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Burgundy, Côte d' Or


Highs and Lows

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Vintage references always can only give a rough overview. In bad vintages skilled vine dressers can still make a fine wine, whereas others make an uninspired, hardly successful wine in good vintages.

Our personal impressions of the vintages (state: April 2007)

2005 - by many wine makers it's regarded to be an exceptional vintage, at least for the reds. Everything seems ideal - fruit, acidity, tannins. If the prognosis and the impression of the wood samples come true, it will be one of the very best vintages with a great future. The whites are very promising, too.

2004 - mostly the reds aren't very full and will mature earlier than those of the great vintages. Especially among the Côte-de-Nuits there are absolutely very fine wines. For the whites, it was a matter of a good, but not very good year. Successful examples show their Terroir nicely.

2003 - for Burgundy terms it was a strange year. Due to the hot weather, the harvest started about one month earlier than usual - namely in the second half of August already. Many red wines have an unusually deep colour and seem somehow boiled - remind one more of the wines of the New World than of Pinot Noir from Burgundy. They are concentrated, but to the disadvantage of fineness and elegance of the particular Terroir. The white wines often seem broad and not so rich in finesse than with good vintages, either.

2002 - for red and white wine it's a pretty good year. The reds have a good fruit and show their Terroir beautifully. The white wines are similarly good.

2001 - there had been some great damages by hail, especially in the Côte de Beaune. During the hailstorm on August the fourth nearly fifty percent of the harvest were destroyed. In the Côte de Nuits everybody was quite pleased with the harvest. A relatively good year for red and white. The reds should definitely be kept longer than the 2000. They will open up over a longer period of time. The whites often have more acidity and grip than the 2000s.

2000 - after the harvest most wine makers seemed quite confident. Though the quantity wasn't as big as it had been in the extraordinary year before, it still was over average. The reds, especially in the Côte de Nuits, show a very pleasant fruit and mostly can be consumed early - the harvest situation was better than in the Côte de Beaune. During their fruity period they are really great fun. But one should be careful with storing them too long, because they are not too well-structured. All in all, we regarded the degustated red 2000 better than the also early maturing vintage of 1992, 1994 and 1997. Rarely any Burgundy was so much approachable and delicate just after bottling. The whites are very pleasant, show good fruit and a rather soft acidity - so many of them can be enjoyed young.

1999 - many wine makers measured extraordinary high sugar levels. Even tasted from the wood, the 99 appeared definitely more closed and concentrated than the previous vintage. The red 99s show good, compact fruit, ripe tannin and good acidity. They are mostly concentrated and well-balanced. As far as the reds are concerned, this vintage it is likely to become one of the most beautiful of the whole decade. They can be consumed with pleasure rather early and they are going to mature well - though the 95 and the 96 might be storable for a longer period of time. The whites also are very intense and have good acidity - all in all, they might not reach the outstanding quality of the reds.

1998 - in Burgundy it was very rainy, damp and rather cold in September. There even was some rot in the middle of the month. As far as this vintage is concerned, it's well worth purchasing the wines of those vintners who select the grapes accurately and give preference to quality rather than quantity. The whites wines mostly are low in acidity so that they are to be drunk rather soon. Pleasant Chardonnays, similar to the 1997 ones, but rarely really great. The red 98s show a nice fruit, mostly mature, not too strong tannins and a pleasant acidity. These wines are not as focused on their structure as the 96, but excellent examples will therefore become very fine, balanced, aroma intense, classical Burgundies. We were very fond of them and rate this vintage clearly higher than the 1997. The wines have a medium to long storage ability; presumably the Premier and Grand Crus will be drunk before the 1996 ones.

1997 - in September it was rather hot and sunny in Burgundy. The grapes matured to their full extent, but then many of them dried out and shrunk a bit. The red wines show a lot of fruit, but have rather low acidity - therefore they are expected to be drunk rather soon. One shouldn't keep them too long. The white wines which we tasted weren't too convincing - they clearly lack acidity, therefore they appear a bit plain. They have no grip and deepness.

1996 was an excellent year in Burgundy. Tannin and acidity show a rare balance, and the tannins are not as heavy and aggressive as in 1993 and 1988. The wines have a good fruit and concentration and already show a lot of complexity. They are very suitable for longer storage and should mature in an elegant way. The red wines are perhaps not as intense in comparison with the 1993s and won't take that long to mature, but they will achieve much more finesse and will be more balanced. The whites are also convincing, with good fruit and acidity. A classical vintage - which unfortunately is sold out already with most of the top producers.

1995 also was a rather successful year in Burgundy, for the red and the white wines. The 1994s weren't that concentrated, but came up with some fruity, pleasant red wines that could be consumed rather soon, and fruity white wines. 1993 was a vintage that is considered excellent for red wines among most wine makers - although the rather strong tannins demand a long maturing time, very often more than a decade, and with many wines it is not yet clear if the different components will reach a balanced level. Successful examples with any doubt can be ranked among the great Burgundies. 1992 was very successful for white wines. Good wine makers produced rather pleasant, but slightly thin wines with low tannins. Therefore, most of them should have been consumed by now. 1991 was a medium year; some red wines nevertheless matured excellently and are more elegant than the 90s. 1990 especially for red wine was a classical year with excellent wines (some of them have a bit over mature fruit, though). Good red Premier Crus and Grand Crus slowly, but surely are reaching their peak - but they are going to outlive some more years.

Kilian Fitzpatrick in the Vineyards.

Burgund 2007: Back to the Terroir
Burgund 2002: Through the Winter
Burgund 2001: Home Again
Burgund 2000: Return to the Gold
Burgund 1999: A Century's Sugar
Burgund 1998: Rainy Pleasures

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