A year ago I was talking about how good the just fermented barrel samples of 2020 were looking. After a two-week stay in Beaune last November to visit all our producers (and a few new faces, too), and I am happy to report that the early promise was followed through into a great 2020 vintage. It was the earliest harvest in 18 years, with many producers picking in late August, but don’t be fooled – flowering was particularly early, too, giving the fruit 100 days between flowering and picking, the perfect ‘hang time’. The growing season’s lack of heat spikes combined with drying winds that helped concentration levels in both natural sugars and acidity, and cool nights slowing down ripening, all combined into delivering white wines of superb texture and remarkable vibrancy.
We found truly wonderful freshness and consistently excellent whites from Chablis all the way down to the Côte Chalonnaise, with acid structures matching the fruit intensity perfectly - on balance, for whites we would put 2020s ahead of the already delicious 2018s and 2019s, and very much on par with 2017s (another early harvest), with 2014 remaining just above, in a class of its own as the best white vintage of at least the past decade.Moving on to the reds and the climatic conditions made for dense, powerful and opulent reds with firm structures, although pinot in some vineyards suffered a little more than chardonnay from drought conditions, leading to much-reduced volumes, and while the majority of wines are gorgeous, there is less consistency compared with the whites, so we have chosen carefully. Much like similarly warm and sunny 2018 and 2019, cooler areas such as Fixin, Santenay or Savigny-lès-Beaune are particularly worth seeking out. Once again our time tasting in situ puts us in the perfect position to guide you through the vagaries of this growing season and the producers whose wines stylistically corresponded to them. Whether it be an opulent, richly black-fruited cuvée or one in a more classic, fresh, juicy, red fruit-driven style, their common denominators will be impressive levels of tannins and superb concentration of acid and fruit. Which assures these 2020s will have stunning ageing potential.
Add in for context the almost complete annihilation of vineyards in 2021, especially with regards to the chardonnay, and the conclusion is self-evident - we simply cannot recommend strongly enough that you grab a few cases of 2020 Burgundy now that they are available - and while they remain so!
LUDOVIC SURINA - Private Client Director
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