Is Burgundy learning to live with climate change?
Guy Seddon, Head of Fine Wine Buying
2 minutes read
Édouard Labet commented, “Global warming is a real challenge for our viticulture, but it is also ‘beneficial’ in many ways when it comes to winemaking: optimal ripeness, few diseases, smooth tannins, gourmandise and freshness.” There does seem to be a newfound balance to the wines made from warm Burgundian summers such as 2019, 2020 and 2022. The pejorative année solaire style of (over) ripe fruit is no longer an inevitable result of summer heat.
Raised canopies, arched vine canes and cover crops, as well as cellar innovations such as judicious whole bunch fermentation and whole-berry vinification intégrale, are proving valuable in the quest for freshness and harmony. Pierre and Louis Trapet, the next generation at Domaine Trapet, are re-planting their holdings in both Burgundy and Alsace on single-post échalas (as more commonly seen in Côte-Rôtie), for similar reasons.
The uptake of organics and biodynamics has also contributed to a more robust, resilient Burgundian vineyard. As Pierre de Benoist of Domaine de Villaine said, “Our organic and biodynamic methods have allowed us, we hope, to offer you wines as close as possible to the expression of their terroirs.”
There appears to be a genuine way forward in Burgundy in the era of climate change, but to play the sceptic for a moment, it feels like a precarious balance. I wouldn’t want to speculate on the consequences of another tightening of the climate ratchet. It is a short step from ‘good, thanks to the weather’ to ‘good despite the weather’. But the mood is upbeat – as one grower told me, “We are not going to be planting Syrah any time soon.”
ABOUT: Guy Seddon
After ‘misspending’ his youth teaching in Chile, attending law school and working at a city firm, Guy finally discovered the wine industry over 13 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Today his time is divided up travelling, tasting, writing, buying and selling – not a bad job!
What is your favourite Burgundian subregion?
Spoilt for choice! A shout out to Marsannay, a village which has emerged as an exciting source of sensitively made Pinot which doesn’t put the same demands on the wallet as its neighbour, Gevrey-Chambertin, as well as some fantastic Aligoté, a grape which is back on the agenda and thriving. If you twist my arm though, I do like a drop of Vosne-Romanée.
What has been a trip highlight during the 2022 en primeur visit?
Joe Muller and I got stranded on a Sunday evening in the Gare de Lyon, which was not a highlight but did set a low benchmark against which the rest of our week was a roaring success. Having said that, burgers and beer in Paris is a not a bad start to any trip.
For further information visit our Burgundy Hub for more information about our producers and 2022 vintage releases.