BURGUNDY VINTAGES 1990 - 2014
(Information is updated on an ongoing basis)
Imagine a red wine (any wine) that seduces you with it's fragrance of rose petals, it's succulent red and black forest berry fruits, it's terrific vibrant freshness, it's perfect balance and it's understated beauty; you are in effect drinking 2014 red Burgundy.
Now think of a white wine from a cool temperate region that has mineral-infused citrus fruit, is beautifully ripe, has gorgeous fresh acidities, is neither tropical nor heavy, is wonderfully pure and precise; you are in effect drinking 2014 white Burgundy.
This is a very lovely vintage which has produced precise, ripe, vibrant, often thrillingly fresh Pinot Noir fruit and, structured, pure, mineral-infused Chardonnays that oscillate between excellent and outstanding from village to village. In a sentence, 2014 Burgundy is as close as is possible to produce a classically styled vintage that Burgundy lovers will thoroughly enjoy.
Perhaps the icing on the cake is that the 2014 vintage can be consumed young or in the medium term, with some 'outperformers' having the potential to age for many years. For the most part and I emphasise this, 2014 can be consumed before 2013, with many wines drinking within months of bottling.
'A classic vintage'
Cool vintages (2001, 2002, 2008, 2011-2014) invariably imbue Pinot with freshness. In this sense, the region's climate and the vintage growing season is reflected in the taste. Key to the success of the cooler vintages however is the degree of ripeness. When not fully ripe the resulting wines can demonstrate an acidic leanness or tannic dryness. When overripe, they are slightly atypical, hinting at Californian richness. However, when sufficiently ripe, the freshness is succulent, crunchy and 'more'ish'. In 2014 the hallmark is one of candied fruit (raspberry coulis), which make them irresistible to drink. In fact, in tasting these 2014's one would wonder why any should be kept at all? The answer is twofold; this is a structured, ripe vintage and the wines have all the ingredients necessary to age, thus giving imbibers choice in this regard.
Secondly, some of the wines will undoubtedly benefit from the complexities that only age bestows, manifest in tertiary aromas and the many subtle nuances that only Pinot Noir from Burgundy exhibits. With age, Pinot develops a complex spiciness, which seems at once both fresh and ancient. There may even be hints of smoky elements, suggestions of baked fruits, gamey smells, a leathery character, sometimes smells of certain fungi. Some 2014 red Burgundy will undoubtedly develop this way; most however are destined for early consumption due to the irresistible youthful pleasure they offer.
To best understand what is meant by youthful pleasure in Pinot Noir, think of a wine exhibiting a mouth-wateringly appealing, lively, spicy fruitiness with a palpable, succulent, striking freshness, which has an absolutely yummy, sensuous mouth-feel.
The Chardonnays too are beautifully proportioned, with fine acidities and a distinct damp-stoniness that culminates in intense citrus flavours and in many instances, very impressive density. Enjoy these wines for their linear (from start to finish), detailed flavours that are intensely satisfying. A very fine vintage for white Burgundy.
Weather / Growing Season
When I visited Burgundy (13 – 26 January 2016) this year, winegrowers remarked the extremely mild but wet winter they are currently experiencing. Indeed, such weather mirrors our own weather here in Ireland. To a very large degree, the weather between Nov and the following February is not terribly important. Severe frost is a scourge but in those same months in 2013-2014, bad frost was not an issue. March commences the vegetative cycle when the sap rises in the vines and the growing season begins.
For the first half of 2014 from January until the flowering in June, the weather was very mild causing the vegetative cycle to get ahead of itself. By mid May, estimates were that the cycle was approx three weeks ahead of Burgundy's 2013 counterpart. The only concern was lack of rain and when that happens, the berries close up to protect themselves; almost hibernation mode in order to preserve water. Flowering thus finished early and we had for the third time in the past four vintages millerandage, or shot berries. This phenomenon is not uniue to Burgundy but it is most frequent here. This is the point where the berries cluster together, shutting out daylight between themselves. The upside is that the small berries, if optimum conditions follow thereafter, are highly concentrated and ripeness levels are easier to obtain. The downside is twofold; less overall volume and the risk that if oidium or mildew were to take hold the effects are potentially rampant, spoiling whole clusters.
