The 2021 vintage:
Most people will have heard of the severe frosts that hit the region in early April, but the real villain was the exceptionally warm March, which caused the buds to break and growth to start so that when the frosts did arrive the damage was devastating. The earlier growing Chardonnay was the most severely affected, with losses between 50% and 80% in most areas, but Pinot Noir also suffered badly. Worse was that the frosts were accompanied by snow, so that the higher Grand Cru vineyards were the hardest hit. A cool, damp summer led to virulent attacks of oïdium and mildew necessitating frequent spraying and extensive deleafing both to air the grapes and to get some sun on them. The ripening of the grapes was retarded by the cool weather, and rain in early September left everyone wondering whether they’d get anything for all their hard work … but there’s a happy ending. The rain stopped in mid-September and the sun came out, the grapes finally ripened and picking began in late September (unheard of in recent years). Rigorous sorting was required to remove diseased grapes, further reducing yields, and in many cases the produce of several vineyards had to be mixed in order to fill the vats. The results, however, have been highly encouraging. Everyone is agreed that the Whites are almost uniformly exceptional, with a beautiful freshness. The Reds are a little more variable, but the best are exquisite. Paler and lower in alcohol than in recent years, they are elegant and perfumed rather than powerful, as we remember Burgundy (the word ‘classic’ keeps cropping up).