Burgundy vintages 1846-2009: A wine specialist’s chart

Christie’s wine specialist Edwin Vos shares his personal notes, as well as those from the archives, ahead of the September 2016 Hong Kong auction of Historic Burgundies from the Bouchard Père & Fils reserves — featuring vintages from almost every decade since 1846


Vineyards near Fuisse, Burgundy, France © Richard Semik

The 19th century

  • 1846
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding                 

 ‘An unparalleled year as far as quality is concerned. The wine is almost too strong to drink. The elders told us that it compared with 1811, 1822 and 1825. A good yield and a good price; the winegrowers are getting rich’from the classic book Les Grands Vins de Bourgogne by Danguy and Aubertin, published in 1892.

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Start of harvest 15 September. One of the best vintages of the 19th century; excellent flowering and grapes of great maturity and high sugar levels with fine acidity.

  • 1858
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. A touch of frost and some hail on 22 July reduced the quantity. Harvest started on 19 September in clear skies. 1858 is an excellent vintage, the best after 1846.

Romanée-Conti 1858 shipped by Maret & Belair, bottled by John Harvey in 1863, fetches a record price of 220 shillings at Christie’s in 1880. 

  • 1864
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Touch of frost, fortunately no hail in the spring. Very dry growing season with light showers at the right moments just before the harvest started on 29 September, resulting in a good-quality vintage in abundant quantity.

Beaune 1864 bottled in 1868 sells for 20 shillings per dozen at Christie’s in 1870.

  • 1865
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white          

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Some frost in spring followed by a dry summer reduced the yield in 1865. Wines of excellent quality and structure with a long, intense finish. The best wines have kept their lively red colour and offer a remarkable tasting experience, and above all, pleasure. Resembling the 1846s.

Burgundy Thorins 1865 sells for 57 shillings at Christie’s in 1874.

  • 1870
  • ★★★★ Very good      

The battle of Nuits-St-Georges, start of Franco-Prussian War.

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Even though there was some frost in spring the real cause of the reduced harvest quantity was the extreme and long-lasting drought. A small harvest of very good quality which started on 26 September — the best since 1865.

  • 1881
  • ★★ Moderately good

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Harvest started on 28 September for two days, then stopped for a couple of weeks to commence again on 14 October. Small harvest of good-quality wines after a difficult growing season. Rarely seen nowadays.

  • 1885
  • ★★★★ Very good      

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. The harvest started under rainy conditions on 26 September, the weather worsening significantly so that the harvest had to be interrupted on the 29 September. From 2 October beautiful sunny weather arrived and the harvest was concluded in perfect conditions, saving the vintage.

The heavy rain reduced a great vintage into a very good one.

  • 1889
  • ★★★ Good

Pre-Phylloxera vintage. Last vintage on French rootstocks.

After cool and wet weather in early September 1889 the Burgundians had to wait until the last week of September for sunny skies to return. Harvest finally started on 1 October.

  • 1890
  • ★★ Moderately good

The Prefect of Beaune gives the authority to graft onto American rootstocks to counter the devastation caused by Phylloxera, initiating the biggest replanting of vineyards in history.

Bouchard Père & Fils harvested its Montrachet vines on 8 October.  

  • 1892
  • ★★ Moderately good            

Hail on 30 July, followed by hot August weather which dried the damaged grapes, led to a small crop. In the Bouchard vineyards a severe nettoyage was necessary for at least 15 days to remove all the badly affected fruit. Start of the harvest was on 26 September.

The golden era of Burgundy

  • 1912
  • ★★ Moderately good            

An extremely cold winter with the temperature falling down to -20°C was followed by a mild spring, with some morning frosts in parts of the vineyards leading to an uneven flowering. The summer was fairly cool. Harvest started in the first week of October. Small crops of grapes with thin skins and light structure with elevated acidity. Most wines have been drunk in their early life, therefore any remaining bottles are extremely rare.

  • 1915
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding                  

Mixed beaune 1915, 1918 & 1919. Above 8 bottles per lot. Estimate: HK$9,000-17,000. This lot is offered in Fine and Rare Wines Featuring Historic Vintages Direct from the Cellars of Bouchard Père & Fils and an Esteemed Connoisseur’s Private Collection Part IV on 3 September 2016 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Rarely seen wartime vintage of excellent quality.

