The 2010 vintage was a rollercoaster ride for Burgundy, with some shocking patches of weather leading to near perfect ripening conditions at the end of the growing season. Despite this tumultuous year Burgundy has produced a vintage that although very small, boasts some extraordinary wines. This could be said to be a miracle vintage.
Following the harvest of the 2009s, there was rain, which was just above average and was at least balanced out by intermittent sunny spells. This equilibrium ended with the on-set of frost towards the end of December. These attacks of frost caused widespread damage (reminiscent of the 1985 vintage) and even managed to entirely destroy some vines. On one night temperatures in Gevrey Chambertin fell from -2 to as low as -20, then rose back to -2 by daybreak. This was the first major contributing factor to the drop in yield in 2010, with some as low as 25-30% below average.
With the exception of a few bright spells in April, this cold spell continued right up until early June. This meant the vines flowered much later and rather irregularly, with widespread bouts of coulure, millerandage and even isolated attacks of mildew. Thankfully a hot period arrived and throughout June and July the sun was high, allowing the fruit to bulk up before the inevitable storms, with hail in many southerly areas.
August was warm, but not hot. The rain still appeared throughout the month and into early September, at which point the weather changed yet again. The days were dry and the nights clear and cool, the hours of sun were very good indeed. It was this prolonged exposure to the sun with a northerly wind that really lifted the vintage, with photosynthesis continuing right until the end of the ripening period. This meant that with the green vegetation still present, the acidity was kept suitably high whilst the grapes continued to pile on the sugar, this left many growers with extremely healthy, well balanced grapes.
The fine weather then continued well into harvest time, which despite all the difficulties of the early season was at a relatively normal time and was generally finished by the 1st October.
The wines produced in 2010 are of staggering quality, there is both freshness and depth to the wines. The whites are crisp and lively, with buckets of minerality, whilst the reds are deep and concentrated, flushed with dark fruits and well structured tannins, yet still remarkably fresh. To have all of these qualities in the same year is rare, but to see them across the board after such a difficult year is quite extraordinary.
In the Mâconnais there are very low yields due to the hail, but the wines produced show fantastic fruit, a good balance of alcohol and a great supporting acidity with a rich, full character.
Chablis also saw greatly reduced yields in 2010, but show well defined finesse, a superb fruit character and a great acidity.
It is the Côte d’Or, unsurprisingly, where the truly great wines of 2010 have been made.
The reds are outstanding in terms of quality. In the Côte de Beaune Volnay has produced wines of great depth and concentration, whilst Pommard has seen its finest year in recent memory, with Yves Confuron producing some outstanding wines at Domaine De Courcel. 2010 is a year that can truly be called “classic” for all the right reasons.
The Côte de Nuits has also produced some brilliant wines in 2010, with the top vignerons managing to sideline many of the consequences of the bad weather. In the case of growers like Mortet, wines of immense clarity and precision have been produced. The same can be said throughout the Côte de Nuits in 2010.
The sheer quality of the reds does not mean that the whites should be overlooked; at our recent tastings the wines of Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet showed an exceptional depth and vibrant clarity, displaying explosive notes of crisp white fruits and exotic aromas, with fantastic levels of acidity. There is massive potential here too.
Overall the Côte d’Or has had a phenomenal vintage, despite, or possibly because of all the hardships experienced during the growing season. Vignerons have worked tirelessly to cultivate ripe, healthy grapes which have produced wines with great fruit, excellent structure and a delicate, precise acidity. 2010 Burgundy is a revelation.
In a great year like this it is extremely difficult to pick a shortlist of the best wines; the truth is I could happily pick them all. 2010 Burgundy is a year of small yields and impeccable wines, with some producers seeing dramatic reductions in production. With the Chinese now active in the market, this may well lead to inflated prices in the future, so this really is a vintage to seriously consider buying En Primeur, as many of these wines will probably not make it to the open market.
Above all, 2010 is a year that could have been a dismal failure and has turned into a heroic masterpiece. I tasted some of the most classical, pure and exciting wine I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It is simply a “must have” vintage for all dedicated wine lovers.