On 28th June, for the fourth vintage in a row, hail struck. On three such occasions (this being one), the hail was almost exclusive to the Cote de Beaune. Burgundians are warned in advance of the approaching hail but where it will fall exactly is not predictable. On 28th June 2014 the hail belt ran in a south to north direction, first falling in Meursault and thereafter battering vineyards from Meursault to Savigny-les-Beaune. It was in this 3-6km stretch that the hail did it's worst. Comparatively speaking the Cote de Nuits virtually escaped, though damage was sustained more so in the later storms; especially 25th July.
What followed in July and August was cool, wet weather spread over eight weeks, with only moderate respite. As if the threat of rot wasn't enough to contend with, the asian insect known as the Suzuki fly appeared, attacking mostly the younger vines and the vines sheltered near walls. Initially, post harvest, much was made of the Suzuki fly's presence (they pierce grape skins and chemically acidify the juice), though many growers inluding Anne Gros, told me that birds (sitting on pylons) and boars inflicted more damage (by eating young berries) than the Asian flies.
Conditions in late August and throughout September significantly altered the outcome. The 'hung dog' look on many faces in mid August (according to Vincent Dancer) disappeared to be replaced by an air of positive expectation. By the last week of August, warm bright conditions appeared and maturities sky-rocketed. By the time the vendange (harvest) kicked off on the 8th September, the grapes were coming in at between 12 and 12.6% potential alcohol. Though Burgundy is permitted to add sugars to boost alcohol by up to 1.5%, the majority decided either not to add sugar at all (Dancer, de Vogué, Anne Gros, Marc Colin), or to add as little as 0.5%. Growers remarked that 2014 was a rare opportunity to produce wines with natural freshness, beauty and good ripeness levels and elected virtually everywhere to preserve this 'unadulturated' state. Altering wine with sugar, adjusting acidities or too much compensatory SO2 ultimately distorts the wine. In 2014 Burgundy has produced a crop of virtually unconditional, low alcohol, pure wines.
Had the Burgundians been heavy-handed with added sugar, the cool, mineral, crystalised fruits of 2014 would have been replaced by artificially ripe, almost sweet flavours that would win over some judges. But certainly at the cost of compromising vintage character. Beware sweet 2014 Burgundy. Besides, who would want to drink adulturated ersatz Pinot Noir?
By the time the alcoholic and secondary malolactic fermentations finished, not just had fears of Suzuki infection and hail damage subsided, growers were reporting red and white wines that possessed terrific vibrant energy, good but not aggressive tannins, ample fruit and sufficient extract to herald a classicBurgundy style in a forward, attractively textured, user-friendly vintage.
Drink or keep?
It is seldom that Burgundy affords us the choice of immediate consumption (not all wines - see notes) or laying down (though in this respect 2013 is altogether different). In my opinion it is comforting to have a vintage in your cellar that you know if in late 2016, or anytime in the coming few years, when you elect to open a bottle, the wine will offer up immediate vinous gratification.
These 2014's have not been manipulated or forced. Too much intervention could have spoilt these wines and growers emphasised the necessity to treat the must gently. Pumping down, stirring of the lees (děbourbage), inclusion of stems, racking, over-oaking were all either reduced to a minimum or not used at all. This is a vintage where the cool summer and the Autumn sunshine (does not equate to heat) that September bestowed, combined to produce wines that are disarmingly serene, fresh, elegant, pure and above all, classic in style. Begin drinking with confidence at once.
From vintage to vintage wine critics often reference the 'terroir' character or 'terroir' expression in the wines. Nowhere is this more evident in recent years than in 2014. Neither style nor fruit has blunted provenance. Indeed, of all recent vintages 2014 best reflects appellation character. If ever a student wanted to know what a Maranges, Pernand-Vergelesses or Gevrey-Chambertin tastes like, this vintage will best educate him/her. Furthermore, buying a bottle of Saint- Aubin 1er Cru 'En Remilly' or a bottle of Cote de Nuits Village 'Essards' is a sure bet in terms of meeting expectations. (see Annex)? 2014 is arguably the most terroir-driven vintage the region has produced since 2001.
