Fences in a field

Vintage Report: Burgundy 2012 - "Less is more"

13 December 2013

Giles Burke-Gaffney

Vitally the one thing that did not present a problem in 2012 was rot. Frank Follin is by no means alone when he says that “the grapes in 2012 were the most beautiful I have ever seen.” The red wines are intense, suave, fresh and ripe. They have the concentration of 2010 but show a little more accessibility and roundness. They will, therefore, show extremely well young, whilst also offering great ageing potential – such is their super balance. The whites are hugely concentrated but in many cases this does not seem to have resulted in too much heaviness or lack of balance, certainly as far as the wines from vineyards grown on poor, stony soils are concerned. It is specifically from these vineyards where wines should have a good long life ahead of them.

Qualitatively this seems to be a very homogenous vintage for red wine, whether its Bourgogne, Chorey Les Beaune or Chambertin. It is difficult to generalise in this vintage, there are so many brilliant examples of elegant Pinot Noir from all over the Cote, though it does seem that Chambolle-Musigny has produced its best wine for several years. That said Arnaud Mortet of Gevrey-Chambertin has produced his greatest work yet, too. Furthermore there are many outstanding Nuits and Vosnes, though be warned Nuits St Georges in particular has suffered particularly low yields. For whites, as mentioned earlier, the most outstanding wines come from the stonier vineyards in Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault. The likes of Grande Montagne, Caillerets, Garenne, Folatieres,Tillets, Perrieres (Puligny and Meursault), Luraule and Clos des Grands Charrons are all well worth seeking out.

Arnaud Mortet
Arnaud Mortet

This exceptional quality has come at a price: There is very little wine. The crop ranges from 20 to 90% down on 2011. Gerard Boudot of Etienne Sauzet has been making wine since 1974 and has never known such a small vintage, his Folatieres is just one example - he made 2 barrels instead of the usual 10. Don’t be surprised to see offers of 6 packs, 3 packs and even individual bottles during the 2012 releases in January. 2013 is also terribly small, and with 2011 and 2010 being short crops, too, Burgundy has effectively produced the equivalent of two decent sized vintages in 4 years. Cellars up and down the Cote d’Or look empty. Add this to furious, ever-increasing demand and we have quite a shortage on our hands and producers will inevitably have to put prices up.