Burgundy whites from 2015 were generally warmer and more generous than the 2014 offerings, with conscientious growers achieving freshnessand good acidity. This was especially true of early pickers like Domaine Pernot-Belicard in Puligny-Montrachet and Vincent Girardin in Meursault (harvesting from August 31 and August 28 respectively), and of terroirs with older vines that were able to call on water reserves through their deeper root systems.
The 2015 will be a lovely vintage for midterm whites – a little plumper than the 2013 but not as heavy as 2009 or 2012, and drinkable while waiting for the 2014 to evolve. “Clean, pure and rich, favouring ripe orchard and soft citrus fruits over minerality, as is typical of very warm, sunny years,” is how wine critic Stephen Tanzer describes the 2015 whites.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that quantities in2016 are dramatically reduced, especially in Chablis where Didier Defaix of Domaine Bernard Defaix was far from alone in losing 70 percent of his grapes, and Christian Moreau quoted his father as saying that he’d never seen a year with hail or frost like it. Six producers of Montrachet, including Domaine Leflaive, Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Domaine de la Romanée Conti, have clubbed together to make two barrels of this most iconic grand cru, so this could be a last opportunity to stock up on whites at amore sensible price.
There is no escaping the fact that burgundy prices are increasing dramatically: global interest and overall winemaking quality continue to climb, while annual grape yields are diminished and sterling continues to suffer against the euro. One doesn’t have to be an economist to predict what the impact has been on prices: burgundy2015 releases are at least 15-25 per cent more expensive than the 2014 offerings.
However, Tim French, the new managing director of wine shippers Thorman Hunt, still calls this “a golden age for burgundy”. He adds: “It’s a challenge to find the tough or green reds of old. Now growers must just be cautious not to make overblown whites.”
Burgundy has always been capricious, but even the enraptured must wonder that in the space of five years, prices for village-level Puligny-Montrachet and Gevrey-Chambertin are now the same as those for premiers crus. Yet French asserts that this increase in prices has been matched by the rise in overall quality, with many village-level wines now as good as premiers crus.
While one may grumble about the rising cost of a burgundy habit, nobody will deny that 2015 produced irresistibly seductive Chardonnay and some Pinot Noir that could set a new quality benchmark. Every serious cellar should reference this exceptional vintage.
Tom Harrow is a fine wine commentator, consultant and presenter. His Grand Crew Classé is the ultimate invitation-only club for fine wine enthusiasts, with exclusive access to rare bottles and events around the world. twitter.com/winechapuk. To read more of his columns, click here.