A classic growing season with a mild spring, some uneven fruit-setting resulting in a smaller quantity of grapes. Summer was warm but not excessively so, and led to a warm, dry September. Harvest in mid-October was undertaken by the women and old men since most young men were serving in the armed forces. Remarkable structure, silky tannins and fine bouquet. Great classic vintage, perfect wines.

  • 1918
  • ★★★ Good 

End of World War I with the signing of the Armistice on 11 November.

Fine spring weather resulted in an even flowering. The summer passed by with good warm temperatures without any excesses. September was fairly cool so the harvest was delayed to early October in order to wait for full ripeness. Rarely seen these days.

  • 1919
  • ★★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

Outstanding vintage — the best are still good.

Uneven spring weather reduced the final crop and the relatively cool but sunny September did the rest in making this an excellent vintage of fine-tuned wines with silky tannins and good viscosity. Long-lived, well-balanced wines which still give pleasure even after almost 100 years.

  • 1921
  • ★★★ Good  

Small harvest. Rich, full and attractive wines.

After the cool and uneven start of spring, causing uneven flowering, the frost in early May brought the potential volume down further. Early summer storms and rain ceased to give way to a heatwave.

Harvest started quite early on 20 September.

  • 1923
  • ★★★★ Very good              

In November 1923 the first Paulée de Meursault was held.

A cool and wet spring was followed by a dry summer with light rain running up to the harvest at exactly the right moments, resulting in a small quantity of ripe grapes of high quality.

Refined, deep and distinguished wines.

  • 1924
  • ★★★ Good  

Soft, intensely flavoured, deeply scented, elegantly styled wines.

A wet and cool spring which continued into summer; fortunately September was dry and saved the vintage. Bouchard Père & Fils in particular made many good wines which still show remarkable vigour and balance.

  • 1926
  • ★★★★ Very good     

Very good year. Rich and attractive wines.

A cold spell at the end of May caused uneven flowering and fruit-set. A long, warm summer with some drought problems here and there. Fully ripe grapes produced high sugar levels and high levels of extract resulting in powerful, rich wines which were initially quite austere and needed time to soften. Similar to the 1919s. Acidity has kept the 1926 wines alive, and the best cellared wines are still showing well.

  • 1928
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white

Fine and fragrant. Some great wines, long-lived and still excellent.

Spring started well and hopes were high until May frost in Chablis and later on serious hail in the Côte de Nuits severely reduced the crop size. The summer that followed was hot. Harvest started in early October. The better terroirs in the Côte de Beaune in particular made great wines. As in Bordeaux, the 1928 Burgundies are sturdier compared to the 1929s.

  • 1929
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

Excellent vintage from a sunny growing season. The very hot summer with light rain in September made for a vintage with the rare combination of sufficient quantity and high quality. Harvest commenced early on 19 September. Tremendous fruit and elegance; soft, rich and supple. The more elegant of these great twin vintages.

The pre-war years

  • 1933
  • ★★★★ Very good     

Charming, elegant vintage, better than in Bordeaux.

Extremely small crop due to uneven flowering and a very dry summer. Very good, well-structured wines of finesse with silky tannins.

  • 1934
  • ★★★★ Very good

Classic, rich wines. The best are still good.

Ideal growing season, with warm spring weather without any major problems followed by a long hot summer with some rainy spells at exactly the right times.

An abundant crop of very good quality which if made with our current knowledge of crop-thinning and temperature-controlled fermentation would have been excellent.

In the middle of the economic crisis the famous Bacchic brotherhood La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin was created to share and promote Burgundian wines.

  • 1937
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

Firm and full of flavour. Better than in Bordeaux. At first underrated, now considered one of the great vintages of that period.

A small crop, about half the size of the 34s. A fine spring made for perfect flowering conditions; the summer was hot and dry with some stressed vines caused by the drought. Harvest started on 27 September under clear sunny skies. The thick-skinned grapes gave wines of power with tannic structure and deep colours. Wines that were built to last and if well-aged in cool cellars are still great.

