There are many things in the wine industry to enthuse about!
Something I am very excited about right now are the impending releases of the 2014 and 2015 Burgundy vintages.
After the difficulty of small yields, hailstorms and topsy-turvy weather in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the 2014 and 2015 vintages have given the vignerons much-needed respite. They offer both quality AND quantity! More of the 2015 vintage another time.
Let’s focus on the 2014, for it is one that is truly blessed for both whites and reds.
So why was the 2014 so very special? As usual, and especially in Burgundy, it largely comes down to weather. It’s quite a northerly region and the climate is continental and very changeable.
Hailstorms are not unusual in this part of the world. However, the devastating one which hit Meursault, Pommard and Beaune in June destroyed up to 40% of the vines. Vignerons were understandably gloomy. However, a beautiful September, which brought hot and sunny weather, allowed the perfect final ripening for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
‘The Chardonnay is fantastic, with ripe, intense fruit and lovely balancing acidity,’ commented Jean Michel Jacob of Domaine Lucien Jacob, based in Échevronne. ‘The Pinot Noir is concentrated with thick skins, clean fruit and balanced acidity.’ Quantities are small however, due to the low skin to juice ratio.
Tasting through the barrels with Jean-Michel in September of last year, I was struck by the lovely fragrance of the Pinots as well as the fresh, spicy dark fruits and silky, suave textures. Twenty barrels of their Gevrey-Chambertin were made of which just six were of our exclusive En Songe. This is a small vineyard plot (what the French call a Lieu Dit), close to the village centre, on quite a steep, east-facing slope. The vines are over 50 years old on average and the ground is quite stony on the surface, lending itself to fresh, fragrant, elegant styles. A number of different barrel types are used in the 18 months maturation, half of which are new.
My tasting notes enthusiastically speak of: ‘Sweet, ripe, black fruits.’ ‘Rich mocha and coffee flavours’. ‘Spicy, exotic vanilla’ and ‘lovely, velvety textures.’
‘En Songe’ prosaically translates as ‘in a dream,’ why is pretty apt!
The wine will be released in May of this year. Just 150 cases are available.
The whites I have tasted are truly wonderful, showing freshness, fragrance and intense flavours. The Jacobs Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune blanc Les Larrets 2014 comes from high up in the hills close to Échevronne. They overlook the famous hill of Corton and the pretty village of Pernand-Vergelesses. In good vintages, they can provide really delicious drinking and excellent value. The 2014 is fragrant, spicy and mineral with lovely weight of citrus and melon fruit leading to a long finish that is rich, creamy and toasty. This wine is also released in May of this year.
Domaine Désertaux-Ferrand based in Corgoloin specialise in white wines. Their Côte de Nuits-Villages blanc is quite a rarity and perhaps one of our very best white wines. It’s mostly Chardonnay with around 7% old vine Pinot Blanc. The latter was planted by Vincent Desertaux’s Grandfather just after WWII. It lends a certain complexity and richness to the blend.
The Côtes de Nuits-Villages blanc 2014 is truly a stunner. The last four vintages made by Vincent have won numerous awards, including a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge for the 2011 vintage. I believe that the 2014 is another potential Gold Medal winner in the making! It has many parallels with Vincent’s 1er Cru Meursault; rich, buttery, spicy and mineral with a seam of refreshing acidity to keep it taught and vibrant.
The wine will also be released in May and just 100 cases are available.