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Burgundy’s 2014 vintage fights back

Despite June’s hail storm and a new vineyard pest, Burgundy’s latest vintage should stabilise the market.

Chablis 1er Cru Le Vaudevay - 2014
Chablis 1er Cru Le Vaudevay – 2014

“After three very small vintages what Burgundy urgently needs in 2014 is quantity,” wrote Clive Coates MW on 1 June. With much of the harvest in, his prayers may have been answered, up to a point. “We’re talking quality and enough of it to stabilise the market and take the pressure off pricing,” said Jasper Morris MW, speaking from Burgundy.

As the man in charge of the region for Berry Bros & Rudd, Morris is particularly impressed with the whites. “They look really great, and it’s a long time I have seen grapes of this quality with excellent sugar levels and good acidity.” The quantity of Côtes de Beaune reds has suffered, particularly in Beaune, Volnay and Pommard, due to devastating hail storms on 26 June. Grégory Patriat, winemaker at Jean-Claude Boisset, put the losses in Beaune at around 80%, with Mersault down 50%. He said: “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Dropsophila suzukii - note the Burgundy red head
Dropsophila suzukii – note the Burgundy red head

For some villages it is the eighth hail attack in 10 years, and insurance premiums have gone through the roof. “Some people are closing down because they don’t have the means to pay,” said Charles Lachaux of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux. While the Côtes de Nuits escaped relatively unscathed, losing no more than 5% of its vineyards, Grand Crus like Clos Vougeot, Richebourg and Échezeaux lost 20 – 35%, claimed Lachaux. In August a new vinegar fly (drosophila suzukii) made an unwelcome appearance in some of the red vineyards.

“It’s going to be a good harvest – the weather was great,” said Lachaux, who finished picking on Wednesday, 14 September. “But we’re not in Bordeaux where every year’s the ‘vintage of the century’. In Burgundy it’s going to be a fresh easy-drinking vintage.”

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