  • 1938
  • ★★ Moderately good            

Fairly rich wines. More challenging vintage. High acidity and tannins have kept wines alive.

Variable spring weather, a wet summer and an uneven start to September, with clear sunny skies at the end of the month and well into October. At first the wines were very reserved, only showing their tannic backbone; with time they have balanced out and the best terroirs have provided some wonderful surprises. Bottled after the war had started.

  • 1939
  • ★★ Moderately good            

Hard times in Burgundy. The Hospices de Beaune auction was not held because of the outbreak of war.

Late harvest of small quantity and difficult harvest conditions with a shortage of labour. The best white-wine terroirs of Corton-Charlemagne and Montrachet from producers with means did very well. Very rarely seen since most stayed in the cellars of the domaines or were consumed locally due to shipping difficulties.

Post-war vintages

  • 1945
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

Classic, full and firm. A small crop of excellent wines. As great a vintage as in Bordeaux.

Beautiful spring weather apart from some early frosts which reduced the crop size. Flowering started early and was completed by the end of May — a record which to this day remains unique. At the end of June a cyclone ravished parts of the Côte de Beaune and brought the crop size down further. The summer was hot and dry with intermediate rain at the right moments. The harvest started in early October; despite the small crop the excellent quality brought a smile to the faces of the vignerons, especially since the war had at last ended.

Very popular, excellent vintage — legendary wines which have become very rare due to the limited size of the crop and post-war thirst.

  • 1947
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding                  

An Indian summer vintage, with hot autumn weather making for an early harvest. The grapes were very warm when they arrived in the cellars and had to be cooled down. A tricky vintage which demanded a lot of the winemakers in order to avoid blocked fermentations and high volatile acidity. Here and there the absence of temperature control of the fermenting must made this an extra-challenging vintage to vinify. The most successful wines are true legends with a long life ahead of them.

  • 1949
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

A magnificent year — the best wines are still good now after more than 60 years.

An uneven, cool spring resulted in late flowering. Dry and warm summer conditions ripened the grapes nicely to an excellent state, which resulted in a fine harvest at the end of September. Rich, elegant wines of class and balance.

  • 1950
  • ★ Average for red
    ★★★ Good for white        

The year the wine tasting contest Le Tastevinage began.

Abundant vintage of variable quality. Hail and a wet summer inflicted rot, leading to a reduced crop. Although September was warm at the start, harvest rain made the grapes swell and diluted the must. Only the best terroirs and the most quality-conscious winemakers made good wines.

  • 1952
  • ★★★★ Very good

Firm, well-constituted; more attractive than in Bordeaux.

The terrible growing season of the previous year affected the vines, which only produced a small crop. June was dry, and after some rains hot weather arrived in July and August. September was fairly cool, with rains which reduced the quality from a potentially exceptional vintage.

Structured wines in both colours; those of the best terroirs still offer pleasure and will keep.

Some great white wines from Corton Charlemagne and Montrachet have maintained their vigour and strength.

  • 1953
  • ★★★★ Very good

Stylish, full-flavoured wines.

Some frost at the end of April made for uneven flowering; abundant rain and storms in June inflicted damage to the vineyards. After a cold and wet start of summer, August and September were warm and dry, making the vintage a success. More attractive wines than the previous vintage, which were popular in their day and hence are little seen.

  • 1955
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

Stylish, with finesse and vinosity.

A cold June and late flowering was followed by a classic hot summer without any problems until hail arrived on the day before the harvest. Beaune and the Corton hill were especially affected. The quality-conscious vignerons had to make a strong nettoyage selection from these vineyards, thereby reducing the quantity. Wines with a lot of body and power. Some well-balanced Corton-Charlemagnes were made which still hold their strength.

  • 1956
  • Poor

Challenging vintage, small production. Thin wines.

1956 went down in history as the coldest year since 1709. After three weeks of frost in February when the temperature went as low as -30°C, causing damage to the vines, the spring was wet and cold, resulting in a slow and long flowering which ended very late in mid-July. The summer continued this theme, being mostly wet and cold. A warm September could not save this vintage. Harvest started on 15 October. Due to the poor state of the wines the annual Hospices de Beaune auction was not held. Now rarely seen. 

