A long, hot summer led many to believe that 2015 was going to only be a ‘red vintage’. Not so, says Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy director, Jasper Morris, who argues that many producers made the right call on when to pick the fruit leading to whites being far superior than anticipated. The reds are excellent and somewhere between 2005 and 2010. Here’s his analysis of what is his 33rd Burgundy vintage.
Demand for the 2015 is unprecedented says Berry Bros. & Rudd – due to the quality, the smaller vintage and known reduction in the 2016s on the horizon. Ahead of its en primeur tasting on January 10, Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy director for Berry Bros & Rudd, one of the world’s leading experts on Burgundy, gives his take on what to expect at its tasting and the vintage overall.
First of all let’s look at the vintage itself
“The 2015 vintage provided a relatively carefree growing season. It was an exceptionally dry and often hot summer, though happily the water table had been well replenished through the winter.
Both a naturally small bunch-set and the dry conditions have limited the size of the crop, though welcome rainfall in August partially offset the drought. However, one feature of the summer, which may well have had a positive effect on the wines, is the extraordinary luminosity: clear, bright skies consistently, rather than heavy, lowering heat.
The first pickers could be seen on Wednesday 26th August in fine weather, becoming very hot over the weekend. Le Grand Départ for the Côte de Beaune whites began on Monday 31st, again a very hot day though expected to become stormy overnight.
In the end the evening rain was relatively gentle (except in Chablis), continuing a little the following day which saw a change of wind to the north, and therefore a significant drop in temperature.
The Côte de Beaune pretty much finished picking in good weather over the following week, and the Côte de Nuits got underway the week after, most completing the harvest before the wet weekend of 12th/13th September – though the unsettled weather which followed was not bad enough to have damaged the remaining crop still to be picked.
The white wines
My first thoughts were that this would be a red wine vintage – which it certainly is – but the whites are turning out to be far superior to what might have been, given the long, hot summer.
Whereas in 2009 there were some great wines from a small proportion of producers who picked early enough, in 2015 the great majority made the right call and there are not many “clumsy” wines.
They are full of fruit and flesh, yet with adequate acidity, and most have a fine, fresh feel to them. Chablis was complicated by the hail storm over the night of 31st/1st August which damaged the yield for many, though the rain which fell outside the hailed area was in fact a blessing.
The red wines
In many ways they marry the concentration of 2005 with the juicy charm of 2010, a combination which works very nicely mathematically. Michel Lafarge cites 1929 as the comparison.
My 33rd en primeur tasting week
I hosted my first Burgundy en primeur tasting on 19th March 1984 for the wines from Domaine Rion. Back then you could pick up a dozen bottles of Clos Vougeot for only £ 132.00 duty paid ex VAT!
Alas there will be no such prices for the 2015 vintage, with prices up for three clear reasons: the quality of the vintage, the scarcity of 2016 vintage and the significant decline in the value of sterling.
We have worked hard to negotiate the best prices possible for our customers, though if ever a vintage deserved to be sold at a premium it is 2015.
- A more detailed report on growing conditions throughout the season is available at the comprehensive Berry Bros 2015 Burgundy report here.
- Berry Bros’s Burgundy en primeur tasting takes place on January 10 at One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA between 12pm and 4pm.