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New wines and why so many are from one place

Tonnerre skyline: Tonnere is a small town (pop 4,500) 10 miles north east of much-more-famous Chablis.

We have placed a second order with our horse-ploughing wine grower Céline Côté, whose wines were a big hit when we did our pre-Christmas and pre-Brexit import in December. Although it’s winter we were surprised how well her white and rosés sold which is why we have made an emphasis on them with this order. Meanwhile we think the fresh and fruity red burgundy from Michel Martin is perfect with falafel –almost more so than the very good red wines from Lebanon itself. We are now thinking about a big order of sparkling wine from the same region and it’s a reasonable question why we should be so focussed on a single relatively obscure corner of Burgundy when there is a whole world we could buy wine from.

This is why: 1 These wines are hard to find in Britain because of the structure of the business. You can make a good profit selling £50 bottles of burgundy from the famous names of the Côte d’Or or from mass produced supermarket wines, but these relatively inexpensive growers’ wines available in small quantities are too good value to hide a solid mark up. 2. It’s a small region but it has a wide range of styles, from the unique minerally Chardonnay of Chablis, to juicy Pinot, to more tannic food-friendly reds from Irancy, to sparkling wines that resemble champagne and even rosé wines that get better as they age rather than fading. 3 Brexit gives an incentive to concentrate your buying efforts, as every transaction with a different grower involves a fresh batch of paperwork — so there’s an incentive to buy with a producer like Céline Côte who can offer a range of different types of wine on a single pallet.

Tonnerre’s spring, the Fosse Dionne, a spring arising from an underground flooded cave, that was made into a ‘lavoir’ for washing the town’s dirty linen in 1758 (photo by By Velvet – Own work,
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