21ST CENTURY BURGUNDY VINTAGE REPORT Scroll here >>>

Since moving Burgundy in 2002 we have seen the seasons come and go, watched the vines in the vineyards and talked to the winegrowers as they work on the land and in their cellars.

Our contact with Burgundy winegrowers lets us compare the different vintages first hand from 2002. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respond differently to terroir and climatic conditions. Each year brings its own unique aromas and tastes. Some years are ideal for ageing others perfect for drinking when they are young. We hope this vintage review will help you enjoy your Burgundy at its best.

David and Lynne Hammond, February 2016.

Email lynne@bringingburgundytoyou.com for free advice on the Burgundy in your cellar – we’ll advise on when to drink and food matching.

David Hammond

2014 WHEN TO DRINK

Bourgogne Regional appellations easy to drink now along with some white Village appellations.

VINTAGE REVIEW:

2014 - Crémants on top

The 2014 vintage in Burgundy offers quality and quantity. It promises to be a "good year" for white wines and reds show "finesse" according to the B.I.V.B. – the Interprofessional Office of Burgundy Wines. After several years of low volumes, 2014 was closer to normal with a harvest volume estimated at approximately 1.450 million hectoliters – back to 2009 levels.
The year started well with flowering the earliest in the past 20 years. Following a sunny spring, growers in the south of Côte-de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise suffered a violent hailstorm that devastated several parcels at the end of June. In villages such as Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, Monthélie, Meursault and Rully, hail struck for the third consecutive year. Some winegrowers lost of between 40% and 90%
.
July and August were wet and with lower than average sunshine. Swollen grapes were hard-pressed to ripen during the summer. Gloomy weather prevailed across many of France’s wine regions, during summer. Consequently the Burgundy harvest, planned to start the first days of September was pushed back several days.
Despite this, the first days of September were dry and a sunny month gave ideal conditions for a optimal ripening and good healthy grapes. ”June gave us quantity and September quality”- said one wine grower.

In summary 2014 will be an excellent year for white wines in Burgundy with "perfect balance" with good aging potential, with the caveat that some appellations where hail hit have lost significant quantity (e.g.Meursault 50% down). The red wines have intense colour, beautiful notes of fresh fruit, concentrated with soft tannins and pleasant on the palate. Côte de Nuits reds are likely to be excellent and reflect the expectations of many of Burgundy’s great red Appellations. Crémant production continues to increase and 2014 saw good yields with the relatively high acidity needed to produce the structure and freshness required for a quality sparkling wine. Some Crémant houses are predicting a vintage year for their top wines.

 

David Hammond

2013 WHEN TO DRINK

The whites from the Mâconnais, Chablis and Côte de Beaune can be drunk now, with the 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations able to cellar a further 4-5 years.  The reds can still be cellared.

VINTAGE REVIEW:

2013 – real challenges, heartache for some but pleasing for others.

Overall, the weather had a major impact. A cold, wet spring resulted in some berries not “setting” on the vines reducing the number of grapes on the bunch. Hail was devastating in a localised areas. A storm in late July was horrendous for the Appellations of Monthélie, Volnay, Pommard, Beaune, Savigny-les-Beaune, Chorey-les-Beaune and parts of Pernand Vergelesses. But neighbouring Appellations, for example, Meursault in the south and Ladoix in the north escaped.
The harvest, starting in the first week of October, was the latest since the 1980s. This brought its own challenges of low sugar levels but good acidity.
In the Côte-de-Nuits, Alain Noëllat of Domaine Michel Noëllat is “satisfied” with the 2013s. We saw the grapes at harvest and they were of excellent quality. Yields, again, are low but the colour extraction is excellent and the wines appear to be well balanced.
The Côte-de-Beaune can be described as a tale of two villages. Domaine Dujardin, who for the third consecutive year lost most of his Monthélie 1er Cru red was utterly devastated – but he still made wonderful Monthélie and Auxey Duresses whites. Literally across the road Alain Coche at Domaine Coche-Bizouard was very pleased with their Meursault and Puligny Montrachet Appellations.
Further south, in Côte Chalonnaise, Domaine Michel Briday had mixed views on his Rully whites but considers his Bouzeron Aligoté to be exceptional. Rully reds escaped the hail and with good weather for July, August and September will be very pleasant wines.
It is interesting to reflect on a comment too, from Nadine Marcillet in the Hautes-Côtes, that every day she receives numerous phone calls from bulk-wine négociants asking to buy wine! “We’ll take whatever you’ve got” they say!
So, what does all this mean to the Burgundy-lover? Three consecutive years of low yields will impact on the range, vintages and prices of wines available to the general buyer.
2013 is a year to sort the men (and women) from the boys! Good, consistent work in the vineyard resulted in good quality grapes at harvest. So, 2013 is a year to rely on winemakers you know or come recommended from sources you respect.

