Aloxe Corton
By George Stewart

2017 was an interesting vintage to cover during our visit to Burgundy earlier this month. We knew to an extent what to expect and in large part we got it.

When we got started on tasting the wines we spent the first few visits in the Côte de Nuits where there was a ton of variation in how various domaines interacted with the vintage. By its very nature, 2017 is not a bombastic vintage. It was not the kind of growing season that yielded such intense structured wines as 2005, 2009 or 2015 and the wines should not be expected to perform that way. It was somewhat disappointing when we found a number of domaines who clearly fought against nature to make something that they deemed to be a better wine, rather than something that celebrated the vintage at hand.

When we got started on tasting the wines we spent the first few visits in the Côte de Nuits where there was a ton of variation in how various domaines interacted with the vintage. By its very nature, 2017 is not a bombastic vintage. It was not the kind of growing season that yielded such intense structured wines as 2005, 2009 or 2015 and the wines should not be expected to perform that way. It was somewhat disappointing when we found a number of domaines who clearly fought against nature to make something that they deemed to be a better wine, rather than something that celebrated the vintage at hand. There’s no need to coax heavy metal out of a folk singer and vinous folk music is exactly what 2017 is.

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“There’s no need to coax heavy metal out of a folk singer and vinous folk music is exactly what 2017 is.”

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Côte de Beaune specialists like Tollot-Beaut (about whom we will discuss in greater depth next week) produced an array of wines of generous and pleasing that tasting through their barrels was the vinous equivalent of playing Tea for the Tillerman on vinyl (“wine for the woman who made the rain come” indeed!).

This is a vintage for those who appreciate the latest release of their favourite musician no matter what tone they set, rather than those who keep harping on about “their early work”. I know i just referenced Cat Stevens’ early work but metaphors should only be taken so far… 2017 is a solid vintage and the Côte de Beaune is arguably the stronger half of the Côte d’Or at doing what it’s best known for.

Beyond holding the keys to the white wines which were demonstrably stronger in 2017 than the reds (Damien Colin at Domaine Marc Colin indicated that it may even surpass 2014 in this respect) the entire region displays a remarkable loyalty to form.

By the time we had a representative experience of the Côte de Beaune under our belts we had plenty of reason to be optimistic about the growers here. Wines from the likes of Chorey, Savigny and Aloxe are hardly expected to be big, tannic monsters that get high Parker points and the like. They are generally softer wines and those growers and winemakers who have a more tender spot in their heart for such wines did exceptionally well.

For our money this vintage we suggest sitting back and enjoying the music as it was meant to be played.