Double entendre? Oui! Anyway…
The beginning of every vintage starts the year – and sometimes two years – before. Cold, hail, disease and the size of last year’s harvest all stress the vine like other factors stress human beings. Think about that first wrinkle or that tenth gray hair. If you have either, you may well attribute one or the other to a specific event or time frame.
The 2009 growing season was kind to the vine and the vigneron. As the year eclipsed, however, things changed. Winter was drawn out and harshly cold. At least there was a fair amount of sunshine. That’s really saying a lot in gray, gray Burgundy.
Just before Christmas, temperatures around Beaune dived dramatically – in some spots down to -20°C. Oh la la! is right. Not all vines were dormant, so this was unfortunate. On flat land and in depressions at the bottoms of the slopes, some vines said au revoir.
Spring was elusive and the poor weather meant that the flowers that should turn into berries didn’t necessarily do so. Summer took its time, too, arriving late in June.
By July, a severe imprint had already been made on the vintage. The crop would be small due to the freezing cold and chilly spring. For vines that escaped dramatic weather events early on, hail arrived and further reduced the crop.
The rest of the summer was a wash. July brought warmth, even heat. However, grapes need sun more than heat. Thank goodness for September. The weather turned dry with beaucoup de sunshine. The grapes responded greedily and the harvest began to look much brighter.
The 2010 harvest was short – about 25-30 percent less than 2009. Though concentration is village- and producer-dependent, it actually helped that the troubled start to the season resulted in smaller berries and the naturally lower yields generally delivered more concentrated juice.
White Burgundy image via Shutterstock
So, what does this mean about these wines in your glass(es)? The 2010 whites are highly refreshing (high in acidity from the cool year), classic (ripe but neither lean nor tropical) and plump with youthful fruit and ample lactic acid (converted during malolactic fermentation from the generous malic acid in the grapes from the cool weather). The wines are lovely right out of the gate, but they will reward cellaring. Top village wines will easily age well for eight to ten years. From north to south, here are some VALUE 2010 whites from the sacred soils of Burgundy.
Domaine Louis Moreau 2010 Petit Chablis
Petit Chablis comes from lesser sites around Chablis. It’s lighter in body and concentration, but it still demonstrates the region’s terroir. It does so here with a stunning intensity of granite, flint and grapefruit aromas. The finish is brief, but the wine is pleasurable and available for a song. Drink up.
Patrick Piuze 2010 Chablis Terroir de Courgis
It’s amazing that Patrick is only on his third vintage under this label and that he buys fruit. A fervent terroirist, he vinifies to express the grapes’ true essence. This wine is squeaky clean, charged with oyster shell and gunpowder and brimming with lean citrus fruit. Drink now to 2015.
Domaine de Marsoif 2010 Bourgogne Tonnerre La Cuvée de Marguerite
This Bourgogne-appellation Chardonnay bears the Tonnerre distinction. Tonnerre sits northeast of Chablis. The nose is timid, but the fruit is juicy. The palate unfolds a lightly tugging texture attributable to the nervy acidity and resolute dryness. The finish evaporates, but it will be a delightful quaffer through 2013.
Domaine Ghislaine et Jean-Hugues Goisot 2010 St. Bris Exogyra Virgula
Goisot really masters les petits vins, wines from less-esteemed appellations. St. Bris is southwest of Chablis and this is a Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit is well-concentrated and the wine displays excellent Sauvignon Blanc typicity. Cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit zing the palate and finish with excellent minerality. Drink through 2013.
Domaine Lucien Boillot & Fils 2010 Pinot Beurot Les Grands Poisots
Pinot Beurot is an old Burgundian name for Pinot Gris. It’s hard to recognize the variety here, but its taste and texture are Burgundian, perhaps due in part to the 50 plus-year-old vines. This vin shows pure fruit, crystalline acidity and chalky texture. Fairly short length. Drink through 2014.
Dubreuil-Fontaine 2010 Pernand-Vergelesses Clos Berthet Premier Cru
Christine Dubreuil personifies the classic French lady. She is polished, charming and politely confident – like her wines. This is her monopole, an extension of Sous Frétille. Chiseled by its acidity and balanced by its creamy mid-palate, this wine is assertively mineral with Seckel pear and white peach. Drink through 2018.
Pierre Matrot 2010 Bourgogne Chardonnay
Restrained nose with subdued fruits. Fern, moss and marjoram surface first. With time in the glass, mirabelle and Comice pear appear. A tremendous saline quality makes the wine zesty and dry, and there’s a chalkiness that is almost Chablisienne. Medium-plus finish – very impressive for “just” a Bourgogne.
François Mikulski 2010 Aligoté
This is a brisk wine with a solid acidic spine. Medium in body with excellent concentration, the flavors range from orange peel and Anjou pear to bamboo and cactus. There’s also an unusual and lovely spiciness. Drink now to 2014.
Domaine Ragot 2010 Givry Blanc Champ Pourot
Lovely, like Meursault but with less pronounced acidity, this wine shows lovely purity and style. Flavors abound and include sweet milk, ripe Cameo apple and a sliver of honeycomb. The medium-plus finish suggests this has a ways to go. Drink now to 2016.
Domaine de Roally 2010 Viré-Clessé
This wine shows an impressive mingling of citrus – grapefruit zest, tangerine pulp and orange pith. The breadth and weight on the palate are akin to half-and-half and there are raw milk flavors here, too. Hints of fresh mushrooms surface on the fairly brief finish. Enjoy its youth through 2014.
Henri Perrusset 2010 Mâcon-Villages
The attack shows an impressive dryness that gives the wine a lightly dusty quality across the palate. Deeply mineral with impeccably clean fruit, lemons, yellow grapefruit and mango combine on the palate. Moderate finish. Enjoy through 2016.