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Winemakers Fear a Burgundy Bubble

Burgundy prices runneth over

Though a recent spate of bad weather in the region led to low harvests, global demand for Burgundy wine continues to skyrocket — which could pose a big problem for winemakers in the region. According to Bloomberg, the climate might signal a looming "apocalypse."

Burgundy saw its worst frost since 1981 in April, which could lead the region's harvest to be down as much as 40 percent. But Bloomberg reports that the demand for Burgundy has only increased — and with it, prices have risen, too: "Prices have risen so fast, some domaine owners are no longer sure what to charge, especially because merchants and restaurants mark them up way, way more."

Bassam Alkahouaji, owner of Bacchus Wine Cellar in Washington, D.C., says there is "always" demand for Burgundy. "It has its loyal followers, and there's been an increased demand in China, as well," he notes.

The average price of a good bottle of Burgundy, says Alkahouaji, will set oenophiles back about $50 — unless you're looking for a bottle of premier or grand cru, which could cost upwards of $200 a bottle.

As Bloomberg notes, wines from the 32 grand cru vineyards in the region have become trophies for wealthy wine-collectors. The grapes are so expensive, however, that many winemakers can no longer afford to buy them from growers. Production is slowing, as a result: "Grapes to make 300 bottles of [the] 2009 grand cru Charmes-Chambertin cost €8,000 ($8,800); the price for the same amount in 2015 was €22,500."

Those looking to get their hands on a bottle of 2016 Burgundy will face even more of a challenge. "2016 bottles are going to have some issues, because of the weather," says Alkahouaji. "The production is going to be very, very small. I'm sure some producers will not have any wine at all, actually."

So what's the alternative? Bottles from 2011 and 2012 are "great," says Alkahouaji, but pricey. "2013 is a little bit less expensive." Unless it's a bottle of grand cru, of course. According to Bloomberg, the 2013 La Romanée from Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair costs nearly $3,000 a bottle. Not in your budget? Look on the bright side: There's always the knockoff version.