Burgundy en primeur 2017
Once the 2017 was safely in, growers in Burgundy were in holiday, relaxed mood. With good reason, for ‘17 brought much kinder weather, an even and steady ripening and – at last – good quantity for everyone along the Côte d’Or. Very good news after the traumas of frost and hail, three years in a row previously. The whites are exceptional, perhaps not quite with the structure and imperious authority of 2014, but more than compensated by graceful wines of controlled richness and freshness. Clarity of fruit expression, energy, precision and vivid sense of place are the name of the game. Puligny and Meursault are particular successes, none more so than at Olivier Leflaive, where a tasting reached perfection in Franck Grux’s Meursaut Meix Chavaux, Puligny both Folatières and Pucelles onto a magnificent Chevalier Montrachet. The reds are already easy to taste and openly expressive. Purists,though, claim that yields may be a little too high to show real concentration as in 2010 and 2015. I am not altogether convinced. There are some truly great, even powerful 1er and Grands Crus on the Côte de Nuits in ‘17 per Comte de Liger-Belair’s Nuits St Georges Aux Cras or Heresztyn-Mazzini’s densely majestic Clos St Denis.
Chablis suffered another frost of minus 5C fo 10 days from April 19 – 29 2017. Thereafter, a benign summer set in with a hot June, refreshing showers in July and a warm, dry August. An early harvest began at the end the month into first week of September. At the end of the day with such splendid fruit and sustainable acidity, enhanced by cool nights, this is a classic vintage, which offers huge pleasure for fairly early drinking. Volume is down by 50 to 60 per cent but double that of2016. The quality of straight Chablis villages is very high with the best producers who managed to keep the steely heart of true Chablis enhanced by optimal ripeness and digestibility. Those with old vines have made magical wines in premiers and grands crus notably Samuel Billaud and Pinson. A rising star, Pierrick Laroche at Domaine des Hâtes is a fine example of a grower who also works as a mini négociant buying grand cru grapes Ann transforming them into the finest GC Bougros of thee vintage. By contrast, in less talented hands Some Chablis tastes too soft, again an issue of high yields perhaps?
Gently priced 2017 recommendations
Petit Chablis Domaine Samuel Blllaud
St Véran à la Côte Domaine Sophie Cinier
Auxey-Duresses Rouge Domaine Agnès Paquet
Vosne Romanée Hautes Maizières Domaine Confuron-Gindre
Michael Edwards 20 January 2019