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BURGUNDY VINTAGES 1998 - 2018

(Last updated - February 2021)

2018

Reds: Many reds have spice, are full-bodied and have plentiful soft tannins. The fruit colour spectrum is more black than red. There is much more variation in style in the reds than the whites. The most representative style of the vintage is the often extraordinarily dark and opaque colour for pinot, which is full bodied, with somewhat elevated alcohol, though sufficiently fresh and with plentiful rich tannins. Many are richly aromatic, sometimes exotically so (mocha, Asian spice, coffee etc.) Many in the Cote de Nuits have a punchy vibrancy as the clay keeps the freshness of the fruit. In Beaune, where soils are generally lighter and have as much limestone as clay, the older vines (deeper roots) produced beautifully balanced wines, with a Cote de Nuits texture and a Cote de Beaune mouth-feel. Another tempting vintage to drink early. The soft, almost opulent texture makes them an easy 'target'. Drink generics from now on. Try to wait on all others, (though many are drinkable even now!)
White: The plentiful harvest was a saving grace for Chardonnay. This diluted the sugar with beneficial effect. Many expected there to be little juice, but were pleasantly surprised. There is nothing really to resolve in the wine, no big structure or richness to slim down or acidity to integrate. 2018 is an adaptable vintage. Because there is good substance, the wines have the ability to age; mostly for the medium term. The clean fruit at harvest bodes well in this regard. The wines are somewhat like 2017, but fuller and rounder. The alcohol is about the same. The acidity is a little higher in 2017, but not a lot. For the moment 2017 is more elegant. 2017 was much more fruity in a way and certainly fresher, while 2018 is drier, denser and more savoury. It is not as opulent or rich as 2015, though it does display some of the riper aromatics of that vintage. Who would have thought that the second hottest summer on record this century would have produced ripe, medium bodied, fresh and rather energetic whites? As for the Pinots, you can begin to drink early; though don't rush them!"

2017

Reds: Like 2015, the 2017 harvest was early and while the wines do not have quite the concentration or firm structure of the 2015’s, they have excellent fruit, charm and freshness nonetheless. They are certainly ripe, but not rich (2009, 1999). They are rounded (meaning, they fill the mouth with amplitude and softness), but not full bodied. The hallmark is more one of freshness than depth. They have moderate intensity, are very approachable and exhibit a more ‘relaxed’ style than the energetic 2016’s.They have lovely Pinot expression, are classic in style and express a ripe summer fruit mouth-feel. They are deliciously easy to taste. So much so in fact, that the temptation is to drink them now. And by all means do; especially if you like youthful Pinot, with residual vigour. Be advised - these wines are in no hurry. Many will need time but you can start enjoying early. Delicious, crunchy, ripe, succulent fruit.
White: Chardonnay thrived in the hot weather. 2017 white Burgundy combines elements of the finely chiselled, beautifully fresh 2014’s, with the impressively ripe, succulent, delicious 2015’s. Like 2014, these 2017’s are intense (though not as 'monumental'). Like 2015, these 2017’s are also irresistible. But you should wait. While you do, delight in the Saint-Veran’s, Bourgognes, Santenays and Maranges of 2017, which deliver in spades. White Burgundy is on a roll since 2010 and 2017 is ‘up there’ with the best neighbouring vintages; if different. These are medium term wines, with many drinking before the 2016’s. Indeed, it is not inaccurate to say that white Burgundy almost everywhere in 2017 has much to offer. In a word – they have freshness, precision and minerality. They also display juicy peach, apple and lemon fruits, with terrific definition and firm, stony, vibrant notes. Even if you are more a red Burgundy fan than white, my advice is “don’t miss them”. Drink entry level & less 'reputed' whites now.

