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Burgundy 2010: Steven Spurrier

Decanter readers will have read with interest Sarah Marsh MW’s very positive report on the 2010 Burgundies from the region that extends around 300 kilometres from north to south, with great variations in soil, climate and exposure. What shone through this overview, and what was proved in my last week’s tasting of over 600 wines, was the purity of expression from each of these appellations.

Only personal preference would place Chablis above the Maconnais, although the former will last for much longer, or the Cote de Beaune above the Cote de Nuits, for every village showed such character and purity of fruit. I cannot recall a single wine that I did not enjoy, except for the very rare faulty sample. In fact, I could have sacrificed my beloved 20 point scale and just used the Decanter system of three stars/bronze medal, four stars/silver medal and five stars (gold). Everything was above commended.

Yet 2010 was anything but an easy year. Everyone agrees that the year began over the nights of 19th and 20th December 2009, when the temperature dropped to between -17 and -19ºC, literally killing very many vines and retarding others so much that by the spring the potential crop had been much reduced. There was a silver lining to come, for the dismal summer could not have ripened a full crop, despite an exceptionally hot and dry first half of July, which was then followed by a cool and damp August. Outbreak of rot seemed inevitable by the end of the month, which brought the north wind to dry out the vineyards and, apart from a thunder storm on the 12th September that caused great damage to the region of Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay, growers in the Cote d’Or were able to hang on to harvest a small but beautifully-formed 2010 a full three weeks later than the previous year.

Compared to 2009, the 2010s are less rich but more precise. Compared to 2008, they are more rich and more balanced. Precision and purity were the buzzwords during the tastings, then character and depth; elegance wasn’t mentioned, as it was common to all. All the merchants where I tasted had produced excellent catalogues with massive of notes. Chris Davey, wine buyer for OW Loeb, was perhaps the most direct: “To a man, our producers told me that they prefer their 2010s to their 2009s; this is not to downplay the great and undoubted qualities of 2009, but to the real Burgundy nut, the clarity and definition, the complexity and expression of 2010 is what makes Burgundy wines so unique.”

Prices, particularly at ‘villages’ level are still reasonable for this low-volume quality. Even at Premier Cru level, particularly in Chablis, they are good value for money, while world-wide demand pushes many Grand Cru wines to a new level. Burgundy has never, ever, been in better shape and my advice is to ‘buy while stocks last’. See the ten whites and ten reds very likely to end up in my own cellar if I follow such advice. 

Written by Decanter.com

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