2019 Burgundy En Primeur
Concentrated wines with astonishing freshness - in both white and red.
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Many winemakers expressed some surprise at the obvious differences between the wines made in 2018 and 2019. Despite two short-lived and fierce heat-spikes at the end of June and the end of July, 2019 was a shade cooler throughout than 2018, and particularly so at the time of the harvest, and the harvest was in general in September rather than in August. The remarkable difference in the style of the wines, the concentrated freshness of the 2019s, coming as they do from such a warm season, was the source of some wonderment.
Rémi Jobard told us his wines were all close to 14%, but that he felt that by ripeness alone he might have picked at the same date at 12.5%, had it not been for the evaporation from the berries caused by the warm southerly wind in late August. This warm wind concentrated the juice of an already small crop, because the weather in the flowering season had been poor and cool, and the fruit set had been reduced by coulure and millerandage, having already been reduced in come sectors by frost.
The kind of concentration is important to understand, because it means that the acidity of the grapes is concentrated along with the sugars, rather than the acidity falling off as the physiological ripeness is attained. As a vast generalisation, the effect is much fresher wines - but for more detail do read through the full notes on each area and each producer.
The Viticultural Year
In 2018 had started extraordinarily wet, so the vines did not really suffer from drought - but 2018 finished very dry, and it did not really rain after the harvest until November. There was not much of a winter – certainly nothing like those that Burgundy was used to even twenty years ago, and February was warm and sunny, so that the vines kicked off early – too early, putting them in danger of late frosts, which duly came on the 5th and 12th-15th of April. These frosts did damage in the Mâconnais, in Chablis and in Saint Aubin and Chassagne. The Pillots' Chassagne 1er Cru ‘Fairendes’, normally a cuvée they separate out from the rest of their Morgeot, was badly frosted. Adrien had been out lighting bougies in other vineyards at 4am, but did not put them in Fairendes ‘which never freezes’ – but it did that night.
After the relatively balmy start, the weather then took a turn for the worse with cool and windy weather in May and June, and this disrupted the flowering and cause the coulure and millerandage, so by this time the vignerons knew that the crop would be somewhat limited. After this the summer grew hotter, and there were the two periods of intense heat (over 40C) at the end of both June and July. Water began to matter a lot, and some vines did suffer from the 'hydric stress'. Yves Confuron was sure that this was one reason for the freshness in the wines; in 2018 the abundance of water thanks to the wet winter meant the vines could go on producing sugar, which resulted in the Rhôney aromas in some wines, but in 2019 the lack of water blocked the ripening and so the alcohols for him are more normal, staying under 14.5%.
Where and when rainfall fell was important, but as ever not the whole story – but it is worth pointing out that August saw a little more rain in Morey Saint Denis, which really lucked out, and in Pommard. In these hot years some of the cooler spots and deeper soils have done well, and again these include Pommard, as well as some of the Aloxe and Pernand vineyards, and some of the lesser-known villages like Monthélie and Auxey, and of course the Hautes Côtes, but although they are higher and therefore cooler, there can be thin soils over bedrock in these high hills, and some are less good at retaining moisture than some of the deeper clays lower down.
On the whole white wines in 2019 show a vivid, concentrated expressiveness which is centred around citrus and white fruit. The alcohols are not low, but tasting the wines they are balanced and fresh – and the most part very recognizable – Chablis are Chablis-like and so on. Every now and then the citrussy concentration seems to be verging into sherbet lemon territory of intensity, but there are few wines which display any of the exotic fruit character associated with hot years. This looks like a vintage of really excellent whites which will repay cellaring.
The reds are again a joy and fresher than 2018, more brightly defined with more red fruit than black, or at least red and black fruit. Colours are deep and convincing, but not impenetrable. Like the whites, these are quite powerful wines, and there clearly are instances where alcohols are high, but although not always the case, they seem to be lower than in 2018. There is a lot to like.
What is mostly not to like is the volumes, which are significantly down – whites down 30% on 2018, reds down 25% - but it’s much worse than this for some of the reds of the Côte de Beaune.
Find Out More
Read Jack Chapman's reports of our October tastings or find out more on the individual regions via the sidebar menu. Our 'Top Picks' from the vintage for red and white will be made available as the campaign progresses, along with recommendations from the critics. Whether you are looking for the finest Grand Crus, the best performing Premier Crus, or some great value drinking Burgundy, these lists are the place to start.
Charles Lea & The Lea & Sandeman Team
Allocations & Pricing
Volumes are almost universally lower in 2019 than 2018, and catastrophically so in the Côte Chalonnaise, for example, so that the wines of Domaine Jacqueson will not be part of our primeur offer this year. It is inevitable that some of the top wines will have to be allocated. That does not necessarily mean we are sold out. We will be adding wines to the lists below once the initial allocations have been completed, and when more prices are released by the growers, so please keep checking the website as we update availability. Alternatively, please email us your wishlist at any time, even if some of the wines you seek are not currently listed. You can assume we have almost the entire range of all the domaines below.
This year there will only be one price listed: IN BOND per the case size stated. If you would like wines duty paid, please include a note in your order form. Duty & VAT for duty paid orders will be due at the prevailing rate at the time of delivery and cannot be paid in advance.
Do remember that we are always delighted to offer advice should you need it.
Please contact our Private Client team, or your usual contact. The team can be contacted directly via email or on 0207 244 0522.
TBA = Wines marked 'To Be Advised' are either awaiting answers from allocations, or have yet to be released to us by the producers. Please do ask and we will advise if and when we are able to offer them.
Wines by Producer
(Click to see all wines by producer in either red or white)