Professional tasters were full of glowing adjectives for the 33 cuvées to be offered at this year's Hospices de Beaune auction, increasing the sense of anticipation around the Burgundy 2015 vintage.
‘There is clearly impressive density and concentration to these reds,’ said Berry Bros & Rudd‘s Burgundy expert, Jasper Morris MW.
‘The wines will not taste much different from how they taste now after they undergo malolactic fermentation,’ said Ludivine Griveau, who is in her first year directing winemaking for the Hospices wines.
She said that is because the reds have very low malolactic acidity, between one and 1.6 grams per litre, compared to four grams on average.
Some tasters at the event drew comparisons with 2005, but opinions differed. Bouchard Pere & Fils director Philippe Prost said that 2005 had more acidity than 2015, because 2015 was a warmer vintage. ‘2015 seems to be more a cross between 2003 and 2005,’ he said.
As for whites, some tasters felt the wines lacked verve. ‘The window to harvest to preserve freshness was far more challenging,’ said Bernard Burtschy, a Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 judge. But, not everyone agreed, as shown described by Anthony Hanson MW below.
Anthony Hanson MW on Burgundy 2015 Hospices wines:
Strikingly beautiful purple-ruby colours, with aromas of well-ripened black and red fruits are the first impressions of the Hospices 2015 reds.
The Domaine has produced 33 different red wines, their palates showing a wide spectrum of personalities. Some have supple fruitiness, like Monthelie, Volnay Muteau and Beaune Maurice Drouhin.
Some have richer structures, balanced with dense fruit and silky texture, like Pommard-Epenots, Beaune-Grèves, Corton Charlotte Dumay and Mazis-Chambertin.
Others are spectacularly powerful, with concentrated fruitiness, well-ripened tannins and great length, like Pommard Dames de la Charité, Corton Clos du Roi and Clos de la Roche.
Tannins are rich and unctuous, with welcome acidity more present than we saw in hot years like 2003 or 2009.
Natural alcohol in the whites is fairly high, analysis showing low levels of malic acidity, so these wines should retain balancing freshness, once malolactic fermentations are completed. The whites are opulent, with aromas recalling white peach and apricot, sometimes mandarin and quince.
Anthony Hanson MW is senior wine consultant at Christie’s London, organiser of the annual Hospices de Beaune auction. His comments on the wines were given after the sale.
[Editing by Chris Mercer]