  • 1957
  • ★★★ Good

Firm and intensely flavoured wines, acidity less marked than in Bordeaux.

Low temperatures in spring resulted in late flowering. After a warm start to summer, August and September were cool and rainy. The resulting wines were tight with pronounced acidity, which needed time to soften. It's this acidic backbone which has kept them alive to this day — now fully mature, the fruit shows itself better.

  • 1958
  • ★★ Moderately good

Abundant but variable.

A very wet season resulted in light wines of little interest at the time. Most have been drunk. As always the wines from the best terroirs made the most of this difficult vintage, and some Grand Cru whites are still showing well.

  • 1959
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★ Good for white       

A record crop of magnificent wines, legendary and still very good. Full but soft-textured.

After a number of difficult vintages and small crops, finally a great vintage arrived with the rare combination of sufficient quantity and high quality.

An ideal spring flowering was followed by hot and dry weather in July and August. Showers refreshed the vines and on 14 September the harvest commenced under clear skies.

Great, charming wines of rich, ripe fruit balancing the structured tannins. Still with a long life ahead.

The Sixties

  • 1961
  • ★★★★ Very good

Not quite at the same level as the wines made in Bordeaux, but still a remarkably good vintage. After a fairly warm start to spring, a cooler period caused uneven flowering and berry-set. The dry and hot summer that followed resulted in small, high-quality grapes. Initially quite tight wines which needed time to soften; the best wines are still showing very well.

  • 1962
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding

Supple and attractive wines which are arguably superior to the 1961s.

After a cool and wet start to spring, warmer weather arrived at the beginning of May. Despite a cold spell and some localized storms, summer went by without many excesses. Apart from a heavy storm early in the month, September was fairly regular. The harvest started on 6 October.

The 62s’ elegance and seductive nature made them appear to be for the medium-term. However, time has revealed that behind the sexy fruit a lot of structure was hidden. Although seldom seen nowadays, the finest 62s are still wines to seek out.

  • 1963
  • ★ Average for reds
    ★★ Moderately good for whites

Light wines with pronounced acidity; the whites especially have aged remarkably well.

A warm spring enabled regular flowering which ended in early July, but a wet and cold summer diminished all hopes for a very good vintage. While early September was dry, the rest of the month was unstable and foggy. The harvest of the reds had to be very selective because a lot of grapes were affected by rot. Quality-conscious domaines that pruned severely and waited for fine weather to arrive produced good wines — the Grand and Premier Cru terroirs of Meursault, Corton-Charlemagne and Montrachet are where the finer examples are to be found. The high acidity has kept these wines alive and they are currently showing their potential.

  • 1964
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★ Good for white

Full, almost opulent wines. More even and reliable than in Bordeaux. Well-balanced.

The very cold winter was followed by a warm spring and a hot, dry summer. After the mid-September storms fine weather returned and stayed until the harvest, which started at the end of the month and continued into October.

  • 1966
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white            

Mixed 1960’s Beaune. Above 3 magnums and 24 bottles per lot. Estimate: HK$16,000-22,000. This lot is offered in Fine and Rare Wines Featuring Historic Vintages Direct from the Cellars of Bouchard Père & Fils and an Esteemed Connoisseur’s Private Collection Part IV on 3 September 2016 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

An abundant crop of high quality. Elegantly styled, subtle, well-balanced wines.

Very uneven conditions dominated the growing season until sunny skies arrived in September, maturing the grapes to full ripeness.  

  • 1967
  • ★★ Moderately good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white      

Delicately flavoured wines, light and pleasant at best. Underestimated at the time and therefore less well-known.

Severe frost in early May reduced the size of the crop, but conditions were good for the rest of the season. High hopes for an excellent vintage were shattered by a period of 10 days’ rain in September which caused widespread rot. Although fine weather returned, the damage had been done.

The whites fared better than the reds; only the best terroirs still deserve attention.

  • 1969
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

Classic vintage of well-constituted wines.

A cold rainy spring was followed by a hot dry summer with some drought problems here and there. The ripening of the grapes was slowed down by wet and cold weather until mid-September, but fine and dry weather leading up to the harvest enabled optimal maturation.

