I had a very early taste of the 2015s in November – mixed impression but a visit at Domaine Marc Roy left me quite if not very optimistic – after a rather depressing time tasting the Hospice de Beaune wines.
My first regular tasting of a vintage is normally at Maison Philippe Pacalet – as the malo always finish very early at this estate – and the wines are always ready to taste around Grands Jours de Bourgogne.
So what are the impressions now that the malolactic fermentation is completed?
Just like in the Danish movie “The Celebration” or “Festen” there are two speaches to be made – here you will get both the good (red) and the ugly (brown).
The 2015 reds – the good side – rich with a balance
The 2015s are quite rich and generous wines, and some seem to strike a beautiful balance between ripeness and freshness … and when this happens both great and enjoyable wines can appear.
That being said – this is not a classic vintage – it’s a bit on the rich and weighty side, and sometimes on the hot and overripe side.
In my view they don’t seem to have the same almost brutal power as the 2005s, and on the other hand they do seem to have a better transparency than the 2009s.
In fact .. when one should find the best 2015s – transparency, low alcohol and freshness are the key elements to look for – at least for me.
Whole Cluster could also have an edge in 2015 adding complexity and a (perhaps in some cases needed) structural element to the wines.
In the best 2015s there is a lovely tension in the fruit – between juicy red fruit and some darker and more weighty fruit aromas.
In my view the acidity in the 2015s is at best fine and lively, although not so dominant … the tannins are ripe and provide good structural components in the wines.
Speaking of acidity .. in my view it’s not always the level of acidity that matters most, it’s the nature and the expression of the acidity that counts. Some 2015s offer a good energy in the acidity – and if this is not clouded by excessive alcohol or sweetness, then the wines are actually well balanced.
The 2015s the bad side – overripe and alcohol driven
Not to pick on someone in particular .. I tasted some pretty awfull 2015 during the auction week in November … overripe and high alcohol -seemingly on the verge of undrinkability.
As in the case whith the 2009 vintage high alcohol levels could well be the main issue to look for … One often forget that some 2009s are above 14% alcohol – well beyond the acceptable for me in most cases – and that goes for both red and white Burgundies.
The same could also be the case in 2015 where the sugar levels were high and some might have gone high on alcohol to strike a better balance between sweetness and freshness … this is however not a solution in my view, as high alcohol tend to destroy the true expression of terroir – as the definition of the wine is clouded by the alcohol – as is the expression and definition of the acidity.
So my recommadation in general is to avoid wines with more than 14% alcohol .. and stick to the wines with 13.5% or lower alcohol.
So how good is the 2015 vintage
In my view it’s a very good vintage for the reds, but most likely with a quite big variation in quality. It’s perhaps not my favorite style of vintage for the reds, but before being too pessimistic, they seems way better balanced than the at times awfull 2003s – and I actually think the best could well strike a better balance than the 2009s – at least it seems like the transparency is better..
I could well imagine that some of the best wines will surpass the 2009s, and perhaps offer greater drinkablility than the 2005s. The worst could sadly alo bring back memories of the 2003s … i.e. perhaps drinkable – but surely not collectable.
In vintages like this it’s really the time of the harvest thats important … did they harvest before the sugar levels went through the roof and the overripe notes took over the wine?
For those who did … I expect to find some both outstanding and charming wines.
Think biodynamic viticulture was very important in 2015, as these wines often offer better acidity and expression of terroir – hence they can carry more fruit and sweetness and still have a good balance and expression of terroir.
It’s pretty clear that the whites struggled more in 2015 .. I will get back with an update on the whites when I have tasted some more.