2019 Burgundies: A Mixed Bag

While consistency is rarely a word used when describing Burgundies, the 2019 Burgundies present the consumer with an even greater-than-usual stylistic variation.  The usual suspects explain the diversity of the wines:  Frost, poor flowering, and heat.  Frost, which affected areas almost capriciously—some vineyards lost 40 percent of their grapes, while adjacent ones were spared—reduced the crop in many appellations.  Low yields typically produce concentrated wine.  Poor-flowering meant that the grapes were not uniform in size, some big, some small, which alters the normal juice-to-skin ratio, leading to unbalanced wines.  And heat (thank you, climate change) resulted in rapidly increasing sugar levels, making the timing of harvest all that more critical to prevent overly alcoholic and flabby wines.  So, the 2019 Burgundies will vary.  Some will be rich and intense, immediately appealing to those who like that style.  Others show their alcohol as a bit of warmth in the finish, which may bother some consumers but not others.  To be sure, many producers got everything right and made exhilarating and balanced wines.

Since no one has ever asked me what wine I don’t recommend, let’s focus on the exhilarating end of the 2019 spectrum.  Where prices for the 2019 are not available, I have listed the price for the 2018 to give consumers a general sense.  Prices are averaged from winesearcher.com, but consumers should check with their local merchants since prices will vary enormously depending on whether the retailers purchased the wines before or after the Trump tariffs were in place.

In Givry, a tiny appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise that is all too often overlooked, is the Domaine du Cellier aux Moines, Givry 1er Cru, Clos des Cellier Aux Moines.  Their 2019 is ripe, yet energetic and precise.  Philippe Pascal, owner of Domaine du Cellier aux Moines in Givry, thinks their 2019 is the best wine they’ve ever made.  Though I still prefer their 2015, it’s hard to disagree with him (95 pts.; $53 for the 2018).  The Domaine du Cellier aux Moines also owns a cool, northeast facing plot in Mercurey from which they made a riveting white in 2019, labelled Les Margotons, after their daughter (90 pts.; $33 for the 2018).  At the expensive end of their portfolio is a stunning Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Les Pucelles, made from grapes grown in the Clos des Meix, a walled portion of the vineyard.  The wine displays a gorgeous combination of richness, minerality, and verve (95 pts.; $144 for the 2018).  Pascal said they used an herbal infusion to keep the sap flowing in the vines to prevent frost and, as a result, lost very little compared to their neighbors who used the more traditional candles to heat the vines.

It’s no surprise that Anne Parent, who is in charge of winemaking at Domaine Parent, made stunning whites in 2019.  Their white Monthélie, labeled under their négociant label, Jacques Parent, which honors their father, conveys a wonderful combination of nutty richness and minerality (92 pts., $65 for the 2018).  Domaine Parent’s 2019 white Corton, which they could legally label as Corton-Charlemagne (but opt not to because Anne thinks it has a fundamentally different character because of the location of their plot on the hill of Corton) is fantastically rich and mineral-y without sacrificing any freshness (94 pts.; $217).  Domaine Parent’s 2019 Beaune Les Epenottes is my idea of quintessential Burgundy—conveying flavor without weight (95 pts.; $176).  Anne relates that demand—and prices—for Burgundy has recently sky-rocketed with re-opening of restaurants and the extraordinary low yielding 2021 vintage.

Frédéric Barnier, the winemaker at Maison Louis Jadot, and his team succeeded brilliantly with their whites in 2019, capturing the necessary acidity to keep them fresh and vivacious.  Their Meursault Charmes, from a parcel Jadot obtained with their purchase of Prieur-Brunet in 2017, delivers the opulence expected from the vineyard combined with an energetic edginess.  (93; $113) Equally engaging with an entirely different profile reflecting its origins is their Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Clos de la Garenne from the Duc de Magenta Domaine.  With less ripeness and richness, but no less power, it’s all mineral-y (93; $110).  Jadot’s Corton-Charlemagne, always one of my favorites among their whites, is a broad-shouldered wine in 2019, showing both power and precision (94, $242).  Jadot also succeeded with their reds.  As an example, Jadot’s Marsannay Clos du Roy from Domaine Gagey provides a dark and juicy combination of fruit and earth that’s hard to resist now (90 pts.; $48).

Maison Louis Latour, another top Beaune-based producer, hit a home run with their 2019 reds, from their bright and charmingly rustic Coteaux Bourguignons, labeled Les Pierres Dorées (90 pts., $23 for the 2018), to their suave and perfumed 1er Cru Volnay En Chevret (93, $95 for the 2018) to their statuesque Corton Grancey (96 pts.; $159 for the 2018).  Louis Fabrice Latour, head of the eponymous house, said they were “obsessed with freshness and acidity” in their 2019s.

I always look to the less prestigious appellations in a hot year because the grapes from those areas can benefit from the additional ripening.  Good examples in 2019 are the stylish Bourgogne Côte d’Or from Alain Janniard (91 pts.) and Bichot’s balanced Bourgogne Côte d’Or (91 pts.; $25 for the 2018).

Maranges, an overlooked village of the Côte d’Or, sits west and above Santenay, which means it’s a cooler locale.  Its location may explain why its 2019s showed so well at a blind tasting organized by the BIVB (Bureau Interprofessional Vins de Bourgogne) for me in September 2021.  Look for Domaine Jean-Claude Regnaudot’s charming Maranges 1er Cru, Clos des Loyères (92 pts.; $39 for the 2018) for immediate drinking or their more substantial and structured Maranges 1er Cru Fussières (92 pts.; $39 for the 2018) for cellaring for a few years.  Their wines are imported into the U.S. by Kermit Lynch.  Also, in Maranges is a different Regnaudot domaine, the Domaine Bernard and Florian Regnaudot, who made a lively and precise Maranges 1er Cru Clos des Loyères (92 pts.) and an enchanting Maranges 1er Cru Le Clos des Rois (92 pts.).  Unfortunately, the wines from Bernard and Florian Regnaudot do not to appear to be imported in the U.S.

My advice when purchasing the 2019 Burgundies: Taste before you buy, even from producers whose wines you’ve always liked, to be sure you like what they’ve done in this heterogenous vintage.

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E-mail me your thoughts about Burgundy in general or the 2019 vintage in specific at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter @MichaelApstein