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Red Burgundy 2008 – Ask Decanter

A vintage that was 'saved by the bell' - but how is it drinking now...?

Trond A Gudbrandsen, by email, asks: What is your view on the 2008 vintage for red Burgundy today?

Charles Curtis MW, a New York-based journalist and author, formerly head of wine for Christie’s in the US and Asia, replies: The 2008 vintage in Burgundy is remembered as perhaps the best example of a season ‘saved by the bell’, or more appropriately, saved by une belle arrière-saison – the timely intervention of dry, sunny weather at the very last moment.

Growers certainly needed saving in 2008. The season started poorly – snow almost until Easter – and it never really got better, with cold, wet weather in much of the season. The sun finally came out on 14 September, along with a strong north wind, drying the fruit and concentrating the sugars just in time.

In the end, yields were tiny and acidity was high, but growers who were careful through the season and who sorted stringently were able to produce beautiful results. I tasted the wines from barrel in 2009, and wines from the best growers showed well. The Echézeaux 2008 from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti had surprisingly deep colour, ripe fruit and lovely floral notes, with enough structure and weight to show real potential.

Today, the wines are maturing. While most of the regional and village-level wines are frankly past their peak, the best premiers crus still show well. Top white wines can be thrilling – if they haven’t been subject to premature oxidation – and the grandest of the red grands crus are often still in the ascendant.

Recent favourites have included Rousseau Chambertin, JF Mugnier Musigny, and in particular the grands crus from Ramonet and Raveneau, which still require considerable time to show their full potential.

This was first published in the April 2021 issue of Decanter magazine.

See also

What is premature oxidation? Ask Decanter

How to let a wine breathe, and when – Ask Decanter

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