Grade A in white, B in red – Burgundy 2014

Let’s start with the good news – 2014 is an outstanding vintage.
Burgundy proved once again that the best whites are still made there. According to a lot of people, such whites have not been born for a generation. The aromas and flavours are intense, the colours are lively, the contours are sharp and the wines have all the freshness and lightness of touch we love Burgundy so much for. The same is true about the reds. What’s more, they bring a great experience even at this young age. 


Our fifth Burgundy vintage overview:

Château de Puligny-Montrachet >>>

Domaine des Croix >>>

Domaine de Montille >>>

Maison deux Montille >>>

Philippe Pacalet >>>

Thibault Liger-Belair >>>

Shortage economy


Burgundy is still a demand-driven market, whereby the prices never decrease. The market for Burgundy wines has been defined by unsatisfied demand for almost two decades – the world just can’t get enough of Burgundy! Indeed, Burgundy just cannot keep up with the world’s thirst. Neither can we expect too much change in this. The reasons are manifold. First, it’s the hail that springs to everyone’s mind as it has devastated huge areas for three years running. Furthermore, it takes years for the vines to get over their injuries and regain their strength. Also, because of the unusually warm winters, bugs and viruses can easily survive the winter. The spread of organic growing and the associated cutting out of chemical fertilizers also resulted in the yield decrease. Another important factor is the ageing of the plantations. Replanting would mean approximately a decade-long fall in crop yield and most producers cannot afford such expenses.



Every cloud has a silver lining and vice-versa


The greatest virtue of 2014 is natural balance and elegance, which is exactly what we love Burgundy the most for. The wines are delicious, seductive, fruity, juicy and markedly pure, with the place of growth character pronouncedly appearing. Yet, behind the appealing results, there is a year full of struggles. The 2014 vintage started out well and had an excellent finish. But in between the two, it hit all the hurdles. After the warm and dry winter, bud burst started early. Then on June 28, the idyll ceased as huge hailstones decimated 90 per cent of the crop in certain places, and a month later hail struck again. And even without the hail, summer wouldn’t have provided reason for optimism. In July, when it didn’t rain, the sun was scorching and in August, temperatures didn’t rise above 20 degrees Celsius and ripening almost stopped.

The year was also made memorable by the appearance of spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), a type of vinegar fly. This pest of Japanese origin loves red berry fruit, and is therefore of no danger to white grapes. As opposed to other drosophila, it is capable of making holes in the grape skins and inducing acetic rot (vinegarisation). Owing to careful sorting, it eventually had no effect on the quality of the wines, but it badly tried the producers’ nerves and further decreased the quantity of the crop.

People say that quality is practically determined by the three to four weeks prior to the harvest. Indeed, by the end of August the weather finally pulled itself together. In September, the sun hours were a lot higher than on average. The harvest started in the middle of the month and finished shipshape within two weeks.

The weather contributed to the outstanding quality from two main aspects: the lengthy ripening served the formation of more complex aromas; and the three-week period prior to the harvest was idyllic, whereby the warm, dry days were followed by cool nights. During this crucial period, the thick-skinned berries lost part of their water, with the sugar and flavours becoming more concentrated, so that they harvested small-berries, but non-shrivelled grapes with good acidity.


Phenomenal whites


It’s a rare constellation in which intensity and balance go hand in hand, but this happened in the case of the 2014 whites. The wines are seductively fruity, lively and elegant – textbook wines with low alcohol, medium body, intense aromas, taut structure, and the terroir diversity markedly appears. Alongside the freshness and pure fruit, there are often savoury, floral, exciting green herb and mineral notes. Hardly any sorting was needed during the harvest. However, in the places hit the most by the hail, the yield was reduced by 40 per cent and the vintage brought average quantity. Compared to the lot warmer and altogether excellent 2015 vintage, almost all the winemakers agree that in white, 2014 is the winner.


Appealing reds


The 2014 reds are pure, faultless and lovable. Their distinctive note is the seductively lively fruitiness. They didn’t even harvest the plots that were affected by acetic rot (vinegarisation), thus the grapes that arrived after the harvest were perfectly pure and unproblematic and the same is reflected in the wines. The wines are charming, lively and freshly fruity – they represent the classic Burgundy style. They have the opaqueness and energy that gained so many fans for Pinot Noir. They seem less dense and structured than the 2009 and 2010 wines, but on the other hand, they are easier to fall in love with.



One wine, four years


To point out the general yet distinctive features of Burgundy beyond the vintages – we made an experiment by tasting wines from four identical plots and from one winery, made by the same method in consecutive vintages. If there’s anything we’ve learnt over the years, it’s that extensive conclusions cannot be drawn regarding the quality of wines simply based on weather data in the case of Burgundy. To compare the vintages, we chose one of the most solid wines in our selection, the Beaune Les Cent Vignes Premier Cru of the Domaine des Croix estate. David Croix has altogether a two hectare plot in this vineyard, and the oldest vines are more than 60 years old. Of course, one wine cannot represent a whole wine region or a vintage, yet it was still an instructive exercise.



The year when it was summer during spring and spring during summer. According to the consensus, the wines are light, floral and fruity, but they lack real weight – it’s a vain hope to expect greatness and long ageing potential from them. When we tasted vertically, we didn’t just notice the quality of the vintage but also the maturity of the wine. And the 2011 Cent Vignes stunned us. It’s a real miracle to manage to catch a wine at its peak. All of its aspects are in the right place – elegant yet enjoyable, with a surprisingly fruity core.



This is the little brother of 2010 in many ways. The currently tasted 2012 Cent Vignes may be years away from reaching its peak, similar to the 2011s. However, it’s potentially bigger – more concentrated, more powerful, its fruit is riper and its structure more massive. Great promise.



The stepchild. This wine certainly doesn’t put shame on Cent Vignes, but we all felt that this is the squarest and the least attractive in the notes it reveals. Yet, there’s enough excitement in it, with its posture suggesting that it still has time to get itself together.



The charmer. This wine supports the picture formed about the vintage: appealing, explosively fruity, vibrantly lively and obviously still very young. Great balance – there’s nothing too much or too little of anything. In this fruity phase, alongside the cherry and the redcurrant, it’s characterised by subtly floral notes. Juicy palate, densely-knit but not heavy, and the tannins are fine and grainy. There is every chance for it to become the nicest Cent Vignes of the years after 2010.


Château de Puligny-Montrachet



more Château de Puligny-Montrachet wines >>>


Domaine des Croix



more Domaine des Croix wines >>>


Domaine de Montille



more Domaine de Montille wines >>>


Maison deux Montille



more Maison deux Montille wine >>>


Philippe Pacalet



more Philippe Pacalet wine >>>


Thibault Liger-Belair



more Thibault Liger-Belair wine >>>