The 2015 vintage for reds could well produce some of the best red Burgundies made in recent history. It’s however not a uniform quality, but the very best wines are at this stage simply gorgeous having a truly remarkable and unique balance between sweetness and richness on one side, and freshness and energy on the other side.
I have never tasted anything like the very best 2015s and if they keep the ultimate freshness until after bottling these wines could be among some of the best Burgundies produced in my time.
The variation in quality
It’s however important to understand that 2015 is a quite weighty and rich vintage – the weather was very hot during the summer, but amazingly very fresh and energetic wines were made by many .. but not all sadly.
There are nevertheless some things to notice … firstly the harvest time was crucial, and some clearly have harvested too late … the wines can then be alcoholic if the fresh red fruit is lost. Some 2015s can be both balanced and fresh even though the alcohol exceeds 14% … but if the fruit is dark and slightly overripe then most of the freshness is lost, and the alcohol will then, in my view, become a problem in the wine.
Secondly it could be a big mistake to force the wines by extracting too hard .. this is the case in all vintages, but in 2015 this is especially the case with the wines that are harvested late with high alcohol and relatively dark fruit.
The last thing is the randomness of greatness – some 2015s has a uniquely rich fruit with a matching freshness … sexy, lush and abundant juicy fruit brought forward by an explosion of freshness …
It’s only some wines that offer these extraordinary qualities that put these wines in another league … and potentially make them some of the best Burgundies I have ever tasted. Still early I know … but some of them left me breathless.
I have never seen so many producers being anxious to show certain “favorite” wines .. as in this year. The producers themselves point out these extraordinary cuvees .. with proudness and joy.
On average the quality is very high, but a few wines have this extra unique level of quality, and quite a few also offer a more dark fruit without sufficient freshness.
Its a bit unclear why this apparent randomness occurs .. but it seems to be vineyard/climate related – i.e. some vineyards are more prone to produce these masterpieces of unique freshness and balance. The wines that show this special freshness and abundant fruit have the ability to absorb even quite high levels of alcohol without this is affecting the juiciness and freshness of the wine. And yes the alcohol is an issue to be aware of … 14% and more is under normal circumstances a sign of warning in my view …
The acidity is quite low, but the PH is good in many wines and therefore the wines are more fresh and vibrant than the level of acidity indicates.
So the key to 2015 is not a simple one, its about finding these extraordinary wines, and avoiding the late harvested, extracted wines with high alcohol.
Summing up .. in general an quite magnificent vintage for the reds, and if the freshness is kept in the bottled wines, then we will have some spectacular and even legendary wines from this vintage. Is it better than 2010 .. in my book perhaps not, but some individual wines could well outperform the 2010s.
What to pick … the extraordinary cuvees
As mentioned most producers seem to have some more or less extraordinary wines, that seem to posses this magic balance between exuberant red fruit and tremendously energetic freshness.
I will in the articles from my visits point out these extraordinary wines I found during my week, and will try research why some wines and terroirs apparently are performing better in the 2015 vintage.
One hypothesis is that some vineyards became stressed during the summer while others had sufficient water, and it is the latter that have produced the great wines … and it also seems like vineyards with very old wines has in some cases performed better offering the same extraordinary qualities.
In general the reds from Cote de Nuits seem to have performed better than Cote de Beaune, but if harvested in time both Pommard, Volnay and the Beaune appellation itself has produced some truly magnificent wines. Wines in Cote de Beaune havested too late and vinified with a heavy hand could however prove to be quit a mouthful so to speak.
Still very early …
As always a word of caution .. its still very early and some wines are still awaiting the completion of the malolactic fermentaion …
I do however feel very optimistic about the 2015 reds.