2010 red Burgundy
This was a vintage that flirted with disaster. The growing season had been uncertain, to put it mildly, and had it not been for a warm September and reduced yields, the grapes might never have ripened. But they did, and the vintage is marked by a limpidity and purity of flavour that make this a classic Burgundy vintage.
*Vintage guide updated in 2017
Severe frost in December 2009 killed off some vines, and poor conditions during the flowering in June reduced the crop further, and promised a season of uneven ripening. The early summer was damp and not that sunny, and August was worse, with cool, wet weather. Mildew and rot made a predictable and unwelcome appearance, and had to be dealt with by vigilant growers.
Although it warmed up in September, hail affected some vineyards in the southern Côte de Beaune. There were storms too, but the small berries and thick skins of the Pinot grapes allowed them to emerge unscathed. It stayed warm, and the harvest was underway by the last week in September and continued into early October. It was a tricky harvest because of the uneven ripening, and sorting was essential; it was also necessary to elimiate disease-tainted bunches.
So why was this a potentially great vintage? It’s because the cool summer had preserved acidity in the grapes, and the small crop had allowed the fruit to ripen slowly despite the lack of sunshine. Had yields been much higher, it is unlikely that much of the crop would have ripened fully. Even so, after harvest not all growers were convinced that quality was exceptional. It was only after very slow malolactic fermentations were completed,that this became apparent. The wines don’t have the opulence of the 2009s, but they do have intensity, limpidity, and structure, and the best will be very long-lived. The only disappointments may be at estates that lacked the resources to be vigilant in the vineyard and to skim off all tainted bunches. In those cases, the wines were rather skinny and fragile.
The Côte de Nuits is exceptional in 2010, although good estates in the Côte de Beaune also made exceptional wines, with succulence balanced by structure. Volnay and Pommard produced lovely wines. There are some question marks over Santenay, which was hit by hail in September, so sorting was essential here. The same is true of the Côte Chalonnaise, which suffered in particular from uneven ripening. Throughout Burgundy the best estates coped; others may have been less scrupulous. It was not an easy vintage to vinify, so skill in the cellar as well as location has determined quality. The berries were small and the caps dense, so that excessive punching down could lead to over-extraction. Nor was this a vintage for lengthy macerations. On the other hand the overripeness and high alcohol that marked some 2009s was not an issue in 2010, and most wines are balanced, fresh, and transparent. These are racehorses; the 2009s teddy bears.