A white Burgundy vintage guide back to 1961.

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2015

Burgundy 2015 white wines: Ripe but fresh

The 2015 white Burgundy vintage is more uneven. Certainly these are riper, more food friendly wines than the chiselled, crystalline 2014s, but nor are the 2015s as ample and low in acidity as, for example, the extravagantly tropical 2006s or the soft, easy going ’09s.

Opinion is divided on what strategy best realised the year’s potential: was it better to harvest early or late; should the wines receive a long or a short maturation in barrel? Time will tell, but it is already clear that the best 2015s are concentrated and fresh.

Indeed, Meursault’s Anne Morey describes 2015 as ‘a classic white Burgundy vintage, with good freshness and ageing potential’, and is evidently concerned the wines may be dismissed prematurely as hailing from a warm – and therefore uninteresting – year. Pierre-Yves Colin of Chassagne-Montrachet agrees. For him, the 2015s in barrel evoke the 1985s: ‘the best white vintage I ever tasted’. So though the 2015 whites may not be as homogeneously brilliant as their red counterparts, careful shoppers who do not underestimate their quality will be amply rewarded.

In southern Burgundy the picture is also more complicated. The reds and whites of the Côte Chalonnaise are a great success, replete with bargains: their quality should be some consolation in a vintage which will be both scarce and expensive in the storied appellations of the Côte d’Or.

The Mâconnais, by contrast, was both drier and hotter than the regions to its north, and grapes ripened rapidly: its wines, ordinarily ample, often verge on excess. Here 2015’s successes – of which there are certainly plenty – are generous and comparatively open-knit, in the style of a vintage such as 2011.

Climate conditions

So what were the conditions that shaped this extraordinary year? A mild, wet winter replenished water reserves which were to be sorely needed during a hot, dry summer. In the Côte d’Or, a few inches of rain in June, followed by a further inch or so in August, were critical to refresh the vineyards and ensure even ripening, but young vines and those rooted in thin soils were certainly stressed. There were no significant differences in microclimate between the various villages. Vosne-Romanée had 81mm of rain in August, while Morey-St- Denis had 75mm, and such trifling variations were typical of the vintage.

Fortunately, the weeks immediately before harvest were cooler than in 2003 or 2009, which helped to preserve acidity and made picking less fraught. The result was a below-average yield of excellent quality. Many growers, including Vincent Guillemot in Savigny-lès-Beaune, observed that they had never witnessed such beautiful fruit.

Picking dates were fairly uniform. Arnaud Mortet in Gevrey picked from 3 September to maintain freshness in the wines; Clos de Tart, also stressing the need to avoid over-ripeness and low acidity, picked from 5 September. Freddy Mugnier in Chambolle-Musigny began a bit later, on 8 September, but was mostly finished before the serious rainfall of mid-September. Pierre Damoy in Gevrey was very much the exception in picking after the rains, but because the skins were so thick there was no significant dilution. Alcohol levels ranged from 12.5% to 13.7%, and wines with more than 14% alcohol are very much the exception.

One peculiarity of the grapes was the unusual thickness of their skins, laden with ripe tannins and polyphenols, which produced deeply coloured and richly structured wines. Another was their combination of good levels of tartaric acid with low levels of malic acid: in consequence, malolactic fermentation had only a slight impact on the wines’ pHs, which is one reason why so many have remained beautifully bright and vibrant.

Assessing the risks

What were the potential pitfalls? The most obvious for producers of both red and white was the risk of over-ripeness, and there were certainly some growers who waited too late to pick (though this was a problem more in the Mâconnais than the Côte d’Or and Côte Chalonnaise). Others, anxious to avoid the excesses of 2003 and ’09, may even have picked too early – or aggressively acidified their musts – producing uncharacteristically lean, mean wines. But these appear to be very much in the minority.

Another challenge was presented by the vintage’s serious structure. Winemakers who attempted extended post-fermentation macerations, or who pressed too hard, have often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by extracting harsh, aggressive tannins.

In appellations with a tendency to rusticity, such as Chorey-lès-Beaune and Santenay, this error has had especially unfortunate consequences, amplifying the brutishness which a ripe vintage should have tamed. Where there were traces of over-extraction in the Côte de Nuits, as with some wines from Faiveley, that is more a consequence of house style than of reckless vinification. On the other hand, growers with a penchant for whole cluster fermentation found they had ideally ripe bunches on which to practise their craft.

Chablis also enjoyed a very successful vintage. There was limited hail damage in top sites such as Les Clos and Blanchots, which diminished the crop, but overall the summer was benign and the harvest early. The 2014 vintage may prove the more classic here, but the 2015s, with their higher ripeness and slightly lower acidity, are impossible to dislike. There are few flabby wines, and most bottles show more than acceptable acidity levels and a mouthwatering minerality. They offer opulence without blowsiness, and will give great pleasure in the short to medium term. Even generic Chablis wines are delicious and deliver great value.

Is 2015 a vintage to buy?

Definitely, as this is the best vintage for red wines since 2005 and 2010, although the white wines are less consistent. Prices may cause many purchasers to wince, especially in the UK. But the frost-ravaged 2016s are likely to see even more rises. It is hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with the 2015s, and even the more lowly Bourgogne and village appellations can be first-rate.


2014

Growing Season

Conditions got off to a good start: spring was warm and dry, leading to a fairly early bud-break and an uneventful flowering in early June throughout Burgundy.

But later that month the problems began. On 28 June a hailstorm, as in 2012 and 2013, tore through the Côte de Beaune, causing huge damage in villages such as Volnay, Pommard, Meursault and Beaune.

The renowned vineyards of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet largely escaped, although some problems during flowering here did lower the crop. The Côte de Nuits was much less affected, but still there were growers who experienced considerable damage.

Not all vineyards within each commune were affected by hail, but nevertheless many producers reported losses that averaged about half their usual crop; at Domaine Jacques Prieur, which owns vineyards across the Côte d’Or, the average yield was 14hl/ha.

The silver lining was that the reduced crop reached maturation with ease despite the difficult
summer.

However, feeble yields in damaged sites forced some growers to blend premier cru sites into a single blend rather than releasing them separately, since there was too little wine to justify single-vineyard bottlings.

Tricky conditions

The summer was frankly poor, with wet, chilly conditions interspersed with a few hot days in July and worsening conditions during the first half of August. There was surprisingly little disease, but maturation proceeded slowly.

Pierre Damoy, of the eponymous domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin, confessed: ‘Given that this was supposed to be an early vintage, the awful weather in August slowed everything down and caused us great anxiety.’

From mid-August the weather improved, with mostly dry, sunny conditions continuing well into September, giving the grapes a steady maturation and a harvest beginning generally from mid-September.

A north wind helped to keep the bunches healthy. Chardonnay was largely problem free, but there was some rot in the Pinot Noir that had to be dealt with in the vineyard or on sorting tables.

The sunny conditions meant there was no pressure to pick very quickly.

Fruit flies: Drosophila Suzukii

However, from late August there were localised infestations of the drosophila suzukii fruit fly that can penetrate damaged grapes, especially those with soft skins such as Pinot Noir.

According to Grégory Patriat of Jean-Claude Boisset, some growers panicked and picked too early, resulting in hard tannins in their Pinots.

The damage done by these spotted-wing, vinegar flies provokes sour rot, which needs to be eliminated by careful sorting in the vineyard and winery, and this was done by all top-flight domaines.

Chablis

In Chablis there were memories of botrytis attacks the previous year, and Jean-Philippe Archambaud at Simmonet-Febvre pointed out: ‘Quite understandably some growers were
nervous and tempted to harvest too early, but it was important to wait.’

The sunny, breezy first half of September resulted in delicious and fragrant wines with ageing potential.

Fabien Moreau at Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils said: ‘It was a very healthy harvest and the wines have a classic style.’

