Bewitched by Burgundy
As I stand each day, near the vineyards and histories which are held fast by the terroirs and climates, I am bewitched by Burgundy.
I witness the divine dominance of "family recipes" in the production of great Burgundies giving way, little-by-little, to a new generation of winemakers who are more scientific, more open to change, and who find themselves enjoying a plethora of excellent vintage years due to an increase in the growing season.
Whether by cycle or by global warming, the number of great vintage years (rated 90+) has demonstrably increased between the end of the 20th Century and today. According to the book, "Three Centuries of Harvests in Burgundy,” the Cote d'Or produced only five great years in the 19th century and only 16 in the 20th, prior to 1990. Vigneron, who expected unripe fruit, survived for decades by the legal addition of sugar, called chaptalization.
Now, they are blessed by a much higher average length of growing season. The extreme ripeness of 2003 left many vigneron fighting oxidation when the vintage should have produced the wine of a lifetime. 1990, 1995, 1997, 1999, the great 2002, and the greater 2005 drove a palpable rediscovery of the wines of Burgundy. In fact, 2005 has received so much positive press that the vintage is sold-out here on the ground.
The 2007 vintage appears to a very unique expression, but no exception. Warm earth and premature summer had the vines producing lush canopies a month ahead of the norm. The fruit trees are filled with crops, the roses in bloom, and August 20 (one month early) has been designated as the date after which the vines may be harvested.
Four weeks of recurring rain have not slowed the development of the resilient pinot grapes which attain phenol and sugar maturities under more diverse temperatures than many other grape varieties. The sun returned in time to prevent extensive premature rot. Today, a week before harvest, there are autumn-like cool nights, hot sunny days, and an occasional long cool rain after midnight. Grapes are dark in color and heavy clusters which have taken on extra juice from the rains are pointing toward the earth.
2007 is on track to be a fine year, although atypical in development and highly dependent upon the timing and vine maintenance of the vigneron. Stay tuned for reports of harvest and tastings.
All of this is superb to a Burgundy lover's appetite for the unique charm that is Burgundy red and white - extraordinary balance of fruit and acid, the definable dominance of true terroir, and the unmistakable je ne sais quoi that has rooted me and others to this wine region with a fidelity that is forever.
-- Cliff Young, Summer 2007
Cellars USA and Cliff Young’s Burgundy extend an invitation to stand with us to look out upon the countryside, become immersed in all the splendid aspects of this remarkable place and experience the day-to-day joys – exquisite wine and gastronomy, superb shopping, the arts, the weather, the glorious songbirds, Roman, Medieval and Neo Classic history…
Vintage Ratings 1900 > 2007