Red Burgundy - Wine Vintage 2009
One is tempted to want to play down the hype surrounding the 2009 Burgundy wine vintage but it is hard to do so. While this is not 2005, a vintage of unparalleled density and a firm tannic structure for exceptionally long ageing, 2009 ranks among the very best Burgundy wine vintages of recent times.
At harvest, the feeling was similar in quality and style to 1999, another year where a large crop was able to ripen fully during a fine warm summer. Tasting the wines, there is more of a parallel with 1990 but maybe we should look as far back as 1959 for the best comparison, a beautifully ripe vintage that delivered stellar quality for both red and white wines. Time and again I find myself using the word ‘graceful’ in my tasting notes
Read here the 2009 Vintage Report on White Burgundy wines.
The summer of 2009 had a very different feel to it compared to its two immediate predecessors. It was not without problems, notably hail in May and some poor weather in July, but at least the ground heated up properly this year which it had signally failed to do during the drab summers of 2007 and 2008.
The flowering took place in warm sunny conditions, though sometimes very windy, in late May and into the very start of June, setting a likely harvest date of 10th September. Fine weather in June with occasional heat spikes turned much more variable in July with some heavy storms, most notably on 13th and 14th July when over 100mm of rain fell. This made life difficult for the vignerons as they could not get into the vineyards, but fortunately caused no real damage. The weather continued unsettled, with alternating hot and cool days, and further storms on 22nd and 23rd July.
There were occasional signs of mildew but these were very localised. Otherwise the vines were looking good and the grapes healthy, with véraison around the end of the month, when the weather was improving. August was glorious, developing into a small heatwave towards the middle of the month before the weather broke with a welcome storm (thunder and rain rather than anything worse) on the morning of Friday 21st. Apart from a brief incursion from the tail end of Hurricane Bill (25th and 26th), the weather stayed fine for the rest of the month and growers could hardly contain their optimism.
The change of the moon suggested more unsettled weather but apart from a drab first week of September, it looked as if the fine weather had returned for the duration of the harvest. Picking started in the Mâconnais from around 2nd September, in the Côte de Beaune from the 5th and a few days later in the Côte de Nuits. It continued in Chablis and the Auxerrois through the middle of the month, in glorious sunshine.
For both colours, the grapes were picked at good sugar levels but without fear of unsuitably high degrees; the typical profile falls between 13 and 13.5%, not reaching 14% or above, and the grapes were fully physiologically ripe. The key to success in 2009 has been to retain a fresh quality to wines which are naturally rich.
One technique for the reds which has been widely used is to incorporate a percentage of the stems during vinification. Some domaines have always done this, the majority have tended not to. However there is a movement now towards some ‘whole bunch’ vinification with stems, and it was widely used in 2009.
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.