Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vintage 2008

There’s a saying one hears occasionally in Burgundy:

les millésimes se suivent mais ne se ressemblent pas

which is basically to say that consecutive vintages are never alike.

The pair 2004 / 2003 make a strong case for this:
2004 – cold and wet with very generous yields
2003 – hot and dry with very low yields

The pair 2008 / 2007 are less convincing
2008 – cold, wet summer saved by a fine September
2007 – cold, wet summer saved by a fine September!

Of course the devil is in the details, but I can’t shake the feeling that the last two vintages have much in common. That said, perhaps I should highlight some of the important differences:

Most notable perhaps is that due to an exceptionally hot April 2007 flowering occurred 3 weeks earlier in 2007 than in 2008. So although it is convenient to say 2007 was saved by a fine September in reality many grapes were picked before benefiting fully (the weather took a turn for the better around the 24th August, and I would estimate the ‘median’ picking date around the 1st September). In 2008 the rain ceased on the 13th September and I reckon the ‘median’ picking was around the 29th. (For the record we started on the 8th Sept 2007 and 1st Oct 2008).

Also important: the weeks before harvest 2007 were sunny and hot while the weeks before harvest 2008 were sunny and cold. As a result there was less botrytis and higher acidity in 2008.

As for the wines I can only speak with confidence (and even then…) about what I taste (and spit!) almost daily in my own cave. The 2007s are lovely – very pure and tender with decent (not exceptional) concentration. The 2008s of course haven’t started their malolactic fermentations yet and so are harder to judge, but they have an excellent concentration of again beautifully pure, bright fruit flavours occasionally with a very slight (and, to me, rather attractive) vegetal hint.

Since you can’t taste the wines yet I’ll leave you with a photo of the two Bourgognes (2008 on the right)…