The people of the Bourgogne wine region like a story with a happy ending. The wines of the 2016 vintage have granted this wish, exhibiting a quality that was quite unexpected given the difficult start to the year. Climate events in the spring took a severe toll on the harvest, which will no doubt be among the smallest of the past two decades. Fortunately, this has not stopped producers making wines that will fully live up to the expectations of lovers of Bourgogne.
One night of frost
The night of 26-27 April 2016 will remain etched in the memory of all those who live in the Bourgogne region. It brought an historic late frost, when the first leaves had already emerged. While some areas are used to this kind of phenomenon, its territorial spread was exceptional. A few days beforehand, a violent hail storm struck the south of the wine region. And on 27 May, a further episode of hail swept the Mâconnais and the north of Bourgogne.
A significant proportion of the future harvest was at risk. While everyone strived to preserve those bunches that had been spared and nurture the vines, no one could imagine how this vintage might end up.
From one extreme to another
On the summer solstice of 21 June, things turned radically around. After a particularly cold and wet spring, sun and warmth now took over. This sudden change allowed the vines to recover some strength. They made up for the lateness of the start of the growth cycle.
After an excess of water, some places were now experiencing drought, fortunately eased by some welcome rain in September, which allowed the fruit to ripen in very good conditions. This continued until the end of October, giving each plot the opportunity to be picked at the ideal moment.
The harvests began on 20 September and stretched over one month.
In the end, a vintage of quality
The harvested grapes were in tip-top condition, ripe and delicious. Another pleasant surprise was that the vines had made the most of the summer to send out new growth, this abundant vegetation offering good prospects for the 2017 vintage.
The region's vineyards nonetheless presented two contrasting sides: Either very little or no harvest on the plots hit by hail or frost; or nice yields in those sectors that were spared.
In the course of vinification, the qualitative potential was soon confirmed, with lovely balance, which will give the wines elegance, finesse and structure, for both reds and whites. This constitutes the unexpected signature of this vintage.
In 2016, more than ever, each winemaker has left their own mark on their wines, which reflects the unfolding of this unique vintage.
Upon tasting, these wines present the tension characteristic of white Bourgognes. There's already nice substance, which should express itself fully once malolactic fermentation is complete. The aromatic palette includes whitefleshed fruit, which should become enriched during ageing.
A deep yet dazzling red, the colors are surprisingly intense, revealing what the still-shy bouquet does not yet suggest: These are going to be wines that give pleasure. In the mouth they are fresh and soft, confirming this first impression, and underscored by nice breadth. It will take a few more months before we can discover the full personality of these wines.
Crémant de Bourgogne
The Crémant de Bourgogne base wines are rounded, subtle and fresh. They present the characteristics of their respective terroirs, with good balance built on an acidity that is present without being overpowering. The whole aromatic palette can be found in the Chardonnays, from the most mineral aromas typical of the Auxerrois region to the notes of white-fleshed fruit and white blossom that characterize the south of the appellation. The Pinot Noir provides elegant, supple wines, with aromas of cherry. The Gamay is very expressive, with a touch of acidity.
Source : Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne - November 2016.