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2012 Burgundy Tasting
2012 Burgundy Vintage Report
“A vintage of high quality but very low quantity. Fine balance, clarity of flavour and authenticity ensure that 2012 is a very Burgundian vintage emphasising the wonderful complexity and diversity of the region.”
Depending on the particular appellation and the particular ‘cru’, a combination of the following climatic problems were encountered to a greater or lesser extent, having a dramatic effect on yields:
- Frost during the spring (April and May)
- Poor weather during flowering, causing coulure and millerandage (June)
- Hail during the summer, especially in the Côte de Beaune (July/August)
- Disease pressure (oidium)
- Relatively little juice within the fruit that was successfully ripened
- August was hot and dry causing some hydric stress, especially in Chablis
Extreme vigilance was required in the vineyards throughout the growing season. Mid-September (15-20) harvest dates were the norm on the Côte d’Or, but varied with site and appellation. The harvest date in Chablis was determined as much by site as by grower decision, with some preferring an early date to safeguard freshness whilst others felt that extra maturity was required to ensure perfect balance. Picking parcel by parcel, to ensure optimum ripeness was vital – a “very complicated” vintage – as quoted by many growers.
The Côte de Beaune has produced approximately 50%-70% less than an ‘average’ crop, depending on site and appellation. The Côte de Nuits too, delivered crops of significantly smaller volume, typically down by 25-45% and sometimes more, even though there was less incidence of hail here.
Chablis was slightly less impacted, as there was also less incidence of hail, but still typically 25%-50% down for Premier Crus and Grand Crus (warmer sites with earlier flowering). Chablis AC (generic) was less impacted still, thanks to later flowering, avoiding the worst of the frost.
We were most impressed by what we tasted overall. The wines have plenty of ripe, attractive fruit that is very reflective of its terroir. As a counterbalance to the textural, supple fruit profile the best wines (and there are many) also offer excellent acidity and drive. Tension, structure and balance are appropriate descriptors. The fruit style is very fresh, pure and precise with excellent maturity and concentration, but not to excess. The best wines have a clarity and brightness. Balance and Burgundian authenticity are two of the key pointers in 2012. We tasted numerous high quality wines in all appellations with many stars evident in the classic communes up and down the Côte d’Or, red and white, as well as in Chablis, a region that has clearly delivered a vintage of excellent typicité and potential.
As to the relative merits of the vintage - the fine acids are redolent of 2010 but with perhaps a less intense structure. Maybe more akin to 2002, itself a vintage of finesse and fine balance. The wines appear to be less straight and firm than 2010 whilst also offering a more relaxed fruit texture on the palate. They are more accomplished than 2011, in general, with more definition, tension and poise even though they do share some of the same gentle fruit character that the earlier vintage also offered. The fascination of witnessing a full panoply of different terroir flavour/style personalities across the region was central to the high quality experience of tasting this exciting new Burgundy vintage.
Neil Sommerfelt MW
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