White Burgundy - Wine Vintage 2009
Contrary to initial expectations, many of the white Burgundy wines in 2009 are absolutely stunning. They began to show their true qualities only after the summer, when a mineral backbone appeared in support of the graceful, ripe fruit.
I was reminded of 1992, completely delicious wines designed for the medium rather than the long term. There may not be enough acidity in 2009 to make really old bones, but they will be absolutely compelling in their first ten years, with the most exciting subtleties of flavours, magnificently multi-layered, such as we have not seen in recent times.
Read here the 2009 Vintage Report on Red 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.
There was very little wind on Palm Sunday, perhaps just a very light north-easter, which normally gives slightly cool but dry, sunny weather. Then came the first piece of bad news on Ascension Day, 21st May, with hail in Morey and Gevrey, especially in the grands crus.
The flowering took place in warm sunny conditions, though sometimes very windy, in late May and into 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 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 and even rot, but these were very localized. Otherwise the vines were looking good and the grapes healthy, withveraison around the end of month, when the weather was improving albeit without really heating up.
August, however, 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) in 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. The promised north-east wind (le vent de Rameaux) appeared from 10th September, but bizarrely it brought clouds with it – the bad weather which had gone round Scotland, north of the anticyclone over England, came back down the North Sea and into France.
The weather turned grey and cool during the week of Monday 14th
, but with no more than a touch of drizzle, and that mostly in the Côte de Beaune where the vintage was more or less finished. Picking started in the Mâconnais from around 2nd
September, in the Côte de Beaune from the 5th.
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.
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.