• How Burgundy 2017 en primeur is a feast after the famine

    Although Chablis was hit by frost again and Beaujolais suffered bad weather in a number of appelations, Burgundy in 2017 got away pretty much scot-free weather-wise. To make matters even better volumes ranged from normal to generous and the quality is looking promising particularly with the whites. But it could all have been so different. For some producers another weather-ravaged harvest could have meant curtains. Thankfully 2017 has been followed by a bumper harvest in 2018 so finally we can all start getting our hands on Burgundy again – and there is no sign of any price increases… just yet!

    Although Chablis was hit by frost again and Beaujolais suffered bad weather in a number of appelations, Burgundy in 2017 got away pretty much scot-free weather-wise. To make matters even better volumes ranged from normal to generous and the quality is looking promising particularly with the whites. But it could all have been so different. For some producers another weather-ravaged harvest could have meant curtains. Thankfully 2017 has been followed by a bumper harvest in 2018 so finally we can all start getting our hands on Burgundy again – and there is no sign of any price increases… just yet!

    mm By January 8, 2019
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    The Buyer hears from winemakers from Louis Latour and Louis Jadot as well as Berry Bros & Rudd and Lea and Sandeman about what to expect from the wines and which appelations to make a bee-line for.

    If ever there was a vintage that was ‘easy’ then 2017 is it argues Christophe Déola,
director of Maison Louis Latour, who singles out the grapes of Charlemagne as being “magnificent” and the quality of the reds exceptional

    “2017 is an early vintage of high quality, with much more usual volume. The wines are balanced and expressive, with freshness and fruity aromas prevailing.”

    “As a vintage the year 2017 is characterised by a warm climate, low rainfall and sunshine. This ideal season allows the vine to grow in harmony while minimising the attack of mildew and growth of weeds. The Chardonnay offers very balanced wines, fruity, powerful with a nice tension, while the Pinot Noir wines have vibrant, strong colours with intense aromas of red and black fruit together with silky tannins.”

    “The wines are well-balanced and show great finesse and elegance.”

    For Frédéric Barnier the winemaker at Louis Jadot yields just about reached the average when it came to whites while the red harvest was generous.

    “As long as yields were kept under control, the reds are showing great depth of colour and generous fruit. Maturation should lend the wines the necessary density.”

    “In whites, balance is key, and this is largely determined by the management of the malolactic fermentation. Ripeness levels appear to be good and the wines are already showing encouraging levels of richness and depth.”

    Burgundy
    Last year’s vintage was hampered by lack of supply

    Although it is never easy to compare one vintage directly with another, Edward Richardson in the Private Client Team at Lea&Sandeman says that the whites are just as tempting a proposition as those in 2014.

    “The whites show a very satisfying weight of fruit with some lively acidity bringing energy and clarity. The vintage doesn’t quite have the intensity and longevity of 2014 but in many ways the whites are just as tempting a proposition because they are so beautifully balanced and easily accessible.”

    “2017 is a fantastic vintage for highlighting the specific characteristics of village and vineyard. We found beautiful, classic styles of Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault that really shout of their origins. As the growers told us, the wines have an honesty about them and real pin-point accuracy delivering just what you would hope for from each different vineyard. The natural ‘zip’ of the vintage means that even the more solaire spots of the Côte have retained a very fine balance.”

    Burgundy
    Of the three Grand Villages Meursault could well have the edge

    “There will be some excellent early drinking Chassagne to enjoy. Rully and Saint Aubin should offer superb value. Meursault and Puligny will need more time to come around but the wines, particularly the premier crus, show enormous potential and will give great pleasure.”

    “The reds are delicious too. They are packed with bright, ripe, gourmand fruit and superfine tannin. There may not be the signature acidity of 2016 or the structure of 2015, but the wines have a hugely appealing drinkability. Their natural charm left us grinning from ear to ear. Behind the flattering exterior is a vintage of great transparency, with each terroir and quality level very clearly defined. The top wines really are in another dimension, so this is definitely a vintage where the premium for the best sites is fully justified.”

    “Among the reds, there are some particularly delicious wines from Chambolle-Musigny at every level. Our three growers based in Morey-Saint-Denis – Perrot-Minot, Lignier-Michelot, and Stéphane Magnien – are all making outstanding wines in different styles and price points. It is a village that should not be overlooked. Of the grands crus, Clos Vougeot, Charmes and Richebourg consistently impressed.”

    “It’s hard to pick ‘winners’ but the tastings at Dugat-Py and Confuron-Cotetidot were simply outstanding. The wines seemed to be ever so slightly more accessible at this early stage. At the other end of the stylistic spectrum, we were really impressed with the delicacy and poise shown by the wines of Anne Gros and Stéphane Magnien. Perrot Minot’s tasting proved once again that he belongs among Burgundy’s very top tier. In the Côte de Beaune, it was great to see Nicolas Rossignol’s cellar full again. His Volnay sets the standard. Finally, don’t overlook the Chalonnaise. François Lumpp produced some sensationally good Givry which really is one of the great bargains of Burgundy.”

    Burgundy
    Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy buyer for Berry Bros. & Rudd

    But all of this could have been so different if, God forbid, Burgundy had had another catastrophic year says Berry Bros. & Rudd buyer Adam Bruntlett.

    “It is not an exaggeration to say that another short crop would have put the final nail in the coffin for a number of domaines. But this is the vintage everyone has been waiting for. After years of famine, 2017 is, if not quite a feast, a very good meal that will keep hunger at bay.

    Bruntlett goes on to add: “In most of Burgundy, grapes were plentiful, and our quality-focused vignerons displayed good vineyard management, pruning their vines short in the spring, de-budding and carrying out green harvest to keep yields in check and ensure quality wines. The perfectly healthy fruit has given some beautifully pure wines.”

    “Whilst the quality of all the wines is very good, the 2017 white wines have been tipped to be particularly fine and have been noted as one of the best vintages in the last 15 years. The reds have balance and transparency and will be good to drink when young and also offer good medium-term ageing potential. Similarities have been drawn to the 2000 vintage.”

    Burgundy
    The quality of the whites in 2017 are excellent

    The 2017 white wines are excellent, and this is certainly one of the top vintages of recent years. While it is difficult to surpass the outstanding 2014s, growers, colleagues and I all struggled to find a superior vintage in the last dozen or so years. The wines display a charming amalgamation of 2015’s ripe fruit with the vigour and tension of 2014, while the wines of Chablis are classically styled. Growers have reflected upon the issues of premature oxidation, taken various steps to rectify the situation and we feel that white Burgundy is truly back.”

    The reds offer the kind of vintage we love; wines with balance and transparency. Rarely have I had so much pleasure and delight in tasting young wines from barrel. While there is not yet the density and concentration of 2015 or 2016, these are wines that will give enormous pleasure in youth and the medium term. Comparisons were drawn frequently with the 2000 vintage, a year which was charming in its youth and still gives great pleasure today.”

    For more information about Burgundy 2017 and to keep up to date with all the events of Bourgogne Week click here 

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