Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Burgundy 2010: ‘a challenging vintage’

Romain Taupenot’s verdict on 2010 is that it has been ‘a challenging vintage’. I talked to him at his domain, Tapuenot-Merme in Morey Saint Denis on Tuesday. ‘  Even before the season began there were problems. On 22 December 2009 a frost of -22C, without wind, killed many old vines, especially on the plain at Vosne Romanee. The first real problems of the growing season came in June during flowering. It rained in the second week of June, which resulted in both coulure and millerandage.

Yields were reduced more heavily in the generic and village appellations than the Premiers or Grands Crus – 30 to 50% down in the village wines, around 20% down for the Premiers Crus and 10 to 15% for the Grands Crus, which had flowered earlier and escaped the worst of the cold wet snap.

Rain in September, even during harvest for the first time in a decade ( which began on September 23 at Taupenot-Merme), led to some problems with rot, even though the berries in 2010 were quite thick skinned.  Unusually, even some of the tiny berries produced as a result of millerandage were subject to rot and bunches were not consistently ripe. Careful selection was essential.

The Cote de Beaune saw lower sugar levels than the Cote de Nuits. The level of potential alcohol at Saint Romain was 11.4/11.5, that of the Premiers Crus in the Cote de Nuits was a respectable 13% and 13.25 for the Grands Crus. Corton was the glorious exception in the Cote de Beaune with 13.9% – higher even than in 2009.

Fruit flavours, said Romain, were generally very good indeed, but acidity is high, especially, as in 2008, the level of malic acid.

Further north, in Chablis, Thomas Pico told me that 2010 had been a little less challenging although the rain in September also made careful selection necessary to remove rotten grapes. Yields, at around 40 hl/ha are good. The harvest was relatively late in comparison with recent years, finishing around 10 October which lowered acid levels. These, Thomas assured me are ‘correct’. Sugar levels are not especially high, but as Thomas says, ‘we don’t want very alcoholic wines here.’ Herve Tucki of Blason de Bourgogne told me that some of the Chablisienne growers even encountered a little noble rot.

The Cote Chalonnaise suffered greater problems according to Rene Bourgeon at Jambles.  Although the season started promisingly, a lot of water, he said, meant a lot of rot developed. Overall the quality is a little disappointing, but, he thinks, the wines may resemble those of 2007, which is certainly no disater: they are already giving a lot of pleasure.

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