NO BOUNTY FOR BURGUNDY
IF YOU ARE a Burgundy enthusiast, prepare to pay more for those coveted bottles. A series of record-low harvests means France’s most highly prized wine will be rarer, and more expensive, than ever. Cellars in Burgundy are currently lying half empty. Where there would usually, at this time of year, be rows of oak barrels full of maturing wine waiting to be bottled, the spaces stand bare, and the region’s vignerons blame a growing season that has left the crop savaged. “When Michel Lafarge, who made his first vintage in 1947, says he has never seen anything like this, you know it is unusual,” says Jasper Morris, Master of Wine and Burgundy importer for Berry Brothers & Rudd. Frost, rain, disease and then hail ripped through the vineyards and resulted in a vintage that is even smaller than at first feared. Estimates vary, but for the 2O12, which has just been previewed in a series of tastings in London and Hong Kong and is on sale now, the yield is anywhere between 2O% and 9O% down on 2O11. It depends on which part of the Côte d’Or, the “golden slope,” you choose to focus. The Côte d’Or is split into two sections: In the south is the Côte de Beaune with the Côte de Nuits in the north.
To compound the problem, the difficult growing season came on the heels of very small crops in 2O1O and 2O11 (and was followed by what looks to have been another modest harvest in 2O13). Growers talk about losing the equivalent of a normal-size harvest over 2O1O, ’11 and ’12. While the top-end growers can absorb the losses, as their wines become internationally prized, for lesser producers in the villages of Pommard, Volnay and Beaune it is a difficult time. And prices will have to rise to meet the volume losses. Right now Burgundy is the darling of Chinese collectors making it all the more difficult for others to get their hands on.