The weather in Burgundy throughout the 2015 growing season can be described as very fine with relatively few problems. A mild winter (Andrew Jeffords of Decanter reports that some growers said there was practically no winter at all!) followed by a balanced, warm Spring meant that flowering was rapid, lasting a mere week and a half from start to finish.
The only worry was the risk of too much heat. Several days in June and July tipped the scales over 40ºC and raised the very real spectre of hydraulic stress putting pressure on the vines. As sugar levels rose, naturally the growers scanned the skies for clouds to bring relief, which at long last came in the form of autumn rains. Once again, it seems that a nearly catastrophic vintage was saved at the last moment.
It is remarkable how the quality of a vintage has the tendency to walk a knife’s edge like this. Mild conditions all the way through a growing season might make for good yields and perfectly enjoyable wine; but the years when conditions seem at some point on the brink of disaster that the quality can either soar or collapse. 2016, and it’s devastating hail and frost, may prove paradoxical as the reported quality is expected to be high, but with some appellations losing up to 90% of the crop, there will hardly be any to go around.
2015, as it turns out, has thrived; making some of the best wines of the century. The question echoed through the Côte d’Or was whether the wines would remain as open and forward as the 2014s, or whether they would shut down like the 2005s. With many wines from the latter vintage still closed for business, the fear has set in that good vintages have the propensity to close down permanently; or at least for so long that by the time they emerge they are past their best.
"2015 has thrived; making some of the best wines of the century."
What is encouraging is the excellent balance in quality between the whites and reds. This is most assuredly a red wine vintage, and accordingly the quality of the whites was somewhat in doubt, for fear of overripeness or lack of structure. Judicious vineyard management, early picking and restrained treatment in the cellar ensured that whites had enough acidity and restraint to actually benefit from the ripeness of fruit that comes with a red-leaning vintage. It's no 2014, but for those who enjoy a soft, early-drinking Chardonnay with a lot of character will find a lot to be excited about in 2015.
The cautious expectation is that 2015 is closer in structure to the 2010s and less likely to shut down in bottle. We found the wines very easy and forward to taste, with as much focus on freshness as concentration, so there wasn’t a complete break from the 2014s in that sense. The hope is that as the wines mature they will continue to show the balance and classicism they displayed from the barrel. Our expectation is that they will do so and the best wines will live for a very long time with a genuinely satisfying pattern of maturation throughout their life.