Burgundy 2011 En Primeur

Burgundy 2011 En Primeur

Everything you need to know about the 2011 Burgundy vintage

The Story of the Vintage

This is the Golden Age of Burgundy: the third vintage in a trilogy of excellent vintages - 2009, 2010, and now 2011. Like Hollywood stars of the silent era, each has their own unique character that lives on in the memory. In this vintage, the wines show:

• Pure fruit with supple tannins
• Approachability: drinking earlier than 2009 and 2010
• Lower alcohol than those vintages

After three great, but small, vintages, it is tempting to believe that excellent vintages happen every year. That would be a mistake. After our recent visit to the cellars, many exhausted-looking winemakers told us about the difficulties of this year’s 2012 vintage and the low quantities produced.

Many wineries are already looking wistfully back at 2011 as a golden year in comparison.

The Whites

This is a very fine vintage for white Burgundy. On the whole, the white wines show concentrated and pure fruit which is also quite juicy and fresh. This is balanced by the excellent acidity, which will keep them fresh over the years. They are very easy to drink.

The big story this year is Meursault. There is a real step up in quality with the wines expressing their vineyards rather than the fatter, Meursault style, which has dominated in the past. This move towards quality does not happen overnight, especially in an appellation dominated by negociants, but what we are seeing is more freshness and less of the heavy, old-fashioned oxidative style.

Wines from Chassagne-Montrachet were beautifully balanced and pure this year. Whether it was the very smart Amiot Guy et Fils or the more ornate Morey-Coffinet, this vintage shows a solid sense of quality and refinement.

The Reds

What is striking about 2011 reds is the Pinot Noir perfume. The aromatics of the fruit are exactly pitch perfect: when we describe Pinot Noir this is what we mean - the purity of the fruit expressing the terroir. The reds show a wonderful transparency and delicacy which will thrill Burgundy lovers - they speak very much of their vineyards. The 2011 vintage is drinking earlier and will be more approachable at a younger age making them an excellent drinking proposition while waiting for the 2010s to develop.

The village to watch is Pommard, which has had an about-face in quality. It has lost its “agricultural” charmless black fruit style and tastes lighter and fresher. In particular, Domaine Pascal Bouley astounded us for its quality, expression and value for money. It has been a long while since we have tasted a Pommard that is so delicious to drink and affordable.

Across the Cote de Nuits, the wines are stunning. Long gone are the dark days of tasting lean and mean reds that need ten years or more in the bottle. There has been a metamorphosis in the red appellations with younger winemakers now hitting their stride at the likes of Gouges, Mortet and Chauvenet.

1st November 2012

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