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Burgundy Wine Producers Happy With 2012 Vintage

A vineyard worker defies the weather to pick grapes in Volnay, Burgundy
© AFP/Jeff Pachoud | A vineyard worker defies the weather to pick grapes in Volnay, Burgundy
Harvest yielded "very good" grapes.

Burgundy has hailed its 2012 vintage as a success, despite difficult weather conditions and a steep drop in production volumes.

A statement from the Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB) said inclement weather conditions in 2012 included “a mild winter, a chilly spring with frosts, a cool rainy June, an unstable summer, a heat wave, hail and storms,” while mildew was another problem.

It added, however, that the vintage was successful, thanks to the fact that all of these conditions occurred before the final ripening. This meant yields were significantly lower but had no impact on the quality of the grapes. Instead, the grape crop was reduced by about 20 percent, compared to last year, meaning that “aerated bunches of smaller berries” ripened to “guarantee concentration and intensity.”

“There were a lot fewer grapes but they were very good ones,” commented the vice president of the BIVB’s technical commission, Gilles Remoriquet.

The 2012 vintage, he said, could be compared to the 2005 in color, and to the 2009 and 2007 in terms of soft tannins. The whites, he reported, are “fresh, fine and elegant.”

Calling the 2012 vintage a “happy ending to this unusual year,” the BIVB’s statement said the first red tastings showed soft tannins and intense red berry aromas, while the whites had “notes of fresh fruits and citrus.” Whites from northern Burgundy offered “minerality with notes of flint and chalk.”

U.K. wine merchant Giles Burke-Gaffney of Justerini and Brooks, who was in the region on Monday for Burgundy tastings, endorsed the BIVB’s view, saying quality was not the problem in 2012. “It’s a good vintage and the people I know here are happy with it, you can tell, but there’s just not a lot of it about,” he said.

Burke-Gaffney added that the selection of reds he’d tasted so far were “very intense, very vivid with lots of fruit.”

However, overall volumes are down about 30 percent on an average year, while in the more southerly Côte de Beaune region volumes are reduced by 50–70 percent.
Definitive figures for the 2012 volumes will not be available until early next year, the BIVB said.

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