Autumn Gold in Chassagne

EN PRIMEUR: 2016 Burgundy En Primeur

Any commentary on the 2016 vintage in Burgundy is necessarily dominated by one catastrophic event: the frost which caused such devastation on the morning of Wednesday 27th April.  After a mild winter there was already concern that the growing cycle would begin early.  Fortunately, cooler weather in March kept things more or less normal.  But on the night of 26th/27th April, temperatures fell below zero and, most seriously of all, the day dawned clear and bright.  What made the damage so severe was not the intensity of the frost (no more than 2.5-3 degrees below zero) but the morning sun hitting the frozen buds.  The ice somehow magnifies the sun’s rays, and the almost instant thaw causes the fragile cells in the young shoots to burst.  Céline Fontaine told us that she was in the vines as the sun came up, and in the space of 40 minutes watched everything that was exposed to the sun turn black.  Even the undamaged vines took a month to recover from the shock, and flowering was consequently late.  This was exacerbated by higher than average rainfall throughout April, May and June.  From early July however, the weather improved significantly, and the remainder of the summer passed uneventfully, with above average hours of sun recorded in July, August and September.  A particularly hot spell at the beginning of September was especially welcome as it concentrated the juice in the berries.  Picking of the crop – very small where frost damage was bad, and paradoxically relatively abundant where there was no frost damage – took place in excellent conditions.  The wines are full of appeal to lovers of classic Burgundy – with marvellous aromatics, great finesse, and very good expression of terroir.  The sharp eyed will notice two domaines absent from our list, with both of which we have worked without break for more than 20 years.  Domaine Arnoux Lachaux has altered its commercial arrangements in the UK, and its wines will be offered later in the year.  And after several years of threats, Daniel Bocquenet has retired, selling all his 2016 fruit to a négociant.  We will miss his Nuits Aux St Julien and his Echézeaux very much – they have brought great pleasure to Burgundy lovers for many years – and we wish him a long and happy retirement.

2016 Burgundy En Primeur.pdf