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Burgundy: The End of an Era?

If you are a lover of all things Burgundy, as I am, you have been swimming in a sea of nearly limitless options of liquid heaven. We have had a string of good to great vintages in the last two decades – 1999, here 2005, 2009. Finding a great bottle of wine has been almost like throwing darts at the wall. In short, Mother Nature has spoiled us by making vintage condition more amenable to making great wine year in and year out, luring us into believing Burgundy is a nearly limitless well of the world’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.



For those of you that didn’t know, our well is going to start drying up for the immediate future.
The 2010 vintage was only short relative to the five years prior, but the low yields of ’11 and ’12 were worrisome. Production for many producers is down severely, in some cases up to an 80% reduction in 2012.

The real disaster is the most recent 2013 vintage. I would never deliberately try to sound like Chicken Little, but the sky literally fell. Hail destroyed whole vineyards sites completely and many of those were among the best vineyards of the Cotes d’Or. Some reports are saying the result will be an estimated 4 million bottle shortage. This will make even common wine that was once able to hit shelf without any difficulty into allocated items with much higher prices for lesser quality.

Post Hail Storm

I tend to be an optimist so I’m sure there is a solution for the wine drought from this region we love. One option is to take advantage of the upcoming futures of 2012. As many of you have seen, getting a few bottles is like playing the lottery: you need luck but you will be rewarded with some great wines at relatively great price. Another is to take advantage of what the critics have missed: namely great vintages that have had the misfortune of following a well-touted vintage like 2009 or 2005. No doubt these were great years, but the two vintages that followed were nothing to sneeze at. I dare say I would rather drink ’10 than ’09 any day of the week. The last option, and the one I find the most fun, is to find the communes that get looked over in the scramble for the Gevreys and Cortons. Morey St. Denis, Fixin and Santenay are places that make tremendous wines and don’t demand an arm or leg.

Lucky for us, enough people missed the boat on 2010 that there is still a backlog of wine from that year out there, waiting for us to slurp it up. At the end the day it’s the wait for the next great vintage, the search for the latest up-and-coming producer, and most of all, the gamble that they all come together in your glass to create the magic that keeps you looking for another bottle.