2005 - A Symphonic Masterpiece
Everything came together to make 2005 an exceptional vintage. The winter of 2004-2005 was rather mild. The growing season was marked by warm temperature and a drought which started to be seriously felt towards the end of June. July was cool at the beginning, then returned to normal, with dry conditions, except in Chablis. August had plenty of sunshine. The lack of rain was more pronounced in Côte d'Or than in Yonne (Chablis region). September was quite hot at the beginning but became more seasonable, with a short period of rain followed by more sun and very good weather. The rain deficit was quite noticeable except in the Chablis region.
A hail storm on May 3rd, however, struck some vineyards in the Clos de Vougeot area. Hail so early in the season had no defavourable effect on the quality of the wine. Other small hail storms in Chablis on the 24th of June and in late July had little incidence on the quantities. On the other hand, a violent hail storm on July 17th in Southern Côte d'Or, particularly in Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet, caused considerable harm.
The vines were healthy and the crop was easy to manage. The white grapes showed a bit of millerandage during the flowering. In general the fruit was exceptionally sound except in Chablis, where botrytis struck hard and late, reducing the production. Modern vinification methods, however, preserved the quality.
The official beginning of the vintage was set quite early: the 12th of September, and even more unusual, it was the same day in Côte d'Or for the picking of both chardonnay and pinot noir. For Côte de Nuits, Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Chablis, the vintage began on the 17th of September. The early vintage date for Chablis was particularly remarkable as this more northern region often picks eight to ten days later than the rest of Burgundy.
The grapes were so perfect at harvest that the growers had the time to organize the picking village by village, even vineyard by vineyard, taking advantage of the optimum moment at each location. Although technical criteria (alcohol, acidity, polyphenols) remain important, more and more attention was paid to the organoleptic quality of the grapes, the maturity of the tannins and the taste.
Quantity: the harvest amounted to 1,569,000 hl, or 3.5% less than in 2004 (- 4.3% for whites; - 1.6% for reds).
Nice pale yellow colour with a bright sheen. Clean and crisp on the nose, very Chablis-like. Rather full in the mouth with ripe aromas reminiscent of preserved lemon ("citron confit”). Mineral character and acidity are well-balanced. It is a very nice vintage for Chablis. They must be drunk.
WHITES of Côte d'Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon area
Pretty, bright golden yellow colour. This is a consistent and attractive vintage: the aromas are ripe, more like mature fruit than flowers, with notes of honey and roasted hazelnut. Very attractive as a whole.
The acidity level is lower than 2004. The natural alcoholic degree is slightly higher than usual but does not give any heaviness to the wines. The aromas are quite long on the palate and well defined, with some complexity.
Ready to drink. 2005 is less exotic than 2003 and as true to type as 2004 was. In fact, there is more resemblance with 2002, or even 1989.
REDS of Côte d'Or
Pure delight in all the appellations. The colour is ruby red, very intense but less so than in 2003. The aromas, well marked when the wines were young, are more reserved now, on classic notes of little red berries.
Both Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits have a consistent structure, based on good balance between acidity, alcohol and tannin. It is this balance that gives the wines such elegance. The tannins are ripe and refined. They harmonize nicely with a refreshing acidity devoid of astringency and a normal level of alcohol.
The exquisite fruit found in the range of lesser villages in Burgundy, such as Chorey-les-Beaune, will charm wine lovers everywhere. The Premier and Grand Crus have been somewhat closed these last few months. Their structure tends to dominate the bouquet and aromas. It would be unfortunate to drink these wines now. The ageing potential of the Grand Crus is certainly several decades, although it will be possible to enjoy them earlier.
In summary, 2005 has a lot in common with some great vintages of the past: the beautiful richness of 1990, the harmonious character of 1989 and the haunting bouquet of 1961.