The reds in 2012 are particularly successful. They are ripe, attractive wines with fleshy textures and good harmony. From Gevrey down to Mercurey, we find Pinot Noirs with dense fruitiness, remarkable concentration, gentle tannins, and welcome freshness. While some will reward extensive cellaring, others will give enormous pleasure in the not-so-distant future. The quantities are small, so Burgundy lovers should not delay acquiring these wines when first offered, as the best will be snapped up quickly.
The small yields and favourable weather pre-harvest have given round, luscious white wines for superb, youthful drinking. The intensity of a great white Burgundy vintage may not be evident, but the opulent generosity of these 2012s, combined with their bright acidity and natural tension, will give enormous pleasure. For us, Chablis is one of the great successes in 2012 – the wines are classically crisp and taut, with ripe flavours and superb transparency of vineyard character.
Tasting with Jean-Marc Roulot in Meursault this autumn, he stressed that the 2012 vintage (his 24th) was psychologically his most challenging ever. Indeed, the 2012 growing season was emotionally draining for growers across the region.
Spring was slow to arrive, and flowering took place over a longer period than usual in damp, cool conditions. This naturally reduced the size of the crop: poor fruit set caused lots of small berries to be formed. Fortunately, a small harvest and grapes with thick skins are both quality factors, which contribute to giving concentrated, structured wines.
Three hailstorms swept over parts of the Côte de Beaune during the summer: 7th June, 30th June and 1st August. Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Volnay and Pommard were worst hit. For some growers, these localised storms had a devastating impact on yields. Furthermore, strong sunshine between 17th-21st August caused some exposed grapes to be sun-burnt, diminishing the crop even further. Thankfully, sunny, dry weather during August and the first 20 days of September brought Burgundy’s grapes to full ripeness at harvest time, as well as allowing natural acidities to be retained. Grapes were picked under blue skies, which has been a vital factor contributing to the quality of the vintage.
During harvest, careful sorting to eliminate any hail-affected grapes was essential. At Domaine Champy in Beaune, after an initial sorting of bunches in the vineyards, a three-stage system using vibrating tables and hand sorters was in place as grapes arrived at the winery. Such attention to detail has ensured that only fully ripened, healthy grapes went into their vats. In volume, the impact of the growing season on final yields varies considerably from village to village, and vineyard to vineyard. Many winemakers have seen crops reduced by at least 50%. We see cellars that are half empty, and in some cases single vineyard wines have not been made.
The 2012 Burgundy harvest has been one of the smallest in living memory. We now know that the just-picked 2013 vintage has also given small volumes. We have never seen two consecutive years like this: effectively two harvests have given the total yields of one normal year. The small volumes in both years will put huge pressure on prices and the quantity that we are able to offer. Fortunately, because we have been shipping from Burgundy for over 35 years and have long-standing friendships with our growers, we are in the strongest possible position to continue to offer these wines at reasonable prices and in sufficient quantities to meet your stock requests. With these factors in mind, we encourage you to respond quickly to this offer with any requests you may have. As always, regular, loyal customers who buy across our range will be rewarded with favourable allocations.