Vintages can be characterised as early or late, hot or cool, of greater or lesser quality.
Some are hailed by storm clouds, others hailed by the press. In 2014, Burgundy
experienced a relatively cool summer and a relatively early harvest, but without
extremes in either case. It did get hailed on from above, and it will be hailed from below
as a superb vintage for white wines and a very good one for reds.
Volumes available are usually no less than for 2013, sometimes more; however,
recent years have all been below the previous average in crop size and this has
fuelled increased prices at the cellar door. Fortunately the exchange rate helps us this
year. We are delighted to confirm that almost all of the wines offered here are priced below
the equivalent 2013, which in turn were less expensive than for 2012. Any prices marked
‘POA’ will be available when the offer goes live on 6th January. As for last year, every producer receives a double introduction: the first part, in italics,is an overview which may be useful to those
coming to our producers for the first time; the second part offers a brief commentary on the
2014 vintage. There are tasting notes on all wines in the offer this year but for reasons of
space, many generic Bourgognes have been omitted and will be presented in a separate list available at bbr.com/burgundy2014.
A detailed report on growing conditions throughout the season is available at
bbr.com/vintagereport. A beautiful spring culminated in a mostly very successful
flowering and all was set fair for a happy, healthy crop – until, for the third year in a
row, hail ruined the hopes of vignerons in Meursault, Volnay, Pommard and Beaune,
thanks to one massive storm on 28th June. A cool summer followed, which explains the
freshness in the wines, and then the sunny skies returned in September for harvest,
which began in the second week. This year, there was no panic to pick, and the grapes
looked happy and healthy after all. So did the vignerons. There was, however, one fruit fly in
the ointment, Drosophila Suzukii. This pugnacious insect can pierce healthy berries
and introduce acid rot. It affected Pinot rather than Chardonnay, in certain localities,
mostly close to houses and orchards in the Côte de Nuits. Growers needed to react
intelligently to make sure none of this acid rot made it out of the vineyard or past the sorting
table. There is no evidence of it affecting the wines which we tasted.
This is the most consistently fine vintage that we can remember. To speak of a
‘great’ vintage would suggest incredible concentration and exceptional longevity,
which is why ‘fine’ is a more apt descriptor. The wines have fruit and flesh; they have
precision, minerality and good acidity. The classic character is of fresh white fruit rather
than super-ripe yellow fruit. They taste in perfect balance. They will be accessible early
and they will keep well. Results are consistent from Mâcon to Chablis, and pretty much
from one domaine to another. All boxes are ticked!
Many of the above comments can be applied to the reds as well, but they are not
quite so consistent. There are some first-rate reds in the Côte de Beaune, but others show
the effect of hail. The Côte de Nuits has fared rather better, except for occasional examples
of overly high yields resulting in wines which lack concentration. However, the majority of
wines are fruit-forward, balanced, fresh tasting, elegant and precise, accessible and
safe for medium-term ageing. The 2014 vintage will not gain mythical status, but
it will offer a huge amount of pleasure.
Yet another short crop in many areas
Prices in almost every case are below those of 2013