The 1969 reds were never charming and always a bit reserved behind their tannins. Now fully mature, this is a vintage to look out for, especially bottles from cool cellars — as always, storage conditions are key to the development and survival of old wines.

The Seventies

  • 1971
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

Small crop of firmly structured wines of good quality.

The cold, hail and rain of spring caused flowering to be late and uneven. In the Côte de Beaune a localized attack of hail reduced the crop to half its normal size. September was very hot and dry, making the vintage. On release the 1971s were tight and reserved, not showing much charm. After about a decade the tannins had softened and they began to open up and reveal fine aromas — these are rich and intense whites with some toffee tones from the ultra-ripe fruit, and reds of class.   

  • 1972
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★ Good for white

Big crop of very good wines. Good deep colour. High acidity.

The season started well with even and rapid flowering. The summer that followed was rather cool and dry. Fortunately September was very warm, with some useful showers resulting in a huge crop of good wines. Most have had high acidity, which has preserved them over time. Though rarely seen at auction, the remaining 1972s from the best terroirs continue to give much pleasure and are worthy of attention.  

  • 1973
  • Poor for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white    

Lighter, elegantly styled red wines. The whites have a great reputation and continue to show well.

An early and favourable start to the growing season raised hopes. Until mid-July the summer was hot and dry, but then rains came and continued until mid-September, resulting in a huge crop of light and elegant reds. The whites fared much better: the Corton-Charlemagne and southern Côte de Beaune Grand Crus delivered some really very good wines.

A winemaker’s vintage — those who pruned strictly and were very selective made the best wines.

  • 1975
  • Poor           

A challenging vintage. ‘In a difficult year, the terroir will speak louder than the vintage’ — Aubert de Villaine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

High hopes for a very good vintage were shattered by a 25-day period of rain in September that caused widespread rot. Those who made extremely severe selections made some good wines. A difficult year.

  • 1976
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

One of the earliest harvests in history. A small crop from a heatwave year with exceptional drought produced very concentrated musts with high tannin levels. Tough wines from the start; some grapes never reached phenolic ripeness, being harvested on their sugar levels. Good wines were made by conscientious winemakers — as always it’s the best domaines to look out for.

  • 1978
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

In 1961 Bordeaux had the last word; in 1978 Burgundy reigned supreme. A wet June led to uneven flowering. Less sun during summer than normal, but then an exceptional late Indian summer — the end of August and September made this a legendary vintage. Harmonious, silky and structured wines with great length. One of the best vintages of the century.

  • 1979
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white            

Spring started rather cold, but in May warmer weather arrived to get the flowering off to a good start. Normal warm summer conditions followed, apart from a fierce local storm in June which minimized the crop size in Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny. The harvest started at the end of September. Fine elegant wines were just a touch softer than the 78s; Côte de Beaune did particularly well.

The Eighties

  • 1982
  • ★★ Moderately good for red
    ★★★ Good for white

Fine spring weather resulted in a rapid fruit-set, followed by a textbook summer and a warm start to autumn. However there was little green harvesting at the time, so the resulting crop was huge. Pinot Noir is very sensitive to high production and, despite the ideal growing conditions, this has affected the character of the vintage. The red wines were light and offered immediate drinking pleasure in their early life; the whites did much better because Chardonnay is less sensitive to high cropping levels. The best climats could still provide some surprises.

  • 1983
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white              

A difficult vintage: hard, tannic red wines and rich, intense whites.

Warm weather didn’t appear until late in May to kick off flowering, although it was still relatively cool. The summer started well until the second week of August, when rain arrived. This wet period stayed on into September, causing problems with rot. The warm sunny weather which returned in mid-September further concentrated the grapes, but was also quite favourable to noble rot. Harvest started on 22 September in the Côte de Beaune. Remarkably some of the white grapes in Meursault were affected by botrytis, and made a Vendange Tardive wine. The reds were quite tannic and hard when young; some have remained this way, while others have rounded out over time. A vintage to approach selectively with caution.  

  • 1985
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

Fruit-forward, charming wines.

