Size of the Crop Grand Cru Red 12230 White 4126 Total 16356 Village and Premier Cru Red 168721 White 70884 Total 239605 Total 180951 75010 255961 Rating for the Vintage Red 15.0 White 16.0
One of the most climatically curious vintages has ended happily. Up to the end of August growers were anticipating a disaster. The sun then started shining and 10 weeks of the most spectacular autumn then followed. The leaves on the trees and vines did not begin to fall until Hospices time, the first really proper frost being on the night of November 12th;, and the resulting colour in the interim was truly magnificent. Sadly it was a very early harvest; so not all could fully benefit. But there was nevertheless much early satisfaction with 2007 to be discerned as buyers and journalists toured Burgundy to sample the 2006s.
After a mild and dry winter – only one severe frost at the end of January – Burgundy enjoyed its summer in April, with temperatures as high as the 30s (85 plus Fahrenheit) and four weeks of abundant sun. Thereafter, apart from a week in mid May, when the vines flowered some three weeks early, the weather remained wet, cold and miserable for two and a half months. Even after the 14th of July it continued patchy, with more days of cloud and rain than days of sun. Unsettled weather persisted until the last week of August, when, right at the last minute the clouds cleared and temperatures improved.
Overall it was a very wet summer indeed. Mildew and rot remained a constant threat. With hindsight it became clear that, even more than usual, it was crucial not to over-crop, dangerous not to pay daily attention to the state of health of the vines, and advantageous, if it were possible, to delay the date of the harvest.
Every year there is hail somewhere; in 2007 it fell to the climat of Charmes-Chambertin to bear the brunt. There were three hailstorms in Chablis, variously ravaging the village of Chichée and the premiers crus of Montée de Tonnerre and Mont de Milieu and, later, Vaillons.
Early on the authorities announced that the Ban des Vendanges would be August 18th., not that they expected everyone to rush out on this date, but to give total liberty to each domaine to choose their own picking date. The vintage started first in the Côte de Beaune, around Monday 3rd. September. This was followed a week or so later by the Côte de Nuits, Chablis and the Mâconnais and Beaujolais. Normally the latter two regions commence a good 10 days, and in the case of the Beaujolais, two weeks, before the Cöte d'Or. The late pickers, the Côte Chalonaise and the Hautes Côtes had the best of it, being able to profit more from the return to fine weather.
It was, it hardly needs to be said, essential to tri, to eliminate sun-standard fruit before fermentation. As a result most estates have produced a reduced crop, some announcing 25 percent less than 2006 (which was by no means large).
The Chablis results are variable. Alcohol levels are reasonable but acidities are low. Many wines will be rather soft and ephemeral. Growers producing whites in the Côte de Beaune, especially those who picked later than most, are rather more enthusiastic, considering 2007 better than 2006. As far as the reds are concerned, the vintage is considered superior in the Côte de Nuits than the Côte de Beaune, with vignerons in Gevrey-Chambertin even prepared to compare their 2007s with their 2005s. In the Mâconnais and the Beaujolais, the 2007 vintage is said to be good (better than 2006) but not great.
Update November 2008
As I write I have now tasted extensively in The Côte d'Or, though I still have quite a lot of ground to cover. I will be visiting Chablis and the Côte Chalonnaise early in 2009.
Firstly the whites. These took a long time to show their paces, and are tasting much better now than they seemed to promise in June. I fear that it is one of those years where it would have been a mistake to base one's judgements, as I used largely to do, on a late Spring visit. Today there is a welcoming crispness, indeed elegance in the wines. The fruit is ripe and racy. The wines have good substance and depth. And there is more consistencey, within the same cave, than there was in 2006. That said I find the Meursaults, and close to them the Pulignys, ahead of the Chassagnes. Simply, there is more definition.
The reds improve as you journey north, as so often, but even taking into account the predominance of grands crus and of course the considerably higher prices, nevertheless the Côte de Nuits has performed proportionately better. This is not to flood the Côte de Beaune with disappointments. But is simply a matter of depth and definition, terroir definition included.
The red wines are supple, juicy, soft, and full of most agreable fruit. Only in some cases in the south are they too tendre, though in many cases, what you get on the attack is all there is, there is no extra dimension on the follow-through. What there is, however, is a most advantageous acidity, so I feel the vintage will not be ephemeral, as in the sense of 1997. If you are seeking a parallel, think of 2000 or 2001. And the best of these are charming and satisfying bottles to drink today.
