2018 Burgundy En Primeur
Great Reds & Opulent Whites
The 2018 Growing Season and Harvest
To understand the great success of the 2018 vintage in Burgundy, it helps to look back at the dormant period of the vines, over the winter 2017/18. Record amounts of rain fell in December, January and March – double the averages of the period 1961-2010. These rains allowed water tables in the ground to be amply topped up. This proved vitally important during the summer, as we shall see.
The growing season got off to a proper start from April onwards, then May stayed warm, with below average rainfall in both months. Towards the end of May and in early June rain fell regularly, with warm temperatures, allowing the flowering to proceed in excellent conditions. This is always beneficial to quality, as, after a speedy flowering, the grapes in a bunch will reach maturity at the same period. It also helps to lock in a good yield, which indeed proved to be the case.
Beautiful weather set in from 12th June, with virtually no rain, and heat-spikes at the end of the month. July was more mixed, with two localised hail-storms affecting Nuits Saint Georges, then temperatures climbed at the end of the month, regularly beyond 30’C. Rain was scarce, sunshine hours well above normal, temperatures also. The heat-wave lasted until 7th August. Some vines showed heat-stress, however the plentiful water reserves built up during winter now proved to be a massive boon, allowing deep-rooted vines to continue ripening their fruit. Sunshine lasted up to and throughout the vintage, which began at the end of August/ early September.
June to September 2018 are amongst the driest seen since WWII, and for the 5 months from May onwards, sunshine hours were all above normal. Growers had been fearful that the heat-stresses might equal those seen during 2003, however 2018 is not a repeat of that torrid summer, and the style of the wines bears this out.
The 2018 Reds
The grapes were extremely healthy. Very few needed removing from the sorting tables, except for any over-ripe bunches, or those caught by sun-burn. Sugar levels were high, so many wines have natural alcohol levels of 13-13.5%, and above – un-thinkable in Burgundy 3 decades or more ago. Sunshine allowed the colouring matter, aromas in the skins, and tannins, to reach full ripeness in this generous-sized crop. A low level of acidity in some wines has been compensated by fine tannins, to ensure smooth, long ageing potential. Depending on individual growers’ desires (which helped them to decide their picking dates), we have wines of classic balance, and others showing exceptional levels of richness, fruit density and power. This is a great vintage, with a wide variety of sumptuously thrilling wines, some for early and mid-term drinking, others for the long term.
The 2018 Whites
Many growers were astonished by the plentiful yield of juice from the grape bunches. There had been fears that the hot summer and early autumn would have caused evaporation, with yield reduction. But the water reserves from winter played their part in confounding those fears, and the result is a record sized crop, in many villages. Early pickers, locking in natural acidity, usually did better than those who waited. Generally these wines will mature for drinking sooner than the 2017s. We have been careful to select wines which show no sign of dilution, and also particularly those with sufficient acidity to balance their opulent richness.
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