In the Bourgogne region, wines are almost never a blend of several vintages (which is the year in which the grapes were grown to make a given wine). To learn more about the Bourgogne region, click here !
The vintage is simply the year in which the grapes were grown to make a given wine. The fruit for one vintage can only come from that stated year. By tradition, Bourgogne wines nearly always show the vintage on the label, although it is not obligatory to mention this. Which means that in the Bourgogne region, wines are almost never a blend of several vintages.*
The Bourgogne wine region is in a northerly location and has to face some very contrasting climatic conditions, sitting as it does at the crossroads of maritime, continental and Mediterranean influences. The alternating effects of these determine the rainfall, sunshine hours and temperatures, all of which are the main factors responsible for the variations in the quality of wines from one year to the next. One can thus have Bourgogne white wines that are dry and crisp one year, and then more rounded or fuller the following year. Likewise, the red wines can have more or less tannin, more or less color, and be more or less fruity depending on the year.
Since the style and profile of the wines are different each year, the potential for ageing also varies from one vintage to another.
Bourgogne winemakers work with single varietals, and must know how to deal with the weather. Their expertise is indispensable, and the rigor of their work in the vineyards allows them to produce quality wines from every vintage.
It should be noted that Crémant de Bourgogne is the exception, since it is traditionally made from a blend of several wines from several vintages. Declaring an individual vintage for a given wine remains an option for the winemaker that is reserved for years with exceptional weather.
* There is however one case in which vintages can be blended, known as VCI, which stands for Volume Complémentaire Individuel (individual additional volume). The wine sector governing bodies can authorize a store of reserve wine to be put aside in years with good quality and quantity. This stock can be used in the following year to compensate for a possible shortfall in quantity, whilst respecting limits on annual yield, and as long as there is total traceability of the wine (cellar register). The use of the VCI has to respect the 85/15 rule, which means the wine from the previous vintage cannot make up more than 15% of the final volume, with the more recent vintage being declared on the label. If it does exceed 15%, the label will not display a vintage.
It goes without saying that the ageing potential is different depending on the level of a wine’s classification. The balance, finesse and richness of a Grand Cru appellation will confer upon it a longer lifespan. An appreciation of the vintage and its capacity for ageing will thus vary according to the level of classification of Bourgogne wines.
There are those who enjoy wines in their youth, and those who appreciate older wines, which means there are no absolute rules about when a wine should be drunk. But in general, a Bourgogne wine from a Régional appellation will be at its best after two to four years, depending on the year.
For a Village appellation or Village Premier Cru, one may enjoy these in their youth at three to five years. Beyond that, the wine is said to be entering maturity and plenitude until it reaches around eight years old, after which it might be said to be in old age.
As for Grand Cru appellations, those who like their wines on the younger side will enjoy these after four to six years, with maturity lying between six and 10 years. Those who like their wines older will want to keep them for more than 10 years. One sometimes hears of Grand Cru wines that are 50 years old and more, but that only concerns exceptional vintages stored in optimal conditions.
►2017: The weather was very up and down, from month to month and from sector to sector, particularly in terms of rainfall. Right from the start of the growth cycle, it was hot with more sunshine than normal, leading the vines to develop extremely quickly. Rainfall was scarce overall, apart from a few very heavy downpours. The weather during the first half of the year was generally hot, dry, and sunny, helping to keep disease at bay and resulting in very healthy and perfectly ripe grapes.
- White wines: From the north to the south of the Bourgogne, everyone agreed: The 2017 vintage offers one of the most elegant expressions of the Chardonnay grape with perfectly balanced, highly aromatic wines. Their vigor comes from a hint of citrus and white-fleshed fruit. In the mouth, this rich, fruity palette is balanced out by good minerality and tension.
- Red wines: Dazzlingly intense colors from ruby red to garnet. Right from first glance, these highly expressive wines are crying out to be tasted, with their indulgent, fresh notes of red and black berry. Perfect balance in the mouth combined with silky tannins makes for a harmonious, subtle whole without excessive opulence.
- Crémant de Bourgognes: The Chardonnay grape offers good balance, combining vigor and a rich aromatic profile. Acidity is present yet not excessive, bringing a lightness to the finish. Those wines made from the Pinot Noir grape are fruity, with structure and good length in the mouth.
►2016: Weather events during the spring slashed yields, which were some of the lowest for the past two decades. Fortunately, the wines that were made nonetheless met the expectations of fans of Bourgogne wines.
- The whites offer lovely tension and rich body that was already evident at the start of the ageing process. The aromatic palette is marked by aromas of white-fleshed fruit, and should develop over the coming years.
- The reds are an intense and dazzling deep red color, while the nose is gradually emerging. In the mouth, these wines are fresh and yielding, and confirms these first impressions, underscored by lovely breadth. These are wines for enjoying, ultimately tempting and indulgent.
- The Crémant de Bourgognes reveal the character of their terroir, with great balance over a distinct yet not excessive acidity. The entire aromatic palette of the Chardonnay grape is revealed, from the more mineral aromas from the vines of the Auxerrois to notes of white-fleshed fruit and white blossom from those wines produced to the southern end of the appellation. The Pinot Noir grape gives sophisticated, smooth wines with notes of cherry, while the Gamay results in more expressive ones with a touch of acidity.
►2015: Thanks to a very hot summer and favorable weather overall, the harvest was limited, although the quality was very high. 2015 is an excellent vintage that will go down in history.
- The whites are rich and ample. Right from the start of the ageing process, they were already revealing great keeping potential.
- The reds are colorful, balanced, and fleshy. A high-class vintage.
►2014: This year was marked by a wet summer with a series of hailstorms. Fortunately, September was dry and windy, saving the harvest.
- The whites are smooth and indulgent, marked by a refreshing acidity and very appealing citrussy notes. A pleasure to drink when young, they nonetheless offer good keeping potential.
- The reds are fruity and elegant. They will evolve pleasantly over the next couple of years.
►2013: A wet and cold spring followed by a stormy summer with a series of hailstorms. The grapes were late to ripen with harvesting beginning late September, with low yields.
- The whites are fruity with good minerality. The Premier and Grand Crus offer good keeping potential.
- The reds offer an intense ruby color, and are particularly indulgent. Rounded and fresh, they quickly come into their own.
►2012: Frost, hail, shatter, and millerandage all combined to result in low yields. After unstable weather in early summer, ripening finished in good conditions.
- The whites are showing remarkable quality overall, with lovely concentration and some undeniable aromatic complexity.
- The reds are fruity and spicy, with lovely breadth and a fresh, appealing acidity. They have body and a good tannic framework.
►2011: An early spring was followed by upheaval in terms of the summer weather. The harvest needed to be sorted very carefully.
- The whites are aromatic, dominated by notes of ripe fruit with lovely vivacity in the mouth and good length.
- The reds are also aromatic with good structure and a framework of smooth and silky tannins.
►2010: After a hot start to the spring, the summer was cooler with limited sunshine, but the fine weather returned in September and October. Low yields were compensated by superb quality.
- The whites are very aromatic with ripe and dried fruit flavors. Lively, broad, and consistent in the mouth.
- The reds are solid and tannic, with balanced acidity. The nose is expressive with aromas of red and black berries.