The best and busiest part of the year is upon us! Harvest here in Oregon is starting in just a week or so, and container-loads of new releases from Burgundy and Champagne are arriving one after another. Whew! Hang on, it’s gonna be a hell of a good ride…
Harvest in Meursault, 2010
The reviews for the 2010 Burgundies came out at the beginning of the year, but the wines are just arriving now – so I thought we should go back and take a look at what these wines are all about. Allen Meadows (Burghound) is the leading Burgundy authority in the world today. Here is his take, quoted from Burghound Issue #45 –
“When I was in Burgundy this fall there was a lot of discussion as to whether 2010 is in fact a better vintage than 2009. It’s a pertinent question and the best answer that I can give you at present is that it could very well be. But the main aspect that must be acknowledged is the intrinsic character of the two vintages is considerably different, especially stylistically if not necessarily qualitatively. And let’s be frank that when it comes to choosing among different high quality vintages personal preference starts to play an important role at some point.
Irrespective of whether one prefers the style of 2009 or 2010, what is again indisputable is that 2010 produced much more classic wines. One of the aspects of the 2010s that I adore is their sense of energy. There is an underlying tension to the wines that makes them come alive in the mouth. You might call this refreshing but there’s more to it than that. They’re refreshing and make one feel like taking the next sip. It’s one thing to have racy acidity and punch but it’s another to ally these attributes with real substance. And this is what the 2010s do with such brilliance.
In sum, the 2010 vintage produced a very large number of superb wines, indeed every bit as many as did 2009. And the quality of even the average 2010 is very high and it would be fair to say that there are relatively few poor 2010s, at least this is true among the growers that I visit. It is of course true that I visit Burgundy’s best but nonetheless, generally what is true for the elite is true for the average grower in vintages that are consistent such as 2005, 2009 and 2010. Moreover, 2010 is an exciting vintage because the wines are so vibrant and refreshing. But make no mistake, as appealing as they are now, there are going to be some masterpieces resident in the cellars of those who have the patience to allow the greatest 2010s to achieve full maturity. I for one can’t wait.
As I observed at the very beginning, the most successful 2010s are wonderfully fresh, precise, energetic and transparent with ripe and exceptionally fine-grained tannins. They are a first-class pleasure to drink because they are so aromatically pure and perhaps more important from a mouth feel perspective, have this beguiling sense of underlying tension that practically begs for another sip. In this fashion they are very Chablis-like in that the best examples are never tiring to drink.
Overall, the best wines are truly transcendental and should provide for magical drinking experiences over a period of several decades and the best wines should see 30 years in fine shape. What is more difficult to predict is how they will react after they have been in bottle for a few years. Some growers believe that they will shut down but I am not so sure because the wines are so well-balanced. In any event, for the better wines it’s a moot point because you won’t want to be opening them young anyway save for the occasional bottle sacrificed in the name of “research”.
Harvest in Volnay, 2010
My personal take on the 2010s echoes Allen’s. I love the precision and purity of the wines, and the crystalline quality of the fruit. I had the opportunity to work harvest in Burgundy for a couple weeks that year, spending time at Lafarge, Confuron, Buisson-Charles, Huber-Verdereau and Millot primarily. The resulting quality of the wines was actually quite a surprise to us all – at harvest we thought the potential to be no better than merely good. Ultimately, it was the high percentage of tiny berries (called millerandage in French) that produced the beautiful concentration and intensity of flavors that the 2010s bring to the table.
The only problem is that the vintage produced very little wine. Most producers were down 30-40%, with some even more so. (2011 was also a small vintage in Burgundy, and 2012 looks to be one of the smallest ever, with some growers down 80% or more. Yikes!)
So, act quickly if you want some. They’re delicious, they’re classically great Burgundies in every sense of the word, and they will disappear from the market quickly. Keep your eyes on your email for all of our upcoming tastings and offerings – we want to make sure that these beautiful wines find good homes!