Saturday, 20 February 2010

Bumper Year

 It is official, Burgundy has had its best harvest in 10 years. The weather last summer was fantastic, no hail or frost in the growing season and so far fewer damaged grapes leading to more grapes being suitable to be turned into wine. In fact Burgundy has produced 1,584 million hectolitres (potentially 211,200 million bottles) of wine this year. This is the largest harvest since 1999. However, what are those remarks about quality not quantity? Amazingly because of the many hours of sun last summer and rain at just the right times, the grapes were also of a very high sugar content, leading to the possibility of one of the best vintages in living memory. So not only quantity but quality too. The farmers must be rejoicing.

Anyone who has ever been involved with farmers will know that they are very pessimistic creatures and one can understand why. Not only do they have relatively uncontrollable variations in quality and quantity but they also have uncontrollable variations in their market. The French wine market has been under threat from new world wines for many years now. The methods of the new world wine makers produce consistent wines, they have ironed out the quality so that the average wine drinker will get just what he is expecting, every time he opens a bottle. The traditional production methods of the French, produce a different bottle every year, some years not so good, but some years exceptional. The new world wines will never be able to beat those exceptional years. Interestingly the two countries who buy the most Burgundy wine are the UK and the US, the UK has moved very clearly over to new world wines and the US has a booming “new world” wine trade of its own, but the connoisseurs in both these countries have always been willing to afford the good Burgundies.

 So, as I said, the farmers must be rejoicing, sadly no. The economic crisis and the drop in both the Dollar and Pound against the Euro have already dealt a blow to the French and now just when the Burgundian winemakers can cash in after a number of poor years, even the connoisseurs have run out of money.

My advise - if you want an excellent vintage at bargain basement prices, 2009 is the vintage to be laying down and 2010 is the time to buy it before the UK and US economies pick up and send the prices to the astronomic levels this vintage deserves.

La Tuilerie is in Cormatin which is on the edge of both the Mâconnais and Côtes Chalonaise wine growing areas. Here is our website

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