Many of you will have already heard about the disastrous weather that’s been punishing France’s central belt this spring.
Throughout April and May, heavy frosts, hailstorms and torrential rain have pummelled some of the country’s top wine-growing regions – Burgundy in particular, has copped a beating.
What does this mean for the 2016 Burgundy vintage, for our wine drinking this year, and for cellar planning in the years ahead?
Firstly, the 2016 Burgundies won’t be hitting our shores for another year or so, so unless you’re buying speculatively at the moment, there’s no need to worry too much about what you’re picking up at the bottle shop.
If you are buying pre-release 2015 Burgundy, expect to pay up to 20-40% more than in previous years.
Here’s what’s happening in Burgundy:
Frosted vines in Chablis – a disaster
picture by A.Ibanez
At this time of year, bad weather kills the young flower shoots which will go on to fruit.
This results in either a depleted yield, or, if the vines manage to re-flower, a vineyard full of grapes that won’t ripen at the same time.
Some vineyards are reporting more than 50% shoot loss; in financial terms, this is a disaster for the region.
A hectare of Grand Cru fetches upwards of 10 million euros, making these the most expensive vines in the country.
Suffice it to say, the region is struggling hard and there are increased calls in the region for tax exemptions and subsidies to help get the wine into bottles.
However, the fat lady hasn’t started to sing yet on 2016. Awful growing conditions can still produce decent wine– take 2013, for example.
Buying Burgundy in Australia:
Burgundies in Australia have never been cheap – expect this trend to continue, particularly in light of 2015’s triumph.
On the upside, the value of your existing collection will rise steadily, provided you care for it.
On the downside, the anticipated shortage of 2016 vintage bottles will mean that, if the 2016s are worth drinking when they do arrive, they’ll be expensive.
Reports already indicate that 2016 Burgundies could be up to 40% above their value – but that’s a long way off.
When filling out your cellar, now’s a good time to consider other regions or grape varieties.
Switzerland is producing excellent Pinots and Chardonnays.
Elsewhere, Tasmanian Pinots and South African Chardonnays are achieving world-class standards.
If you’re up for trying something new, Barolo, the wine of ‘Tar and Roses’, is a well-priced medium-bodied alternative to Pinot, that’s experiencing a renaissance in Australia at the moment.
Whatever happens in 2016, caring for your Burgundy will be key.
– Cellar it well, drink it at the right time. We’ll get through this –
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