2019 Burgundy En Primeur
A Stunning Vintage
The Wine Conversation…
In conversation with Anthony Hanson MW
Sarah Kemp talks to Anthony Hanson MW about the 2019 vintage. They discuss how the lack of the annual January Burgundy tastings will affect the wine producers, the trade and consumers, and Anthony gives his assessment of the 2019 vintage. The good news is it’s good news.
We were fortunate to have our consultant Anthony Hanson MW living in Pernand-Vergelesses during the locked-down summer and autumn 2020. He was able to taste and assess the 2019 vintage as it matured in the growers’ cellars. Here are his notes on the vintage, the Domaines and their wines.
The 2019 Growing Season and Harvest
The year up to vintage 2019 is one of the five driest and sunniest seen in Burgundy since WW2, so it will come as no surprise that these 2019 wines were made from fully healthy grapes, which achieved superb ripeness.
It was not a plentiful harvest, however. Winter and early spring saw little rain, so water levels in the soil (which can be precious later in the growing season) did not build up. A cold period in early May slowed down vineyard development, and the flowering, during the first 20 days of June, took place in varied conditions, which meant that some vine flowers were not well pollinated, thus reducing potential yields. A mini-heatwave occurred in late June, and another at the end of July, with several day-temperatures hitting the mid-30s. August and September were hot and dry, meaning that grapes were limited by how much they could swell, often staying small. All four months from June to September had more sunshine than recent averages, so some shrivelling or scorching of berries and bunches took place, further limiting the yields (as these grapes later had to be removed on the sorting tables).
2019 was not marked by serious spring frosts, though some vineyards were touched on 5th April. Hail storms were also rare, though the Corton hillside suffered some damage. The harvest broadly took place between 9th and 20th September, in gloriously dry, sunny conditions.
The 2019 Reds
After such a splendid summer, we were concerned there could be over-ripeness, and lack of acidity, in these reds. Fortunately, the hot periods of the summer were spikes, not extended heat-waves. And astonishingly, the same sunshine which built up natural sugars, while ripening colouring matter and skins, also concentrated – rather than degrading – the acidities. Skilful winemakers favoured infusing their grapes in the fermenting vats, with judicious pumping over of juice, rather than punching them down. Small Pinot Noir berries have given deep colours, dense fruitiness and well-ripened tannins, with splendidly long after-tastes. This is a great vintage for reds, though of course the volumes are low.
The 2019 Whites
This is a broad-shouldered vintage for the whites, due to the hot weather. Fortunately, rain did not arrive to dilute the natural acidities which were being concentrated at the same time as the sugars, so many wines have sufficient, balancing acidity. Picking the right date to harvest was crucial – on the one hand needing to wait for skin ripeness to be achieved, on the other, wishing to avoid sugar levels climbing to un-looked-for heights. It is not a large harvest, due to some frost damage, to uneven weather during the flowering, and to small berries giving limited quantities of juice. But the best whites have markedly ripe fruitiness, generous textures, beautiful balancing freshness – and they will make absolutely luscious drinking.
Late Release Domaines
This offer features the 2019 wines from the majority of the Burgundy’s Domaines we work with. However, a small number will release their offer to us later in the year, at which stage we will communicate the details and our notes. These Domaines are:
- Domaine Raveneau, Chablis
- Domaine du Cellier aux Moines, Givry
- Domaine Roulot, Meursault
- Domaine Georges Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny
- Domaine des Lambrays, Morey-Saint-Denis
- Domaine Dugat-Py, Gevrey-Chambertin