After a brief visit to Burgundy pre-Christmas and, more recently, looking at sample bottlings very kindly sent to me, but mainly through impressions gained from a few winemakers themselves, it is clear that 2019 is an exceptional red vintage. Although the wines are concentrated with alcohol levels relatively high, the wines taste neither heavy nor alcoholic; the purity and crunch nature of the fruit combined with good acidity and outstanding balance make these wines stand out.
2019 Burgundy Vintage Summary
2019 is the second of three generally excellent vintages, although harvest started later (mid-September, which is historically still relatively early) than in 2018 and 2020.
Whilst flowering in 2018 was even and straightforward, 2019 didn’t fare so well: early frosts and then poor weather in late spring resulted in small and undeveloped berries (millerandage and coulure).
Then the summer was dry with more than average hours of sunshine, and temperatures were above the norm. This warm, dry weather exacerbated the problem, so that, despite a little rain in August, when it came to pressing there was relatively little juice to be squeezed out. Hence the very small harvest. The highly concentrated grapes, however, were of excellent quality, with high sugar levels and outstanding aromatics and flavour, but also with high acidity levels, which is what makes or breaks a wine – if alcohol is to be higher, then a wine must have good acidity and structure in order to be drinkable, let alone fine. The red wines, although concentrated and packed with flavour, are remarkably fresh, with lovely tannins and balance, and I have no hesitation in agreeing with many of the growers in calling 2019 an exceptional vintage.
The whites are more variable and there are definitely growers who picked too late. Whilst the wines are not, generally speaking, of the same quality as the 2014s or the best 2018s, it is clear that the better winemakers now understand how to cope with early vintages and the best whites are balanced, with good acidity, concentration and very expressive aromatics. A vintage that will give a huge amount of pleasure early.
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