2017: A Vintage that Feels Good in Burgundy
After several years marked by cataclysmic phenomena, Burgundy winemakers, impatient and febrile, wondered what 2017 had in store for them.
After a dry, cold winter, vine vegetation moved quickly, with temperatures well above normal in March and April. This was the first pressure on vineyard crews because the winter work was delayed. Then, the region experienced great agitation due to a frost warning at the end of April.
The rest of the season, though, was quite calm: a warm and beautiful spring caused fear of a very early harvest, especially as vine flowering accelerated in early June. A heat wave followed at the end of that month, but finally, heavy rains in July, which did not affect the integrity of the grapes, slowed the pace.
Throughout this period, disease pressure was low. As winemakers are never completely serene, we began to fear that the vines were suffering from water stress...
It was obvious, however, that the nature of the vintage was becoming clearer: in particular, the abundance of grapes. Even if it was tempting after two weak years, there was no question of ignoring a crop thinning. The hardest part was to adjust and properly assess the harvest potential, which was ever growing, since vines were so well supplied with water.
The final stage of ripening was a fairly sunny and not overly wet month of August, ending, unfortunately, with a notable rain event, generating accumulations on the order of 30 mm (1.2 inches). On top of that, the weather forecast was alarmist...
In these scenarios, we always face the difficult choice between giving the vines time to perfect maturation and of not letting sanitary conditions deteriorate. What’s more, when the weather forecasts are very uncertain, it’s difficult to resist the pressure of picking to ensure there is a harvest.
In the end, our choices benefited from the circumstances we were given: a robust harvest, not prone to disease and in particular to rot; weather conditions more favorable than had been announced, with most of the bad weather touching Burgundy only in its Northern reaches. It was, finally, under these very good conditions that we were able to bring in a healthy and abundant crop, especially in vineyards affected by frost last year. There, the vines had clearly compensated for the previous vintage.
Fermentations went on quietly. The first pressings announced good balance: a good sugar content and standard acidity. Grapes were very healthy and we encountered few difficult fermentations. It was quickly clear, however, that the vintage was not going to look like its two predecessors, 2015 and 2016, characterized by sun and concentration. 2017 has produced elegant wines--very flexible, rather easy, showing a Burgundy always in love with finesse. Malolactic fermentations started quickly and confirm the trend of a caressing vintage, all in sweetness, without harshness. For once, it seems that it is Burgundy that resembles Oregon, and not the other way around...