Experts who tasted the 43 wines from the recently harvested 2012 vintage – later auctioned at the Hospices de Beaune – were surprised at the high quality of the wines, in spite of bad weather conditions that lead to one of the smallest harvests ever.
The number of Hospices auction lots represented the smallest amount for 25 years, according to Roland Masse, manager at the Domaine Hospices de Beaune – a reflection of decreased volumes overall in the region.
The Burgundy Wine Council (BIVB), for example, reported 25% lower volumes in the Côte de Nuits as compared to last year. Hail-hit vineyards of the Côte de Beaune led to 40-50% lower volumes.
Although spring and early summer were bad – with rain at bud break, mildew and oidium and hail in the Côte de Beaune – a fine late summer and continued good weather through to the harvest led to a small, if excellent quality of grapes, according to winemakers like Philippe Prost at Bouchard Pere & Fils. ‘2012 has the potential to be a great vintage, particularly for red wines.’
According to Masse, the few grapes that remained proved concentrated, with good acidity and good degrees. ‘Less grapes in bunches allowed for a cleaner harvest, especially with windy, dry weather leading up to the harvest, so that in the end, we did not have grey rot,’ Masse emphasized.
Although at a very early phase – samples had not yet undergone malolactic fermentation – the aromas, concentration levels and overall purity pleased many experienced palates.
‘After such a freakish year, I thought the wines would be unwieldy, but there was a lot of balance and concentration, and the wines were, for the most part, very clean,’ Neil Beckett, editor of World of Fine Wine, said
‘My general impression is that the wines are impressive with fine concentration and precision,’ Michael Apstein of the American journal Wine Review Online said.
Australian blogger and Burgundy expert Greg Love said 2012 is ‘an exciting vintage’ with wines exuding ‘energy and structure as well as fruit for the most part.’
Observers also note that prices are likely to go up because of increasing demand for Burgundy in most markets, coupled with low stocks.