Which Burgundy Vintages to avoid at all costs!

While Burgundy's reputation is punctuated by many vintages of excellence, it has not been immune to the challenges of climate and circumstance. Here are some vintages from the past several decades that were particularly challenging for the region. If you’re planning to give your wine loving friends a bottle of Burgundy wine for the 2023 holidays, watch out for these dates!

Some vintages aren’t as good. (Credit: DallE)

The “bad” vintages of the 20th century

1984 was plagued by an inauspicious start with a harsh winter and spring frost. While the summer saw decent conditions, the yield was severely reduced by the time of harvest. The wines, in general, lacked the depth and complexity associated with better vintages.

The vintage of 1991 was marred by an erratic climate. Frost in spring was followed by a summer with fluctuating temperatures and rainfall during the harvest. This led to uneven ripening and wines that were often considered thin and lacking in character.

While not as problematic as '91 or '84, 1993 was still a challenging year. Persistent rains made harvesting difficult, and the resultant wines, although decent in many cases, were overshadowed by the better vintages that surrounded them.

The “bad” vintages of the new millenia

While 2002 is celebrated for its red wines, the whites were a different story. Hailstorms during the year impacted Chardonnay yields. Some white wines from this vintage, especially from affected areas, exhibited premature oxidation issues.

A late flowering, coupled with a cooler year and bouts of hail, particularly in the Côte de Beaune, posed significant challenges in 2013. Harvesting was delayed, and the resultant wines, while decent in places, lacked the consistency and depth of better years.

While the white wines of 2014 vintage were generally appreciated for their freshness and classic profile, the reds were a mixed bag. Hailstorms once again played a disruptive role, this time severely impacting the Côte de Beaune and parts of the Côte de Nuits. Many red wines lacked concentration and had a lighter profile.

The vintage of 2016 was another victim of severe frost in late April, leading to one of the smallest yields in Burgundy's recent history. While the quality was generally high, especially for reds, the drastically reduced quantity was heartbreaking for many producers.

Lighting candles can decrease the risk of frost or reduce its damage. Vines affected by frost produce fewer grapes, further increasing the scarcity of Burgundian wines. (Credit: Aurélien Ibanez/stock.adobe.com)

While 2017 was generous in terms of volume and offered charming wines overall, specific vineyard areas were impacted by frost, notably in the Chablis and parts of the Côte de Beaune. As a result, there was inconsistency in quality in these areas.

While early indications suggest many outstanding wines in 2019, the year was marked by heatwaves which, in some areas, caused sunburned grapes. Producers had to be selective during harvest, ensuring that only the best grapes made it to the winery. This selective approach means that while many 2019 wines will be excellent, others might lack the typical balance of a classic Burgundy vintage.

Why does the vintage matter?

In the vast continuum of Burgundy's wine legacy, every vintage, whether hailed as exceptional or marked as challenging, weaves a rich narrative of the intricate dance between nature and winemaker. These vintages, each with its distinct character, together create a symphony of flavors, aromas, and tales from the terroir.

Highly acclaimed vintages, with their opulence and depth, set benchmarks, becoming coveted collectibles and subjects of adoration. Yet, it's often the so-called "lesser" years that showcase Burgundy's true spirit—its capacity to surprise, its tenacity, and the profound knowledge of its vignerons.

These vintages provide wine aficionados and fine wine enthusiasts with insights into the nuances of wine production, revealing the region's ability to rise above challenges and produce wines that resonate with authenticity. In this broader context, every vintage, irrespective of its perceived quality, is a reflection of Burgundy's enduring allure and its unmatched ability to capture the complexities of time and place in a bottle.

Dear VinoVossers, if you're on the quest to pinpoint the perfect vintages, dive deep into our curated selection. Click on your favorite wine, and effortlessly discover the vintages that resonate most with your palate. Wine exploration made simple.

Eager to delve further into our series? Click here to explore the significance of vintages in Burgundy, or click here to discover the best vintages of the region.

Click here to uncover the illustrious vintages of Bordeaux. Journey with us as we explore the nuances and tales of this iconic wine region within our curated series.

Don't miss out!

Peter Douglas

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