 

David Hammond

2012 WHEN to DRINK

Both good for ageing, especially the Côte de Beaune whites.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2012 – Vintage years of weather extremes.

The feedback from growers is that the reds have good colour, concentrated with soft tannins. The whites are full of fruit with good levels of acidity. Successive low yields over the past 3 years means wines were released for sale early.
Every vintage report I’ve written since 2002 starts with the weather! Burgundy lies at a meteorological crossroads and its climate is temperate continental but with extreme temperature variations between the coldest winter and hottest summer days. For example, during past decade we experienced the hottest summer and severest drought since records began when, in 2003, daytime temperatures touched 40C/104Fand night-time temperatures 35C/95F and, in 2010, the coldest winter for over 30 years with temperatures dropping to minus 20C/4F! A typical year will see summer/winter swings between +35C to – 15C.
Weather had challenged winegrowers, and consequently growers who did the right things in the vineyard at the right time have been rewarded. Yields were low while quality of grapes was generally superb – helped by a warm and sunny September.
Every meteorological calamity possible battered the vines this year: Spring frosts in May, delicate flowering, rain at the time of full shooting, hail, mildew, oïdium and even drought conditions at the end of the growing cycle. Chablis had not had a period so dry since 1976. However, the final blow was a harsh hailstorm in the middle of September that fell in the lower part of Santenay and Chassagne in the Côte de Beaune.
Yields generally, with the exception of Côte Chalonnaise, were 30% to 50% down. This varied greatly village by village – and even within the same vineyard. In some villages, notably in the Côte de Beaune, the reds were the lowest yields recorded. These small yields favoured maturity - concentrated grapes with good sugar levels. September, as is often the case, was dry, warm with good clear light with little cloud cover. The bulk of the harvest started around the 20th September beneath a clear sun.
The adage that the quality of the vintage comes from the vines has never been more true – careful vineyard husbandry and skilful sorting at harvest resulted in excellent wine at barrel tasting.
The Côte Chalonnaise was less badly hit by the inclement weather and mildew was not such a problem as in the Cote de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. Acidity levels and ripeness was good, promising well-balanced and concentrated wines, particularly in Rully and Mercurey.
Feedback from many winegrowers followed a common theme. The year can be summed up by Fabienne Bony, Domaine Jean-Pierre Bony, Nuits St Georges: “We started the harvest on the 22nd September. This year was really difficult in terms of the weather and the health of the vines was seriously perturbed. We had lots of disease, which reduced the yields. In Nuits Saint Georges we lost between 10 and 20% depending on the parcels. For Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Chardonnay my harvest was 50% down. However the grapes were of very good quality – in fact it has been a long time since we’ve seen such beautiful grapes!