General: ‘A large range of enjoyable and easy drinking wines’

Overall, the Burgundy 2014 white wines across the whole region are admirable: ripe, juicy and
relatively forward.

At Domaine Alain Chavy in Puligny the grapes had natural sugars of 12.8% potential alcohol or more, so no chaptalisation was required. Acidities were normal, but even so there are some soft wines that may not age particularly well.

This means there will be a large range of enjoyable, easy-drinking wines.

At the same time the great sites delivered excellent wines of minerality, fruit intensity and staying power. Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne, of Domaine Leflaive, said that after racking in the summer, the whites gained in intensity and structure. He had no doubt they would age well.

Both picking dates and the use of (or blocking of) malolactic fermentations will have affected individual house styles, so the white vintage is far from uniform. Yet they combine the richness of 2012 with the freshness of 2013, says Jean-Pierre Cornut at Château de la Maltroye in Chassagne.


2013

Keep

Few domaines in 2013 had optimally ripe Chardonnay grapes, so styles vary from lean wines that were early-picked to richer wines at the broader end of the spectrum for white Burgundy, and often with the exoticism given by botrytised fruit. The early harvesters ended up with racy wines with some elegance, and actual greenness was rare. And there are some outstanding wines from the great vineyards, wines that will replay cellaring.


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Weather Conditions

The miserable flowering period and the savage hailstorms in July severely reduced the crop of Chardonnay. The vines continued their slow maturation during the summer months and then into September, while their farmers struggled to cope with disease. By late September the grapes were fairy ripe. The dilemma was whether to pick grapes that were only marginally ripe, or whether to wait and risk some botrytised fruit in the barrels. Some picked early and chaptalised, since the winemakers preferred purity of fruit to the greater lushness of wines from botrytised grapes. It was very much a personal choice. Many top estates, such as Leflaive, picked from late September and completed the harvest about a week later. There was rot, but the sorting table could take care of that.

Best Appellations

There are unquestionably some very good whites in the Côte de Beaune, leaner than in an outstanding vintage but mostly fresh and even mineral. Later-picked wines that are rather fat and may not age particularly well but will still find favour with winelovers who enjoy a fuller style of Burgundy. The Mâconnais had no hail but yields were still reduced, and quality was sound and reasonably consistent. Chablis also had problems at flowering and lost a third of its normal crop. As in the Côte de Beaune the picking date was important. Domaines such as Droin and Fevre picked before the October 5 downpours and probably made better wines than those who waited; the best wines have fine concentration and acidity, the disappointments taste rather flat.


2012

Drink soon

Hailstorms slashed quantities on the Côte de Beaune, and Chardonnay was badly affected. Yet after a turbulent summer, the grapes were picked in healthy condition, although quantities were, in some places, risible. But there is no stylistic signature to the vintage, and there are skinny whites and fat ones, making generalisations all but impossible.


*Vintage guide updated 2017


Weather Conditions

Frost afflicted Chassagne especially, but little damage was done. There was also hail in St Aubin, Beaune, and Chassagne on June 6,  but as flowering had only just begun, leaves rather than bunches were damaged. There was hail again in late June, affecting the same villages as earlier in the month, but also Meursault. July was wet and cool, and there was a good deal of mildew, then it heated up towards the end of the month – just in time for another bout of hail on August 1 with, once again, the white villages of the Côte de Beaune taking the brunt of the storms. Thereafter the weather improved and ripening progressed. Chardonnay was picked from mid-September onwards, and the crop was mostly healthy and did not require too much sorting. The crucial decision was when to pick. There were lean, early picked wines, and rather heavy late-picked wines, but the best wines combined good weight of fruit with enough acidity to give finesse.

Best Appellations

Although hail damage was extensive throughout the Côte de Beaune, it does tend to be localised, so some sectors, such as the southern part of Puligny, suffered more than the rest of the village. That meant that quality could vary considerably within a single appellation, and harvesting dates also played a major part in establishing the quality of the wine. There were some poor wines too, either tainted or too low in acidity, but such wines were often rejected by the more serious importers.

Chablis suffered losses from April frost, but the end of the growing season was fine, and the fruit, which was refreshed and dried by steady breezes, matured nicely. Some wines had the freshness and concentration of the 2010s, but others were plumper. But the best Chablis are truly excellent and worh cellaring. The Côte Chalonnaise did well, although Montagny was affected by hail. The crop in the Mâconnais was reduced by poor flowering, but thereafter the growing season was not too bad, and the grapes were healthy at harvest and yielded good wines with normal acidity levels.


2011

Drink soon

It is difficult to generalise about the white wines in 2011, as so much depended on when the grapes were picked. Some were probably picked too early so as to retain acidity, but can show some hardness, even greenness. Others may have waited too long, resulting in rather heavy wines. But overall, the best domaines got it right, delivering wines with freshness and precision, creamier than the 2010s but retaining some tension and minerality.


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Weather Conditions

An early flowering led to expectations that this would be an early harvest, and this proved to be the case. However, there was many a hazard between flowering and harvest, and the growing season was something of a roller-coaster, with heat spikes, hailstorms, and spells of disease all punctuating the summer. For whites the harvest began on August 20, and even top domaines such as Leflaive had brought in all the grapes by the end of that month. Some preferred to wait in the hope of gaining more ripeness, and then compensated for any lack of acidity by blocking malolactic fermentation. There is a softness to many of the wines that will appeal to many, but lovers of classic white Burgundy may find wines in their preferred style rather thin on the ground.

Best Appellations

Chablis had a good vintage, after an uneven summer, as fine weather returned in late August and continued into September, so there was no pressure on domaines to pick too early. These are generous wines, aromatic, balanced, and quite mineral, and the best of them should age well. The Côte Chalonnaise was hurt by the July hailstorm, so quality is uneven. But further south in the Mâconnais, a hot spell in late August accelerated ripening, so the wines tend to be supple and soft, designed for early drinking. In the Côte de Beaune Meursault was probably the best of the villages, with wines showing the right balance between succulence and tension. But there is stylistic variation, largely as a consequence of the harvesting dates. So there are some wines of extremes (too lean or too weighty) with a majority achieving a happy medium.


2010

Keep

This is a classic year for white Burgundy. The relatively cool growing season maintained crisp acidity, and the reduced crop delivered great intensity of flavour. Moreover, the wines have structure, and although the simpler wines are accessible now, most premiers and grands crus from top estates have a long life ahead of them.


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Weather Conditions

Chardonnay did not suffer quite as badly as Pinot from the difficulties at flowering, but nonetheless crops were reduced. The cool, rather damp summer was not a particular challenge for the grapes, though growers had to keep a close eye on their vineyards for outbreaks of disease. Moreover the hailstorms of mid-September did damage white vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, especially in Meursault, and there was some rot.

Normally one would expect the white grapes to be picked before the red, but in 2010 the harvest was muddled thanks to the uneven ripening. But well organised estates managed the harvest well, and of course in all-white appellations such as Puligny and Chablis, this was not an issue. The wines are similar to the racy 2008s, but with a touch more weight, and white Burgundy aficionados could hardly ask for more.

Best Appellations

This was a triumphant vintage in Chablis, with the additional bonus that winelovers do not need to pay enormous sums for excellent wines. Premiers crus, or those that remain on the market, should provide sensational value and give huge pleasure over the decade ahead. The classic appellations of the Côte de Beaune produced brilliant wines, but the most prestigious would have been snapped up long ago. These are wines that have the precision of a high-acidity year, yet not at the expense of richness and minerality, and this is nowhere better exemplified than in Corton-Charlemagne. There are also delicious whites from the Côte Chalonnaise and even the Mâconnais. The climate was slightly warmer in these southern areas, so the wines may not have quite the tension of the great whites from the Côte de Beaune, but they are ripe, affordable, and zesty.


