First 2015 Indicators from Burgundy and Piedmont

Domaine Romanee ContiWhile Vin-X clients have already been given advance warning of the expected exceptional quality of the 2015 vintage in both Bordeaux and Champagne, they ought to be aware of a potentially similar story in Burgundy and Piedmont. I had lunch last week with the sales manager of Chateau de Santenay, which owns 98 hectares of vines in Burgundy, including four premier cru parcels and some grand cru rows in Clos de Vougeot. Excitement there is mounting, with the estate predicting their best ever vintage, and there is similar optimism from the great Nebbiolo-producing estate in Barbaresco, Gaja. More on that after Burgundy.

The key was a very hot growing season in Burgundy (which has a continental climate that can, as a result, see higher temperatures than in Bordeaux). Pinot Noir grapes achieved wonderful ripeness, while the heat may have been just a little too much for the Chardonnay fruit. So the reds rather than white Burgundies are shaping up as the better potential investment.

Florence Garnier-Delcher, sales manager for Santenay, said this of the 2015 harvest. “It is still very early, and we won’t really know for a few months more, but everybody thinks this could be a fantastic year. It was a very hot summer with three weeks of 38 degrees in August, but we got enough rain just when we needed it. There was no humidity and some wind too, so it will not be like 2003. Malic acid levels are low but I am not worried about the overall acidity or the pH. We will shorten malolactic fermentation as a result, and will know how good the Chardonnays will be when that is over. The reds have beautiful quality of tannins with wonderful density and colour, and already look great, while the whites are quite exotic. I don’t want to tempt fate, but this has the potential to be our greatest vintage at Santenay, and one of the best in Burgundy. So we are very excited.”

Now to Piemonte, and the thoughts of Gaia Gaja, daughter of legendary winemaker Angelo and marketing manager for one of Italy’s very best producers.

Gaja 2000Although the harvest was only completed in the second half of October, a month or so later than in Burgundy, the portents are also outstanding. “It’s still too early to say as some lots are still ending the fermentations, and malolactic fermentation did not start yet,” Gaia told me. “But we are very optimistic about the result of this harvest. For our Nebbiolo, the main characteristics seem to be elegance, round and soft tannins, moderated alcoholic content, well-preserved acidities and fresh, vibrant and complex aromas. We had a very hot spell from early July to mid-August but then we got some rain again, which was very propitious to the balance and ripening of the tannins.”

All in all, 2015 is shaping up as a sensational vintage across Europe, including Spain, where I am this week for an international congress on Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) in Alicante. My next blog will focus on Spain, with news on just how good the vintage was there.