2008 Burgundy vintage report

This vintage report is intended to better inform your choices about upcoming Burgundy releases which begin arriving in this Fall.

To-date, I’ve tasted over 200 red and white Burgundy from the 2008 vintage, from village level to Grand Cru. I have also spoken with over a dozen vignerons, exploring their thoughts on 2008. This experience has given me a sense of the complex vintage.

Overall, 2008 appears to be a much better vintage than I’ve been led to expect from the professional pundits. I find the whites outstanding and the reds to be fresh, lively, elegant but not thin. These wines will age well; the reds need more time to show their stuff. To be fair, I’ve tasted from top producers and, although I’ve tasted my share of barrel samples (around 80 wines this past February), I’ve tasted wines closer to release (over 100 wines). Burgundy – especially red Burgundy – is very difficult to judge when young in barrel, especially before the malos* have been completed. But vintage judgments from all the top critics** have been made solely from barrel samples.

The whites are showing lively acidities and mineral notes. Normally lush Meursaults come across more like Puligny! This is a very fine vintage for whites; many show a subtle rich complexity. Outside the Cote d’Or, I even enjoyed a sensational Premier (1er) Cru white from Mercurey in the Chalonnaise (Chamirey’s 1er La Mission) and some amazingly rich and complex Pouilly-Fuisse (Chateau Fuisse)- both barrel samples. The Cote de Beaune whites are particular successes, from Beaune 1er Cru (Prieure’s Champs Pimont) to dazzling Meursault from Buisson-Charles (especially their village “Tessons”, 1er Goutte d’Or and Bouches-Cheres) and superior Puligny, Rully, and Corton-Charlemagne from Olivier Leflaive.

Reds fared well, too. For these wines, the successes were made in the vineyard, not the cellar. Painstaking vine care, leaf canopy management, yield reduction and scrupulous sorting were necessary to produce top notch fruit with good concentration. Acidities were high and, in some cases, lesser wines are high-toned. Biodynamic vineyards fared particularly well. The top reds, however, are terrific!

Standout reds for me were Armand Rousseau’s Clos de la Roche and Chambertin Clos de Beize, both Grand Crus (available in 2011). Wow, what elegant richness. I loved Perdrix’s Echezeaux. These were barrel samples tasted in February. Recent tastings show the quality of this vintage and indicate how the wine will age in bottle. I was surprised recently at how complex and fresh these wines tasted; indeed some were dense and rich. I’m reminded here of Raphet’s delicious Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. These reds demonstrate how important the producer is to selecting good Burgundy, rather than the vintage.

More recently tasted Burgundy include Jean-Jacques Confuron’s Chambolle 1er Cru, Comte Armand’s amazingly concentrated Pommards (the younger vines 1er cru is a terrific buy). Huber-Verdereau’s biodynamic 1er Cru Volnay and Pommard were sleek and refined. I was wowed by the depth and complexity of Lafarge’s Volnay Clos des Chenes. Freddy Mugnier’s Nuits-St. Georges 1er Cru monopole Clos de la Marechale was outstanding. Pavelot is usually an earthier style of Burgundy but not their terrific and richly styled 1er cru Savigny Serpentieres or Dominodes; I think they are excellent values. Gevrey-based Taupenot-Merme turned out some intense 1er Cru Gevrey and Chambolle (Combe d’Orveau) and grand crus like Charmes- and Mazoyeres-Chambertin. Finally Violot-Guillemard’s top Pommards (the Clos Derriere St. Jean, Rugiens and Epenots) showed beautifully.

Please let me know if you’d like to find out about upcoming Burgundy offers bycontacting me at Esquin.

Cheers!

Arnie

* Malolactic fermentation usually proceeds after alcoholic fermentation, especially for all red wines, converting tart malic acid into softer lactic acid through the action of lactic bacteria.

** I’m referring to the Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Stephen Tanzer and Burghound

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