2009

Just as the sumptuous red 2009s were affected by low acidity, the same was true of the whites. But with white wines there is more cause for concern. There are some flabby wines and it took skill if growers and winemakers were to retain freshness in these wines. On the other hand, these are rich crowd-pleasing wines that will give much pleasure in the medium term.[/breakout]


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Weather Conditions

Spring was warm and flowering early and uneventful. Nor did the stormy conditions in mid-July do much serious damage, and the vines cruised on through August and early September, reaching high ripeness levels. Some growers picked early simply to retain acidity; those who waited found that the acidities remained stable and did not decrease dramatically with longer hang-time. Most estates were picking by the end of the first week in September, and the harvest was completed by mid-September, and the wines were fruity if rather soft and forward. Conditions were very similar in Chablis, delivering fruity wines for medium-term drinking.

This was not a year for energetic lees-stirring, a technique that could only increase any tendency to blowsiness. These are wines to be enjoyed for their immediacy of fruit, though some of the top premiers crus and the grands crus may still have plenty of life in them.

Best Appellations

This is a vintage that should have favoured the cooler zones and villages, such as St Romain. On the other hand, the wines from those spots rarely have the structure for ageing, and such wines will be getting long in the tooth by now. The higher slopes of the Côte de Beaune should have delivered slightly fresher wines than those on rich soils lower down, but much will have depended on the picking date. On the whole the grands crus justified their exalted reputation, delivering wines of texture and nuance as well as weight. In Chablis there were many delicious wines, but village wines should be drunk up, and premiers crus broached soon.


2008

Difficult, low-yielding vintage of varied quality. Intriguing combination of richness and fresh acidity due to late sunshine and cold breezes.


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Weather Conditions

A cool, wet spring and early summer brought uneven budburst and patchy flowering. Fruit set was erratic and mildew a constant problem. Spraying and deselecting poor and damaged fruit were major occupations in the vineyards.
Early July, settled and sunny, had growers optimistic. But all too soon 2008 turned downhill, as big hailstorms hit the region: on 26 July, whole swathes were wiped out, especially in Meursault, while on 7 August Pouilly-Fuisse in the Mâconnais took a bashing. Chablis was the least affected region.
The weather finally broke on 14 September, not before rain-soaked August had rot infecting the vineyards. Drying, northerly winds rapidly concentrated the berries, and sugars rose swiftly in the cool sunshine. Picking times were critical to retain sufficient acidity, especially in Mâconnais which saw the most sunshine.

Best Appellations

The vintage’s unusual combination of high sugars and high acidity has worked well for Puligny-Montrachet, the premiers crus, in particular, which range from piercingly fresh and minerally to richer styles that are lusciously opulent. Chassagnes, too, are impressive – slightly less energetic but rich with firm acidity.
Chablis is another star of the vintage: bracing and refreshing and wonderfully minerally. The best are pure, precise and vibrant, with good ageing ability. 2008 Mâconnais outshine the 2007s – riper, richer, broader – while top Côte-Chalonnais have fruit, charm, length and acidity.
Yet quality varies greatly, measured by painstaking sorting of the fruit and well-judged harvesting. Picked at the right time the wines have well-defined citrus fruit and tension; late picked can be clumsy and overripe; too early, scrawny and acidic.

Best Producers

MEURSAULT: Joseph Drouhin, Remi Jobard, Pierre Morey, Domaine Roulot, Bouchard Père & Fils, Antonin Guyon, Michelot; PULIGNY-MONTRACHET: Etienne Sauzet, Bruno Colin, Henri Boillot, Maison Roche de Bellene (Nicolas Potel); CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET: Michel Colin, Louis Jadot, Bouchard Père & Fils; BATARD-MONTRACHET: Domaine Faiveley, Joseph Drouhin; CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET: Jean-Noël Gagnard, Henri Germain, Paul Pillot & Fils, Bruno Colin; MONTRACHET: Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Jean Chartron; MACON-MILLY-LAMARTINE: Heritiers du Comtes Lafon & Dominique Lafon; CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE: Domaine Dublère, Jean Chartron, Bouchard Père & Fils; POUILLY-FUISSE: Olivier Merlin, Daniel Barraud; SAINT-AUBIN: Olivier Leflaive; GIVRY: Guy Chaumont; PERNAND-VERGELESSES: Louis Jadot; CHABLIS: Château de Ligny, Louis Michel, Domaine Drouhin Vaudon, Domaine Louis Moreau, Domaine Christian Moreau, William Fèvre, Domaine Moreau-Naudet, Lamblin & Fils, La Chablisienne, Domaine Seguinot-Bordet, Daniel Dampt & Fils, Patrick Piuze.


2007

Keep

A classic vintage with searingly fresh acidity, terroir-driven fruit and good potential to age.

Weather Conditions

A mild March and extremely sunny April saw bud-burst and flowering get off to a fine start. Then came a cool, damp and dreary summer that threatened mildew and rot, and left winemakers wondering if the grapes would ever ripen. Although Chardonnay was less affected than Pinot Noir, a great deal of effort was needed to keep the vineyards healthy.
Yet prayers were answered with a warm August end and a fresh, breezy, sunny September. Mostly growers delayed picking as long as possible (even up to 10 days after the reds) to ensure the Chardonnay reached full maturity. Bizarrely, Mâcon and Chablis started their harvests last and at the same time.

Drastic crop sorting and hail damage in parts of Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin reduced the final yield.

Best Appellations

The cool summer is reflected in the wonderful purity and minerality of the whites. Growers who dared to pick very late fared best, with greater depth of flavour and more pronounced aromas. Structures are livelier too, and the wines promise greater ageing potential.
The high, fine acidity which is a feature of the vintage suits Chablis very well and growers in this most northerly region were less worried by the dreary summer than elsewhere. Many Chablis are sensational, if more chiselled than normal.
From the Cote d’Or, the wines are highly reflective of terroir, with the high acidity laying bare every facet of their flavour. But from all appellations expect precise, elegant and fruity wines.

Best Producers

Comte Lafon (Meursault), Etienne Sauzet (Montrachet/Puligny-Montrachet), Jean-Marc Boillot (Puligny-Montrachet), Jean-Marc Roulot (Meursault), Leflaive (Bienvenues-Bâtard-/Puligny-Montrachet), Marc Colin (Bâtard-Montrachet), Bonneau du Martray (Corton-Charlemagne), Bruno Colin (Chassagne-Montrachet), Colin-Morey (Puligny-Montrachet), Fabien & Christina Moreau (Chablis), Henri Germain (Meursault), Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin (Chablis), Vincent Dauvissat (Chablis).


2006


*Vintage guide updated January 2017


Keep

Wines have excellent freshness and acidity with good supporting fruit and character; a relatively precocious vintage.


2005

Keep

Forward wines with plenty of fruit and expression, but possibly lacking the acidity required for super long ageing


2004

Drink now

At best, good wines – but not great with firm to racy acidity.

Weather Conditions

The season got off to a good start with successful flowering. However, June and July were cool. The gloomy outlook was compounded by a serious outbreak of oidium (mildew). When the sun was most needed for ripening in August, the weather was cloudy and relatively cold, and rain swelled the berries. Then there was a miracle. The whole of September was perfect. not hot, but the sky was open and clear with exceptional light. A light north wind helped concentrate the sugar and acidity and kept the fungus at bay. The only challenge remaining was to harvest as late as possible but also to have finished before October’s rain.

Best Appellations

Mersault, St Aubin and Auxey Duresses.


2003

Drink now

Opulent wines for early drinking

Weather Conditions

As in most of Europe, Burgundy experienced the 2003 heatwave that began with a very warm spring and then an incredibly hot June, July and August with some but little rain. Better growers managed their vineyards to ensure the heat did not scorch the grapes and retard ripening but in many cases, the grapes were very ripe and lacking in acidity. The oldest vineyards generally fared best in the heat. The harvest for white Burgundy was complete by 1 September.

