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The vintage

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 in the Bourgogne Wine Region

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.

 

When should a wine be drunk?

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.

 
Discover the best moment to drink your Bourgogne

The last eight vintages

2015 : Thanks to a very hot summer and favorable weather conditions, the harvest was low in volume but very high in quality. 2015 will long be remembered as an excellent vintage.
- The white wines are rich and full. They are already drinking well, but show good keeping potential.
- The red wines are deep in color, balanced, full-bodied. A very classy vintage.

2014 : A year marked by a damp summer and several hail storms. Fortunately, a dry and windy September saved the harvest.
- The white wines are supple and tempting, with a crisp acidity and appealing citrus aromas. Already pleasant, they are suitable for ageing.
- The red wines are fruity and elegant, and will improve nicely in the years ahead.

2013 : A cold and damp spring, followed by a stormy summer with episodes of hail. Maturity came late, with harvesting at the end of September for low yields.
- The white wines are fruity with a distinct minerality. The Premier and Grand Cru wines show genuine keeping potential. The red wines have an intense ruby color; rounded and fresh, they are already reaching their prime.

2012 : Frost, localized hail, “shatter” affecting the flowers, and small berries known as millerandage all combined to result in very low yields. After an unstable summer, maturity arrived in good weather conditions.
- The white wines exhibit remarkable quality overall, with good concentration and distinct aromatic complexity.

- The red wines are fruity and spicy, with good breadth, and a crisp, pleasant acidity. They are full-bodied with a firm tannic structure.


2011 : An early spring followed by a topsy-turvy summer. The harvests had to be carefully sorted.
- The white wines are aromatic, dominated by notes of ripe fruit with lovely vivacity in the mouth and good substance.
- The red wines are aromatic and well-structured, with smooth, silky tannins.

2010 : After a warm start to springtime, the summer was cool with little sunshine, but fine weather returned in September and October. The low volume was compensated for by superb quality.
- The white wines are very aromatic, with notes of ripe fruit and nuts. The mouth is lively, full and sustained.
- The red wines are firm with distinct tannin and balanced acidity. The nose is expressive, revealing red and black berries.

2009 : Ideal conditions throughout the growth cycle, with above all a warm and sunny August and September.
- The white wines are intense, generous and soft, and remarkably well-balanced. A truly great vintage.
- The red wines are noble, with aromas of wild berries. Again, lovely balance and impressive body.

2008 : After a tumultuous spring and summer, September saw the return of some sun and the wind. Rigorous sorting and the decision to go for moderate yields led to the lowest volume produced in 10 years.
- The white wines are notable for notes of ripe fruit with a touch of citrus, and have an aromatic depth that is rarely seen. They are full-bodied and fleshy, a classic year for white Bourgogne.
- The red wines have aromas of stone fruits and nuts, and a supple attack, resulting in a pleasant harmony with their tannin structure.
 

 
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{climat Vignoble Bourgogne Patrimoine Mondial}