Burgundy Vintage 2012
Varying from great to excellent, 2012 is a concentrated but fresh vintage, with many similarities to 2010. It is however even more concentrated than the 2010 because yields were even lower. 2012 was a coolish year and it was the tiny, grand cru-like yields of just 25-30 hectolitres per hectare that allowed the grapes to ripen fully yet remain fresh. This rare combination of concentration with freshness is an unusual balance because they are usually diametrically opposed. Variable weather over time and region means that we shall approach the regions separately below.
The Côte de Nuits reds are superb. They are deep coloured, intensely aromatic, moderate in alcohol, have ripe black-cherry pinot fruit, concentrated flavours, sweet tannins and lovely freshness too. However, they wear their undoubted concentration lightly. Terroirs are well defined. All is good geographically and hierarchically. The wines’ beautiful balance of ripe tannins means they can be approached early but they have...
The Côte de Nuits reds are superb. They are deep coloured, intensely aromatic, moderate in alcohol, have ripe black-cherry pinot fruit, concentrated flavours, sweet tannins and lovely freshness too. However, they wear their undoubted concentration lightly. Terroirs are well defined. All is good geographically and hierarchically. The wines’ beautiful balance of ripe tannins means they can be approached early but they have wonderful development potential so will keep very well too. Spring frost and poor weather, including hail, at flowering, were the principal reasons why most growers lost about 40% of the crop, and so produced about 30hl/ha. The poor flowering produced many millerands where an imperfect fertilisation results in berries remaining small with a very high ratio of skin to pulp, and fewer seeds, resulting in deeper colour and softer tannins which is beneficial for quality. It was then a challenging year in the vineyard with strong presence of the diseases oidium and mildew, but the best growers rose to the challenge. The small crop with well-spaced bunches developed slowly in the coolish spring and early summer, and ripened with a flourish in a hot and sunny August and September.
As well as the same spring frosts and poor weather at flowering that occurred in the Côte de Nuits, the Côte de Beaune suffered from a number of destructive hailstorms. Some parts of Volnay and Pommard were hit three times and the crop reduced by up to 80%. The effect of hail is complicated, depending on when it hit (the earlier the better) and how severe the damage. It is often very localised. The timing of the hail was relatively early, the last being 1st August.
There are many superb Côte de Beaune whites with remarkable levels of concentration because they were made from half a crop (25–28 hl/ha) due to the same problems of poor flowering and hail. Hail is less of a problem for white wines as the grapes are more successful at lower levels of ripeness than pinot.
Indeed the trap to avoid was overripeness so the small crop was best picked early. Luckily there was no botrytis. A handful of wines are a little riper than ideal, but the vast majority score 9–10/10. The best wines are pure, moderate in alcohol, with firm fruit, and many have a lovely grip from the fresh acidity and phenolic compounds from the thick skins which will help them to age beautifully. Again it is like 2010. 2010 is a little more elegant and 2012 a bit richer.
2012 Chablis wines have wonderful pure, crystalline aromas, firm steely fruit and lovely grip and dry extract. Again, low crops of 18–38hl/ha caused by spring frosts and poor flowering were the culprits. However, Chablis managed to avoid the hail. The cool year meant there was a strong pressure of diseases like oidium and mildew but this was successfully treated. There was no botrytis. They started picking 20th September to preserve the freshness.
It was another lovely vintage in the Mâcon, again similar to 2010: fresh, fine, concentrated wines with moderate alcohol, which are pure and long. Generally yields were reasonable, around 50hl/ha, as in 2010. Poor flowering reduced the yield a little.