Best Appellations

Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault

Best Producers

Domaine Patrick Javillier.


2002

Drink soon

Ripe with balancing acidity. Good ageing potential.

Weather Conditions

A cool May retarded the flowering, but it took place in good conditions. July and August were dry and warm, but not too hot, and thankfully there were no violent storms. By the beginning of September, thanks to the drought, development had become somewhat blocked. There was then some much-needed rain, followed by fine weather, sunny, but cool at night. Volumes were reduced by a cooling north wind, the fruit concentrated, yet acidity levels were preserved. The harvest began in the Côte d’Or on September 15th. Maturity was a little irregular, and those who waited a week benefited greatly. The fruit was very healthy and it was hardly necessary to chaptalise. The crop was large, some three percent above the five year average.

Best Appellations

MACONNAIS (Inc. Pouilly-Fuissé) The danger with Pouilly-Fuissés, particularly if they are the oaky versions, is that in hot, concentrated vintages they can be too alcoholic; top heavy wines lacking zip. There are one or two of these in 2002. Thankfully most are more harmonious. They are full bodied, fat and lush. Even the best Mâcon Blanc Villages will still improve. Save the Pouilly-Fuissés for another 12 months. CÔTE CHALONNAISE A very fine year. Chalonnaise wines always have good acidities. This balances the 2002 fullness and richness. Drink from 2006. CÔTE D’OR ‘It is rare,’ said Jean-Pierre Latour of Domaine Latour-Giraud in Meursault, ‘to have such concentration and richness balanced by high alcohol and such very good acidities.’ Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne are all great successes. The one weakness is in the Corton-Charlemagnes harvested above Aloxe and Ladoix. Here there was a violent storm on September 12th. There are uneven wines as a result. The best premier cru Côte d’Or white Burgundies need holding until 2008. Grands crus need to be kept until 2010. CHABLIS Two thousand and two is a fine year for Chablis. As elsewhere the wines are both rich and well balanced with acidity. Even the basic Chablis will still improve. The premiers crus will come round from 2007 onward; the grands crus from 2009. They will keep well. There is a consistency here which was lacking in 2000.

Best Producers

MACONNAIS: Bret Bros; Cordier; Corsin; Ferret; Guffens-Heynen; Lafon; Olivier Merlin; Saumaize; Saumaize-Michelin; Rijckairt; Soufrandise; Valette.

CÔTE CHALONNAISE: Aladame; Vincent Dureuil-Janthial; Domaine de La Folie; Grangemoulin; Jacquesson; Michel Juillot; François Lummp; A & P. de Villaine.

CÔTE D’OR: Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Marc Colin; Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Javillier; Lafon; Hubert Lamy; Latour-Giraud; Leflaive; Chateau de la Maltroye; Ramonet; Roulot; Sauzet. Plus négociants Bouchard Père & Fils, Drouhin, Girardin and Jadot.

CHABLIS: Alain Besson; Billaud-Simon; R & V Dauvissat; Droin; Drouhin; William Fèvre; Dom. des Malandes; Louis Michel; Christian Moreau; Raveneau; Gérard Tremblay.


2001

Drink now

Relatively crisp wine with good mineral definition

Weather Conditions

Generally speaking 2001 was a wet, cool and cloudy year in Burgundy. The flowering was late and drawn out, leading eventually to uneven ripeness at the time of the harvest. July was miserably cold and wet, only drying up at the end of the month. There was then a hailstorm on August 2nd. This affected parts of Auxey, Monthélie and Meursault, but had an even more devastating effect in Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise. The rest of August was fine, thickening the skins of the grapes. But September was grey and cool, with intermittent rain during the harvest. This began in the Côte de Beaune on September 17th, six days later in Chablis. Despite the weather conditions, the yield was higher than the five year average, though a lot less than in 2000.

Best Appellations

MACONNAIS (Inc. Pouilly-Fuissé) Good crisp, clean, flowery wines for the medium term. Delicious now. Only the best Pouilly-Fuissés will last beyond the end of 2005.

CÔTE CHALONNAISE Medium weight, fruity wines with good acidity. At their peak, but the best will last until 2006.

CÔTE D’OR Heterogenous, especially in Saint-Aubin, and to a lesser extent in Chassagne and Puligny. Best in Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. The wines vary from the merely fruity but fragile (drink soon), to those which are both concentrated and have good vigour and acidity. These will be at their best between 2005 and 2010.

CHABLIS While 2000 was a potentially fine year which has produced a lot of disappointments, 2001 is unexpectedly good in the best cellars. Basic Chablis is ready now. The first growths and grands crus will be at peak between 2005 and 2010.

Best Producers

MACONNAIS: Bret Bros; Cordier; Corsin; Ferret; Guffens-Heynen; Lafon; Olivier Merlin; Saumaize; Saumaize-Michelin; Rijckart; Soufrandise; Valette.

CÔTE CHALONNAISE: Aladame; Vincent Dureuil-Janthial; Domaine de La Folie; Grangemoulin; Jacquesson; Michel Juillot; François Lummp.

CÔTE D’OR: Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Marc Colin; Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Javillier; Lafon; Hubert Lamy; Latour-Giraud; Leflaive; Chateau de la Maltroye; Ramonet; Roulot; Sauzet. Plus négociants Bouchard Père & Fils, Drouhin, Girardin and Jadot.

CHABLIS: Alain Besson; Billaud-Simon; R & V Dauvissat; Droin; Drouhin; William Fèvre; Dom. des Malandes; Raveneau; Louis Michel; Christian Moreau; Gérard Tremblay.

What the winemakers and merchants say

Robert Wheatcroft, sales director, Morris & Verdin

The 2001 Burgundy vintage produced delicious wines that will drink fairly early on. The reds aren’t blockbusters, but they have a beautiful balance and fantastic, bright fruit. The Côtes Chalonnaises, in particular, are just stunning – their acidity seems to be far livelier than was the case in 2000. The whites had less sugar in 2001 than they did in 2000, but the phenolic ripeness was more complete in many cases. There’s a tightness to them at the moment that should develop into juiciness, but they also have a minerality to them that I like.

Charles Lea, director, Lea & Sandeman

My overall impression is that the good domaines have made another classic vintage but some white growers, particularly those who sell to negociants, have shown a tendency to over-production, resulting in fragile wine that may not age terribly well. Chablis seems relatively weak all over but, when it comes to reds, it’s pretty clear that the northern Côte de Nuits is consistently pretty good. There’s already a danger that 2002 will be overhyped and 2001 will be overlooked, but in my opinion the northern Côte de Nuits may end up being better balanced in 2001 than they will be in 2002.

Iain Muggoch, fine wine buyer, Bibendum

This is a very good vintage, but it falls short of being a classic. It’s incredibly grower-selective – you have to know your stuff in 2001. There are some stunningly clean wines in the Côte de Nuits, with beautiful, pure Pinot flavours, but the reds in the Côte de Beaune had a few troubles, particularly in Volnay. From Pommard up, it’s outstanding – much more structured than 2000, far less ‘Hollywood’. The whites are fresh and clean, for medium- to short-term drinking. In fact, you could say that will the 2000 whites need ageing, you can drink the 2001s in the interim and it’s the reverse for reds.

Philippe Prost, maitre de chai, Bouchard Pere et Fils

In terms of the Côte de Beaune whites, this is a vintage with a streak of broad acidity, but this is an area where the whites need that to express themselves. Those who don’t like acidity in their whites won’t be happy with the vintage; but this is Burgundy and thank goodness we have a nice acidity in the wines to help them age. The northern Côte d’Or reds are very fruity, structured and balanced, but moving south it’s clear that, in some cases, the wines are rather dilute. The well-made wines have a pleasant acidity and soft tannins and are very accessible.