 

David Hammond

2011 WHEN TO DRINK

These wines are lovely to drink now, while the white 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations can age.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2011 – a surprising vintage

The reds indicate that maturity is not that pronounced and the acidity is low giving medium body. However the fruit is very expressive, with good colour and tender and delicate tannins. It is a pure wine to drink for pleasure and with food.
Following a hot, dry spring we experienced a cold, wet period in July and early August with hail in Rully in the Côte Chalonnaise, which destroyed up to 100% of this Appellation in some vineyards. The weather improved from mid-August resulting in an early, elongated harvest from the end of August to the middle of September. This is the third August harvest in the past decade. Burgundy producers are content with the vintage, but disappointed with another year of low yields. In conclusion the reds to drink young and whites to be cellared.


David Hammond2010 WHEN TO DRINK

All whites can be drunk now with the exception of the Côte de Beaune 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations which need to be aged. Reds ready from now onwards.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2010 A Classic Vintage

It is clear that success of the vintage was due to the professionalism of the producers, and also to the natural, almost miraculous regeneration of the vine several times within the year. The whites are well balanced; rich, but fresh and concentrated due to the low yields. The quality reds are aromatic with silky tannins.
At the harvest winegrowers felt that despite the challenges of nature 2010 appeared, throughout Burgundy, a classic vintage - pure, harmonious, rich with ageing potential. The year started badly with adverse weather conditions. First we suffered a severe frost with temperatures dropping to minus 20 degrees C in December 2009. Many vines on the lower slopes, particularly in the Côte de Nuits were damaged as the sap froze and the vines did not re-grow. Many producers thought that the potential yield for 2010 was already severely reduced that night.
Second, the flowering in June 2010 was not uniform. Some seeds shattered and others flourished within the same bunch. Later during the season you could observe the uneven ripening on the bunches of grapes - some swollen and some minute in size. Thus the yield was reduced further.
As often occurs in Burgundy we had a sunny September without too much heat, which allowed the grapes to ripen and retain their acidity and also, due to the small quantities, to ripen quickly.

 

David Hammond2009 WHEN TO DRINK

Drink now. 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations can be aged another 1-3 years

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2009 - From dreams to reality

These started to drink well in 2012/2013 and are excellent now as many are maturing quickly showing aromas of fruit compote and undergrowth – but should not be aged more than a year or so beyond 2016.
Idyllic weather in 2009 had everyone hoping for an exceptional vintage - and it was - although there is much diversity in the wines across the region. Problems arose with winegrowers who failed to control their yield. Initially everyone excited by the fantastic weather that was perfect from the 20th July onwards. Growers anticipated a repeat of 2005, which had exceptional overall quality, whereas the 2009s presented a totally different style. The best wines are now excellent, but overall the vintage is now seen as diverse in quality. However, the weather conditions throughout were the same with healthy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with good or very good ripeness and generally less acidity than 2005.
The red wines express rich, meaty textures, silky tannins, very elegant, less acidity and very approachable. But would they age? The whites are equally expressive, aromatic, rich and full.
Nature is no doubt responsible but above all many winegrowers, after low yields in 2008, felt that with the start of the good weather it was a time to increase capacity in the cellars with a vintage already receiving good press even before the first bunches of grapes were picked!

 

David Hammond2008 WHEN TO DRINK

The wines are starting to open now, but 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations can be aged.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2008 - A sublime surprise!

In 2008 the harvest began at its “usual” time (although later than the last 5 years) around the 20th September. Small yields but good, healthy grapes. All winegrowers were content. A lot of work was done in the vineyards, careful nurturing with some green harvesting and also judicious sorting at the time of harvest. Many commented on the number of grapes, particularly in the Côte de Nuits, still on the vines in October and November – due to their immaturity at the time of the harvest. Also a good year for the Burgundy Crémants which require higher levels of acidity at the time of picking.
It is fair to say that the 2008 wines are superior to those in 2007, particularly for the whites. For the reds the Côte de Nuits is slightly better off than the Côte de Beaune and the Côte Chalonnaise, but with this delicate vintage it is be the competences of each winegrower that makes the difference. The 2008 reds have good colour, structure, body and a subtleness that will enable them to be drunk younger. However the best appellations are capable of ageing for 10-15 years, for village and longer for premier and grand cru.
It is the whites that are the stars and gave us the best surprises, especially among winegrowers who avoided rushing to harvest. This is not a great vintage but a very good one. The whites have precise aromas, full of fruit, harmonious, elegant and fine. These are well-structured wines with excellent balance.

