat in the ring, if someone did want to stick with Burgundy, I’d probably opt for this:

It’s a little more expensive, yes, so I wouldn’t buy it as often maybe, but it’s got both our Exhibition stamp of approval and, by extension, obviously our buyer Toby’s approval too - so I don’t think you can go wrong! :wink:

And then there’s the Alsace pinot we’ll be tasting at the next #twstaste next Thursday, which is apparently ‘made like a Burgundy’ - could be interesting to see how that compares!


#7

I also think there isn’t really an alternative. And certainly not from Chile.

Think the issue is misplaced expectations, of course. Despite the fact that TWS has been admirably prescient in warning about this wine, it seems many members sadly don’t know much about wine.

Personally I think Burgundy is now far too expensive to be an everyday wine, and as such I would be looking to spend at least 20 or 25 quid for a wine of any quality at all. Problem is that for a special occasion wine, you aren’t getting special occasion quality at that price.

Best off hunting around NW Spain, Tenerife, Sicily, Alpine Italy, Slovenia, etc, as well as the more obvious Beaujolais.


#8

And this, which whilst not Pinot, does have a certain ‘Burgundyish’ quality to it, it certainly floats my boat as a Burgundy lover who can either no longer afford, or objects to paying, the prices of many Burgundies. Like many others… :sob:


#9

Yep. I forgot that one (maybe the most obvious of the lot!)


#10

I really don’t care much for most Beaujolais, so that one’s off my list. But to be honest, if you are looking for half-decent Burgundies, I’m inclined to agree with the £20-25+ starting point marker. Not that it is immutable, but the wines that are good below that need a degree of inside knowledge.

I know that “Burgundy-like” gets bandied about quite a bit in respect of wines from other places. I don’t really find it accurate, much. The suggestions can be very helpful in their own right, but they are rarely anything remotely like a Burgundy, for one reason or another. TBH, you just have to grit your teeth and fork out.

I did try Le Levraut on its first outing, and it does still bear a house similarity to the Society’s Red Burgundy of almost-fond memory. I’ll certainly be happy to try the next available vintage when it appears.


#11

I have to confess that I have never tried the Society Burgundy, or indeed a lot of others. On the other hand one of my earliest wine drinking experiences was in Pommard at the village harvest (or vintage) festival a long time ago. In terms of light red wines my memory takes me to Brown Brothers Tarrango which I used to enjoy. I haven’t tried it for about 20 years, since being told in no uncertain terms that light reds were pretty much for wimps, and not for any self-respecting wine drinkers! Now I’m considering trying it again, just to see. But I’m not aware of anyone else making wine from Tarrango, or even growing it.


#12

Obviously we all like what we like and am happy for others to be distracted from the good stuff. However I shed no tears at the loss of this cuvee. It’s the sort of thing that is difficult to love and as a WS wine it’s difficult to see what is showcases or leads onto.


#13

If I’m honest, I don’t know what a ‘Burgundy alternative’ would be - I so rarely ever drink red Burgundy, let along able to afford a really good one as a regular purchase, but if we’re talking Pinto Noir the varietal - then this is utterly lovely:

Here’s my impression of it, if anyone’s interested.

Light reds have always been a preference for us anyway, so we drink ‘alternative to Burgundy’ all the time. As @Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis noted on this thread, perhaps it’s misleading to think of other PN expressions as ‘Alternatives’. For me, it takes from their own character and achievement, like constantly being in a big sibling’s shadow. Zweigelt, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese, St Laurent, Blaufrankisch not to mention the adorable Cab Franc are their own thing, attractive in their own way.

I’ll get off my soapbox now! :smile:


#14

I recently enjoyed this Loire Cabernet Franc. Delicious and VGVFM.

Perhaps more Beaujolais than Burgundy, but a lovely, tasty and good value wine of surprising weight.


#15

I think it’s a real shame. When I first tried it many years ago I disliked it and sent it back, then the penny dropped and I’ve been buying it regularly ever since. I’ll miss it, but will follow TWS recommendations to get the closest available alternative.