Style and Structure
To appreciate the style and structure of the 2014 vintage, it is worth contemplating the five factors which are unique to the region and have combined to make this a 'classically' styled vintage. While the region's four constants of geography, soil, grapes and grower greatly influence the vintage outcome and have a significant bearing on results, the defining factor is more often than not the weather. All five factors interplay to give Burgundy it's uniqueness. But essentially, Burgundy is a cool climate region with periods of mostly cool and warm weather patterns. While a balanced view would suggest that weather alone is insufficient to explain vintage character, in 2014 however, it galvanised, moulded and ultimately shaped the 2014's DNA. This DNA is freshness (cool summer), ripeness (warm Autumn) and harmony.
Both colours have excellent structure. Fruit, acidities, alcohol and tannins are all well developed. None dominate. All are beautifully proportioned. The wines are neither flamboyant or aggressive, but they are certainly structured. This structure will permit the wines to age. There need be no rush to drink 2014 Burgundy (Dancer and de Vogue both said their wines need time), though as previously stated in the introduction, it is undeniably a vintage whose wines can be consumed young.
Reds: The reds have good structure and they will age well. Though you will certainly drink some of these wines early, I encourage you to put a few aside. These are friendly wines but they are also structured. What growers couldn't be sure of is their evolution. Will they close down? 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. Not every parcel needed chaptalizing and even where they did, it was generally between 0.5 and 1% alcohol, rather than the permitted 1.5%. 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.
The resulting whites are also classically styled. 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. At the moment, the premier and grand crus are quite tight.
Overall, we have very good whites with weighty, aromatic fruit and fine balancing acidity.
The fruit is quite intense and leans towards the richer end of the spectrum. Virtually all of the whites I tasted were beautifully balanced, with an appealing 'nervy' acidity, displayed good energy (with a little bit of the crunch and vibrant quality of the 2008's). There is unquestionably variation in style and this is addressed in the individual domaine offerings.
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 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 muscle and 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. Lush, linear & very satisfying. A remarkable outcome to a remarkable year. Regional wines are drinking but virtually all others merit keeping; some for the long haul.
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 is 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. One grower opinioned that the high quality of the whites could be overlooked due to quality of the reds.
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 to 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 will give great pleasure in the medium term. They have structure and will age longer than first impressions may convey. The comparisons are 2007 (though with more fruit extract) and 2001 (with similar structure). Start drinking all except premier and grand crus.
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. They have good structure and have the capacity to age; if not as long as 2007 & 2008. Enjoy the exhuberance in the short to medium term as these wines give great pleasure already. Drink before the 2010's.
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'. To the 'lay' person, 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 the structure of 2005, but wonderfully balanced and very, very pure. It will be interesting to see how these wines develop. If you haven't any in your cellar, I highly recommend you buy some. If you have, keep (though admittedly some generics and even village wines (e.g. Saint-Aubin, Pernand-Vergelesses) are irresistible now)
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. Keep the premier crus, which exhibit great style and elegance. The top Burgundies are very pure, with perfect balance between mellowness and acidity. Fresh, characterful, elegant Chardonnays.
Red: Much-heralded & eagerly anticipated wines. The press, as they often do, were effusive in their praise. Were they justified? Early days, but these are undeniably impressive wines. Sumptuous now & sumptuous in 10 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 now. Try to give a little time to the top growths – they deserve it.
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? May not make old bones but much to look forward to and plenty to satisfy those who like to drink their white Burgundy young. Drink before the 2010's, 2008's & 2007's.
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 should mature into equally fine wines. Tannins & acidity are dominant now. Dont be alarmed as these are beautifully vibrant, cool, focused, cherry Pinot wines & patience here will be rewarded. I expect these wines to repay cellaring, but patient you must be. Not big or plummy like 1999 or 2009; but classically styled, well structured, pure & fresh like 2001, 2002 & 2007. Village wines and many premier crus now drinking 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 – many for the long haul. A cross between the richness of 2006 & the minerality of 2007.
Top wines still tight as 'hens teeth' just now. In a nutshell – WAIT. Great promise in store and nearly ready in many cases. Generics & vilage wines accessible
Red: A vintage that few wanted & though I profess to understand why, I consider this & 2008 to be classic Pinot Noir vintages. Many wines are light & without any great depth. 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 are drinking. A vintage needing little time, though Grand Crus can age further. 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. Drink all except grand crus.