 

David Hammond2007 WHEN TO DRINK

Drink now

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2007 - The year when lessons can be drawn from the climate…

With good winemaking the 2007 vintage turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The general view was that the year would produce a light vintage – drink soon and leave other vintages for ageing. With the exception of some Grand Cru and 1er Cru both red and white 2007 wines should be drunk now. For those that love “old-style” pinots with earthy, musty aromas and the colour of brick they are a gem.
What a challenging year for the winegrower! The weather could not have been more diverse during the year. We experienced a lovely warm March and April where the vines galloped away and burst into bud a month early. We experienced an awful summer; cold and rainy with much rot in the vineyards - the worst for over 30 years. The harvest eventually started at the end of August and was protracted finishing at the end of September with low yields.
The grapes matured at different times in different parts of the Côtes. Older vines with roots penetrating deep into the soil seemed to fair better than younger vines. For many winegrowers it was stop-start, stop-start. Many growers were very pleased with the quality of the grapes at harvest and those that took their time to sort the bunches of grapes carefully before vinification produced a good wine.
The pinot noirs are rich, fruity and voluptuous and are a treat for those who like to drink a younger style of wine. The Côte de Nuits called the tune, with its strong terroirs. However it did not squash the competition in the Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise. Here the serious winegrowers and négociants produced good wines though not as deep as the Côte de Nuits, but did justice to their appellations. They are good to very good but not great as the weather did not permit this.
As for the whites, figures show that the yields were acceptable, but wines lacked depth. This was due to maturity levels. Fine 2007 cuvées can be found and have a finesse, minerality and purity but you must seek out the best.

 

David Hammond2006 WHEN TO DRINK

The wines are ready now, but 1er Cru and Grand appellations can be aged.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2006 – a “Vintage of Pleasure”

Summarised as “Le millésime de plasir” (a vintage of pleasure) these wines are fantastic to drink now and top appellations cellared. This vintage is now regarded as a Classic. 2012 is the perfect moment to savour both the reds and whites retaining a touch of acidity. Many appellations are moving to their “mature” stage hinting the promise of aged wine aromas and tastes.
Voluptuous, supple and rich, 2006 are a treat for Burgundy wine lovers and even as young wines they were very agreeable to drink. The whites are of equal quality throughout Burgundy and there are some unexpected surprises from the reds. Thus the 2006 is noted as a “Grand Millésime” for the chardonnay and a “Petit Millésime” for the pinot noir.
The reds: The harvest had hardly finished when some winegrowers pronounced that the weather conditions in 2006 had had an adverse affect on the pinot noirs. Wet conditions are precarious for the fragile pinot noir. However, several months and a few thousand bottles later everything had changed. Although not a great year, a satisfactory year. The pinots are gourmet wines: voluptuous, fruity with a deep and silky texture and well structured.
The whites: The chardonnays are a real success and the quality is spread throughout all of the winegrowing areas. Those winegrowers who waited and acted at the right moment in the nurturing and tending of their vines and picked at the right moment of maturity were highly rewarded.

 

David Hammond2005 WHEN TO DRINK

Even at 10 years old, these wines could to be aged a further 5+ years!

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2005 - “Grand Millésime” - The best ever vintage? YES!