David Delaye, winemaker, La Chablisienne

2001 was a really difficult vintage for Chablis and many growers ended up with grapes that were rotten or too unripe after a very rainy September. These were hardly optimum conditions, so vinification was tricky for everyone. In our case we had a pleasant surprise when we came to taste the end product – they’ve got good fruit and are very crunchy. In general, these are not wines to cellar but are for more immediate drinking pleasure, although the top terroirs produced wines with greater depth. Those crus that usually need a bit of time to evolve are very forward this year, and 2002 has far greater potential.


2000

Drink now

Chablis produced potentially the best wines of the 90s. Mâconnais well-structured

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions in the Côte de Beaune were the same as for Red Burgundy, with a mild winter and much warmer weather in May and early June, leading to an early flowering. The weather turned in July, and in the Mâconnais the was the wettest and coldest for half a century. The Chardonnay grapes seemed to resist rot better than much Pinot Noir, as many vines were picked before the September rains. Harvesting began early: on 6 September in the Mâconnais, four days later in the Côte de Beaune, but picking did not begin in Chablis until 23 September. Acidity is at roughly the same levels as 1999, but some of the wines may be less long-lived. Much depends on the yields, as this was a large crop. But the wines have good fruit and adequate acidity, and may turn out better than 1997 and 1998.

Best Appellations

The Mâconnais fared better than regions further north, as acidity levels were higher – ironically, as a consequence of the miserable weather in July. Growers who waited in the Mâconnais ended up with very well-structured wines. Chablis was spared some of the worst excesses of the weather, and produced excellent and typical wines, potentially the best wines of the late 1990s. In the Côte de Beaune there are signs that Puligny-Montrachet may be less successful than Chassagne-Montrachet or Meursault, but quality difference between growers may even out such climatic advantages. The wines with lower acidity will drink well in their youth, but the best wines should age well.

Best Producers

CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET: Michel Colin-Déléger; Richard Fontaine-Gagnard; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Château de la Maltroye; Jean & Jean-Marc Pillot; Ramonet.

SAINT-AUBIN: Marc Colin; Hubert Lamy.

PULIGNY-MONTRACHET: Jean Boillot (Volnay); Jean-Marc Boillot (Pommard); Louis Carillon; Leflaive; Paul Pernot; Étienne Sauzet.

MEURSAULT: Coche-Dury; Patrick Javillier; Rémi Jobard; Lafon; Latour-Giraud; Pierre Morey; Guy Roulot.

CORTON: Bonneau du Martray.

MERCHANTS: Bouchard Père & Fils; Drouhin; Vincent Girardin; Jadot; Olivier Leflaive Frères; Morey-Blanc.

How the vintage compares

Burgundy expert Clive Coates MW said “Despite the fact that the majority of Chablis is over-produced, picked by machine and made to fit into a price-point (all of which hardly encourages a perfectionist approach), 2000 is a fine vintage. The wines of the stellar domaines, those that can be sold at a premium, are very fine: rich, steely and profound, requiring several years of bottle age. Here 2000 is at its best.”

“This is the best year in Chablis for some time. The vintage is also successful in the Côte de Beaune, despite the rain, having benefited from the fact that most growers had to rush out and pick their thinner-skinned Pinots, for they were susceptible to rot, as Vincent Girardin pointed out.”

“The wines are fullish, ripe, balanced and attractive. They have more to them than the 1997s and 1998s. Whether they are better than the richer, more textured 1999s is a question of opinion. Most growers marginally prefer their 1999s except those in Corton-Charlemagne. ‘My best wine since the 1995,’ says Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière of Domaine Bonneau du Martray.”

“Nonetheless 2000 is a fine vintage here.1999 was also a lovely vintage in the Côte Chalonnaise – where the whites come mainly from Rully and Montagny – and whether 2000 is superior varies from cellar to cellar, wine to wine. Prices are stable. In fact, given inflation they have been very stable throughout a decade of good vintages (not, sadly, something you can say for Bordeaux).”

“This makes the whites an attractive buy. Whether you should buy red Burgundy depends on individual circumstances. It depends what else you will have in 2005 or so to drink while you wait for your 1999s, 1998s, 1996s, 1995s, 1993s and even some 1990s to fully mature. If you intend to buy 2000 reds, stick to the Côte de Nuits and the Côte Chalonnaise.”


1999

Keep

A large vintage with plenty of ripe fruit but relatively low acidity

Weather Conditions

Flowering took place in cool weather in June. The summer was warm and humid,. And once again mildew and oidium caused problems. Moreover it was clear that the crop would be huge, and growers had to green-harvested to keep yields under control. Hot conditions from mid-August to mid-September speeded the ripening, and the harvest took place from 6 September in the Mâconnais, and from 11 September in the Côte de Beaune. Some rain fell at
this time, but caused very little damage to the ripe bunches.

Best Appellations

White wines were very ripe – up to 1% in Corton-Charlemagne – but with acidities slightly lower than average. May prove to be the best white Burgundy vintage since 1996. Healthy crop in Chablis, with well balanced acidities.

Best Producers

CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET: Michel Colin-Déléger; Richard Fontaine-Gagnard; Jean-Noël Gagnard; François & Vincent Jouard; Château de la Maltroye; Bernard Morey; Jean & Jean-Marc Pillot; Ramonet.

SAINT-AUBIN: Marc Colin; Hubert Lamy.

PULIGNY-MONTRACHET: Jean Boillot (Volnay); Jean-Marc Boillot (Pommard); Louis Carillon; Leflaive; Paul Pernot; Étienne Sauzet.

MEURSAULT: Yves Boyer-Martenot; Coche-Dury; Darviot-Perrin (Monthélie); Patrick Javillier; Rémi Jobard; Lafon; Latour-Giraud; Pierre Morey; Guy Roulot.

CORTON: Bonneau du Martray.

MERCHANTS: Bouchard Père & Fils; Drouhin; Vincent Girardin; Jadot; Olivier Leflaive Frères; Morey-Blanc.


1998

Drink now

Quite fat wines of relatively low acidity. Chablis from top sites is rich and powerful

Weather Conditions

Flowering was protracted, and the summer was warm and dry if not especially sunny, with high temperatures in August. There was some frost and hail in the Mâconnais. September was marred by rain, but there were ten days of fine weather between 16 and 26 September. Unfortunately not all grapes were ripe by 16 September, and some estates waited. Outbreaks of mildew and oidium caused further problems, so strict selection was essential.

Best Appellations

This was an exceptionally tricky vintage, so quality varies; acidity is fairly low so the overall style if quite fat, but only the most concentrated wines will age well. Chassagne-Montrachet may prove the most successful of the Côte d’Or appellations. Hail reduced yields in Chablis, but the wines from top sites and rich and powerful.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Michel Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Pierre Morey; Ramonet.


1997

Drink now

Generally well-balanced, supple wines ideal for ageing

Weather Conditions

Flowering was early if somewhat uneven. June and July were unsettled, and August was hot and stormy. Rain in early September provoked a little rot, but nothing that couldn’t be coped with.

Best Appellations

Harvesting began on the Côte de Beaune on 11 September, but the best estates waited for 8 to 10 days to ensure greater ripeness as, unusually, Chardonnay ripened later than the
Pinot Noir. Yields were normal. There was some uneven ripening, but in general the wines are very good, but broader in style than 1996. Fruity but a touch soft in Chablis, but very good in the Côte Chalonnaise.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Michel Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Comtes Lafon; Pierre Morey; Ramonet.


