Thu 20 Dec 2012

Gold Blend: Blending The Society’s White Burgundy


Last week I accompanied Society ‘Master Blender’ Marcel Orford-Williams on a whistle-stop trip to Mâcon in southern Burgundy. The primary purpose of the visit was to put together the assemblage, or blend, for next year’s Society White Burgundy, our best-selling wine.

Imagine, if you can, the onerous task of making a single, consistent ‘cuvée’ to keep many of our most demanding members’ palates satisfied throughout 2013. We sell more than 20 bottles of The Society’s White Burgundy every hour of every day throughout the entire year, and finding sufficient volumes of high-quality wine is by no means straightforward.

Jean-Marc DarbonFortunately help was at hand in the form of Maison Jacques Dépagneux, with whom we have been working very closely for over thirty years. Every year at about this time Jean-Marc Darbon (pictured) scours the cellars of the region, tasting wine from literally hundreds of tanks in order to make his pre-selection of chardonnay samples for The Society.

Once the samples from all corners of the appellation have arrived at the Dépagneux tasting room, Marcel is summoned to work his magic. Last Friday we arrived promptly at 9.00am chez Dépagneux and were presented with a lineup of over 40 samples of 2012 Mâcon sitting on the work bench. Each sample was labelled with the name of the grower, the tank number from his or her cellar and the volume of wine available.

Our first task was to taste every sample and eliminate the less promising wines. This done, after a modicum of debate (and thankfully little disagreement), we then set about putting together the constituent parts into a ‘super-cuvée’. The 2012 vintage thankfully produced whites of excellent, and consistent, quality so the final blending session was considerably less nerve-wracking than for the 2011 vintage (which tended to be patchy in quality and consequently very tricky to blend). Out came the measuring flasks and Jean-Marc studiously followed Marcel’s instructions.


Three hours and much tinkering and fine-tuning later, the blend was done and a collective sigh of relief rang out across central France – the 2012 Society White Burgundy will be an absolute cracker!

Tim Sykes
Head of Buying


  1. Ghazi Hamdi says:

    I am really looking forward to prooving you right when the wine is available.

    By the way, why does the Society List often excludes one or two good Montagny bottles….I enjoy this wine and find Montagny to be the best value white Burgundy for my money.

  2. The 2006 was the mainstay of my daughter’s wedding. Hope to need 2012 for the baptism. Keep working the magic.

  3. Robin Smith says:

    Always great value and interesting to read about how you put it together.

  4. Dr J A G Taylor says:

    How come I am reading comments dated before Xmas but I am only receiving this information today 7 Jan?

    • Martin Brown says:

      Thanks for your comment. This post was published to Society Grapevine on 20th December, but we sent an e-mail today to a number of members to bring to their attention some of last month’s highlights from this blog.

      If you would like to receive e-mail alerts whenever a new post is published on Society Grapevine, you can subscribe on the top-right of this page or follow the instructions on the e-mail you received today. New posts are also announced via The Society’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

  5. Geoff Woollen says:

    Okay, these provisional blending notes are all about promises to deliver, but even allowing for that, Tim Sykes’s, on white burgundy, seemed to address the issues rather better than Jo Locke’s postcard (from the edge?) on white bordeaux.

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