Update December 2008
The 2007s Out Of Cask
Though I no longer inflict my system with the marathon I used to undertake when I produced The Vine, I have, nevertheless, now that The Book is out of the way, had the time to visit some 90 domaines and négociants this autumn. So this is a representative, if not comprehensive, summary of what the vintage has produced.
I work roughly from north to south.
The Côte de Nuits
In Marsannay the Domaine Bruno Clair has produced delicious wines, somewhat more succulent and warm than usual: to their advantage. Sometimes Bruno Clair's wines can be a little austere in their youth, though always very elegant. I particularly admired, within its context, the Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Fonteny;
In Gevrey-Chambertin itself there are fine 2007s at the Domaine Denis Bachelet, very well-made wines at the Domaine Alain Burget, and good wines at Drouhin-Laroze. I much prefered the elegance and definition chez Claude Dugat, to those wines in the cellar of his cousin Bernard Dugat-Py, whose 2007s I found a little clumsy. This was the first vintage for the new cuverie at the Domaine Fourrier. Some of the 2007s were still undergoing malo-lactic: perhaps on the slight side, but very stylish. Arnaud Mortet at the Domaine Denis Mortet is proving a worthy successor to his late father. The 2007s at the Domaine Rossignol-Trapet prove that the high marks I gave to their 2005s in bottle were no fluke. There has been a lot of progress here. The Domaine Serafin 2007s are, as usual, fine. Christian Serafin very rarely puts a foot wrong. Finally it is clear that Eric Rousseau (Domaine Armand Rousseau) is taking his lesser cuvées more seriously. I felt that father, Charles, was only interested in his Clos Saint-Jacques, Chambertin and Clos de Bèze. Now we have enticing wines all the way from village Gevrey-Chambertin upwards.
Morey-Saint-Denis is now as rich in top domaines as Gevrey-Chambertin. I was not particularly struck, however, at the Domaine Arlaud, which was disappointing as I have noticed considerable progress here since Cyprian Arlaud took over from his father a decade or so ago. Perhaps the wines needed an aeration. Chez Dujac the 2007s are exemplary. At the Clos des Lambrays they are splendidly elegant. Kerrell Lignier (Domaine Lucie et Auguste Lignier) has made rather more stylish wines than she did in 2006. Christophe Perrot, at the Domaine Perrot-Minot has considerably refined the style of his wines in order, as he puts it, to let the fruit come to the fore. This was a most impressive, as well as wide, range of 2007s. One of the best surprises of my investigations. Lovely wines, if in small numbers, at the Domaine Louis Rémy. And a splendid Clos de Tart. Up in the hills, but with much of their holdings in this part of the world, top marks to David Duband and Olivier Jouan. David Clark, a British engineer until 2003, has installed himself in the village. He is a one man band with, at present, two hectares. A promising beginning, is how I would sum up the results so far.
Everyone's favorite Burgundy commune today is Chambolle-Musigny. Luckily the village can boast a number of first class estates, and none of them has let us down in 2007. Fine wines chez Ghislaine Barthod and her husband Louis Boillot. Very good wines at Digioia-Royer and Hudelot-Noëllat, in the case of the latter, as always, increasingly better as one climbs the hierarchy. Brilliant examples from Domaines J.F. Mugnier, Georges Roumier and De Vogüé.
Vosne-Romanée has more top-class estates than you can count. Fine 2007s from Pascal Lacheux at the Doamaine Robert Arnoux. Oronce de Beler (Maison Oroncio) ploughs the vineyards of a number of local domaines using his own horses, and gets paid in fruit for his services. He's also invented a new plough and is deep into bio-dynamism. Old barrels, whole cluster vinifications. Very good 2007s. Jean-Yves Bizot is also in to whole cluster vinification, but the barrels are newer: very elegant 2007s. The 2007s at the Domaine Sylvain Cathiard could hardly be better. These are great wines in the terms of the vintage. Francois Confuron-Gindre, nephew of Jacky Confuron-Cotéditot, is now using a little more new wood, and in general producing more elegant and definitive wines. Someone in Britain should snap him up. The Grivot 2007s, like those of Cathiard, would be difficult to improve on, and much could be said similarly for those of the Gros': Domaines Anne Gros, Michel Gros and Gros Frère et Soeur. Don't forget Anne now offers Echézeaux. The Domaine Lamarche is today another super-star: excellent 2007s. Yet another brilliant estate, with marvelous 2007s, is that of Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. You will find lovely wines, as usual, chez the elegant Mugneret ladies (Domaines Dr. Georges Mugneret and Mugneret-Gibourg). As I probably don't have to tell you the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's 2007s are very fine indeed. In order to get in to taste with Emmanuel Rouget I have to gate-crash when I know his British agent is bringing some customers round (the man never answers correspondence). His 2007s are by no means blockbusters, but they are elegant enough. I followed up the very fine showing of Cecile Tremblay's Vosne-Romanée, les Beaumonts, 2005, with a visit to sample her 2007s. This is another new star. Fabrice Vigot has produced better 2007s than 2006s, but there is still room for improvement.
