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2010 Red Burgundy

Red Wines
The red Burgundy wines are built around a triangle of fruit, tannins and acidity this year, whereas some Burgundian vintages lean more towards the tannic or the acidic. These are beautifully balanced wines in 2010, very classical, with much more red fruit than black, notably cherries and raspberries, and very few green notes.

They range from lighter to medium-full bodied depending on the extraction choices made by the producer. The major villages of the Côte de Beaune have fared as well as the Côte de Nuits. No other vintage is directly comparable but the purity and fresh finish of 2002 plus the density (and alas scarcity) of 1991 come to mind. There is huge pleasure in store for the Burgundy lover.

Read here the 2009 Vintage Report on White Burgundy wines.

There was no hype for 2010 Burgundy at the time of the vintage (unlike Bordeaux) but the wines which have just been bottled, or soon will be, have turned out to be something special. The reasons for this emerge in the next paragraphs.

The tricky bit this year is that yields are way down, typically by 30% to 50%. Despite this, the majority of producers have maintained their 2009 prices with only those who want to reposition looking for a significant increase.

The first date of crucial importance was 19th December 2009, just as delegates were leaving the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, when temperatures plunged to record lows in a very short space of time. The Côte de Nuits was the worst affected, especially in those low lying vineyards where cold air can be trapped on humid soils and large patches failed to burst into leaf when spring eventually came.

This winter freeze may well have reduced the crop for the great majority of vines which did survive, while a latish flowering in poor weather certainly did so. Everybody reported widespread millerandage, when bunches produce a large proportion of much smaller berries. Clearly the harvest would be short, and this was crucial because the subsequent poor summer could never have ripened a 2009 sized crop, while the small berries with a high skin to juice ratio could produce concentrated wines.

The first half of July was exceptionally hot and dry, but the weather weakened in the second half of the month and August never really happened. The good news was that there was relatively little evidence of oidium, mildew or rot – but clearly the weather needed to cheer up significantly in September. However there was one more nasty surprise to come.

A massive thunder storm took place on Sunday 12th September and included hail which ravaged the Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet border. The electricity in the air also had an effect on nearly ripe white grapes, turning them brown or even blue overnight. Then Burgundy’s old friend, the north wind, came to the rescue and dried out the vineyards, preventing rot from galloping through the vineyards. The red grapes, unless specifically damaged by the hail, did not otherwise suffer. At harvest time, the producers felt happy to have escaped disaster.

They did not expect anything remarkable from the vintage and indeed the start of the vinification process was not especially auspicious, with the grapes reluctant to hand over their colour and fruit. But by the time the new wine was ready to be decanted out of the vats into barrels, producers were sounding a lot more confident.

Some had chosen to go with the style of the vintage and keep extraction to the minimum; others wished to compensate for the reluctance of the fruit to emerge initially, and had gone for a longer than usual vinification. Many fewer stems were used in 2010 than the previous year.

Jasper Morris MW, BBR Buyer

Jasper divides his time between England and Burgundy. His unique position led him to write the ultimate guide to the vineyards of the region, Inside Burgundy. Described as “the greatest reference work of our generation” by Bill Nanson (www.burgundyreport. com), and “an essential book for anyone remotely interested in the region and its wines” by Neal Martin (www.erobertparker.com), this outstandingly detailed book, in 656 pages, covers one thousand specific vineyards, from Grands Crus to obscure plots.

2010 Red Burgundy