This coming Sunday will see me flying south aboard a ‘plane operated by our national carrier and bound for Lyon. A short drive – not much more than an hour-and-a-half – and we (tasting buddy and I) will arrive in Beaune for a few days and sampling the burgundies of the 2018 harvest.
It will not be my first nibble on the vintage, however. Last Tuesday found me in London to sample the Joseph Drouhin wines of this latest vintage-to-market. And today will find me on the same train, hoping for an equally illuminating experience at the release tasting of the wines of Faiveley.
Whilst making an assessment of a vintage purely from the tasting of barrel samples is rarely a good idea, it does give one the foundations from which one can build a better understanding of the year as a whole; an understanding that will be cemented, I anticipate, in the region next week.
In short, 2018 was a torrid growing season, with periods of drought and really very high temperatures. Yet the previous winter had provided ample rainfall, thus vines never became water-stressed.
What has been extraordinary in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône and beyond is how quickly vignerons have learnt to cope with – and make excellent wine from – these increasingly hot years. One is finding new levels of finesse in all these regions.
At the Drouhin tasting last week, I sampled some truly compelling wines, red and white. Yes, many displayed ripe fruit. Yet through those rather beautiful flavours and aromas shone an ample sense of place: a minerality one might call terroir.
I'll be blogging on my way 'round the cellars of Burgundy, so do watch this space if these wines are your thing...