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Burgundy 2010: Stephen Brook

When, some months ago, a few Burgundy experts were suggesting that 2010 might be an even finer vintage than the 2009, it was hard not to be sceptical.

After all, the weather in 2010 was fairly dire, and, as in 2008, by late August growers were fearing a disastrous year. Once again September saved the vintage. Malolactic fermentations were very slow, which made it difficult to assess the wines, but once they were finished it became clear that 2010 was going to be much better than everyone expected.

The whites are exciting, if not uniformly good. The cool conditions of the year kept acidity levels high, and the best wines show both brilliance and richness. In contrast, the 2009s had the richness, but not the steely acidities. They remind many of the 2008s, but with additional weight of fruit. Chablis is marvellous, which is why I have chosen quite a few in my list of recommendations.

The real surprise of 2010, however, is the fine quality of the red wines. Again, they could hardly be more different than the voluptuous 2009s. One or two merchants believe the reds are superior to the whites, but I am not entirely persuaded, though in a year or so we will be in a better position to judge that proposition. It is rare in Burgundy to find a vintage equally fine for red and white, but 2010 does seem to be an instance. They are wines of immense fragrance and charm, but the best have firm structure and should age well, in many cases better than 2009s.

The other surprise is the consistency of the vintage. Of course, the wines shown at the London tastings every January reflect importers’ choices, so there are few poor or underperforming producers. Even so, there were few whites that suffered from too much or too little acidity. It was a pleasure to taste them. The reds are less uniform. Although there is little excessive tannin or coarseness, there are some wines that seem light and even frail. Some may flesh out with some bottle age, but it’s hard to be certain.

The negociants – most of which have considerable vineyard holdings too – presented good but mixed ranges. Bouchard Père et Fils, Drouhin and Faiveley showed very well, while Jadot’s reds seemed light, and Chanson’s whites seem inferior to their very good reds. Louis Latour’s range is better than usual.

Prices seem fairly steady compared to last year, with just a few domaines hiking their prices up slightly to compensate for the very small crop. That said, there are some premiers crus now nudging £1000 per case, and expect to pay £1000 per bottle for Liger-Belair’s grand cru La Romanée! But there are, as always, plenty of sensibly priced wines on the market, and some of them appear in my list.

Written by Decanter.com

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