1996

Keep

Ripe, concentrated wines with well-defined fruit flavours. Excellent in Chablis giving wines with great ageing potential

Weather Conditions

Very warm weather in June led to a swift flowering. The summer was unsettled and August was relatively cool, but late August and all September was sunny and dry, with cool nights that conserved acidity in the grapes. The harvest in the Mâconnais began on 14 September; in the Côte d’Or from 18 September.

Best Appellations

Quality proved excellent throughout the region, wines that combine purity of flavour with great ripeness and firm acidity. High degrees in good vineyards made chaptalization unnecessary. Exceptional in Chablis, giving wines that will be very long-lived.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Michel Colin-Déléger; Darviot-Perrin; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Comtes Lafon; Pierre Morey; Ramonet; Guy Roulot.


1995

Keep

A small vintage with rich, elegant, harmonious wines

Weather Conditions

After an unsettled spring, flowering was late and difficult. There was some scattered hail damage. But the summer was dry and hot, with a little welcome rain in mid-September. Growers on the Côte de Beaune picked after the rain in late September.

Best Appellations

A very good vintage for white wines, including Chablis, as they had better acidity than the 1994s. Some wines from the Côte de Beaune show some botrytis character, which gives them an appealing touch of honey. They should age well. In Chablis, September was cool, but the wines were rich and fruity.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Michel Colin-Déléger; Darviot-Perrin; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Comtes Lafon; Pierre Morey; Ramonet; Guy Roulot.


1994

Keep

Difficult, rainy vintage with rather light, thin wines with less acidity than the 1993s

Weather Conditions

The summer was hot and dry, but the weather deteriorated in late August, and there was more rain from September 10. Harvesting began on the Côte de Beaune on 16 September. Some growers waited a week for the rain to end, and some on the Côte de Beaune picked just before the rain, but for many estates the rain had a major impact on quality, especially where rot set in.

Best Appellations

Acidity was less marked than in 1993. April frosts limited the crop by one third in Chablis, but those who picked late had surprisingly good quality.

Best Producers

Information to be supplied.


1993

Keep

Though acidic in their youth the best wines have become taut and rather elegant

Weather Conditions

After a rapid even flowering in June, a fine spring was marred only by hail in May. July was wet, prompting a good deal of mildew. August was warm, so sugar levels rose steadily, while acidities remained satisfactory. Hail damaged vineyards in Meursault and Puligny. There was heavy rain from 21 to 24 September and early October, but there was no rot.

Best Appellations

Picking began on 13 September in the Mâconnais, on 15 September on the Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune. In Chablis there was some rot and dilution, but the wines had fresh acidity and developed well. The Côte d’Or whites were quite harsh and acidic in their youth, but the best have become taught elegant wines of some distinction.

Best Producers

Information to be supplied.


1992

Drink soon

A good crop of rounded, fruity wines rather short of acidity

Weather Conditions

After a warm May, June was very wet, and flowering was protracted. But the summer was fine, except for rain in late August, ands fine weather resumed in September. The harvest began on 12 September on the Côte de Beaune, and on 21 September in Chablis.

Best Appellations

There was a touch of rot, but the white vines were basically healthy, although the grapes lacked acidity. The character of the vintage was consistent throughout Burgundy: soft, plump, fruity wines for medium-term drinking, and in the top Côte d’Or vineyards a clutch of exceptional wines.

Best Producers

Information to be supplied.


1991

Drink soon

Quality is mixed; best are fruity and attractive, but tendency for lean, unstructured Chablis

Weather Conditions

April frost was a major problem, but other factors such as hail on June and August and a late flowering also helped to reduce yields severely. Parts of Chablis and the Mâconnais were badly affected by hail. The summer was hot and dry but interrupted by storms. In mid- September there was some rain and cooler temperatures. Harvesting began on 19 September in the Mâconnais, but rain marred the quality.

Best Appellations

In the Côte d’Or there was less rot than among the red vines. Quality is inevitably mixed. Some rot and dilution in Chablis, giving lean wines with little structure.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.


1990

Drink soon

Ripe, lively and pleasing wines with relatively low acidity

Weather Conditions

The spring was dry, but cool weather in June led to uneven, drawn-out flowering. Nonetheless the grapes caught up in terms of maturation during the hot summer that followed, and some rain in September prevented any drought stress. Sugar levels were high, and so was acidity, leading to a harvest of rich healthy grapes, beginning on 17 September on the Côte de Beaune.

Best Appellations

White wines from the Côte d’Or were of exceptional quality, though whether one prefers them to 1989 is a matter of personal taste. Chablis was also very ripe, and few wines needed to be chaptalised; acidity higher than in 1989.

Best Producers

Information to be supplied.


1989

Drink soon

An excellent vintage with impressively rich and opulent wines

Weather Conditions

A mild winter and spring resulted in early, profuse vegetation. Flowering was early but prolonged. Summer was hot and dry, with long hours of sunshine. Luckily, enough rain fell towards the end of August to prevent the grapes from shrivelling. September saw an early harvest of a ripe, rich crop.

Best Appellations

Meursault is in general better than Puligny-Montrachet, and Puligny is better than Chassagne-Montrachet. The average yields explain all: as usual, Meursault produced least, Chassagne the most. This is a patchy vintage for Corton-Charlemagne.

Best Producers

Blain-Gagnard, Bonneau du Martray, Louis Carillon, Michel Colin-Deléger, Drouhin, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Lafon, Ramonet.


1988

Drink soon

A large harvest but the wines tend to lack concentration

Weather Conditions

An unexceptional winter was followed by a mild but damp spring that continued well into early summer. Despite the wet conditions, flowering was adequate. Temperatures picked up by July and three months of ideally sunny and dry conditions, with just the right amount of rainfall to prevent the crop from drying out, followed. The harvest took place in ideal conditions in October. The growing conditions resulted in the production of a crop that was somewhat on the large size, both in terms of the size of the bunches and of the grapes themselves. As a result, there was a lack of concentration in the vintage.

Best Appellations

The whites are proportionately better as one climbs the hierarchy from village wine to grand cru. It was a good year for the out-of-the-way villages that pick later, but these will now be largely past their best. A good year for Corton-Charlemagne.

Best Producers

Blain-Gagnard, Bonneau du Martray, Michel Colin-Deléger, Drouhin (Le Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche), Olivier Leflaive Frères (for the Criots), Ramonet, Sauzet.


1987

Drink now

Small crop of light, early-maturing wines

Weather Conditions

Early spring was warm and mainly dry, resulting in early budding. However, heavy rainfall and cool temperatures during May and June caused damage to the flowering. Conditions were mixed for much of summer, heavy rainfall alternating with dry periods, but early September saw the weather change and become sunny and warm, and the small crop ripened well. The late harvest took place in hot weather.

Best Appellations

All but the very top whites are now past their best. They were never very special in the first place. The Corton-Charlemagnes were reasonably successful.

Best Producers

Drouhin (Le Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche), Ramonet, Sauzet.


1986

Drink soon

A variable year but the finest wines have good fruit and acidity

Weather Conditions

A cold winter segued into a cool, wet spring. The weather did not really improve until early June, which saw a late flowering take place under near-ideal conditions. There was little change in the pattern until the outbreak of thunderstorms towards the end of August. The rainy weather continued on into September, resulting in a high incidence of grey rot. Late in the month, temperatures picked up, and much of the harvest took place under exemplary conditions.

Best Appellations

A vintage much lauded at the outset – mistakenly, for it lacked the essential ingredient of grip. The 1986s matured fast, quickly becoming flabby, and are now largely past their best. Originally Meursault and Chassagne were better than Puligny and the Corton-Charlemagnes unexceptional. Now only the most concentrated wines survive.

Best Producers

Carillon, Jadot (Chevalier-Montrachet, Les Demoiselles), Leroy, Ramonet.


1985

Drink soon

Classic, bold wines for long-term keeping

Weather Conditions

Despite a frosty winter in Chablis, the vines escaped relatively unscathed and produced a good crop of grapes. Flowering was late on the Côte de Beaune, and this had a knock-on effect on the rest of the growing season, ultimately resulting in a late harvest.

