Burgundy, despite the chaotic weather, which is explained in more detail below, gave us intriguing wines for delicious drinking in the short to medium term. The flowering was less successful for the red vines and the after-effects of the big freeze of December 2009 continue to affect yields in the Côte de Nuits. In general the crop was the same, or very slightly more than in the 2010 vintage , which was well below average itself.
The grapes were ripe to the taste but were lower in sugar levels than in recent years, generating a welcome freshness. Though the growing season may have been similar to the 2007 vintage, the wines are quite different because the grapes had much thicker skins, offering greater density of fruit and more structure. No vintage comparison is exactly right, but there are some parallels with the fine and fresh red wines from the 2002 vintage.
The Weather A moderately severe winter, though without the deep freeze of the previous year, ended early and a fine spring was ushered in from the middle of March. The wind patterns were unusual, blowing mainly from the north (the benchmark wind on Palm Sunday), cool and dry – or veering right round to the south, warm and dry.
The first flowers were seen as early as May 10th, almost exactly the same as in 2007, and properly looked after vineyards were bursting with health. There was a long term fear for the build up of drought problems however, especially if the season was to develop along 1976 lines.
But, as in 2007, May was a little cooler than April and with a few more showers, occasionally storms. The village sages were talking of a hot and stormy summer – apparently the magpies were nesting close to the houses which they do when storms are in the offing! Useful rain followed in early June rapidly followed by a hosepipe ban which immediately brought more rain and questions as to whether this could be the same deteriorating pattern as 2007.
The sun came back with a vengeance at the end of June, flirting with 40°C, and causing some grilling of the grapes. The first week in July was dry too, bringing thoughts of 1976 back into view. When it rained, solidly and evenly without stormy side effects on Thursday 7th July, the growers were thrilled but further rain over the next few days was less welcome and the whole month of July proved to be cooler and wetter than usual.
Overall the season was less stormy than expected apart from minor hail in Corton-Charlemagne (20th May), Gevrey-Chambertin (23rd July) and Puligny-Montrachet, plus one really devastating storm in Rully on 12th July following a more minor attack in June. August began clear and sunny but the July pattern of showery days returned with temperatures below or approaching the seasonal norm. There was little sustained rain except on Friday 26th with many growers starting to pick the following week in the good weather which returned.
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.
Inside Burgundy: The Côte de Beaune is the first volume to be released, available for £14.99 on the Apple iBookStore. It is accompanied by the first edition of an innovative new Annual Report on Burgundy by Jasper Morris. Inside Burgundy The Annual Report 2012/13 is downloadable for free.