2016

Reds: Tiny crop of high quality wines. Though the devestating April frost resulted in a miniscule harvest, what was produced was very good indeed. Ripe, airy, extraordinarily fresh wines. Many are already friendly, though by and large these wines are built for mid-term cellaring. The generics are now quite attractive; start drinking. Begin to drink village wines from the hautes cotes, keeping 'grander' wines (Gevrey / Morey / Nuits / Vosne) for another year (2022). Premier crus need more time. Grand crus are dormant.
White: Less opulent than 2015. More a cross between the fresher 2012's and the structure of the 2008's (good acidities). Village wines are drinking nicely - many now in a perfect window (2021). Keep others. In essence, the 2016’s show at their core plentiful ripe lemon and grapefruit, accessible aromatics and signature Burgundian saline qualities on the palate

2015

Reds: One of the finest vintages in the last twenty years. Overtly ripe, succulent, good density and excellent harmony between the (surprisingly good) acidities, tannins and fruit. Nor is the alcohol overbearing. Though invitingly friendly to drink, this is a 'wait if you can' vintage. The generics are now quite attractive; though no hurry. My recommendation is to keep village wines and better until 2022 e.g Pernand and Chambolle. For the 'haut gamme' wines, you really should wait a bit. They will be delicious.
White: Almost impossible to resist. Impressively ripe Chardonnay with an unexpected level of acidity. The almost tropical fruit dimension is kept in check by the firm, ripe, refreshing acidities. This is somewhat unusual for Burgundy. In ripe years it is not unusual to have less acidity. In 2015 we have lots of 'gras' (fat) but also vigour and the overall balance is excellent. You can enjoy these wines young, though they can age. Drink your Maconnais, Cote Chalonnaise, Bourgognes from the Cote d'Or now. Begin village wines also but no hurry. Depends too how you enjoy your white Burgundy? Drink now & you have richness and vigour. Wait and the wines will become increasingly 'fat', 'tropical' and 'unctuous'. The finest can be kept in their cellars for another year or two (2022 - 2025). Delicious wines

2014

Reds: The reds from 2014 are in most cases very forward and fruity. Expressive, with a fine transparency and a lovely fresh acidity. They are in most cases truly lovely wines, with lively fruit, perfectly balanced in a classic Burgundian style. They are not big and weighty wines, but of medium weight. From the 'off' they offered a very fine drinkability indeed. The majority of generic and village wines are drinking perfectly. So too some premier cru though no hurry here. Keep the reputed wines - they may well be tempting but they merit keeping. A very 'friendly' vintage with crunchy tannins, ripe fruit and lovely balance. Very easy to be smitten by these under-rated wines!
White: The 2014 white Burgundies are even better than the delightful reds. They are pure, racy, delicate and very balanced, offering a very filigree interpretation of the Chardonnay grape. They have the same purity of expression as 2011, though more vitalised and with a more defined and energetic acidity. They also exhibit a juicy and precise definition of their micro complexity of the terroir. These are truly superb whites and while they can’t match the 2010 on power, the purity and delicacy of the 2014s is quite unique. A vintage that will age well (caveat is premature oxidation - still prevalent, if less widespread than a few years ago). Drink Maconnais, Bourgognes, Saint-Aubin, St Romain, Pernand village. Keep premier crus (begin 2022). Grand cru need at least 10 years from 2014.

2013

Reds: The reds have good structure and are aging well. Though you can certainly drink some of these wines early, I hope you have put a few aside. These are friendly wines but they are also structured. What growers couldn't be sure of is their evolution. Several growers I spoke to expressed the hope that consumers will not rush these wines. They have much to offer. They are beautifully fresh and seductive. The 2012's were also fresh and seductive, but with crunch and firmness. The 2013's do not exhibit the crunchiness; they are softer, more supple like 2011. There is no absence of energy or drive. The Pinots are juicy, energetic and beautifully fresh with excellent supporting acidities (in 2011 the acidities are not quite as ripe) and seductive tannins which are ripe, soft and perfectly proportioned. The phenolics were impressive and this gives a suppleness to the tannins. Begin to drink - no rush. Some of the premier crus are beginning to drink too. No hurry.
White: Whites are also classically styled. The fruit is quite intense and leans towards the richer end of the spectrum. Virtually all of the whites I tasted were well balanced, with an appealing 'nervy' acidity, displayed good energy (with a little bit of the crunch and vibrant quality of the 2008's). The caveat is that there is unquestionably variation in style from domaine to domaine. On the whole, they are firm with good acidities, if less so than 2012. There is no shortage of ripe fruit and the wines display good density. They are certainly terroir-driven. Expect medium term cellaring. Somethe premier crus are beginning to drink. Grand crus are quite tight.