One of my favourite vintages. After a very cold winter spring was warm and got the flowering going at a steady pace. A few cold weeks at the start of June delayed the fruit-set. Then ideal warm summer conditions from August until well into September made for a very easy growing season. The resulting high-volume crop offered red grapes that were perfectly ripened and full of elegance. Great red wines which continue to provide exceptional drinking pleasure.

  • 1986
  • ★★★ Good for red and white

Late flowering was due to cold winter weather which continued into March. Fine spring weather arrived and stayed well into August. The mid-September rains caused some problems with rot. Strict selection was necessary to make the best wines. An interesting vintage: intense, opulent whites with pronounced nutty aromas from the concentrated grapes, and fresh elegant reds with silky tannins.

  • 1988
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★ Good for white

Well-structured reds and fresh, crisp whites.

A textbook growing season: a mild spring and a long, hot summer with occasional showers to refresh the vines, and clear sunny skies leading up to the harvest. As in Bordeaux the 1988 red Burgundies were not easy wines, yes it was clear they were destined for greatness, with a full structure and concentrated aromas waiting to be revealed after sufficient time in bottle. The whites are well-balanced and fine-tuned, although the lesser terroirs lack a bit of depth. The greatest red wines continue to develop and need more time to show their true potential.

  • 1989
  • ★★★★ Very good for red and white

An interesting contrast to the more reserved 88s: wines of charm, with a rich, opulent character.

After a warm March and some frost damage in April, which reduced the crop size, the flowering started in early May. The summer was very hot, with some rain at the end of July. This weather continued until the harvest, making for intense, full and rich grapes. This character shows through in the wines: the whites have always been fairly rich and rounded, leaning towards a full-bodied style. The best terroirs show better balance, with lingering acidity behind the luscious fruit.    

The Nineties

  • 1990
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

A great vintage for red Burgundy.

The mild winter caused the vines’ vegetation to spring to life earlier than usual. April to June was cool, slowing down the flowering and reducing the bunches. Summer was hot and dry, with just enough rain to keep the vines from going into hydric stress. Harvest commenced early on 20 September.

The whites were very concentrated with fine acidity; the fairly large crop of Chardonnay meant that the 1990 whites are just behind the 1989s. A striking feature of the Pinot Noir grapes that came in was their thick skins, not so common in Burgundy, resulting in wines with a lot of colour and extract. The 1990 reds are impressive, complete wines with charm and backbone, and extremely well-balanced.

  • 1991
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★ Good for white

A vintage which was completely overlooked at first — following the great 1990s, this was not a surprise. Early in spring there was a severe frost which drastically brought down the potential volume. Flowering was long and took place in cool conditions. Summer was hot and dry, but a fierce local storm on 22 August brought hail down on the vineyards of Morey to Vosne and did serious damage. August finished with fine sunny weather which continued into September and up to the harvest.

Good quality whites of elegance and pure fruit. The reds were more uneven — some tight and too many extracted wines, but overall a successful vintage which gave wines of strength and depth and significant ageing potential. La Tâche 1991 is still an amazing wine.

  • 1992
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white

A great white-wine vintage, lovely and attractive.

After a mild winter and beginning to spring, flowering started early. Uneven weather throughout May caused delays and irregular fruit-set, which was desirable to reduce the size of a potentially huge crop. August was hot and sunny, bringing the grapes into an excellent ripened state for an early harvest on 12 September. Most of the crop was in before the rains arrived on 22 September.

In contrast to 1991 the berries were big, with a lot of juice. Gorgeous, fresh and lively wines. The whites of the best Grand Cru terroirs continue to offer a lot of pleasure.


  • 1993
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★ Good for white             

Full-bodied reds and fine whites.

The season began well with good flowering, but rain at the end of May slowed development and caused problems with mildew. June was very hot, and an early July hailstorm damaged part of the Nuits-St-Georges vineyards. Fine, warm and dry weather returned and lasted until early September, thickening the skins of the grapes advantageously for vinification. The weather then turned unpredictable and frequent showers tempered the high expectations for an exceptional vintage. When to start harvesting became a matter of personal opinion.

The acidity in the whites is fairly high, giving them a tighter character. A successful classic red-wine vintage offering wines of structure and rich, ripe black fruit.

