Burgundy 2014: What’s The Buzz About

Burgundy is just one of those wine regions that just can’t seem to get a break. For the past thirteen years, it has been hit hard by hail. From 2001 to 2011, there were two- to three-year reprieves. But since 2012, the vineyards have been battered three years in a row! It has hit Volnay, Beaune, Pommard and some parts of Puligny, Corton, St Aubin and Meursault, to name a few.

Buzz on BurgundyHail’s effect is disastrous not just on the berries themselves but also on the leaves- destroying them, getting in the way of photosynthesis and consequently, disrupting the ripening process. In 2013, the damage brought about by hail in Burgundy was estimated to have wiped out 60% of the vintage. Such a catastrophic loss for a region that produces very limited quantities of wine to begin with.

2014 started off with very high hopes. And how could it not? There was good weather, ideal warmth as well as just the right amount of rain. Everything was pointing towards a very good year, both in quality and quantity. These hopes were dashed when hail pummeled vineyards on the 28th of June this year.  Once again, vignerons were miserably looking at a loss that may even be greater than last year’s.

Now, Burgundy’s fate seems to be looking up. Initial reports say that Burgundy 2014 may just have escaped complete devastation by the skin of its teeth.  The reason?

Extraordinary September weather may have rescued the 2014 Burgundy wine harvest from disaster, ripening ‘intensely aromatic’ whites and ‘concentrated’ reds. – decanter.com

Rainfall in September was minimal, resulting in ripe Chardonnays with very good acidity and Pinot Noirs with excellent flavor concentration.

After a long drought, Burgundy’s wine trade body, the BIVB is looking at an almost “normal” production of around 1.5 hectolitres.  Of course, the amount may vary from area to area but this is still good news for a wine region that has literally been having very “dry” years since 2001.

Claude Chevalier, president of the BIVB told Wine Searcher that at his own estate, Domaine Chevalier in Ladoix-Serrigny, “The berries have good concentration, with phenolic ripeness, and – importantly – there were plenty of them.”

Burgundy BuzzOf course, it is not going to be a perfect vintage. There will be a lot of unripe grapes that will be rejected. There will also be some that would automatically be thrown away due to the high number of “vinegar flies” (Drosophila suzukii) that plagued the vineyard during harvest. And then there are vineyards that suffered much during the hail storms such as North Cote de Beaune and North Maconnais. But all in all, 2014 was a “perfect save” in the eyes of the people who have been working tirelessly to see the vintage through.

So what should wine enthusiasts expect from this vintage? Thiébault Huber of Domaine Huber-Verdereau told Wine Searcher that the year’s surprise will be Burgundy’s white wines. Ideal ripening temperatures in September coupled with very good acidity brought about by a cool summer, will result in white wines that are big with ripe fruit and refreshing acidity.

Despite the increase in quantity this year as compared to last year, Burgundy’s production will still be on the low side, with the equivalent of almost an entire crop lost due to hail. Of course, where supply is low and demand is high, prices are expected to skyrocket. This is nothing new to people who know their Burgundies. It is known to be one of the most sought after wines in the world with 38 of it’s Grand Cru bottles making up majority of the world’s Top 50 most expensive wines.

Should you be one of those lucky few with rare Burgundies in your possession, keeping them in the