2012

Red: Perhaps the word most frequently applied to the reds of 2012 is “fresh”. In the context of 2012, 'fresh' is vibrant and crisp. They were easy to taste from barrel. For sure the cool, indeed 'wet' weather is manifest in the acidity, but this is beautifully balanced by the truly impressive intensity of fruit. And there is no shortage of intense fruit, laced with ripe, succulent tannins. What can the imbiber expect? Not quite the tannic structure of 2010; a vintage of (as one critic said), “ambition”. No, the 2012's are more athletic, more approachable, with an almost “drink me now” tag. These wines have good build, exhibiting a sinewy, impressive physique. The style exhibits a 'nervy' edge with mineral-rich, tense, yet beautiful flavours. In terms of fruit profile, they very much veer towards the red fruit spectrum. Notes of peony, rose petal, violet, with a saline nuance. Village wines are ready; some premier crus too. The best need more time.
White: Limestone soils, ubiquitous in Burgundy, yielded wines with thrilling mineralité. That same crispness exhibited in reds prevails in the Chardonnays. There is precise fruit with intense flavours. Very aromatic, finely balanced, fruit-driven wines, which are terroir-driven, cool, edgy, with 'cut-from-a-block-of-stone' flavours. Reassuringly they will drink young or old. The wines are balanced, nicely concentrated, ultra-crisp, racy & intense. These are charming wines, easy to drink. Though some will however, make old bones, most should be enjoyed in their youth for their vivacity & almost thrilling style. Drink from now (2021) on.

2011

Red: The underlying taste expression is one of fresh, clean fruit, elegance and vineyard character. The interplay between the lively, star-bright fruit on the one hand and a velvety trait, backed up by good acidity on the other, makes this a lovely vintage which you could enjoy early. The wines are supple and seductive, if not of 2009 substance. They are fresh and balanced but do not boast the laser-like focus of 2010. That said, this vintage is now giving much pleasure and are, with the exception of grand cru, ready to be consumed.The comparisons are 2007 (though with more fruit extract) and 2001 (with similar structure). Drink up village wines. Many premier crus are ready. Grand crus from 2021-2024
White: An impressive vintage across the entire region. Not the rapier-like acidity of 2007 & 2008; these wines are far more supple. There are hints of the ripeness of 2009 & 2006, though with arguably better balance than both. There is lots of fruit, flavour, verve and satisfaction in 2011. Like their red 'cousins', they are ready. Drink. A handful have capacity to age further but not long term

2010

Red: The growing season suggested another 2008 or 2001; cool, good light, plenty of precipitation, not much heat overall. What emerged were classic wines! Extraordinary in the circumstances. The explanation is the small crop of highly concentrated berries that benefited enormously from the phenomenon known as 'millerandange'. This equates to small berries, tightly clustered & with little or no gaps between the berries. The resulting wines are structured, pure, strikingly fresh & transparent. They are beautifully balanced and in many cases, will make old bones. Not quite formidable structure of 2005, but wonderfully balanced and very, very pure. It will be interesting to see how these wines develop. Generics and even village wines (e.g. Saint-Aubin, Pernand-Vergelesses) are irresistible now. Premier and grand crus need more time. Patience well rewarded - some very beautiful wines.
White: Millerandange equally bestowed good fortune on the Chardonnay grapes. Chardonnay grapes are not often subjected to this phenomenon, but in 2010 thankfully, they were. The whites are thoroughbreds. Somewhere between 2008 & 2007 perhaps - mineral, racy, wines with tension, ripeness & balance. Less ripe than 2009 (and arguably all the better for that). Complex, elegant wines, built to age. The linear dimension to these wines (from aroma to mouthfeel, length & dimension) is very impressive. Terrific citrus spine & great intensity. Drink generics & village wines. Premier crus are now beginning to drink well too (check with your wine merchant). They exhibit great style and elegance. The top Burgundies are very pure, with perfect balance between mellowness and acidity. Fresh, characterful, elegant Chardonnays.

