Burgundy 2018: A sun-filled and generous vintage
With Burgundy week upon us, it is great to see two of our producers listed in Tim Atkin MW’s ‘Top 10 Producers To Watch’ in the February edition of Decanter; Jean-Claude Boisset and Domaine du Roc des Boutires. For Jean-Claude Boisset, this recognition pays tribute to winemaker Grégory Patriat, whose minimal intervention approach to winemaking produces concentrated and well-rounded wines which are naturally expressive of their individual appellation. Domaine du Roc des Boutires is a new addition to our portfolio – we have added their Mâcon-Solutré, impressed by its precise and elegant character.
Tim also applauded Chablis producer Domaine Vrignaud, writing on Decanter.com: “Guillaume Vrignaud is emerging not just as one of the top names in Fontenay but in the whole of Chablis, producing wines that are subtle explorations of their terroirs.”
The plentiful 2018 vintage was welcomed across Burgundy, particularly in Chablis after two particularly small and difficult harvests. 2018 was not, however, without its challenges. The summer of 2018 was the hottest in Burgundy since 2003, with consistently high temperatures and severe drought. Fortunately, abundant winter and spring rainfall mitigated hydric stress in the vineyards. To combat the high temperatures, producers generally maintained a larger leaf canopy to protect the grapes and harvested early in order to retain acidity levels. In general, the sun-filled 2018 vintage has produced bright and approachable wines. Due to the challenging heat, there was a tendency towards over- ripeness if the grapes were not picked early enough. Overall, the generous nature of the vintage means that the wines will be best in their youth, however some may surprise and age well.
Guillaume Vrignaud, Domaine Vrignaud
Harvest commenced early in Chablis; some producers started picking at the end of August, while others waited until the first few weeks of September depending on the age of the vines and location of the parcel. The harvest at Domaine Laroche started on 23rd August, whereas Guillaume Vrignaud began picking on 14th September and reported a ripe vintage with excellent balance. Les Hauts de Milly says the 2018 vintage is defined by its notable concentration and weight. Eve Grossot of Domaine Perchaud described the wines as ‘opulent and mouthfilling’.
Grégory Patriat, Jean-Claude Boisset
The main challenge across the Cote d’Or was the summer heat. Grégory Patriat of Jean-Claude Boisset described 2018 as ‘an excellent sun-filled vintage’ but stressed the importance of the harvest date to preserve the freshness. Domaine Claude Dugat recalled they started harvest on 27th August and were happy to have done so as acidity levels dropped, and the potential alcohol substantially rose for neighbouring vineyards within the following week. According to Olivier Lamy, there was 30% more sunshine than average during the growing season. Pinot Noir’s thinner skins make it five times more susceptible to sunburn than Chardonnay. As such, in 2018 Olivier was careful to maintain large leaf canopies and started harvest on 22nd August. Despite this, his volumes of Pinot Noir from Santenay were 20% down in 2018 compared to 2017. Similarly, Domaine Chevalier produced less volume of their reds in Ladoix than in the previous year.
Aside from the challenges surrounding the heat, the abundant sunshine meant that the tannins and stems achieved an ideal ripeness. Pierre Girardin declared it was a good vintage for reds as the grapes achieved perfect maturity and there was no need for extraction. Domaine Georges Glantenay was also delighted with both the concentration and the balance between acidity and sugar when they started harvest on 27th August.
Domaine du Roc des Boutires, Mâconnais
CÔTE CHALONNAISE AND THE MÂCONNAIS
The water reserves were especially important in Southern Burgundy. Domaine Corsin acknowledged that the winter rainfall was responsible for the volume as well as the structure and concentration of the grapes at harvest. Stéphane Aladame reported a much-improved quantity in 2018 compared to that of 2017. He also recognised the need to harvest early to balance the concentration, particularly for his Premiers Crus vineyards.
Frédéric Berne, Beaujolais
Beaujolais saw very little rain from mid-June onwards. As a result, harvest started at the end of August and finished by early September. It was easy to assume the warm summer would produce a very concentrated vintage like 2015. However, the water reserves ensured that the roundness of the 2018 vintage was balanced with a freshness and higher acidity levels than 2015. Frédéric Berne from Lantignié, described the 2018 as an ‘exceptionally warm vintage’ which produced wines of excellent quality.