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 keepers with good aging potential. Only the village wines are open. Dont touch the top growths for another year yet. Indeed, many are still dumb. Chablis wines are more accessible than Cote d'Or. Chablis Grand Cru now beginning to drink.
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 are now ready. First growths from end 2015. Too early for top growths. From the best addresses there is much to look forward to. Elsewhere variable.
White: A very generous vintage qualitatively speaking; and consistently so. Acidity is lower than 2005 & the wines not quite as fresh as 2007. On the other hand, many were delicious to drink young (unlike the 05's). Seven 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 are drinking well. Keep only the very best & then only if you like the 'fat' that vintages like this produce with age. Personally speaking, I wont be keeping these for the long haul – question of taste really.
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 structure is almost perfect.
These wines are now dormant. For how long is hard to tell. They certainly have keeping qualities. Patience will be required. Generics are now drinking. Buy if you can find. 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.
It is a vintage with keeping qualities though many are now beginning to drink. No great hurry here for the very top growths
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, 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 (see Blog 'The Taste of 2004 Red Burgundy' dated 7 Jan 2010 - find on Home Page)
The incidence is only moderately increasing with age but the overall problem is not quantifiable. Interestingly, the majority of wines have not been affected. Many 2004's are proving very pleasurable. Drink all village & most first growths. Grand Crus have time a little more time to go.
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'. Village wines have been drinking since 2006. First growths since 2007. All drinking now. The best have some time but not much 'upside'. Can keep, but why wait when you have other vintages that need keeping or indeed will benefit from keeping?
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. But its a gamble. My advice would be to start. Give the better growths the benefit 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.
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, insufficient 'fat'. That said, the wines are very pure, fresh, balanced & elegant. No great amount of flesh but both tannins & acidities were ripe.
They are aging very well. Village wines are drinking. Premier Crus too, though some can age further. Hold on to the best. Top growths still have a little more to go. Remember – the grapes were very ripe when picked, so they will age. Best word to describe this vintage is 'stylish'.
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. Drink all village wines now through 2013, is my recommendation. 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 are aging beautifully & the wines 'thrilling' in many instances.
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. Village wines and most first growths are ready. The grand crus merit further cellaring until 2016. 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. Drink up. A few of the very best with some remaining upside, but dont hang on too long.
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 2007, 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 start drinking. Some lovely surprises.
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.
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 will be quite brilliant, making classic Pinot drinking in the years ahead. All wines are drinking though it is possible to continue to hold Grand Crus (some are certainly accessible). 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.
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. By & large, medium term drinkers, but better than first considered. Elegant, supple soft wines. Vast majority are drinking. Some of the finest will keep going. I'm beginning to drink now, though no rush.
White: Again, good to very good. Especially good in Chassagne-Montrachet & Meursault. More elegant than ’96 but with less noticeable acidity. And therein lies the problem. It would appear that premature-oxidation has impacted strongly in this vintage. Only the best have aged & in this scribes opinion, the best are ready & should be drunk now.
Red: Low acidities are the main problem. Pity, because the tannins are ultra ripe, soft, velvety. What this all means of course is that these wines drank early, though the better Pinots have aged reasonably well. Very easy wines with decent flesh. While a number of wines will age, they are unlikely to develop further. In other words, what you got in say 2002, is what you’ll get now. Village wines arguably are starting to descend. Drink up now.
White: Good to very good. Much more harmonious than the reds. The village wines are now fading, some premier crus too. Grand Crus are in their prime. Very successful in the Cote de Beaune region. Not unlike the 2004's. Unless you are sure, a vintage to be consumed.
Red: Heralded as an excellent vintage. The caveat was the very pronounced acidities - a little too abrasive for some, though this is what gave these wines the potential to age & develop. Natural alcohol levels were high, the tannins mature & the fruit abundant. “Fine Pinots which require cellaring” . . unanimous verdict from the critics. After 15 years the acidity in the 1996's is still 'rasping'. Danger now is that the fruit will fade & the acidity remains. I would recommend consuming. With few exceptions, there is no more 'upside'.
