Vignerons the world over will tell you that weather, above all, is the fundamental driver to making great wine. With its northerly continental climate the Côte d’Or is particularly beholden to the vicissitudes of weather each year, giving every vintage its unique personality.
Pinot Noir in particular is a most fickle red grape variety. It likes sunshine but not too much; heat is important but not in excess; rainfall within reason, but only at key times of the growing season. Add into the mix the risk of freak hail storms, which strike the vulnerable vineyards of the Côte de Beaune all too frequently, and you will understand that growing grapes in this enchanting region is a nail biting affair.
2014 was a year that tested the nerves of growers of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the limit. However, history has shown that often the most rewarding vintages to drink are from the trickier years. Growers were living on the edge throughout the growing season, but at the end of 2014 when all their grapes were gathered and vinifications were finished, they could rest easy knowing that they had something very special in their cellars. The wines have beauty and balance and, excitingly, both red and white wines are equally excellent.
The Growing Season
The year started very positively. The spring of 2014 was the warmest in the last ten years, so predictions were for an early flowering and potentially a very early harvest. June, as described by one grower, was splendid and for some after the small crops of previous years was almost too hot. This inevitably reduced the number of bunches and berries per vine in a year where all growers had been hoping for healthy yields.
At the end of June things did change and tension mounted over the following six weeks. The weather turned, temperatures dropped and the days lacked the striking sunshine of which all the growers were dreaming. Then, as is so often the case, at the end of August and early September a wonderful Indian summer arrived and this turned the whole vintage around. The reduced size of the harvest was arguably its saviour and allowed the fruit to ripen fully during the late summer days. The wines have a lovely expression of terroir and wonderful balance between freshness, brightness and great purity.
The result is a year where both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excelled. The white wines are of exceptional quality with a terrific drive. They balance a great intensity of fruit with ever-important freshness and acidity. In this vintage Burgundy can shrug off any reputation that the modern era’s white wines don’t age like in the good old days. All the best white winemakers have addressed this issue head on, many taking it up as a personal challenge. This is the vintage they believe will show the world great mature White Burgundy is the finest white wine of all. We should all be bold and lay down the very best, let them age and evolve into wonderfully complex wines. The greatest whites from this fabulous region will deliver beguiling tertiary fruit flavours. 2014 is a flagship vintage for both White Burgundy and the Chardonnay grape.
The red wines are the style that I love. They have a beautiful, crystalline red berry quality and deliciously bright fruit flavours. The tannic structure is present and in complete harmony with the fruit. The ever important acidity, crucial for great Pinot Noir to shine, weaves through the fruit texture so elegantly. This is a fine quality vintage which reflects the unique patchwork structure of Burgundy’s classification system that makes this such a special region. The 2014 reds are utterly charming.
To sum up, Burgundy’s star continues to shine brightly. We are delighted to be offering this lovely vintage en primeur. As always with a low-yielding vintage there is pressure on stocks of both red and white. We advocate buying these 2014s for future drinking. Indeed, as is so often the case when production is so small, there tends to be only one chance to buy from the very best growers. Many of these delightful wines are unlikely to come back onto the market.
2014 en primeur presents the perfect opportunity to add a wonderful vintage to an established collection or to start a Burgundy cellar with wines will which deliver tremendous pleasure in the future. 2014 really is a true en primeur vintage.