Monday, 20 January 2014

Burgundy 2012 En Primeur Report

Small but beautiful

2012 is a year in which it is difficult to make generalisations because it was such a complicated vintage. However, one thing we can all agree on is that there are some very attractive wines, and the reds, in particular, look tremendously exciting. The problem this year is that there is very little wine and it is more important than ever to order early to secure your favourites.

"2012 has turned out, not merely 'all right' but really very good indeed, 
if not perhaps even very fine." - Clive Coates MW

If you detect a little surprise in Clive Coates’ tone it is because 2012 couldn't have started off worse. Cold, frost, hail, rain and disease all had a part to play in uneven flowering and reduced yields. However, from July to September the sun shone and the rain disappeared, allowing the grapes that were left, to ripen to perfection. As a result, it is a very small vintage but a very good one, with reduced yields leading to excellent fruit intensity in the wines.

With yields down as much as 70% in some vineyards, allocations have been significantly reduced. Furthermore, with 2013 also being a tiny vintage, (up to 50% smaller than average), allocations will be more fiercely fought over than ever. Demand for fine Burgundy is rising year on year and the Grand Crus are in particularly short supply.

A game of two halves

2012 was a year in which the winemaker’s skills and patience were severely put to the test. Spring dealt a series of blows, with cold, wet weather causing flowering to be late and vine disease to be a major concern. Hailstorms caused devastation in some areas of the Côte de Beaune (with Marc-Olivier at Domaine Francois Buffet reporting a 70% crop loss in Volnay where they were particularly badly affected). Having said that, problems were localised and much of the Côte de Nuits survived unscathed.

Saved by a glorious summer

Fortunately, there was a complete turnaround in the weather come mid-July. From then until late September when harvest was complete (or even early October in some cases), the sun shone and it remained largely dry. This gave the grapes full opportunity to ripen despite the late start in spring.

So what of the wines? Low yields have resulted in wines with rich fruit and great intensity. The cooler than normal weather has also given them an impressive finesse with good acidities. It’s a combination that makes for some really exciting wines, the reds especially so. They remind me of the 2002s, with a similar delicacy and purity of red fruit but the tannins are more refined and show greater finesse. The wines certainly have more depth than the 2011s and this is probably a vintage on a qualitative par with 2009, albeit in a very different style. Some growers went further than that and described the reds as better than any in recent years and certainly they have the backbone and structure to show good potential for long-term cellaring.

The whites were more varied but overall quality was still very good and the whites we’ve selected are ripe, powerful and balanced with an attractive freshness. Although volume was down by as much as 40% in Chablis, they actually had fewer problems than the Côte d’Or and the best wines display classic Chablis character with fantastic concentration owing to the lower yields.
Please feel free to give me or one of our knowledgeable wine advisors a call on 01275 812230 or email Alternatively, you can place your order online at

Best Wishes,

Matthew Hemming MW
Fine Wine Manager

ALLOCATIONS : We also have limited allocations from Burgundy’s top estates that are not included in this offer. These tiny production, tightly allocated wines are amongst the jewels in the region’s crown. Averys’ long history of shipping the finest wines of Burgundy - many venerable vintages were bottled in our Bristol cellars – means we have relationships with many of these estates and receive allocations from Ghislaine Barthod, Bonneau du Martray, Fourrier and more. The tiny volumes we receive are highly sought after and if you are interested in buying these, please contact us as soon as possible.

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