Burgundy 2021

Burgundy 2021: a wine-grower’s vintage

Our team strolling between tastings in Burgundy

When we got back from our first trip to Burgundy to taste 2021 in September, I was a bit worried. It was a fleeting visit, tasting only a handful of reds, but some of them were thin. Some village wines tasted better than Grands Crus. How was I going to muster the enthusiasm to write thousands of words about a bad vintage?

After a week in November fully immersed in the year, I was delighted to know that wouldn’t be a problem. Those early visits were perhaps unfortunate, producers who hadn’t fared as well with their reds, but the wines have also clearly benefited from additional time in barrel.

From a year that asked everything of wine producers, testing them with frost, hail, rain and endless disease, the resulting wines are a marvel. The crops may be tiny, but the whites (as they were in September) are brilliant, tight and taut with stunning concentration. The reds are old-school Burgundy, pale and perfumed with low alcohols and tannins, ethereal and elegant. They’re wines I want to drink endlessly.

Read my full overview of the vintage, and a breakdown of the year by producer on frw.co.uk/editorial.


Catching up

A shot from a recent trip to Rioja: this is one of the vineyards used by CVNE for Imperial

Between studying for the MW and work, it’s been a busy year. The last few weeks have seen stops in Tuscany, Bordeaux, Rioja and Burgundy – and there’s much to report on. For now, here’s an update on jottings that you might have missed.

  • Bordeaux 2021: With primeurs week back with a bang this year, I spent an enlightening and exhausting 10 days exploring the 2021 vintage and Bordelais hospitality. It was a fascinating year to explore and there was a surprising openness from producers when it came to the challenges of this tricky season. From my first thoughts to a full report and guide by commune, I wrote extensively about it. Maligned by some of the critics, I think it’s a remarkable result given what they faced. These may not be the most age-worthy wines, but I think there’s a lot of pleasure to be had if you know where to look.
  • Tate & Lyle: Inspired by Bordeaux, I took a look at chaptalisation – something that returned to the forefront in Europe in 2021. Suddenly young producers were having to learn how to master this age-old technique to craft wines that had sufficient alcohol (and everything that comes with that – more here). It’s a nerdy read, but fascinating to see the difference of opinion – and taste the results.
  • A South African interlude: Ahead of the latest release, Klein Constantia arranged a fantastic vertical tasting of their iconic sweet wine at Trivet (my first visit, and the food was exceptional). I’ve always had a soft spot for the wine and it was interesting to taste so many vintages. Perhaps some were a little disappointing, but the trajectory is inspiring, with brighter acidity, precision and balance. Read my spotlight on Vin de Constance on FINE+RARE.
  • Burgundy 2021: After a whistle-stop three days in the region, here are my initial thoughts on the vintage. So far, it’s hard to offer a firm view. There is so much more to taste and explore and I can’t wait to get out there later in the year to delve into it fully. At the moment I am a little concerned about the varying quality of reds, although there’s promise in the whites. More to follow later this year.

Find all the above articles on frw.co.uk/editorial