Best Appellations

A fine vintage, consistent throughout the Côte. Today the wines are well past their 15th birthday, and few are left. Yet they can still surprise by their vigour. The crop was small and the wines were concentrated.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray, Carillon, Drouhin, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Jadot, François Jobard, Lafon, Latour, Leflaive (the last good vintage for Leflaive until 1995), Leroy, Matrot, Pierre Morey, Ramonet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Le Montrachet), Roulot, Sauzet.


1984

Drink now

Small, average vintage with excess acidity and relatively little fruit

Weather Conditions

Spring was cool and damp and the flowering was delayed as a result. The weather improved by the start of summer, and July was warm and sunny. August, however, saw a number of thunderstorms, and conditions deteriorated further in September, which was extremely wet. The late harvest produced a poor crop of acidic grapes.

Best Appellations

Just as bad a white wine vintage as a red one. Clean but unripe lean wines. Now well past it. Ignore.

Best Producers

Not applicable.n


1983

Drink soon

Largish crop of ripe, fruity but somewhat unbalanced wines

Weather Conditions

Spring saw appaling weather conditions: temperatures were low and rain fell heavily. There were heavy, if localised, hailstorms in May: Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny were particularly affected, losing a third of the crop. However a hot, dry June saw a good flowering and the sunny conditions continued throughout July and much of August. Heavy rainfall and little sunshine at the end of that month and through to mid-September adversely affected the ripening process and brought on rot; and the harvest took place in changeable weather.

Best Appellations

A large vintage of big, beefy, alcoholic wines, often touched by pourriture noble (noble rot). Elegant they were not, but they were consistent both geographically and hierarchically. Now they are fading.

Best Producers

Only the grands crus still offer life, eg, Chevalier-Montrachet from Leflaive, the top wines of Ramonet, the DRC and Laguiche’s Montrachets.


1982

Drink soon

Bumper vintage with attractive, quite fast-maturing wines

Weather Conditions

Ideal conditions in spring saw an early and abundant flowering. Summer was dry and warm through until August, which saw some rainfall. Ripening took place in September in perfect weather: plenty of sunshine and high temperatures, and these conditions continued throughout the harvest period, which ended in the first week of October.

Best Appellations

Despite the size of the crop, as in 1979 there were some surprising elegant, plump and even virile 1982s, though all but the very best are now showing age. Consistent across the Côte de Beaune.

Best Producers

Bonneau du Martray, Carillon, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, François Jobard, Lafon, Latour, Leflaive, Pierre Morey, Ramonet, Sauzet.


1981

Drink now

A small vintage of indifferent quality; most are light

Weather Conditions

Heavy frosts reduced the potential crop of Chablis by as much as a third. A warmish spring promoted flourishing growth and budding, but severe frosts late in the seasons threatened the crop. Luckily most of the grand and premier cru vineyards escaped with relatively little harm done to their vines. June saw good conditions for the flowering, but July brought with it showers and there were even hailstorms halfway through August, an otherwise fine month. Sunshine followed until mid-September, then the rains fell again, albeit intermittently, right through the harvest period.

Best Appellations

A poor vintage: thin and ungenerous. Now finished. Ignore.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1980

Drink now

A large crop of indifferent quality – hard and dilute

Weather Conditions

A cold, damp spring retarded the growth of the vines in the early part of the year, and flowering was patchy and prolonged. June was cold and rainy, as was most of July, but temperatures rose to an above-average level in August and September, and the sun finally shone for more than a few fitful hours at a time. Patchy rain fell at the beginning of the harvest period.

Best Appellations

Acceptable at the very best, but the wines were not built to last and are now past their best. Ignore.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1979

Drink now

A large vintage notable for good concentration of fruit and overall elegance

Weather Conditions

A cold, damp winter, followed by a cool spring, which lasted well into May, resulted in a delayed but succesful flowering. Although summer, on the whole, was temperate, hailstorms in the middle of July wreaked havoc with the crop in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny. The rest of Burgundy escaped unscathed, and the end of September saw a successful harvest.

Best Appellations

A large vintage, yet some very good wines: better than 1978. Most of these are now past their best, but there can still be a surprise in store. Consistent from Corton to Santenay.

Best Producers

Robert Ampeau, Bonneau du Martray, Georges Deléger, Drouhin, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Jadot, François Jobard, Lafon, Latour, Leflaive, Matrot, Ramonet, Guy Roulot.


1978

Drink soon

A small crop of fruity well-balanced wines

Weather Conditions

Despite a particularly cold, wet spring and first part of summer, a change in weather during the first week of August encouraged the crop to ripen well, almost a month behind schedule. Sunny conditions prevailed until the late harvest in mid-October. The Chardonnay did particularly well under these conditions, as it did not become over-ripe.

Best Appellations

The 1978s were fullish, with good acidity, but with a certain solidity which never mellowed as satisfactorily as the 1979s. Yet there were some fine wines, and the best of these may be a little more vigorous than the 1979s. But beware. Few whites last more than 20 years. At the time better in Corton-Charlemagne and Puligny than Meursault or Chassagne.

Best Producers

Robert Ampeau, Bonneau du Martray, Lafon, Latour, Leflaive, Leroy, Ramonet.


1977

Drink now

An unmemorable year and indifferent vintage for the whole of Burgundy

Weather Conditions

The climate reversed the conditions prevailing during the previous year. Rain fell fairly constantly, almost daily throughout July. While the first fortnight of August saw a return to fine weather, there were a couple of violent thunderstorms at the end of the month. A sunny September helped ripen the crop further, and harvest began late, during the first week of October.

Best Appellations

A poor year. Long since dead. Ignore.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1976

Drink now

A very hot year produced wines of variable quality

Weather Conditions

After a string of poor vintages, this year saw a return to better weather conditions, leading to the production of some good wines. A frost-free winter and a mild spring was followed by dry, hot conditions during summer. The grapes were ripe to harvest by the middle of a warm September. Even though rain began to fall towards the end of the month, by that time the bulk of the crop had been picked. The drought-like conditions of summer resulted in good ripening in the Pinots, but the quality of the Chardonnay suffered in comparison.

Best Appellations

Like the 1983s, the white wines were big, spicy, alcoholic and over-balanced. More than a few oxidised quickly.

Best Producers

Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, Leflaive’s Chevalier-Montrachet and Ramonet’s Bâtard-Montrachet were three of the few exceptions. Edmond Delagrange, François Jobard, Lafon, Pierre Morey and Guy Roulot were also very good. But all but a few wines are now past their best.


1975

Drink now

An extremely poor vintage

Weather Conditions

A very poor vintage indeed, despite ideal weather in late spring, continuing on through early summer. While the end of July was hot, variable conditions followed. Hail fell at the beginning of August and storms followed, lasting well into early September. Despite a return to cooler, drier weather, much of the crop suffered from rot.

Best Appellations

A poor year. Little of note. Now well past it. Ignore.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1974

Drink now

An unexceptional year with few noteworthy wines

Weather Conditions

A mild spring was punctuated by frosts. July and August saw some warm weather, but rain fell during much of a cold September – there was even some snow. The harvest took place in wet conditions from late September onwards.

Best Appellations

A large watery vintage. A few pleasant surprises such as Lafon’s Montrachet. Again, now old.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1973

Drink now

A large harvest of moderately good wines

Weather Conditions

The flowering took place in fine spring weather, but there was no rain at all until the middle of July, when heavy rain began to fall. These conditions continued until the late harvest.

Best Appellations

Despite the large crop, as in 1979, some surprisingly good wines, particularly in Puligny.

