Could 2019 be Burgundy’s best vintage since 1865?

Wine expert Tom Harrow on what barrels will top the Hospices de Beaune auction on November 17

A third fewer barrels of Burgundy will be offered this year than last (589 vs 828), so bidding on the Hospices de Beaune auction is bound to be brisk
A third fewer barrels of Burgundy will be offered this year than last (589 vs 828), so bidding on the Hospices de Beaune auction is bound to be brisk

“The Burgundian mantra that vintages ending in ‘9’ are exceptional appears to be reconfirmed this year,” says Master of Wine and Christie’s consultant Jasper Morris. “2019 in both colours will offer small volumes of highly concentrated wines with an abundance of healthy, ripe fruit, backed by excellent structure.”

The freshly vinified Burgundy 2019 vintage is in the spotlight (November 16-17), when several hundred wine fanatics descend on the French town of Beaune to bid on their own barrel. On November 16, the historic Hôtel-Dieu hosts two tastings of the newly made wines from the 33 cuvées of reds and 17 of whites, four-fifths of which are Premier or Grand Cru. The auction follows the next day and, with a third fewer barrels being offered this year than last (589 vs 828), bidding is bound to be brisk.

Of the 2019 vintage, Burgundy expert Bernard Hervet, co-founder of the 1243 Bourgogne Society, the world’s most exclusive wine club, which is housed in a medieval Franciscan monastery, says: “It is very special. Despite the very dry summer there is no over-ripeness but instead wonderful balance and great precision. The top wines will age a very long time and be most pleasing to connoisseurs.

On November 16, the historic Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune hosts two tastings of the newly made wines from the 33 cuvées of reds and 17 of whites, four-fifths of which are Premier or Grand Cru
On November 16, the historic Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune hosts two tastings of the newly made wines from the 33 cuvées of reds and 17 of whites, four-fifths of which are Premier or Grand Cru

“The great vintages in Burgundy like 2005, 2009, 2015 all had hot, dry summers,” he adds. “Perhaps 2019 will rival 1865, the greatest vintage of all, examples of which are still drinking well now.” 

Here are the lots piquing pre-tasting interest:

1. The highlight of the auction is the sale of a single barrel, the Pièce du Président, which commands record prices and this year is a Corton Bressandes Grand Cru. The bidding for this lot is still conducted à la bougie – during the time it takes a candle to burn down. 

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2. The white Meursault Premier Cru Genevrières, Cuvée Baudot (18 barrels) is produced from parcels of old vines (the youngest are from 1979, the rest stretch back as far as 1944) and tends to do well in hotter vintages. 

3. Another white to note is the Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Cuvée Dames de Flandres (3 barrels), named after the nuns who once cared for the sick at the Hotel-Dieu. 

4. A good-value red is Savigny-lès-Beaune, Premier Cru, Cuvée Arthur Girard (17 barrels), produced from two parcels bordering Beaune itself.

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5. Another standout red is the Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru, Cuvée Madeleine Collignon (17 barrels), from a parcel lying on same level as neighbouring Clos de Bèze with vines dating back to 1947. 

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. Follow him on Twitter: @winechapUK.

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