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Burgundy 2009: great, but not 2005

After initial euphoria, Burgundy producers are predicting 2009 will be a great vintage, but not a classic like 2005.

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Winemakers throughout the region are delighted by 2009’s high levels of ripeness, the health of the grapes, and the promising acidity and balance.

The grapes have lower acid levels than in 2005, but high sugar and intense flavours. It will be a ‘perfumed, exotic vintage,’ one winemaker said.

Jeremy Seysses at Domaine Dujac said that the most important difference between 05 and 09 is the tannins. The former has more ‘tannic power and intensity’, he said, while 2009 is softer.

Seysses pointed out that the 05s have closed down at this stage of their life, and predicted that the 09s might have a much softer evolution.

At the same time vintners are cautioning that unlike 2005, ripeness was not uniform and that some grapes may have been picked early, with the risk of not achieving phenolic ripeness.

The harvest: interviews with Philippe Prost of Bouchard, and Didier Seguier of William Fevre. Adam Lechmere narrates

‘It has been a vintage of false appearances,’ Christophe Chauvel, a viticulture director for Albert Bichot in Beaune said. ‘You could not rely on visual evidence to pick the grapes, and some people may have picked too early.’

Chauvel said the grapes looked so ripe on 15 August he had ‘almost wanted to harvest as the grapes looked so ripe.’

But the ripening was uneven: ‘2005 was a much easier vintage because the ripening process was more uniform.’

Others agreed. Cote d’Or producer Alex Gambal in Beaune said, ‘Deciding when to pick was the tricky part [in 2009]. Each parcel had to be picked separately; there was no uniformity.’

But as far as conditions go, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the weather could not have been better, giving producers the luxury of picking when they wanted to

Gambal said that in his 18th season in Burgundy, he does not ‘remember weather that has been this good for this long.’

At William Fevre in Chablis, managing director Stephane Follin-Arbelet said the outlook for 2009 was ‘very promising.’

‘The grapes are superb, with yields slightly lower than normal.’

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Written by Panos Kakaviatos in Beaune, and Adam Lechmere

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