2009

Red: Much-heralded & eagerly anticipated wines. The press, as they often do, were effusive in their praise. Were they justified? Very much so. These are undeniably impressive wines. Sumptuous now & top growths sumptuous in 5 more years. Tender, plump, rich wines, that will please novices, new world Pinotphiles & Burgundy lovers alike. Not as structured or as intense as 2005; much more laid back, easy, succulent & accessible. Seductively easy to drink. Try to give a little time to the very top growths (2022-2026).
White: Very ripe, honeyed, practically dense wines. Acacia notes. Acidity slightly on the low side. Medium term wines. Fruit is powerful & multi-layered. Big wines with lots of natural sugar, which are highly seductive. Good? Absolutely; the real question is how good? Drink now to 2022. Vast majority are ready. If you like your white Burgundy to have exotic, opulent, tertiary flavours of melon, honey, spice and hints of marzipan, keep for a further year or two. Do bear in mind that very ripe years develop fat, unctuous, slightly exotic nuances.

2008

Red: Another wet, damp, cool summer. However, Sept did the 'trick'. Drying north wind plus 3 weeks of sunshine dramatically changed ripeness levels. Though the quality is variable in places, some marvelous wines were made where growers dropped grapes that displayed any sign of rot; and there was rot. Address is all important in 2008. The wines wll have qualities similar to 2001 and are maturing into equally fine wines. Tannins have softened. However, the wines are charactised by vintage high acidity levels. These are beautifully vibrant, cool, focused, cherry Pinot wines & patience is being rewarded. Start drinking. Not big or plummy like 1999 or 2009; but classically styled, well structured, pure & fresh like 2001, 2002 & 2007. Village wines are ready and many premier crus are opening up well. Keep top growths.
White: As in 2007, Chardonnay fared better than Pinot. Less tartaric acid than 2007 but more malic & thus richer. Highly focused, precise wines – some for the long haul. A cross between the richness of 2006 & the minerality of 2007. Top wines still tight just now (2021). First growths more friendly - many ready. Great promise in store for grand crus. All village wines are ready now. The considerable acidity has preserved these wines well.

2007

Red: A somewhat 'unloved' vintage & though I profess to understand why, the wines, though lacking 'body', were very pleasurable. Many wines are light & without any great depth - sure. Yet they are transparent, cool & in some instances superbly elegant. This effeminate, mineral, pure style is (to my mind at least) true Pinot. Lovely aromatics too. Fruity wines, easy to drink with distinct raspberry notes. Majority of wines should now be consumed. Grand Crus are ready too and though some will age further, do not expect much 'upside' potential. My advice is to drink these wines on their own. I love the cool, crushed raspberry, mineral-infused Pinot flavours. For Pinot lovers. Serve slightly cool to accentuate the freshness.
White: Stylistically similar to 2004 but with more concentration & depth. The two adjectives that best describe the vintage are minerality & purity. Late pickers produced particularly fine wines. Note the aromatic profile. These wines are aging well though I would recommend you drink all village wines now and keep only the best premier crus. Grand cru should be accessible from 2021. Indeed, many will need more time, but do take advice. Chablis wines are more accessible than Cote d'Or & the Grand Cru are now drinking.