So to the southern end of the Côte de Nuits. Almost as far south as you can go, without running into the Côte de Beaune, is the Clos des Langres, headquarters of the Domaine d'Ardhuy. Carel Voorhuis offers some exemplary 2007s here. Some of Nuits-Saint-Georges' most elegant examples are to be found at the Domaine Robert Chevillon, and the 2007s are as good, if not better, than you would expect. Down in Premeaux the wines chez Alain and Sophie Meunier at the Domaine J.J.Confuron are as fine as usual. I have written about the recent renaissance at Faiveley in the News section elsewhere on this web-site. Don't miss their 2007s. The Newcomer of the Year Award goes to Claire Forestier under the Terres d'Aromes label. Claire was responsible for the elevation of the Domaine Bertagna to the ranks of the first division. In 2006 she left to lend a helping hand to Arnaud Mortet. 2007 is her first vintage as a négociant. Not everything is brillaint, but there is enough here to indicate that this will be a name to follow in the future. I am a great fan of the Domaine Henri Gouges, admiring the style which, if a little tough and austere at the outset, eventually blossoms into lovely rich wines with no lack of finesse. Fine 2007s here too. In Corgoloin, Gilles Jourdan, who with Denis Bachelet in Gevrey, is king of the Côte de Nuis Villages, will show you excellent (and marvelous value) 2007s. Thibault Liger-Belair is another who offers fine 2007s. The Domaine de Perdrix has its cuverie in Premeaux, but is cellar in Gevrey. As the Perdrix itself comes from Premeaux, I insert it here. This is another source of fine 2007s. Finally Maison Nicolas Potel's range of 2007s (quite a lot comes from his own domaine now, the deal being that the merchant company buys the fruit) is impressive and delicious.
The Côte de Beaune
Lovely wines at the Domaine Simon Bize in Savigny-lès-Beaune in both colours, and also at the Domaine Chandon de Briailles in the same village, bio-dynamic since 2005. Their Ile des Vergelesses is always particularly impressive. A newcomer is Blair Pethel at his Domaine Dublère. This is a one-man band set-up, started by an American ex-political journalist in 2005, when he acquired some Corton-Charlemagne. Much of the rest – and there is not very much – is bought in as fruit. Very pure and understated wines here. In Beaune itself we have the excellent David Croix (Domaine des Croix). A range of excellent Savignys and Beaunes. I visited the Domaine Gabriel Billard in Pommard for the first time. This is today run by his daughters, one of whom is the Laurence Jobard, now retired as wine-maker at Maison Joseph Drouhin. I was impressed.
Volnay is rich in top-class sources for wine. Lovely examples at the Domaine d'Angerville and the Domaine Michel Lafarge. The 38 year old Thiébault Huber-Verderau, whose premises lie equi-distant between these two, runs a small bio-dynamic domaine. Some very good wines here. Etienne de Montille runs the Château du Puligny-Montrachet, which mainly offers white wines, and together with his sister Alix, a merchant's business, again specialising in blanc, called Les Deux Montilles. Lots of very promising material here. The red wines at the Domaine de Montille are also fine. But the biggest surprise was at the Domaine de la Pousse d'Or. Hitherto I have found the wines competent, but lacking soul. Philippe Landanger explained why. During his first five vintages – the first was 1998 – he employed five different oenologues and consultants, in order to learn from as wide a range of experts as possible. What was overlooked was that these people, though perfectly well-qualified, did not have any intimate knowledge of the Pousse d'Or vines themselves. This has now been rectified, and I much enjoyed what I was given to taste. Landanger took over the Chambolles of the Domaine Daniel Moine at the time of the 2008 vintage, but was unimpressed, and sold the produce off in bulk. I shall look forward to sampling the 2009s.
I have written about the New Brooms in Meursault in the News section of this web-site. Suffice to add that chez Lafon and Roulot, as well as across the border into Puligny-Montrachet at the Domaines of Carillon, Leflaive and Sauzet, you will find some very delicious white 2007s.