Burgundy 2019

Burgundy 2019
The 2019 vintage from Burgundy has been much heralded, written about and talked about, in spite of our confined state. Just like other great French wine regions, notably Bordeaux and the Rhône, Burgundy has had to confront rising temperatures and dryer, hotter summers over the last decade or so. The stakes are much higher when you are dealing with Pinot Noir rather than Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah but if there is ever a vintage to prove that winegrowers and vines are adopting to this new reality, 2019 is it.

Winter rains – those between the end of the previous harvest and bud break - are crucial today and luckily the rainfall over the last few months helped raise the water tables so that, at least at the beginning of the growing season, the vine’s roots were not stressed. The next hurdle to deal with was Spring frosts at the beginning of April which hit Chassagne-Montrachet especially, and then mixed weather during flowering which was to reduce yields. The summer was warm and dry, like 2018, and in spite of two heatwaves, evening temperatures dropped considerably, which we have learned, has a great effect of preserving freshness in the grapes. There was also a little rainfall at the end of August and the beginning of September which gave the vines a welcome drink. Several winemakers talked to us about two other climatic influences: first was the abiding luminosity during the summer which, as those who have visited the Southern Hemisphere will know, has a great effect on ripening; the other is the presence of the north wind which is a clean, artic wind which also helps to concentrate the juice within the grape berries through evaporation.

Harvest dates have become a crucial point in wine quality and especially so in 2019. Winemakers looked at the rising sugar levels and had to walk the tightrope between sugar ripeness and physiological ripeness. Checking the acidity levels was vital; the sun had reduced malic acidity, but the grapes had retained good levels of tartaric acid which accounts for the freshness and balance in many of the wines, in spite of the heat. As harvest began, many picked early and stopped at lunchtime when it became too hot. In the cellars, the winemaking has been adapted: several producers use whole berry fruit to increase potassium which can add freshness; others insisted that they now ferment the wines very carefully extending the maceration if necessary, and almost everyone has cut down the amount of new oak used in the aging.

While the above may be a bit too technical for some of you, it goes to explain why we were astounded by the freshness and the balance of so many of the 2019s – whites included – in such a sunny year. Both winemakers and the vines are waking up to the new reality that climate change has brought us and are adapting beautifully and intelligently. There seems little proof that the Burgundy bubble is bursting; to the contrary, more and more wine lovers, who during lockdown probably have more time on their hands to learn about Burgundy, are being seduced by its patchwork of terroirs, by the freshness in the wines, and their remarkable purity and longevity. We are privileged to present you a wonderful portfolio of domains.

On behalf of the Thienpont Wine Team,

Fiona Morrison MW

*Please note that the wines presented in this En Primeur offer will not be available for delivery before the end of 2021. As soon as the wines are available, we will contact you to arrange the delivery of your order.
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