The Burgundy cognoscenti have been scurrying over the last year or so to back the 2010 red Burgundies over the 2009s. The 2010s are more thought provoking and an altogether more complicated pleasure. This style appeals very much to the Burgundy lover; we like our pleasures inaccessible, demanding and a bit exclusive. It’s meant to be hard work! Well, at J & B we are opening our minds…
The weather conditions in 2009 could hardly have been better; it was warm but moderate throughout the summer with a perfect September bringing a drying wind from the North which helped to preserve the acidities. Frankly there was very little to do. The harvest was bountiful and of amazingly homogenous quality. Most producers barely needed sorting tables! Tannins were ripe and there was very little malic acidity (especially compared to 2008) so the malo-lactic fermentation was swift. This meant that when the UK trade descended in November the wines were unusually accessible with malos fully finished and the wines were absolutely wonderful to taste. Further cause for suspicion… it’s meant to be hard work!
Having now opened plenty of red Burgundies from bottle, we are very happy to debunk the myth that the 2009s are fat and altogether too easy. As well as being utterly beguiling, they have tension, terrific underlying structure and show the individual terroirs very clearly. The fear was that the lush sweet fruit which made the 2009s so accessible would obscure the terroir, this is not the case. The hallmark of 2009 is the quality of the wines across the board; this is a vintage to buy from the most basic Bourgogne up to the very top. The most logical point of comparison is 1999, which was also a bountiful harvest. Clive Coates refers to 2009 as 1999 plus, the logic for which seems to be that as well as offering incredibly consistent quality across the board, the high points are higher. This tallies with our experience and makes the 2009 reds a pretty damn compelling prospect.
The 2009 white Burgundies are not as exciting as the reds. This is not a top white Burgundy vintage; however, the wines are highly accessible with lovely, ripe, rich, exotic fruit. There is plenty of acidity to balance the wines and there are certain sweet spots in 2009, notably Puligny-Montrachet. From bottle many wines now exhibit much more minerality and race than they did from barrel along with a stronger sense of terroir. An interesting point of comparison for the 2009 whites is 1992. 1992s have proved to be highly seductive yet with surprising staying power considering their accessibility in youth and soft acidities. A couple of our favourite white Burgundies this year have been 1992s, pleasure is the word!