White: The second of a triumvirate of very good vintages. As in 1999, Burgundy produced both good whites & good reds in 1996. Like the reds, the whites have good acidity; easier to understand in white wine but it does mean the wines can age. Even premier crus from good producers can age ten years. Very floral in Chassagne & Puligny. Great grip in Meursault. Ripe, full, super quality. Drink up.
Red: Smaller crop than ’93 or ’96 but very ripe. The wines have sweet fruit with distinct raspberry & cherry notes. The critics said to wait. To be honest I found many drank from early, though in truth they have aged very well. Time now to consume. Somewhat overshadowed by the more illustrious ‘96’s, but if you have some, get stuck in. My guess is you won’t be disappointed (top first growths & grand crus). Good to very good & in this scribes opinion, better than 1996.
White: Much healthier fruit than in 1994. There was little rot, plenty of good acidities but perhaps the ripeness factor was a limitation. Though elegant, racy & with good structure, growers differed on the success of this vintage. Some prefer their ‘92’s.
They aged well & though apparently lean at first, they fattened out quite well. Good, but be careful. Drink up (very top growths are the only survivors).
Red: A difficult vintage. Grapes were very healthy coming into Sept. As one critic puts it, ‘a vintage not of terroir but of date of harvest’. It was, unfortunately for many growers, a drenching harvest. Ripe grapes became diluted, bloated even. Many picked too late. Anyone who picked to the maximum permissible yield produced disappointing wines which did not age well. Some (but very exceptional) beauties for the canny. Drink up. Many now jaded.
White: Better than the reds. Very good in Meursault; consistent in Chassagne; disappointing in Puligny. But just as 1994 is not consistently good, neither is it consistently bad. For those who picked early, or fast, the chardonnay was ripe & good wines were made. Few picked early & fewer picked fast. Drink up quickly.
Red: Small berries, very healthy colour, refreshing acidity, perfumed, very concentrated – all added up to very high quality (though hail damage in Vosne & Chambolle). Not quite as rich as the 1990’s but more elegant. The wines, in general, are classic, pure & yardstick Pinot Noir. Ready for some time now; some fading. With their complexity & harmony the 1993’s have proven very pleasurable. Drink now – no more 'upside' to the come.
White: Though the fruit was healthy, the size of the crop was the problem. The '93's have not aged well. All but finished now. (Yet again, Meursault proved the exception). Perhaps the thick skins helped a number wines to develop, but I would be cautious. No doubt a few top growers made very fine wines. Drink.
Red: Plump, soft, easy wines for relatively early drinking. I have had some beauties. I have had many more which were dilute, bloated, thin wines. Again, a vintage for the canny buyer.
It was a large harvest and tempting to make a lot of wine. The raw material lacked concentration though. Only the best have made it. Majority have faded. If you have some play safe & drink up. The majority are past their best now.
White: Better than red, though Chablis particularly disappointing. In Cote d’Or, whites were generally well-balanced, having been picked in better weather conditions than the reds. However, the grapes were big when picked, suggesting a lack of real concentration. Also higher yields than in 1991. Drink any remaining. A few surprises!
Red: This vintage was painted with a Bordeaux 'brush' (Burgundy escaped the April frost that proved so devastating in Bordeaux) and was unfairly downgraded. Anybody who purchased some will have been quite pleased. Much better than initially suggested. Red grape skins were thick & strong and many excellent wines were made. Most finished now though. Some top growths have aged superbly (a Chambertin from Denis Mortet was superb in January 2012). Would recommend drinking up though.
White: Mostly short, somewhat flabby wines. Diluted from the water they took up & often lacking acidity. Generally weak wines which have not aged gracefully. Grand Crus should be at their peak now, though most will not have 'survived' today
Red: Magnificent wines. Together with 1993, 1996 & 1999 Burgundy has enjoyed four superb vintages (red) in a decade. These are luscious. Ripe, fat, concentrated, opulent almost. If there was a 'flaw' it was that a small number displayed mildly 'burnt' nuances (heat).
Only top Grand Crus likely to have survived now, though there are exceptions to this. Plenty of colour & extract. (Why didn't I buy more? Super vintage).
White: Excellent. Generally healthy, well-balanced wines. Majority past their peak now. Some grand crus aged well. Though perhaps not quite as brilliant as the reds, the whites were very good indeed. Some (very few) survivors.