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The Vintages of 1990-2000

Ups and Downs

On our visit of 2000 the harvest had been already completed, and almost all of the growers seems content about it. The quantity was not quite as high as the year before, but it still was way above average. The quality seems promising - fruity and balanced. The levels of acidity also seem good, although some growers, e.g. at Roumier's, thought that it could turn out slightly low. Of course it's way too early to give a general judgement of the vintage, but all in all it can be said that it is not going to be a bad year, although in comparison the wines of 1999 will generally come off better. Sales figures will be high anyway due to the uniqueness of the date.

In 1999 the harvest resulted in extraordinarily good sugar levels with many vintners. This year we sampled many 1999 wines from the barrel and noticed that they were more closed and concentrated than the 1998 ones we sampled last year. Since the 1998 wines which have now been bottled are very promising, there are high hopes for the 1999 ones. The 1999 reds feature rich fruit, mature tannin and good acidity. Mainly they are concentrated and balanced. The whites also are intensive and show good levels of acidity. Whether the vintage will turn out as good as the brilliant one of 1996 remains to be seen.

The September of 1998 was very rainy, damp and rather cold in Burgundy. There was even some rot in the middle of the month. As far as this vintage is concerned, it's well worth to purchase the wines of those vintners who select the grapes accurately and give preference to quality rather than quantity. The whites wines are low in acidity so that they are to be drunk rather soon. Pleasant Chardonnays, similar to the 1997 ones, but rarely really great. The 1998 reds, now bottled, are fruity, mainly mature, not all too strong in tannin and with mild acidity. The wines are not as concentrated as the 1996 ones (and presumably the 1999 ones) but will result in some very fine classic Bourgognes with intense aromas. We enjoyed them very much, and we rank the vintage above the one of 1997. The wines have a medium storage ability; presumably the Premier and Grand Crus will be drunk before the 1996 ones.

In 1997 September was rather hot and sunny in Burgundy. The grapes matured to their full extent, but then many of them dried out and shrunk a bit. The reds we sampled from the barrel showed a lot of fruit, but were rather low in acidity so they are to be drunk relatively soon. The few whites we tried weren't that convincing - they have a clear lack in acidity so they seem rather plain. There is a lack of intensity and deepness.

1996 was an excellent year in Burgundy. Tannins and acidity turned out to be well balanced and the tannins aren't as intense and aggressive as in the vintages of 1993 and 1988. The wines of this year have good fruit levels and concentration and already show high complexity. They are very suitable for longer storage and should mature in an elegant way. The red wines are perhaps not as intense in comparison with the 1993 ones and won't take that long to mature, but they will achieve much more finesse and will be more balanced. The whites are also convincing, with good fruit and acidity. A classical vintage, which unfortunately is sold out already with most of the top producers.

1995 also was a rather successful year in Burgundy, for the red and the white wines. The 1994 ones weren't that concentrated, but came up with some fruity, pleasant red wines that are to be consumed rather soon, and fruity white wines. 1993 was a vintage that is considered excellent for red wines among most vintners - although the rather strong tannins demand a long maturing time, and with many wines it is not yet clear if the different components will reach a balanced level. 1992 was very successful for white wines. Good vintners produced rather pleasant wines with low tannins. These wines are have matured and can be enjoyed by now. 1991 was a medium vintage, although some reds improved during maturing which makes them even more elegant than the 1990 wines. 1990 was a classical vintage, especially for the reds, resulting in brilliant wines (although sometimes slightly over-mature in fruit) that are now about to reach their full maturity.

Kilian Fitzpatrick in the vineyards

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