Burgundy Discovery wine tours

Recent vintages

Working with winegrowers in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits and Côte Chalonnaise vineyards since 2003 has enabled Burgundy Discovery to observe the precious vines in the vineyards throughout the seasons and to be best placed to compare the different vintages using first hand observation.

Burgundy’s two main grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respond differently to the climatic conditions, and with nature and nurture each year brings its own unique aromas and tastes. The beauty of Burgundy is that inevitably you will find an appellation or vintage to enjoy.

We have included some observations about the immediate past year and the expectations of the vintage as well as some notes on previous recent vintages back to 2007. It is rare to be able to taste older vintages beyond 2007, as most has been sold, but if you wish to have the opportunity to do so then why not join us in one of our Vintage Experience …… read more

2012 “Triumph from adversity”?

The talking point of 2012 is always going to be the exceptional weather. Some winegrowers philosophically joke that they had been struck by the “seven plagues of Egypt”

Weather throughout the year made the season exceptionally difficult, with the Côte de Beaune the worst affected. Overall volumes in Burgundy are down by some 30%, one of the smallest harvests recorded, with a 25% reduction in the Côte de Nuits and 40 to 50% in Côte de Beaune.

The weather problems began with mild springs followed by late frosts and then extended rain throughout bud break and into early summer resulting in mildew and oidium. Things were made worse in the Côte de Beaune by 2 hailstorms at the end of June and the beginning of August which did extensive damage to vines over large swathes of the Côte South of Beaune, together with heat spikes causing further damage.

A fine late summer and continued good weather throughout the harvest thankfully rescued the year, with fully mature healthy grapes, although extensive sorting was still necessary in the vineyards and at the sorting table, but resulting in an excellent quality.

This was the 3rd harvest in a row where quantity was below expectations.

Early thoughts on the wines are that both the red and the white show great promise. The quantity is small, but the quality high.

Reds are showing deep garnet colours with good balance and concentration, and powerful tannins but well integrated with the fruit.

The white wines are also looking very promising with a very rich and ripe must giving good balance.

Overall wines are very clean with aromas concentration and overall purity pleasing the most experienced palate. The reds have the potential to emulate the elegance and concentration of the great 2005 vintage, and the whites the 2009.

This is sure to be an extremely popular vintage – get hold of some when you can.

2011 “A success”

The size of the crop is larger than 2010 but still smaller than 2009. Again the weather played it’s part with a hot dry spring followed by a cold, wet period in July and early August with hail in Rully, which destroyed up to 100% of their crop! The weather changed again from mid-August resulting in early, elongated harvest from the end of August to the middle of September.

Most vignerons are happy with the vintage, which display lots of fruit, good colour, acidity and smoothness.

The white wine crop displayed healthily sized grapes. The result is a vintage of very pleasant fresh, fruity wines, best suited to drinking relatively soon.

The red wine crop had less juice than expected giving rise to greater concentration but still a lighter colour than the 2010’s. Although less rich than the 2009’s and it is very early days, they are generally delicious, with good fruit, best suited to drinking in the medium to long term.

2010 “A Classic Vintage”

The size of the crop was significantly smaller than 2009. The year got off to a bad start with adverse weather conditions: Firstly we suffered a severe frost with temperatures dropping to minus 20 degrees C in December 2009. Many vines of the lower slopes and particularly in the Côte de Nuits were damaged as the sap froze and the vines did not re-grow.

Secondly the flowering in June 2010 was not uniform, with some seeds shattering and others flourishing within the same bunch. Later during the season you could observe the uneven ripening of the bunches of grapes, some quite swollen and some minute in size. Thus the yield was reduced further.

Finally at the harvest, sorting was essential with a further 5-15% having to be discarded. In total winegrowers were anticipating 20-25% less than 2009 and in some areas between 30-40%! Fortunately by the beginning of September, the indication was that 2010 would turn out to be one the most classic Burgundy vintages for 15 years. A sunny (but not hot) September allowed the grapes to ripen and retain their acidity and also, due to the small quantities, to ripen quickly. Healthy grapes gave a good balance of sugars and acidity, but with a lack of juice and more concentration.

Today it is clear that the vintage has turned out a great deal better than could have initially been anticipated. Credit is due to the professionalism of the producers, and also due to the natural, almost miraculous regeneration of the vine several times within the year.

Generally wines display a combination of good fruit, alcohol levels, with supporting acidity resulting in what many would term as characterful wines.

The whites are fresh and retain good acidity levels , with more acidity but less richness than the 2009. Most are good to drink now and probably before 2015.

The reds are excellent. Lots of fruit, but still some acidity, giving a balance and length that will make them last.

2009 “Exceptional”

The 2009 weather was almost perfect. A splendid beautiful Summer with good sunshine and not too much heat continuing right through the harvest and beyond. There were still problems with hail and the flowering was extended giving early concerns about differential maturity of the grapes. The later weather however meant that the harvest could start relatively early and be extended and the final grapes were healthy and mature and hardly any sorting was necessary.

The resultant wines are naturally high in alcohol, with ripe tannins, good colour and an overall richness, but for some less acidity than they would like, for example compared to the great vintage of 2005.

The whites are expressive, aromatic, rich and full with good fruit. They don’t have the structure of tannins and, with less acidity, these wines needed to be vinified in a style to keep their freshness. The final results depend on viticultural practices, minerality of certain terroirs, quality of vegetal matter and the length of barrel maturing. A Meursault grower, who normally specialises in long barrel maturing of 16-18 months for his white wines, took stock in early 2010. For the 2009 vintage he very nearly bottled his wines earlier than normal, worried by their limpness, but he finally decided to let them mature longer on their lees. This was the right decision as the wines retain their pure aromas and freshness.

The red wines express themselves with lots of richness, meaty textures, silky tannins, very elegant, with less acidity and very approachable. These wines are great to drink now but will also age well.

The popularity of this vintage means that many vignerons are completely sold out of stock of both white and red.

2008 “A late surprise”!

A cool wet and generally miserable start to the year, with late and sporadic flowering did not bode well. After the middle of June things improved with good warmth and little rain. This lasted 6 weeks but was unfortunately followed by rain up to harvest. Then (very late in the day) the wind changed, the fruit concentrated in warm and sunny days with cool nights, with the sugars rising and acids falling. The result was a vintage small with a need for plenty of sorting, but much better than could have been expected 2 to 3 weeks before the harvest.

The 2008 reds are well-coloured have a good structure, and good levels of tannins and acidity that will help them keep well, the best appellations are capable of ageing for 10-15 years. Some retain quite powerful levels of tannins and will benefit from some further time, but many are starting to soften out into fruity and easy to drink wines.

The whites are the stars that have given us all the best surprises especially for the winegrowers who avoided rushing to harvest. We are not talking of a great vintage but of a very good one. The whites have precise aromas, full of fruit, harmonious, elegant and fine. These are well-structured wines with excellent balance. After the ups and downs of the first nine 21 st-century vintages, the winegrowers and oenologists redoubled their efforts and took great care to produce a fantastic range of wines. Bravo!

2007 “A fickle year of weather”

From early promise, with exceptional weather for April things started to slip. Although the flowering of the vines was 3 weeks early May was defined by rain which continued to the end of August, with mildew and rot a major threat. Then the sun came out and weeks of good weather followed through the harvest until mid November. The harvest came early for many, but it would have been wise to wait. Sorting was essential and as a result most had a reduced crop.

Overall the vintage is good but not spectacular.
The white wines are crisp, with good fruit and a degree of elegance.
The red wines also have good fruit and are pleasant easy to drink and soft.
2007 vintages are good to drink now.