Burgundy en primeur 2015: What to expect from reds

The consensus is that 2015’s red vintage will make an impression as Burgundy en premeur tastings prepare to get underway next week, with many wineries benefitting from picking early and mitigating the effects of a hot summer.

Prices are expected to be high thanks to a smaller yield, with the declining value of sterling also set to make an impact on prices.

In terms of quality, over-extraction has mainly been avoided, with the most successful wines sharing an early picking period – mainly in August – according to Flint Wines’ co-founder Jason Haynes.

“The last warm vintage was 2009, which means that some of younger growers have learned how to handle heat. In 2009, some winemakers pushed a bit too hard, but it gave them that experience.

“Now with 2015, they’ve taken a more gentle approach with the vinifcation process, which is important in hot years. If you over-extract in vintage like this, the wines become too burly,” he said. 

Berry Bros. & Rudd described the vintage as a “relatively carefree growing season”.

While an exceptionally dry and often hot summer helped to lower the size of the crop, rainfall in August and good luminosity rather than heavy low heat, helped to stave off the effects of drought.

The word “stunning” has been used by merchants to describe the quality of the reds, although Tim Atkin MW has advised some caution.

“The reds are great,” he said. “But Bordeaux and Burgundy are very different places. With merchants finding it hard to make any money out of Bordeaux they are piling into Burgundy and trying make money by treating it in the same way.”

He also offers a word of warning on Burgundy’s 2015 whites, which he described as “over-hyped” (more on that from Harpers’ news on Monday).

Both Berry Bros. & Rudd and Flint Wines are encouraging customers to look beyond the most famous producers and vineyards.

For Haynes, the reds offer something for everyone.

“Entry-level Bourgogne and Hautes-Côtes de Nuits are beautifully lush and fruity and will offer nice drinking in the short to medium term.

“The Premier Cru and Grand Cru are more substantial and serious, and should age very well,” he said. 

Prices are expected to rise because of the smaller harvest, although Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy director at Berry Bros. & Rudd, argues that 2015 deserves to be sold at a premium.

“I hosted my first Burgundy en primeur tasting on 19th March 1984 for the wines from Domaine Rion. Back then you could pick up a dozen bottles of Clos Vougeot for only £32 duty paid ex VAT,” said Morris, who is about to enter his 33rd year of Burgundy tastings.

“Alas there will be no such prices for the 2015 vintage, with prices up for three clear reasons: the quality of the vintage, the scarcity of 2016 vintage and the significant decline in the value of sterling.

“We have worked hard to negotiate the best prices possible for our customers, though if ever a vintage deserved to be sold at a premium it is 2015.”

Visit www.harpers.co.uk on Monday for part 2 - Burgundy en primeur: What to expect from whites.


A selection of tastings next week:


Jan 9

Corney & Barrow

2pm, Tower of London



Jan 10

Flint Wines

10am, One Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2EJ



Berry Bros & Rudd

12 noon, One Great George Street, London SW1A 1EG



Jan 11

Armit Wines

3.30pm, Ironmongers Hall, London EC2Y 8AA



Jan 12


2.30pm, The Pine Room, The Westbury Hotel, Bond Street, London W1S 2YF



Bancroft Wines

5pm, Tasting at 67 Pall, St James’s Room, London SW1Y 5EZ




For the full list, visit www.bourgogne-week.com



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