A Telling Trip to Burgundy – The 2012 Vintage

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The 2012 Burgundy vintage has been on the lips of the trade since it was harvested. High quality, low quantity is what we have all been hearing. A flying trip to the region earlier this week gave us an opportunity to find out.

Whilst judging wines from barrel is rarely an exact science, it is crystal clear that the quality is very, very, high. To my mind there is more energy, more richness than 2010, more precision than 2009, and more weight and structure than the delicious 2011s. Indeed, I can’t remember being so impressed at this stage since tasting the 2005s.

Sadly, there is very little wine. In some appellations there is less than a third, or even a quarter of what would normally be produced. For those who count the barrels in cellars, this year is easy: where there would normally be twenty, there are five or six. What is in the barrels, though, is exceptional.2009, and more weight and structure than the delicious 2011s. Indeed, I can’t remember being so impressed at this stage since tasting the 2005s.

This is the third short crop in row for Burgundy (and 2013 is still in the balance), a region whose great wines are already scarce. 2012 will no doubt be an expensive vintage, but with so little wine available and clearly exceptional quality, I think that they will sell, and sell well. At the same time, I can’t see what is left of the 2009, 2010 & 2011 vintages on the market hanging around for long. There may well be oceans of young Bordeaux on the market, but the scarcity of Burgundy is no better illustrated than by a visit to a cellar. The number of barrels of 2012 Volnay Santenots in Maison Jadot’s cellar? Four, which equates to around 100 cases. Not so much for the whole World…

One of the highlights of our trip was an extensive tasting at Maison Louis Jadot, where we were simply knocked out by the quality (and the small production was quite clear: their grand cru cellar was half full at best).

Maison Jadot is ideal for “vintage evaluation” tasting. Quality is both high and uniform, and the range enables one to taste the entire length of the Cote from south to north. Winemaker Frederic Barnier is clearly up to the job of making excellent wines across what is an impressive range, and fills the boots of Jacques Lardier most impressively.

The cellars of Jadot

The cellars of Jadot

Looking back though my notes, the words that stand out from wine to wine are “weight”, “intensity”, “lift”, “ripe” and “impressive”. 2012 is, I think, a great vintage. The wines have ripe, sweet, punchy fruit, yet an underpinning of fresh acidity and very fine tannins. They fill the mouth. Moreover, like 2011, this is a real “terroir” vintage: Chambolle seduces, Vosne whispers its class, Gevrey flexes its muscles.

We will be making an offer of these wines shortly. Please do let your account manager know your interest in these wines: the releases may well be a bit of a bun fight.