Vintage Reports

Burgundy, France

Vintage Reports

The 2015 Vintage

Olivier Bernstein

After a relatively mild winter, with only a few moments of below freezing temperatures around the middle of February, the rain finally arrived, allowing the vines to create a water reserve, absolutely essential to counteract the dry and hot year which would follow.

We experienced three rainy periods which fell at the perfect time: the middle of April, the beginning of Mayand then the middle of June. Furthermore, the north winds encouraged an early and quick flowering enhanced by a thinning of the leaves which took place the last 15 days in June, allowing an aeration of the grapes, and thus avoiding certain diseases such as oidium,which had begun to ravage the neighboring areas.

The beginning of summer was extremely dry with scorching heat as the temperatures were up around 30 degrees Celsius, without the relief which is typically brought by cooler evenings. Veraison started in our Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Les Champeaux” parcel on July 26, which is quite early, but was influenced by the high heats during the beginning of July. This hot episode resulted in a significant water shortage, slowing the maturation of the grapes. Thankfully most of the month of August was much more mild and wet, allowing the vines to ripen. The last few days of August were sunny and warm, like in 2014, ensuring a beautiful end of maturation and impeccable quality.

The average harvest in Burgundy was about 20 percent less than usual. We were hardly impacted by this drop, as we performed a green harvest in order to increase the concentration of the grapes. We always privilege quality over quantity.

We started harvest in 2015 on September 6 with the Mazis-Chambertin parcel. Our harvest was gorgeous: homogenous, colorful and compact clusters with thick skin were full of anthocyanins thanks to the sun. We left between 60 to 80 percent of the clusters intact. The vatting, around 18 to 20 days according to the appellation, was a bit shorter than usual due to the beautiful maturity. The acidity was ideal, the tannins were present and the natural alcohol degrees were satisfying; truly the perfect balance. The winemaking was a real joy!

The casking took place in Beaune during the week of October 12. Deep and intense hues (as well as very fresh fragrances) were already present.

During the tasting, the acidic balances were remarkable. We discovered incredible aromatic openings during the malolactic fermentations, which said a lot about the end of the aging. The Pinot Noir was well represented, boasting aromas of fresh crushed fruits, and an intense aftertaste with melted tannins providing great length.

The 2014 Vintage

Olivier Bernstein

As early as spring, the 2014 vintage appeared to be precocious. A particularly sunny and dry month of April favored the vines (the budding and flowering were ahead of schedule). These magnificent climatic conditions gave hope for a beautiful harvest. We already knew that a green harvest would be necessary to “lighten” the vines. The head start acquired during the beginning of the cycle was slightly lost with a typical Burgundy summer: wet and chilly without much sunshine. The ripening of our parcels began with a good rhythm during the end of August. Ideal maturing conditions returned in September with a promising harvest starting on the 13th. We began with the Mazis-Chambertin where we found a very nice balance and an agreeable freshness. Our grapes, already sorted several times directly on the vines over the summer, were once again rigorously sorted by our team of harvesters. The grapes were ripe, healthy, and aromatic. We decided to keep 30% of the stocks for all the batches (50% for the Bonnes-Mares). The result is a very beautiful and classical Burgundy vintage!

The 2013 Vintage

Olivier Bernstein

2013 is a superb vintage, yielding wines that will not only give great pleasure in their youth but will age beautifully over time.

The winter of 2013 was mild and humid. Budbreak took place at the beginning of May, much later than usual. Spring began with cold and rainy conditions, particularly during the month of May. In the vineyards, we were careful to maintain an abundance of grass growing between the rows to ensure that water was absorbed from the soils.

Flowering kicked off in mid-June and lasted through early July, a longer than usual period due to the low temperatures. Thanks to the beautiful months of July and August that followed, véraison of the berries took place under ideal weather conditions. The dry month of September, in conjunction with the hard work done in the vineyards, left us in a very healthy state just prior to harvest. Yields, however, were low, as has been the case in the recent vintages of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Harvest commenced on September 28 with Mazis-Chambertin, one of our oldest vineyards. Fortunately, harvest was completed just prior to the start of heavy rainfall on October 10. Once sorted, 50 percent of the harvest was kept as whole clusters — a unique feature of the 2013 vintage.

All of the wines underwent cold maceration prior to fermentation, which took 20 to 24 days to complete. In November, the wines were transferred to 100-percent new oak barrels from the Chassin cooperage for aging. The wines were bottled in April 2015. The 2013 wines are intense in color. On the palate, they are lively, concentrated and structured; they exhibit great flesh with remarkable balance — it is a vintage worthy of competing and comparison with the 2012.

The 2012 Vintage

Olivier Bernstein

The birth of this vintage was not altogether smooth: There was considerable disease pressure from oïdium and mildew in the spring, an uneven flowering, repeated hailstorms during the summer (Gevrey-Chambertin, fortunately, was somewhat spared) and finally a scalding of real consequence in our parcels, following unusually warm weather at the end of August. The harvest was to be small in quantity throughout the region, but for our old vines, yields are always low.

In terms of quality, however, 2012 is a superb vintage, thanks to the intensive work done in the vineyards and to the quality of the leaf canopy that allowed us to achieve beautiful phenolic maturity in our old vines — the essential factor for our wines. The condition of health was very good, and once again we harvested earlier than our colleagues, from September 19-25.

After a last sorting in the winery, we destemmed on average 50 percent of the harvest. Extractions were lighter than in 2011, the skins thicker and the pectin maturity less advanced. Tartric acidity was good, malic acid was weak due to the hot nights at the end of August that led to a more intense combustion of the organic acids. We chose to ferment 50 percent of the harvest with the stems (whole-bunch vinification) for all the cuvées and even 80 percent whole clusters for the Bonnes-Mares, as this practice gives an aromatic elegance to the wines. This is only possible when the stems have ripened properly, and it is a tribute to the meticulous work of our team in the vineyards and to the age of the vines.

Cuvaison lasted an average of 18 days, starting with a cold maceration for five to seven days. Fermentation followed naturally, with indigenous yeasts. We performed no punch downs of the cap, only occasional pump overs. All transpires gently at the winery, without forced extraction. After having assembled the press wine with the free-run juice, all the wines were put in barrels made from new oak from the forests of Bercay (Jupilles) and of Fontainebleau. The barrels are built by master cooper Stéphane Chassin, each year in accordance with our specifications and the characteristics of the vintage. The wines are not generally racked while aging, which lasts 14 to 18 months. Bottling is done, as a rule, at the end of March or beginning of April without fining or filtration.

In the final analysis, 2012 is a superb vintage, balanced and sensual. The wines during élevage are astonishingly accessible.

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