Best Producers

The Remoissentet selections, bottled in the UK by The Wine Society, were fine. Edmond Delagrange, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Lafon, Leflaive, Pierre Morey, Ramonet and Roulot also made fine examples. Again, however, the vintage is now too old.


1972

Drink now

A mixed vintage although some wines later showed a degree of finesse

Weather Conditions

Unusual conditions led to one of the longest-ever growing seasons. Winter was severe, with rain and snow still falling in February. Although conditions had improved by the end of March, April saw the return of cold, wet weather. Temperatures did not rise much in summer, but nor did it rain much. There was little sunshine until September, when a belated ripening got underway. It continued fine until the late harvest, which began well into October.

Best Appellations

Hard, lean wines. They lasted better than some but never gave much pleasure. Now well past their best.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1971

Drink now

A very fine vintage although quantities were small

Weather Conditions

The buds burst early due to the mild spring weather, but the crop was reduced by a cold, damp June. A hot July followed, but August saw unsettled conditions, with storms and some hail in the middle of the month. This was corrected a sunny September. Picking began early, on the 16th. Conditions produced an exceptional crop of Chardonnay that turned into full, concentrated wines.

Best Appellations

This was an excellent white Burgundy vintage: a very small harvest of healthy, balanced, concentrated wines. Consistent across the board.

Best Producers

Jadot, François Jobard, Lafon, Louis Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, Leflaive, Pierre Morey, Ramonet, Roulot. The whites have held up better than the reds but are fading now.


1970

Drink now

A largely indifferent year of irregular quality

Weather Conditions

April and May were cool and wet, but the vines were not damaged. The weather improved towards the end of May, and the trend continued through June and into July. August saw a week or so of cool weather, but temperatures picked up again in September, carrying on into October. The Chardonnay did not respond well to the weather conditions and, on the whole, it was a poor vintage for whites.

Best Appellations

A large vintage. Good but not as fine or nearly as consistent as the 1971: nor were the wines as concentrated. So very few are not now too old. Better in Meursault than Puligny or Chassagne.

Best Producers

The usual suspects, listed in 1971, made good wine. So did Matrot.


1969

Drink now

An excellent vintage with superbly rich and fruity wines

Weather Conditions

A cold, rainy spring followed a mild winter. This resulted in a delay in a (protracted) flowering and a reduced crop. A warm July and August helped the grapes to ripen thoroughly, but early-mid September was cold and wet. The weather turned fine in time for an early October harvest. The whites did better than the reds this year.

Best Appellations

The white wines were very good indeed: firm, rich, concentrated and intense, classic examples that lasted very well, and in this aspect the best since 1959. Sadly they are too old now. Consistent across the Côte de Beaune.

Best Producers

Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Lafon, Latour, Leflaive, Pierre Morey, R. Remoissenet & Fils, DRC’s Le Montrachet, Roulot.


1968

Drink now

A poor vintage followed a wet and rainy summer

Weather Conditions

Bad weather led to a poor vintage. June was very hot, but July and August saw little sun and high levels of rainfall. Improved conditions in September saw the harvest start on the 30th, but the results lacked quality.

Best Appellations

Though better in white than in red, this is a poor vintage. Long gone.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1967

Drink now

Another good year with slightly lighter wines than the previous vintage

Weather Conditions

Spring was unexceptional. A heavy frost early in May helped to restrict growth, leading to a small crop of well-developed fruit. July and August were very warm, but September saw 10 days of rain. By the time the harvest started, however, on the 2nd of October, the fine weather had returned. On the whole, the Chardonnay fared well under the conditions, producing better wines than the Pinot.

Best Appellations

Unlike Bordeaux, a small vintage, especially in white, as a result of frost in May. The white wines were of respectable quality, better than the reds, but they are now too old.

Best Producers

Jadot’s Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles, one of the few sampled recently that still had life and quality.


1966

Drink now

A good vintage with harmonious, well-balanced wines

Weather Conditions

An uneven year. Some hail fell in an otherwise unexceptional spring, which was followed by a warm, mellow June, which resulted in the development of an abundant crop. However, poor weather in July and August affected the ripening of the grapes. A fine September saw the harvest begin in sunny conditions towards the end of the month.

Best Appellations

A good-sized crop of white wine, ripened by excellent September weather. The wines were plump, balanced and with plenty of finesse. They held up well but are now long past their best. Consistent quality.

Best Producers

Carillon, Lafon, Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, Leflaive, Ramonet, Roulot.


1965

Drink now

A very indifferent year

Weather Conditions

A disastrous vintage, badly affected by rot. Levels of sunshine were well below average throughout summer and, by September, the ground was waterlogged due to heavy falls of rain. On 8 September, the area was struck by an extremely violent storm, washing soil and vines down the slopes. Harvest started four weeks later than usual, but by then there was not much left to pick.

Best Appellations

Though better in white than in red, this is a poor vintage. Long gone.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1964

Drink now

Good quality, fast-maturing wines

Weather Conditions

Rated by some as the best vintage of the decade, the weather this year had a profound impact on the quality of the grapes. Deep snow in winter, and a coolish spring. A good flowering in a warm June laid the grounds for the ripening of the crop during an almost perfect summer, with hot conditions in late June and July and a smattering of rain during August. Further rain, albeit not very heavy, fell in September, allowing the tannins to develop. By the time the rains began in earnest, in early October, the crop had already been successfully harvested.

Best Appellations

An almost-perfect summer enabled a bumper crop to ripen and concentrate. The white wine harvest was not too excessive: indeed, in contrast to the Pinot Noir yield, less Chardonnay was produced than in 1966. These were rich and powerful, but not a bit over-balanced. Though they kept for many years they are now past their best, unless you are very lucky. Lovely wines across the Côte.

Best Producers

Camille Giroud’s Bâtard-Montrachet, Jadot’s Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles, Lafon’s Le Montrachet, Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne and Ramonet’s Bâtard-Montrachet are all at least fine and still enjoyable, just. It depends on the provenance.


1963

Drink now

Rather poor, with no wines worth noting

Weather Conditions

The weather did not warm up until June, after a severe winter and protracted, coolish spring. July saw intermittent rain, and August was, frankly, wet. The crop did not really have a chance to begin ripening until the middle of September. Harvest began late, in October, and did not end until the beginning of November.

Best Appellations

Though better in white than in red, this is a poor vintage. Long gone.

Best Producers

Not applicable.


1962

Drink now

A superb vintage of exceptional quality – luscious, fruity and charming

Weather Conditions

Cold spells that lasted well into early spring made for a slow start to the growing season. A moderate July followed a warm June, but temperatures rose somewhat in August. By the time the rains fell in September, they were welcome. The grapes took their time to ripen fully, so harvest began late, in the second week of October. The weather had a particularly strong impact on white wines, producing a small crop of high-quality grapes.

Best Appellations

Probably the best vintage for white wines of the decade. A smallish crop (unlike in Bordeaux) produced splendidly concentrated, balanced wines. They were less powerful but more elegant than the 1964s and have not held up quite so well. Consistent from Corton to Charlemagne.

Best Producers

Few sampled recently. Lafon’s Meursault Perrières is delicious.


1961

Drink now

A very good year with fruity, well-balanced wines

Weather Conditions

A mild and damp winter was followed by a warm spring. Due to variable weather in June, flowering was prolonged over the course of three weeks (rather than the more usual one). Temperatures were relatively low during July, with particularly cool nights, but picked up somewhat in August. A fine September led to a comfortable harvest. The ripeness and concentration of the grapes was uneven.

Best Appellations

A small crop. The growing season was irregular, and the white wines, though good, are not up to the standard of 1959, and would be eclipsed by 1962 and 1964. Quality was patchy. But no particular commune stood out as being better or worse than another.

Best Producers

The 1961s are now very rare: Matrot’s Meursault Perrières, fine, one of the few seen recently. The Lafon’s were fine too.