2019 Burgundy En Primeur
The 2019 harvest in full swing in Gevrey-Chambertin
During the first lockdown earlier this year, as Europe collectively held its breath, it was very uplifting to follow vignerons in Burgundy posting pictures on social media about their ongoing work in the vineyard. There is something very reassuring about life amongst the vines continuing as normal. In the current climate, 2019 Burgundy en primeur may seem to be the definition of a "non-essential", but we hope that there will be pleasure and enjoyment for you in following the release of this latest vintage. Judging by the initial reaction, that certainly seems to be the case. An excellent but very small vintage, the wines from 2019 are selling fast and you will need to be quick to secure your first choicees.
The 2019 Growing Season
In one sentence, 2019 in Burgundy was a hot, dry year leading to a small harvest, producing high quality red and white wines with lots of concentration but surprising freshness; a very good vintage.
The year began with very mild weather and with an uneven flowering in June. This in turn resulted in widespread 'millerandage', or 'hen and chicks' as it is charmingly known in English, with grapes developing in uneven sizes (some large, some very small). There was some frost in early April particularly in the Mâconnais, but in general this was not a year heavily marked by 'le gel.'
The rest of the year was almost ideal, but there was almost no rain, with the drought producing exceptionally small, concentrated berries. The cumulative effect of issues at flowering, millerandage and low rainfall reduced the overall crop size by between 30-50% compared to 2018; an even smaller harvest than in a frost year like 2016.
Small yields will mean limited allocations, particularly for the most sought-after wines. Our very first tastings of the 2019s were in Burgundy last year, whilst they were still fermenting in barrel. In the last week we have tasted our first fifty-odd cask samples and whilst it is still too early to form an overview, we are confident that the much-vaunted combination of concentration and freshness is very real.
Acidity levels in the white wines are impressive, but the fresh character here comes as much from picking at the right time, to emphasise orchard and stone fruit aromas rather than sliding towards exotic or tropical notes. As if to illustrate the point, Chablis appears to have had a very successful vintage, producing concentrated wines but which still manage to shout their terroirs from the glass.
The reds have real signs of complexity, with long term potential. Based on grands crus tasted so far, we can't remember these ever being so open or impressive at such an early stage of development.
This year we offer wines from Domaines Taupenot-Merme, Rossignol-Trapet, Tortochot, Hudellot-Baillet, Voillot, Maison Jadot, Michelot, Jean Pascal, Bachey-Legros, Borgeot, Jeannin-Naltet and JA Ferret.
Côte de Nuits
Brothers Nicolas and David Rossignol make an exceptional range of Gevrey wines at this leading biodynamic domaine.
A family domaine established in the 19th century and still run by Chantal Tortochot. The wines here are very classical with polished tannins.
For the first time this year we offer this domaine en primeur. Romain and Virginie Taupenot have moved their family estate into the 'first division' of domaines in recent years.
Dominique Leguen took over the winemaking at this domaine from his father-in-law, Joel Hudelot-Baillet, in 2004. Described as a 'rising star' of the village, his wines are full of dark, voluptuous black fruits with the silky, creamy texture associated with Chambolle.
Côte de Beaune
One of the most consistently excellent producers in Burgundy, making benchmark wines from each appellation. Jadot make wines from over 100 appellations, with very little variation in vinification. Instead, the wines are allowed to distinguish themselves through expressing their terroir.
A small, bright gem in Volnay, with holdings in neighbouring Pommard too. Jean-Pierre Charlot is a winemaking mentor to many domaine owners in Burgundy, having taught at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune for many years. His nephew Etienne Chaix has recently taken over as winemaker. The wines are elegant and pure, almost - but not quite - to a fault.
With around 19 hectares spread across Mersault, Nicholas Mestre's family domaine produces wines with great fruit purity and very little oak influence.
Described by one Burgundy expert as a 'peasant' domaine...meant politely and as a compliment ('paysanne'). The Pascals make superb, concentrated Puligny wines which are great value.
Owned by the same family for six generations, this 18-hectare domaine is based in Santenay and produces superb value reds and whites from very old vines.
The Borgeot brothers have built their small domaine parcel by parcel, and it now includes excellent holdings in Santenay and Chassagne.
Côte Chalonnaise & Maconnais
An up-and-coming 9 hectare estate in Mercurey, comprised principally of premier crus.
Domaine Ferret is an established name in Fuissé but is also at the forefront of efforts to establish a classification system for the varied terroirs in the Pouilly-Fuisse appellation. After meeting winemaker Audrey Braccini, we have a sense that Pouilly-Fuissé is entering a period of renaissance.