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A Vintage Viewpoint

red and white

2007

What a year! The stunningly early budbreak then flowering was about 6 weeks ahead of normal and left everyone scared-stiff of frost – but none came. By June the vines were standing 1 metre higher than normal, causing havoc with those who were trying to remove buds/latent bunches – nature was offering the potential for very big yields.

The normal rule of thumb is 100 days from flowering to harvesting, so this early flowering indicated the second August harvest in five years. The springtime and early summertime heat suddenly evaporated; June and July were largely cloudy, cool and rainy – there was also intermittent hail. The only positive was that temperatures were low enough that rot could not spread too quickly! For the first time in 2007 there was effectively freedom to harvest whenever you wanted – across the whole Côte d’Or one early date was set – and that was it.

2007 has been likened to more vintages than you can shake a stick at, and that’s no surprise as some picked early, and some picked fully a month later. This could be the most heterogeneous vintage in memory.

There was more rot and and bacterial infection in the Côte de Beaune than in Côte de Nuits, but the required level of triage was at 2004 or slightly better levels. From a quality of fruit perspective – i.e. the raw materials – I felt this to be slightly better than 2004 on average. Unusually the chardonnay seemed to need a little longer on the vine than the pinot, and like 2004 the average quality of the whites will be much higher than the reds.

Quite a number have been tasted already – both colours – and I’m particularly impressed by the reds versus my expectations; in the end, triage delivers…

2006

2006 is shaping up nicely, but I expect it will become a ‘I wish I had more’ vintage: Like 1991 in the shadow of the hyped 1990 vintage people will eventually wake up to the fact that they should have bought more – but probably waking-up too late.

As far as tasting has been concerned, this has been the friendliest vintage to taste reds that I can remember since the 2002’s, in fact for many producers I prefer their 2006’s to their 2002’s – certainly the 06’s have a bit more tannic depth, but better (finer) texture to those tannins than in 02, perhaps many 02’s were a little more transparent at this stage – but that’s a close call. There is a real sweet spot in the Nuits/Vosne area – just so many covetable bottles. Versus the 05’s the 2006 vintage is clearly less consistent, massively so in the Côte de Beaune, and despite showing a little more early freshness there is not quite the coiled spring of zing and intensity that you find in a great 2005.

For whites, 2006 has been rather generous with quality. They are not as rich as the 2005’s but seem more lithe and lissome – I also find them very consistent so far.

The most interesting thing to watch with the 2006 campaign will, unfortunately, be the pricing. Whites have good quality but it’s hard to see if there is a ‘drag’ on pricing due to the p.ox issue – it seems very little so far – but perhaps the bulk of these bottles end up in the restaurant trade and are 98% drunk before their 3rd birthday(?) For reds it will be very interesting; less hype, less ‘given’ quality on an average basis will equate to less hype and possibly less demand. If so, will those previous regular buyers – many of whom were passed-over for new money for 2005’s – come rushing back to fill the gap? Well the quality fits, so let’s see if the pricing does too.

2005

It almost seems pointless to discuss 2005, but:

– Red quality was excellent
– Reds were consistent
– Vintage was hyped
– Prices were ‘stoopid’
– Everybody got less bottles
– White quality was very good
– Whites were rich
– Easier to obtain than reds

I suppose there is one thing about the vintage worth mentioning; a large proportion of reds have already started to tighten. They are not undrinkable, indeed many are still fabulous, but the normal early window of drinking that typically can last 1-5 years, seems already to be closing. This is particularly early. I just wonder if that will disappoint some of those new buyers that were attracted by the hype(?)

2 responses to “A Vintage Viewpoint”

  1. paul staindl

    I have recently returned from working the ’07 vintage in Cote de Nuit. There was a lot of rotten fruit and unripe fruit- in many vineyards, up to half was being dropped on the ground and a further 10% or so on the triage tables. I wasnt in burgundy for the ’04 vintage so am unable to compare vintage conditions. Some of the ’04s do show a toughness and herbal character which speaks of unripe fruit. I expect to see much the same (at least) in the ’07s.
    This will be a vintage for the complete winemaker – they will have to have paid attention both in the vineyard and in the cuverie. Failure at either end will produce a difficult wine.

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