2006

Red: Like 2001, this is a vintage that was underrated. Perhaps the weakness is the amount of tannin. Nothing wrong with tannins, providing they fully integrate with time. But where there is excess, the finished (i.e fully mature) wines can have a 'dryness' to them. More successful in Cote de Nuits than Cote de Beaune. Super wines in Vosne & Nuits. Notable success in Volnay too. Village wines should be consumed now. First growths have begun to flower and for the most part, are now accesible. Too early for grand cru.
White: A very generous vintage qualitatively speaking; and consistently so. Acidity is lower than in 2005 & the wines not quite as fresh as 2007. On the other hand, many were delicious to drink young (unlike the 05's). Fiveteen years on & many wines have fattened out. There is a sub-tropical peach, pear, mango nuance in many wines. For imbibers who like generous, full, rich Chardonnay this is a winner. Most wines need to be consumed. Keep only the very best & then only if you like the 'unctuous' texture that vintages like this bestow with age.

2005

Red: Arguably the finest wines in forty years & certainly one of Burgundy's finest post-war vintages. Wines with enormous energy, superbly concentrated & beautifully balanced. Fruit, tannins & acidities are impressively ripe, beautifully proportioned & finely integrated. The grape skins were quite dense resulting in wines with almost perfect structure. These wines have been dormant a long time, though the hibernation is showing signs of ending. Drink village wines now. Some first growths also, though plenty of time. Keep all top growths. They certainly have keeping qualities. Patience will be required. Time will tell as to how 'great' some of these wines will be.
White: A very fine vintage. Not quite as good in white as red – drought was a problem in some places. However, many growers reported making their best wines for years. Superb fruit & balancing acidity. They do not have the opulence of the 2006's but they are very concentrated & finish with lovely acidity. Drink all bar the very finest. All should be ready now.

2004

Red: Controversial. Initially considered a fair to good vintage, producing ripe grapes & tannins. No greath depth perhaps but charming & attractive. By 2007 a minority of wines displayed a taint, which manifested initially in the odour, increasingly in the taste. It has been described as carbolic, green, wax-resin, chemical, astringent etc. 'Ladybirds' (giving off pyrazines) during the harvest are offered as the cause
The incidence is only moderately increasing with age but the overall problem though not quantifiable, is present in a number wines. Interestingly, the majority of wines have not been affected. Many 2004's are proving very pleasurable. Drink all village & first growths. Grand Crus have time a little more time to go; up to 2024
White: My style of white Burgundy - crisp, fresh, transparent, cool white Burgundy. Admittedly no great complexity but this is a vintage for those who have no patience. They drank 'from the off'. All drinking now. The best have some time but not much 'upside'. Drink up?

2003

Red: A summer of suffocating heat. The vines withered. The resulting wines were 'all over the place'. Best addresses croped hard. Many wines are extraordinary. Would / could these wines age? The simple answer is they have. You can detect the heat in the almost Californian style, but there is ample fruit. So far these wines have proved that you dont have to have acidity to age. Plummy, ultra-ripe fruit. So when to drink? No sign of aging yet and time may well be on their side; but its a gamble. My advice would be to start. Grand crus have time but keep a good eye on them.
White: Well below-average acidity has been the death knell of most wines from this vintage. Virtually impossible to have produced 'keepers'. Some exceptions but alas not many. Drink up – if not already too late. Very difficult year for white Burgundy.

