This week, as it always does, has seen Burgundy descend upon London for the 2018 En Primeur tastings, where the trade, press and then the public get to taste some of the most amazing and highly sought after wines, while getting to chat to the producers at the same time.
2018 if you can remember had a very cold start to the year, which was then followed by that very long hot summer, there was still plenty of juice in the grapes due the water reserves that had built up in the soil from the previous winter and spring. This gave the growers a longer ripening season for the grapes which meant they needed to keep a very close eye on the sugar and acidity levels, being ready to harvest the moment they were at perfect ripeness. Without any serious frost or hale damage during the flowering at the start of the year, there was a volume of grapes from the harvest that the region had not seen for many years. The only concern with such bountiful harvests is will the quality levels be lower than in previous years, fortunately that is something we don't have to worry about with the 2018's!
Starting at the top of Burgundy in Chablis, they we're all beautifully clean wines with attractive appley fruit, a crisp but not too tart acidity, a lovely minerality to it and a perfect length to the flavours on the palate. The standout producer for me and has been for a couple of years is Samuel Billaud, his Petit Chablis is lovely and crisp, his Chablis is perfect, that's the only way it can be described. We then moved on through his 1er cru wines and then onto the cask samples of his grand cru vineyards, which already were amazing and will only get better over the coming years.
As we head south through Burgundy, the wines from Gevrey, Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanee already showed great elegance and perfume to the wine, with a well-structured backbone to them from the acidity and fine tannins. If your looking for something with a bit more power to them, look no further than Maison Betrand Ambroise who’s based in Primeaux-Pressey and produces a selection from across the Cote de Nuits including some of the most amazing Nuits St George and my absolute favourite, Corton le Rognet which was just huge, with loads of dark and red berry fruit, spice, that are then balanced out by the acidity and the tannins, while it was amazing this wine is no where near ready to drink yet, but I can’t wait to see what they’re going to be like in years to come.
Then down in the Cote-D-Or it was hard find anybody who hadn’t produced a stunning Meursault or one of the Montrachet’s, but one producer who did catch my eye was Domaine Franck Lamargue, who is making some absolutely stunning wines in Saint Romain and Auxey-Duress for the whites, and a red from Santenay, the Saint Romain has a lovely minerality to go with it, the Auxey-Duress had plenty of toasty notes go along with the fruit, but as it ages its just going to get rich and beautiful.
On the whole, the 2018 vintage looks like it’s going to be a great vintage and one which while still very small will have some volume for us to be able to get hold of it and enjoy. The whites that were un-oaked, were beautifully crisp and clean with a great depth of flavour, the whites that had seen oak, were delicious now but will just get better and better over time, as will the reds, as they mature they’ll get softer and silkier. This is definitely a vintage to keep and not for drinking yet!