2014 White Burgundy

Update 1.12.2015(30.11.2015)billn

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During the 2014 harvest, multiple vigneron(ne)s told me that the chardonnay of 2014 was the best that they’d ever seen and that the wines would be ‘great.’ In my harvest reporting I tried to convey a modest enthusiasm for the raw materials, but not more.

Strangely, for the 3-4 months that led up to this tasting exercise, those same vigneron(ne)s were worryingly silent on the subject – could something have gone wrong?

Let’s get straight to point shall we?

2014 is the greatest white wine vintage that I’ve ever tasted*

  • On a smaller sample, it is easily the best vintage I’ve tasted from the Mâconnais – I usually visit in April/May so will add more detail then.
  • On a similarly small sample, the Chablis are also super – but 40 domaines await my visit in January 2016
  • The greatest young whites I ever tasted were the great wines of 2007 – I remain uncommitted as to whether the top 2014s are their equal or just slightly behind – it is very close. The Regional and Communal wines are clearly better in 2014 than 2007.
  • But I’m not just talking about ‘the best’ wines. If consistency is your only yardstick, 2014 is way out in front of every vintage I’ve so-far tasted.
  • 2014s from the Côte Beaune have similarly fine acidity to the 2013s, but the 2013s are sleeker, and the 2014s more flattering.
  • What essentially separates 2014 from most ‘riper’ vintages is the quality of its acidity – and you know very well that I like energy, vivacity and a certain ‘zing!’. The wines have very fine textures, a largely citrus fruit style, and many, many wines deliver their flavour in waves – very characteristic of the vintage.

But what to buy?

  • Buy lots and lots of Pouilly-Fuissé, St.Véran and all the Mâcon-Hyphens from your favourite producers. Buy Chablis too – it remains massively under-priced – even the Grand Crus offer remarkable value in comparison to middle-of-the-road 1er Crus from the Côte de Beaune. Except that there are many fewer ‘middle-of-the-road’ wines in a vintage like 2014.
  • Buy Regional (Bourgogne) and Communal wines (Villages and 1er crus) from the Côte de Beaune, but be aware that their pricing is (80% of domaines questioned) going up, if only 2-4% for inflation. Some will be asking much more for their most sought-after wines, or indeed those that were massively reduced by hail.
  • Definitely buy appellations such as Santenay Blanc, Saint Aubin and Saint Romain – they are not just exceptionally rewarding in 2014, they also offer resounding value!
  • Yields were good in Màconnais, Chalonnaise and Chablis. Santenay and Chassagne largely escaped the hail, yields in Puligny were about 10% lower. The southern stretches of Meursault lost hardly anything but closer to the village and to its north losses were up to 70%. If you love white Beaune, those yields were massively reduced too. For fans of Savigny Blanc (me!) and Charlemagne – yields were largely normal.

And, of-course for individual recommendations, consult the 30 reports and almost 400 wines tasted in this month’s Burgundy Report!

*My first whites from barrel were the 1997 vintage. I missed 1998 and 1999, tasted en-primeur samples (London) 2000-2002 and then tasting from barrel every year in Burgundy since the 2003 vintage. Not forgetting harvesting the grapes every year since the 2004 vintage.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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