Vintage Report: Burgundy 2010 - "Small is Beautiful"

10 November 2011

Giles Burke-Gaffney

I write this with one more tasting to go early tomorrow (friday) morning having spent two weeks here seeing circa 45 Domaines and tasting over 200 wines. Thats alot, but the fatigue is not too bad, in fact I even feel a gentle spring in the step. These have simply been easy, joyous wines to taste, red and white, which is amazing considering their concentration and racy acidities.

It largely all began with frost (for some) and uneven flowering (for all.) The resulting crop was to be one of the smallest on record for many, equalling that of 2003. A good thing, too, in the end, as the small crop ripened brilliantly despite the gloomy summer. Harvest was a good three weeks later than in 2009, fine but cool weather permitted growers the patience to wait for the perfect picking date. That said, towards the end of the harvest, some Chardonnay growers had to hurry as a dry electric storm suddenly accelerating ripening rapidly. The Reds are concentrated, they exhibit great freshness and high acidities, which you barely notice so smothered are they in pure ripe fruit. The tannins are present and fortifying but are so smooth that they do not jar. These are seamless, almost weightless wines of sheer brilliance and balance. The vintage might not have the out and out concentration of 2005, but they should be long-lived nonetheless and despite being the polar opposite of the lovely 2009, it is every bit its equal (and, for some, better!) Cote d'or whites are concentrated, very concentrated. Their acidities are as racy as those of 2007 but with a great deal more richness and depth. In both colours 2010 should go down as an absolute classic.

Such was the consistency accross the region's (top) growers it is very hard to pick out highlights. Those that immediately come to mind are Cecile Tremblay, Marquis d'Angerville, Follin-Arbelet, Chevillon, Sauzet, Bachelet Monnot, Liger Belair, Grivot, Bruno Clair, Rousseau, Roumier, Mugnier and not least Denis Mortet - young Arnaud Mortet has made a magnificent range that firmly puts him in the top tier of Burgundy producers.

For Reds, there seems to be no particular pattern save that I tasted many excellent wines from Clos de Vougeot. There were many excellent whites, too, but Corton Charlemagnes really stood out for their brilliance and consistency.

Keep an eye on the blog over the coming month for the growers views on the vintage in "un mot," a video to be posted here soon.