Burgundy 2017 En Primeur – Vintage Report
Brunswick 2017 Burgundy Vintage Report: expressive, elegant, pure and harmonious – a ‘new classic’ Burgundy vintage
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The normally difficult enough task of comparing the current Burgundy vintage to other previous years is virtually impossible in 2017: there is just no obvious vintage that it recalls directly. Yet, in the words of one grower, evidencing 2017 as another example of the proliferation of earlier harvests in a changing climate, perhaps ‘new classic Burgundy vintage’ might go somewhere to describing the style of its wines. The red wines (happily) do not resemble an old-school Vin de Garde style vintage and the smooth tannins, balanced acids and bright red and sumptuous blue fruit don’t resemble either of the last 2 vintages. That’s a good thing too. Variety of vintage is the order of the day with terroir wines, and 2017 has its own identity continuing a run of very successful, if differing, recent years for the region.
Barring a frost narrowly averted (see below) the growing season was gently beneficent and the harvest in line with this ‘new classic’ growing season early with the best whites picked in last week of August and the reds in the first two weeks of September. Following the frost-affected yields of 2016 the vines in 2017 were ready for a volume comeback and assiduous growers were wise to this possibility, dropping fruit in their early July green harvests to moderate potential yields. The early harvest was followed by early malolactic fermentations and some wines will be bottled earlier than some years. The wines showed well enough last March, but they have continued to grow during elevage while retaining their readability and accessibility. The temptation to drink them early, however, may be a little misguided. Some of the beautiful vintages in the past have shown their charms straight from the starting gate – take for example 2002, a year which never lets you down. 1985 was mentioned from an earlier era in this regard by some – but those initially open vintages continued to shine brightly throughout each phase of their evolution. The 2017’s similarly give the feel that they will always be seamless and graceful as they develop. They have a seductive ripeness that remains in better balance than many of the 2015’s that I tried beside them, with finer, well integrated tannins. They won’t last as long as 2015 but they will provide unalloyed pleasure for years, while one waits to see if that vintage is all that it is cracked up to be.
Unique, a ‘new classic’ style, with masses of charm and transparency. It should be of great interest to those of us who love Burgundy, rather than merely admire it in the form of spreadsheet entries that remain undrunk in bonded warehouses or cellars. The warm 2017 summer was nonetheless less extreme than in 2015 and 2018, and these open, supple wines are, in many cases, absolutely delightful. The more I tasted, the more I liked them during my 3 visits to the region – each time the wines gaining greater weight and interest. This is true across the classifications, so regional, village 1er and Grand Crus can all be bought and enjoyed. Broadly speaking it applies across most villages too, unlike last year where certain frost pockets adversely affected certain appellations more than others.
For white wines we have a year that is slightly softer than the great 2014 vintage, but one that pushes it very close, certainly exceeding those produced in the last two years. In Chablis a major frost in April wreaked similar carnage exactly a year on from the one in 2016. However, in the Cote de Beaune the main villages were largely spared in no small way by the efforts of growers who lit straw fires to create a smoke barrier that blocked the deadly sun’s rays after moisture and freezing temperatures were setting up the young vine buds for a similar repeat. The Cote D’Or was not a place to take a casual drive on April 26th but while general road users and school convoys may have been muttering about zero visibility that morning, the day was saved and the vignerons were spared. The warm, dry conditions which followed in spring and summer featured more sunshine hours and less rain than normal. The white grapes reached good concentration levels with less juice to solids, so yields were lower than expected and where growers were careful in picking dates – and all the good ones are – beautifully balanced, taut, saline and aromatic wines resulted. If 2014 is the finest white vintage of the last umpteen years, then 2017’s blend of concentration and freshness with a near ideal balance should make it sought after. As always, in Burgundy, terroir and grower really are more influential than mere sunny weather and 2017 provides an extremely interesting canvas for the best growers to show their skills. The best growers have produced pure, fine yet concentrated whites with a buzz of electricity to them that are sure to thrill.
So, 2017 continues an excellent run of recent vintages albeit in a style that is hard to compare with its predecessors. It is hard to envision the reds shutting down – in some ways they have elements of 2002 and 2007 to them – greater depth, richness and longevity than the latter, perhaps less fragrant than the former. But they have more in common with these years than the almost super-ripe yet tannic 15’s, high acid 13’s, tensile 16’s. They might be riper softer 2014’s but no, they are not that either! Like I say – impossible to compare really. That’s a good thing. That is Burgundy. 2017 is unique – a new classic vintage.
Buying 2017 Burgundy from Brunswick
2017 is a silky, harmonious, vintage for reds and a bright, exciting one for whites and Burgundy has become THE item pursued by collectors round the world. Quantities in 2017 (and 2018) are more generous than the last few years. Thankfully, given this demand from world markets, these larger quantities have led to a sensible approach to pricing this year. There are few increases and those that have gone up are a consequence of a grower’s markedly increased status. We have no doubts about the quality of the wines and we have tried to obtain as much wine as our growers allow us and have actively tried to increase the portfolio to include new growers. We are delighted to announce 5 new domaines, in addition to our superb existing line up. Some of our roster like Heresztyn-Mazzini and Stephane Magnien have acquired great praise in the last year or two and we expect some of our new ones will do too. You may just recognize a superstar or two among the new ones and the others are budding stars in the making. We ask for a little help and patience, in balancing orders, where required and will try to help you get the wines you ask for.
- Domaine Oliver Guyot – New
- Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini
- Domaine Tortochot – New
- Domaine Hubert Lignier
- Clos des Lambrays (later)
- Domaine Stephane Magnien
- Domaine Taupenot Merme
- Domaine Anne Gros – New
- Domaine du Clos Frantin
- Domaine Robert Sirugue
- Domaine Michel Noellat
- Domaine Robert Chevillon
- Domaine Arnaud Chopin
- Domaine Chandon de Briailles – New
- Doamine Rebourgeon-Mure (later) – New
- Domaine Joseph Voillot
- Domaine Michelot
- Domaine Henri Boillot
- Domaine Jean Chartron
- Domaine Marc Morey
- Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau
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