  • 1994
  • ★★ Moderately good for red
    ★★★ Good for white

As in Bordeaux, high hopes were brought to an end by rain during harvest.

The winter of 1993/1994 was mild and wet, followed by a mild spring and a hot, dry summer. The Ban des Vendanges — the start of harvest — was announced on 16 September, and soon after it began to rain continuously for more than a week. To this day only the Grand Cru whites such as Montrachet show charm and vigour; generic and village reds should already have been drunk, and only the finest Grand Cru terroirs of quality-conscious growers still deserve attention. A vintage with which to be selective.  

  • 1995
  • ★★★★ Very good

A small crop of high quality for long ageing. As in 1985, the acidity in the white wines is hidden behind the ripe fruit.

An early frost and cool June weather severely reduced the size of the 1995 crop. July and August were fine, dry and warm, but cooler conditions arrived in September, bringing showers and overcast skies. Fortunately the rains were more spread out and did not do as much damage as in 1994. The harvest took place in cooler but dry weather. Careful selection was essential. The 1995 wines showed great potential in barrel, the silky tannins and fine acidity giving the wines a soft mouthfeel.

Very attractive white wines, with creamy structure balanced by fine-tuned acidity.

  • 1996
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding

Tough wines with an acidic backbone which needed time to show their charm; amazingly complete whites of length and balance. An exceptional vintage of long-distance runners, whose initial tight appearance didn’t make it an easy one to understand.

The dry end of winter continued into April, with low temperatures going on until the end of May, when warmer weather finally arrived. Fortunately May also brought some beneficial rainy periods to fortify the vines for the hot and dry summer that ensued. September was cold and dry, ensuring good sugar levels and acidity in the grapes.

  • 1997
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★★★ Outstanding for white           

A vintage which has presented pleasant and attractive red wines from day one. The whites were of the same high quality as the 1996s, but with more charm and seductive fruit masking the acidity.

After a wet and cool June and July very warm weather arrived in August, and with it occasional rain. September made the real difference in the growing season compared to 1996, with high temperatures and sunny skies from the first week allowing everyone to finish the harvest at a leisurely pace. A classic high-quality white wine harvest to cherish and enjoy for many years to come.

  • 1998
  • ★★★★ Very good for red
    ★★★ Good for white            

A difficult growing season which started with a light frost early in spring. Later in May the white-wine vineyards of the Côte de Beaune were caught by hail, further reducing the size of the crop. June was cool but dry, enhancing an even and rapid flowering which was finished in a little over two weeks. A warm July was followed a scorching August, with temperatures peaking at 40°C and some vines showing signs of sunburn. Hopes were high until September brought cold and wet weather. Fortunately almost two weeks of dry sunny weather brought the grapes back into full maturation.

The best wines are from the vineyards that were harvested late but also before the rains came on September 27. The reds are firm and tightly structured, needing time to show their true potential, not unlike their Bordeaux counterparts. Occasionally some green tannins are present and therefore selection is vital. The whites are fragrant and opulently styled.

  • 1999
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white          

A vintage offering the rare combination of sufficient quantity and high quality. The late Henri Jayer compared it to 1934.

A mild winter continued into a warm and even weather pattern in May, which got the flowering going at a steady pace. Without any major hail or frost damage it was clear from the start that the potential volume of the 1999 crop was high. June and the first half of July were fairly cool, then hot and dry weather brought some drought problems later in the summer. Those who green-harvested early had more healthy grapes on the vine. The harvest started on 15 September.

The 1999 whites are rich and concentrated wines with buttery tones; terroirs with higher natural acidity such as Corton-Charlemagne made the best wines. An exceptional vintage for Pinot Noir offering deep colours and rich, ripe black fruit of a unique purity, all well-balanced. A vintage to seek out.

2000 to the present

  • 2000
  • ★★★ Good

Burgundy had the upper hand in 1999, but in 2000 Bordeaux fared better. Nevertheless this is an attractive vintage of fruit-forward, charming wines.

