2014 grapes at harvest…
Given the growing season and the various issues at harvest, plus the added complexity of the different villages, it’s frankly a large surprise for me how consistently the reds have turned out in 2014.
I was waiting for some diluted wines from the Côte de Nuits given some of the cannon-ball-sized grapes at harvest (see above). I was also waiting for volatile wines given a) the acetic rot that had to be triaged from certain parcels and b) some of the volatile samples offered by courtiers during the last summer. I also wouldn’t have been surprised to see dry tannins from all the hail suffered in (mainly) the Côte de Beaune.
Time to get to the point?
- In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the 2014 reds would have been rightly lauded as a fine vintage. We simply have to accept that in the context of what has been delivered in the last 15 years, or-so, that many (without the necessary context) might describe 2014 as rather pedestrian. The wines clearly lack the overt ripeness of 09 and 15 (et-cetera) so might look a little shy if you have the two glasses together, whether you think that a good or a bad thing will be down to personal preference, but they are classic burgundy.
- Exactly like the whites, the reds of 2014 are balanced, have great texture and very often deliver their wares in successive waves of flavour.
- The wines from the Côte de Nuits are mainly very good, sometimes excellent. They have great balance and rarely have any austerity – you could drink just about everything from the start.
- Proportionally, many wines in the Côte de Beaune outperform their Côte de Nuits brethren, and for the same reason as in 2012 – the extra concentration after early hail, yet still with plenty of energy to balance. Certain wines from Volnay remind me of 2002, whereas others of 2012 though with the softer, more supple delivery of the vintage. Concentration is definitely not lacking.
- Although the wines (of both Côtes) are so soft and supple, and the tannin is largely something in the background, a long tasting will definitely leave you in a tooth and tongue-stained state (try saying that after a couple of bottles of Richebourg!). The tannin is definitely in there.
- There is great consistency in cellars but not always across cellars. Some producing a little lighter style – the dilution I was looking for? – that’s more often in the Côte de Nuits but other producers have more impressively detailed wines. But usually the whole cellar is on the same level: i.e. either super or more modest.
- Proportionally the regional and villages wines perform on a higher level than the 1er and grand cru wines. It’s like the hierarchy of crus has been compressed – but mainly pushed up from the bottom. So the gaps between the AOC levels are a little smaller than we see in vintages like 2012, 2013 et-cetera.
- Terroir? Yes indeed there is good differentiation between the respective climats, BUT, like the compression of the AOC levels, I see the differences as smaller – and certainly not as distinct as in 2012 or 2013.
- Remember all those people who didn’t buy the ‘inferior’ 2000s but have bored you senseless about how good they have been drinking for almost the last 10 years? – and of-course there’s still no rush! Well they will probably be doing exactly the same thing with the 2014s – but let’s be clear, the 14s are on a much higher level of quality than 2011, 2007, 2000. Versus 2012/2010/2009/2005, 2014 is a medium-term vintage – but let’s not lose sight of that meaning that the wines will still be in their prime in another 30 years.
But what to buy?
- Buy lots of regional and village wines – unfashionable Savigny, Pernand, Aloxe and Ladoix have excelled in 2014. The villages from Nuits, Vosne and Gevrey are also on a very good level, but will cost you double – or more – so buy Hautes Côtes de Nuits from good producers – you won’t be disappointed…
- Volnays, Pommards and Beaunes offer some of the best wines of the vintage – particularly those of Pommard, but don’t be surprised if they are not cheap given the lack of wine over consecutive vintages!
- Chassagnes and Santenays will also be worth your time – some of the most classic wines of the vintage.
- But what of the grand crus? Well, they are simply lovely if not always ‘the best’ versus other vintages.
But should you buy?
- Whether grand crus or villages, you have to ask yourself what you want to do with these wines? For someone with enough 95/96/98/99/03/05/08/09/10/12 still cellaring, but slowly running out of 85/93/00/01/02/07 to actually drink – I am more attracted to 2014 vintage than I would be those of 2012 or 2013 for instance. If you are still looking to build a cellar than you would buy and wait for the 12s and 13s, but still buy the 14 to drink.
- Prices – that’s personal. I already stated that ‘Basically I think you will never regret opening a bottle of 2014‘ That doesn’t mean that you won’t regret PAYING for a bottle of 2014. Many, many buyers are trading down or trading regions. It’s a very difficult time for both the majority of producers (not the stars) and consumers such as we.
And, of-course for individual recommendations, consult the 45 reports and hundreds of wines tasted in this month’s Burgundy Report!