2002

Red: A personal favourite. To my palate at least, this vintage best reflects Pinot. For more infrequent Pinot drinkers, perhaps the acidities are too pronounced or, as some argue, there is insufficient 'fat' (extract). That said, the wines are very pure, fresh, balanced & elegant. No great amount of flesh but both tannins & acidities were ripe. They have aged well but are ready and should be consumed soon. Top growths can age a little further, but why wait? Best word to describe this vintage is 'stylish'. Keep grand crus only, but be selective in this regard.
White: Arguably a superb vintage for white Burgundy. Rich in natural sugars and perfect balancing acidities. Generous fruit levels and fresh acidity produced beautiful wines. Village wines finished. First growths too, unless you know the address, which in some cases made wines to age & these 2002's can so do. Though premature oxidation is a problem in older white Burgundy, the 2002's give argument to keeping such wines for 10 or more years. There is 'pre-mox' in 2002 for sure, but those not affected have aged beautifully & the wines 'thrilling' in many instances. Drink up.

2001

Red: Late north wind in Sept & 'millerandange' had huge impact on final quality. These wines have turned out to be classics. Not in the sense of 2005, 1999 or 1990 but for Pinot lovers who cherish wines that reflect their origin; Chambolle wines taste like Chambolle should. Likewise Nuits, Volnay, Pommard etc. These are sensual wines with pure, refined flavours. They are aging both gracefully & beautifully. First growths have aged well, though they need drinking now & over the next 12 months (2021-2022). The grand crus are ready now too, though no immediate rush. Those who bought are being well rewarded.
White: Early reviews singled out the lasting impact of April frost & the cold July / scorching hot August on these wines. Crisp, fresh & attractive young, the 2001's were primarily early drinkers & for the most part, without great aging potential. Good at best. Lack the plump ripeness of neighbours 2000 & finesse of 2002. If you have any, drink up quickly.

2000

Red: Early press gave this vintage a poor rating following the hugely successful 1999's (those with memories will recall 1991 after 1990). A big crop (again) of solid, well-made Pinots that are giving the sort of pleasure that vintages like 2011, 1998 and 1991 have. Sure, these wines do not have the concentration of the ‘99’s, but few vintages do. Difficult summer. Best results in Cote de Nuits (esp Gevrey). Those south of Beaune had some rot. For the most part, easy, effeminate, elegant wines where ripe. The best though were very good. Top wines still have life but most should be consumed. Still some lovely surprises (grand cru). Drink others.
White: The Maconnais offered outstanding quality. As you head north the quality diminished somewhat but from Macon to Puligny you had lots to enthuse about. Generics offered great value. More care was required with the ‘loftier’ wines. Those who purchased selectively will have encountered many beauties – highly concentrated. But not everywhere & others will not be quite so happy. Drink up.

1999

Red: Despite a record crop size, the critics were only divided as to whether this is an excellent or outstanding vintage. A 'must have' for Pinot lovers. The junior wines (generics) have been lovely – some made terrific bargains. The commune wines, 1er Crus & Grand Crus are ripe & concentrated, have elegant tannins, good acidities and are certainly proving age-worthy. Many are superb, making classic Pinot that continue to drink well. All wines are drinking well. Indeed, they have always been accessible. Grand Crus and some premier crus (some are certainly accessible) will continue to age. Difficult to say for how long, so my recommendation is to enjoy now. Decline will be slow.
White: Very good. Lovely, fresh, generous wines for medium term aging. Initially, many growers considered their ‘98’s more age-worthy. Time has proved otherwise however. While quality is good all-round (despite a huge crop), some growers made excellent wines. In general, delightful wines, if not of great concentration. Drink up quickly.

1998

Red: Very small crop. Berries were scorched in August furnace. An excellent Sept yielded very ripe grapes with lovely tannins. The critics initially considered this a good vintage, but no better. However, after a few years opinions changed somewhat. These wines have developed nicely. Balanced, harmonious, without high acidities or harsh tannins (there is a tannic dimension, but not austere) & have ‘fattened’ out generously. Drink up though. Some top Burgs still showing good legs but there is no more 'upside potential'. Musigny from de Vogué will age further. Otherwise, in a word (or two) - drink up.
White: Good year but with the exception of a individual grand crus (Corton-Charlemagne, Montrachet etc) should now be consumed. Most long gone.

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