The mild winter got the vegetation sprouting early, resulting in a precocious harvest. After an irregular July warm weather arrived in early August. On 12 September a fierce storm brought huge amounts of rain which flooded parts of the southern Côte de Beaune. Fortunately the skins were thick and able to withstand this wet spell. When dry and sunny weather returned the harvest began.

The Côte de Beaune whites were picked around the same time as the Côte de Nuits reds, a later harvest that was to their benefit. Wines of structure and precision; the reds are finely styled and elegant, making for lovely drinking in the coming years.

  • 2001
  • ★★★ Good for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

A wet winter was followed by a cool spring, with warm weather finally arriving at the end of May to start the flowering. Because the beginning of June was cold the flowering was extended, causing uneven fruit-set. A major hailstorm on 2 August brought damage to the crop in Volnay and parts of Pommard.

After a hot finish to August, cooler September weather arrived. The harvest started on 18 September but those who waited made the best wines. Fresh, elegant whites and pleasant, harmonious reds.   

  • 2002
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white           

A wonderful vintage of pure, rich, stylish reds and soft, rounded whites.

An early start to the flowering was followed by a variable summer with a bit of everything, from cold to warm to hot and back again. A long period of dry weather was starting to be a problem when early September rain arrived, replenishing the vines. When the wind turned north the grapes were dried and harvest could begin on 16 September under clear blue skies. 2002 is deservedly a popular vintage among Burgundy aficionados. What is there not to love about the pure fine forest fruits and strawberry aromas in the best red wines and the fresh mineral tones of the great whites? Wines to enjoy or keep for another ten years or more.

  • 2003
  • ★★★★ Very good 

An exceptional heatwave year which presented pleasant surprises while maturing in bottle.

One of the earliest harvests in history commenced on 19 August in the Côte d’Or. Despite some frost in April and local hailstorms the weather was mostly sunny and dry from February until September, causing hydric stress in some vineyards. The challenge for the winemakers was to wait for phenolic ripeness in order to make the best wines, but as the grapes matured their acidity levels dropped, making unbalanced wines a risk. Not an easy vintage to vinify.

Older Burgundians were called into the cellars by the younger generation to witness what a crazy harvest they had in their barrels. All were concerned by how these intense, full-bodied wines with high alcohol levels would mature. Time has revealed the whites to be better balanced than expected, with acidity levels restored. The red wines have matured better than anticipated, too.

  • 2005
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding      

A legendary vintage which is in the all-time top five. Well-balanced wines; the whites have acidity that is perfectly offset by luscious ripe fruit.

The 2004/05 winter was very cold and delayed the start of the vegetation cycle. Some red vineyards were still recovering from the hail damage of 2004 and hence offered limited yields.  

Spring was uneven with cold and warm spells that prolonged flowering and caused uneven fruit-set. After a short hot period in June, fine dry weather continued until harvest — some drought problems were the only worries of the vignerons. The Ban des Vendanges was announced for 12 September with a forecast of clear skies, so that everyone was able to start their vendange on the day of their choosing — a luxury which is not common in Burgundy. All wines have shown a great balance and structure behind dark, deep fruit. A vintage which is rightfully in high demand.

  • 2008
  • ★★★★ Very good

An indifferent spring caused uneven flowering and mildew risk. At the end of June the weather changed for the better, continuing into July. Apart from local hail in the Côte de Beaune at the end of July, the summer began well. August arrived fairly cold and variable, but fortunately the last week of the month brought fine, warm weather. The lead-up to harvest saw sunny skies, apart from two days of rain in mid-September. A challenging vintage.

From day one the red wines have had a rich, pure fruit character with fine, silky tannins. The whites offer a good balance between ripe fruit and vibrant acidity. A vintage not to be overlooked because the wines deliver potential and pleasure.  

  • 2009 
  • ★★★★★ Outstanding for red
    ★★★★ Very good for white

A warm spring with some hail in the northern part of the Côte de Nuits. After an even flowering and a warm June, the summer arrived with variable July weather. Fortunately August was fine with a period of hot weather in the second week. September started with some rain, then became fine and warm again. A harvest of healthy, ripe grapes followed. The 2009s have all the structure packed in with rich, luscious fruit. Comparable to the 2005s. Great wines.

Related departments

Related lots

Related auctions

Related content