In the words of Johnny Goedhuis, 2008 was a “miracle vintage” in Burgundy. For the ten days we were there, we tasted wonderful wines that were juicy, fresh, balanced and minerally pure. The growers describe them as wines that “˜Pinote’, wines that embody all the deliciousness of Pinot Noir as well as illustrate the characters of their intricate terroir. It is incredible to see that a challenging vintage such as 2008 produced wines this good. To quote Johnny again, they are “really something extraordinary”.
To be frank, Burgundy did not have an easy growing season. It began tempestuously during flowering and seemed to last much of the summer until the first week of September. On September 7th, the skies cleared up, the north wind blew and the grapes were able to concentrate and develop. Pinot Noir has many benefits, and one is its ability to ripen earlier than others. This innate character helped work miracles in 2008.
Nonetheless, the vintage did present some problems. Jean-Marie Fourrier described it as “the most challenging vintage in the past 15 years” with weather conditions reminiscent of the 1960s. Laurent Ponsot kindly reminded us that the weather is only one element that creates a vintage. The health of the grapes, viticultural treatments, yields, sorting, the soil types, drainage and harvest dates all have an incredibly influential hand to play with the eventual quality. So, work in the vineyard was paramount. This combined with the heaven-sent North Wind, the Indian summer sun and late harvest dates (from 3rd week of September to mid-October) transformed the 2008 vintage from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.
According to Allen Meadows of Burghound.com, 2008 has been the most difficult that he has ever had to assess over the past 30+ years. As one can imagine with the various elements cited by Laurent Ponsot, there can be much variation in quality and style. Some growers such as Arnaud Mortet described his wines as having “pleasureable, beautiful tannins” and as being “ageworthy” and “more enjoyable than 2005″. Sylvain Cathiard in Vosne Romanée compared his 2008s to his 2001s but with more sweetness and finesse. For reds, many growers feel that they will drink well young and then shut down for several years. Due to thicker skins, there is an underlying structure present in
the 2008s that many 2007s, for example, do not have.
For whites, producers like BenoÃ®t Droin in Chablis and Jean-Philippe Fichet in Meursault have described them as having all the ample appeal of the 2006s but with 2007’s succulent minerality and freshness. The 2008 whites will also be earlier drinking than the 2007s.
Allen Meadows feels that amongst the greatest domaines in 2008, there are some truly grand wines. We thoroughly agree and feel privileged to be working with the best in the region. Like the terroir, their dedication to quality is transparent in 2008. Their wines are truly extraordinary.
Our full brochure (including producer write ups and tasting notes) will be in the post to our clients next week and will also be available on our website.