2020 Burgundy: Vintage Report
2020 was the driest growing season in Burgundy since 1945. July and August were hot as well as dry, with 20% more sunshine than normal. Unusually, this affected white wines quite differently to the reds. In most cases, the white grapes were harvested before the end of August; Domaine De Montille, for instance, started picking their Chassagne vineyards on 22 August, and the Puligny vineyards early the following week.
Étienne de Montille, Domaine De Montille
The whites are exciting, with lovely freshness, weight and acidity. The warm and dry summer resulted in very low levels of malic acid and a relatively high level of tartaric acid. Because of the drought, potassium was not extracted from the soil by the vines’ roots in the same quantity as usual, which meant that pH levels remained low. As a result, and despite the hot year, the lower pH gives the wines a liveliness seldom seen in such vintages, while the small grapes produced concentrated wines. This combination of concentration and vibrancy makes this look like one of the best vintages for white wines in the past decade.
The red grapes responded differently to the heat. At Tollot-Beaut, their wines have an average alcohol of 14.5%, higher than both 2019 and 2018. Due to the care of the Tollot-Beaut team in the vineyards, 2020 saw small berries, no shrivel nor sunburn. For Grégory Patriat at Jean-Claude Boisset, the ‘harvest happened back to front as the reds ripened before the whites’.
Grégory Patriat, Jean-Claude Boisset
In general, the red wines are deep in colour with ripe, dark cherry fruit and mouth-filling fruit. Growers who were not prepared will have suffered stuck fermentations as the alcohol climbed, something that can lead to elevated levels of volatile acidity. We were very attentive in selecting our red wines in 2020, and are happy that we have chosen wines that will be good for drinking over the next decade.
Top image: Etienne Sauzet