Ooh – what a scorcher!
I get asked almost every day that I taste – ‘do you want to taste 2015s?’ – my answer is always the same – ‘It’s one year too early.’ Actually it’s a bit less than that now.
There are elements of 2003 and 2009 about the vintage, maybe 2005 too because the acidities actually look very good – but will it be burgundy wine? To start with, people couldn’t even agree when to pick their fruit – Early? Late? Somewhere in the middle? For sure it was largely made from very ripe fruit – and not just the fruit was ripe, the reds had tannins that were incredible – just a few hours of handling pinot grapes and the fingers turned brown – this tannin was almost soluble. Even 2005 wasn’t like that – and of course the tannins in 2003 were much less ripe!
But it wasn’t just a case of ripe grapes, yields were low too, even if they weren’t the smallest, most millerande grapes I’ve ever seen. That was a surprise for many in the Côte de Nuits – so I think they will be counting their bunches much more carefully in 2016! That said, given the concentration, probably the wines will anyway accept the ‘extra’ oak that had been pre-ordered!
So, what of the fermentations? Largely quick and untroubled – red and white. The wines for the Hospices de Beaune had actually finished both fermentations when it came to the sale this year. Actually they were pretty zippy in most cellars – it will be a rare voice that talks of long malos in 2015 (unlike in 2013 and 2014).
Producers in Mâcon really struggled to be enthusiastic about the potential results, whereas a majority in Chablis point to 2005 as roughly similar – the Côte d’Or closer to Chablis than Mâcon – but they are also marketers – so let’s wait and see..
There is simply no escaping the heat and the dryness of the vintage – though when the rain came, whilst it was clearly needed, the plants kept healthy and even had green leaves late in the season – rare were vines that shed their leaves like in 2003. But, acidity or not, structure or not – it was a hot year. I will start tasting with the pre-conception that the wines will be atypical – it’s up to those wines to change my mind – and I’ll be as happy as anyone if that’s the case!
Well, now the dust has settled.
The northern Côte de Beaune may have had injury added to insult and further previous injury – due to hail – but they have fashioned the best reds of the two Côtes from the perspective on balance, concentration and yet fine energy. There are some impressively scaled wines here – it’s just a shame that there is so little to go around.
In general, the 2014 reds are fine and tasty, of good depth, fine, layered complexity and a certain engaging openness. They are not the beasts that most wine-writers/critics seem to prefer – you know, the wines that take 20 years to start coming round – I have enough of those 96, 99 and 05s (probably 12s too!) in my cellar. I really need to drink something, and the 14s are better than any 2000 or 2007, or 2011 that you want to throw at them. I’ve said it before, but without doubt, the 2014s are the greatest red wine vintage ending in a 4 since 1964 – and they maybe better than those too. So the best 4s for at least 50 years – food for thought and fine wines too.
But what of the whites?
Top to bottom the best white vintage I’ve ever had the pleasure to follow.
The wines of the Mâconnais and Chalonnaise are superb. The Chablis too – from Petit Chablis to grand cru Chablis – even the whites of Tonnerre left me super-impressed.
In the Côte d’Or, having had the chance to taste wider, I have the nagging feeling that the very best of 2007 remain better than the same from 2014 – but it’s close. At every other level, 2014 wins hands-down! It’s simply a great vintage to buy all the Saint Romain, Saint Aubin, Saint-Véran, Butteaux and Forets that you can lay your hands on, and worry much less whether you will be allowed to buy some Perrières or Charlemagne!
Red or white – enjoy…
Honestly – I don’t think that there’s much to say since last years notes.
The wines remain vibrant, clean and fresh. They are wines of energy, a certain precision and an incisive quality. As babies the acidity was never – okay, almost never – troubling, but this can change as the flesh of the fruit begins to fade. On the lowest appellation wines that process may already be starting, but in another 2-5 years it will be evident on all.
But I’m not one to worry about the future, they taste great now so what’s the problem(?) Drink and enjoy.
Oh, there is just one area that’s a little trickier – Chablis:
The massive post-storm blooming of rot in Chablis, just a little before the harvest where some grapes were seen to turn almost black in a couple of days is starting to make its presence felt. My summary of the vintage here tells much of the story. The wines were rounder than usual many with exotic fruit notes from botrytis – certainly tasty wines, but far from classic Chablis. Well these wines seem to be ‘developing’ very quickly – many have changed a lot in only 12 months. If you bought, you should already consider opening your cases – very few will be long-term wines, certainly compared to the rock-solid 2012s.
A QUICK WORD ABOUT GENERALISATIONS!
I try to remain consistent, so the generalisations above are in-line with the same ones each year. It’s about looking at how the good, better, best producers fared in the vintage – nothing more…