2019 Burgundy: Vintage Report
The 2019 vintage in Burgundy has produced red and white wines of excellent quality: good ripeness, coupled with density and freshness, are the watchwords of the vintage. 2010 was probably the last vintage in which there was such homogenous quality across all communes for both reds and whites.
The 2019 season in Burgundy started with a cold winter punctuated by an unseasonably warm two-week spell in February. Spring was cool and windy, and summer took a while to arrive in earnest, though it will be remembered for the temperature spikes in June and July. During our buyers’ visit to Chablis, the Côte d’Or, Beaujolais and the Mâconnais in mid-June, temperatures reached 39°C in the shade, and did not dip below 25°C at night. In fact, the average temperature recorded in the last week of June in the Côte d’Or was 28°C, compared with the long-term average of 18 °C.
Guillaume Vrignaud, Domaine Vrignaud
One might expect rich, supple wines from a hot, drought-affected year. Yet, despite the well-documented dry season, a cold period in April (when many experienced frost as the buds were breaking) and a turbulent period at flowering seem to have had a bigger impact on yield and quality than the heat alone.
After the delayed start to summer, flowering began in early June under mixed conditions, varying from cool and wet to windy and dry. This inclement weather contributed to a great deal of millerandage, and a consequent reduction in the crop. This was exacerbated by the lack of rainfall over the following three months, which resulted in small berries, described as ‘like caviar’ by Grégory Patriat, winemaker at Jean-Claude Boisset. However, unlike in many hot vintages, there was little raisining. By harvest in September, the grapes had thick skins and scant juice, but were packed with concentrated flavours.
2019 offers wines with harmonious acidity, balance and, many producers feel, longevity, while the defining character of the reds is their ripe and plentiful tannins. In the Côte de Beaune, quantities are small (in some areas, such as Puligny-Montrachet, up to 80% less than in 2018), but the wines display richness and balance. Many winemakers, including Benoît Riffault at Etienne Sauzet, used less new oak in 2019 as their concentrated, dense and powerful wines simply did not need the additional support. In Chablis, the 2019s reveal their individual sites with quintessential, saline precision and vibrant freshness: Guillaume Vrignaud’s wines display “generous depth thanks to the sun but with a definitive, elegant texture.”
As demand for Burgundy continues to outstrip supply – reinforced by the press surrounding the 2019 vintage – so prices remain firm. Our offer features long-established producers such as Domaine Chevalier in Ladoix, whose wines offer exceptional value for money, alongside emerging ‘micro’-producer Moron-Garcia, who has been attracting attention both here and in the US. Furthermore, we are delighted to include several new wines from the meticulous Grégory Patriat at Jean-Claude Boisset.
Main image Jean-Claude Boisset.