1983 proved to be one of the most controversial wine vintages in recent decades for Burgundy, after some exceptional weather conditions caused problems with rot. The red Burgundy wines caused much more discussion than their white counterparts.
Everybody was enormously enthused when the wines were in cask, with their deep colours and concentrated fruit, unless there were signs of rot which was certainly apparent in some Gevrey-Chambertin vineyards. However, quite shortly after bottling, many wines lost their colour, leaving it in sediment at the bottom of the bottle – unstable anthocyanins, caused by either the drought, hail or rot. Wines which retained their colour still showed in their early years as hard, surly and with aggressive tannins.
One fascinating take on the vintage was that of Hubert de Montille, who decided to bottle virtually his entire crop in magnums. It was a triumphant move, though possibly frustrating for his importers and restaurant customers, sealed at the annual Clive Coates/Becky Wasserman ‘10 Years On’ tasting when his wines shone above almost all others – Hubert was present at the tasting, enthroned in a chair waiting for his colleagues to come and congratulate him.
Now, more than 26 years on, there are still some very fine bottles to be had, albeit rarer than the failures. In September 2009, after a day’s hard labour digging out the roots of a defunct birch tree in the garden, I treated us to a bottle of Clos de Vougeot 1983 from Domaine Daniel Rion – a wine full of promise in its youth, but definitely on the hard side, and now a fine, graceful, thoroughly satisfying bottle of mature Burgundy.
Red Burgundy 1983 - The Weather An uneven year for red Burgundy wines due to the vagaries of the weather throughout the growing season. Spring was late and very wet and then hailstorms hit parts of the Côte d`Or during July. August was very warm and growers` expectations at the outset of September were high. The heavens then opened and it rained solidly for the first 2 weeks of September. Rot became a serious hazard and was accentuated by hot weather at the end of September.
The best producers made a rigorous selection at harvest- time and managed to eliminate rot from from their cuvées. Some of the wines turned out to be excessively tannic and never fully came round to fruition.