The greatest reds and very good whites – this is the reaction to the 2005 vintage.
Better than 2002? Yes! This applies to all the wine growing areas in Burgundy from Chablis in the north through the Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and the southern Mâconnais. If you have some, keep them in your cellar!
Weather conditions were just perfect. Winegrowers had thought that the heat wave during the summer could block the grapes maturation as in 1976, but the soft rainfall later in the season re-established the balance. Weather conditions were favourable throughout the year, dry and largely sunny, with just the right amount of rain and favourable northerly winds..
The first grapes were picked on the 1st September in the Côte Chalonnaise and the rest of the region resumed their normal picking rhythm commencing between the 10th and 15th September
What constitutes a “Grand Millésime” a “Great Vintage”? A wine described as a Great Vintage reveals concentration and balance. It is generally results from low yields and early ripening. In all cases it has come from perfect healthy and rot-free grapes.
These great reds are silky, rich, elegant, typical of what one would expect from a classic Burgundy to lay down. The whites are full in the mouth, generous, with notes of ripe fruits and with coated minerality. Really top-notch.
If you have 2005s keep them in your cellar and let them continue to mature and develop into the best wine of the millennium (so far)!

 

David Hammond2004 WHEN TO DRINK

Drink, many are past their peak

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2004 – a challenging year

Defied expectations, should be drunk but for those who adore “older, vegtal-style” wines drink only the best 1er Cru and Grand Crus.
2004 was comparable 1989 where the winegrowers had immense problems with mildew, oïdium and rotting grapes – it could have been devastating. However in the following year or so growers were surprised at the eventual quality, particularly in the Côte de Nuits.
Following a normal Spring, the vines were full of buds and set for a large crop. This was
good news considering the tough climatic conditions the vines had to endure the previous
summer. However August proved to be poor, dismal, rainy and cold for the time of year and mildew was a problem for many growers. Many winegrowers decided to control their yield and reduced the number of bunches on the vines.


David Hammond2003 WHEN TO DRINK

Drink, past their best

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2003 – the year of the heatwave

2003 confounded the critics and if you can find magnums of this vintage they are truly memorable! Worth keeping back some to see how they continue to evolve. Quite unlike any other Burgundy vintage!
Also, there were severe, late frosts in April which affected many vineyards. We saw temperatures of –7c in Chablis and –5c in Meursault. This was followed by hail on Friday 13th June (fate?) and then the temperatures started to rise on 10th July reaching initially 30 degrees in Beaune, then 42 degrees at its peak in August. As we toured the vineyards in August we could see the grapes withering in the heat. On the high slopes they resembled raisins. Due to the fast ripening of the grapes the harvest took place a month early in mid-August. In the Côte Chalonnaise the harvest started on 13th August and in the Côte de Beaune  15th August – never known before! Those winegrowers that had machine harvesters benefited from the “cooler” conditions at night, while the pickers had to struggle through day-time temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees c!
With these difficult growing conditions the yield per hectare was greatly reduced. Many winegrowers harvesting 50% less than normal. However the wines were packed full of fruit and deep in colour, the reds resembled New World Pinots. The debate on the 2003s is still out today in 2016. Extremely hard to find and most growers will say if you have some in your cellar, drink know! But, we are continually surprised by the staying-power of some of the wines, particularly the reds.

 

David Hammond2002 WHEN TO DRINK

Drink now, but 1er Cru and Grand Cru white appellations can be aged.

VINTAGE REVIEW:
2002 – Great whites

2002 proved to be a good year for Burgundy wines and definitely a great year for the Chardonnay. The climatic conditions made for healthy grapes; a warm and sunny summer with an occasional rainstorm and a sunny but fresh September for the harvest with soft northerly winds. On the nose the wines are elegant and aromatic with aromas of flowers and fresh fruit, good minerality and freshness to make a complex bouquet.
In the mouth they are exemplary: smooth, full and well rounded, powerful in some cases.
These wines still continue to develop and are good for laying down. 2002 is the year for the Côte de Nuits, in particular Gevrey-Chambertin and the northern Côte de Beaune villages of Aloxe, Ladoix and Savigny. For both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits also produced good quality wines, with alcohol levels slightly higher than usual. These you will find very fruity with soft tannins. 20 kilometres south in the Côte Chalonnaise the whites were perfumed and well balanced and the reds often similar to the 1999 vintage.