2008 : Burgundy blessed with another great vintage
03.02.2009Autumn and winter were rather dry and mild; spring was cool and humid, followed by a summer resembling 2007.
By mid-September, the weather in Burgundy turned extraordinary and allowed harvesting to take place under ideal conditions. Depending on the areas, the overall quantity is lower: 5% to 30% less than in 2007. On the other hand, the quality level is high - and in Chablis even exceptional.
SUMMARY of the 2007/2008 GROWING SEASON
Burgundy experienced a severe cold spell in mid-December but milder conditions were prevalent in January and February. The average monthly temperature was actually 2°C higher than normal. It didn't rain much and there was a water deficit during February.
But the rain shortfall ended in March and the long sunny period that Burgundy had enjoyed that winter came to an end. In fact, it was probably the sunniest winter of these last ten years.
Winter made a last-ditch intrusion at Easter: it snowed that day.
April was cool and wet, with little sunshine. By then, the amount of rainfall received was twice as heavy as usual. The vine seemed to take its time to grow: in some vineyards the buds were barely swelling on the branch whereas, in better exposed areas, they were already sprouting and open.
No sooner had spring arrived that summer-like conditions became the norm. The month of May was warm, with temperatures reaching 25°C (78°F) at times. The vine took advantage of these conditions to develop rapidly. By mid-May there were already 8 to 9 leaves out on the vine, the same level of development seen in 2005.
The weather was rather cool and rainy for June. The flowering took place over a two-week period, causing some coulure here and there (failure of the grape to develop after flowering). Those vines planted in late-ripening areas benefitted the most: when the temperature started to rise, the flowering took place rapidly and uniformly.
At the beginning of July, the berries were well formed and distinct. By July 15th, the grapes had assumed their final shape. The amount of sunshine was close to normal, except in August. The change of colour ("véraison") occurred in Beaujolais around August 15th. It quickly spread to Côte d'Or and Chablis as the climatic conditions improved dramatically. The weather was cooler and wetter at the beginning of September, with outbreaks of botrytis noticed in some areas. Maturation was progressing slowly and the picking was due to begin September 22nd.
The weather turned beautiful by mid-September and stayed that way for the duration of the harvest: bright skies, dry and windy days, marked difference in temperature between day and night. The vines kept ripening under ideal conditions and all botrytis infection disappeared.
STYLE OF THE WINES
CHABLIS: in Chablis, 2008 may be one the best vintages of the last 25 years: great minerality, concentration, balance, aromatic intensity, liveliness. These wines are now developing under excellent conditions.
COTE D'OR: in mid-August who would have thought that these wines would turn out to be so good?
The wines have well developed aromas and their level of acidity is higher than usual. Stirring the lees gives the wines nice volume. We are waiting to see what influence the malolactic fermentation will have. It has actually started in a few of the cuvées. The quality level is overall excellent.
Beautiful ruby-red colour. As with the whites, the acidity level is high. The wines are therefore lively but their malolactic fermentation has not yet started, which is a good thing in our opinion. The wines have good stuffing, tannin and a discreet finesse which should become more apparent as the élevage goes on.
Frédéric J. DROUHIN
January, 19th 2009