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Burgundy 2020 Vintage Report

“Burgundy’s 2020 vintage has defied the odds and despite a unique growing season, the region has yielded an exceptional array of
beautifully poised whites and succulent, alluring reds,” stated Cru Wine Founder & CEO Gregory Swartberg. Here he takes us through the season and shares his thoughts on the vintage.

A snapshot on the growing season

2020 certainly was an exceptional year. With a long, dry summer it was one of the earliest harvests on record in Burgundy, with many growers starting their picking mid-August. Thanks to a mild winter and without much of a frost threat to bud burst, the vines started their growth early and with a sunny and dry Spring the vines started their flowering in early to mid-May, which pointed to signs of an early harvest.

Whilst we were busy reaping the benefits of a rare British summer of sunshine, locked down in our gardens and slowly sipping our way through the contents of our wine stores, the vines in Burgundy were also hit with a warm and dry summer. With little frost or hail, the growing season is marked only by the lack of significant rain. Most of the Côte d’Or saw little to no rain fall during a warm but not excessively hot summer season. The dry conditions also meant there were very few issues with diseases and mildew, but the cool summer nights helped to retain acidity levels in the grapes.

There was some relief in August with rainfall, especially in Chablis. There have been a few reports of some dry stress from the drought, mostly with the fickle and delicate Pinot Noir vines, resulting in lower yields for this grape.

Picking began in mid-August, with some reds ripe before the whites due to the smaller crop. Weather conditions were warm and sugar levels were reported to leap up quickly between the beginning and end of the harvest. All in all, most producers reported an easy harvest and are extremely happy with the results.

Picking season at Fevre
Picking gets underway at William Fevre in Chablis

“Une belle surprise”

Despite the warm growing season, with little to no rainfall across the region, the acidity, freshness and balance in this vintage is outstanding, one which is unmissable for every wine collector. Critics so far are all in agreement on the ageing potential of these wines, given the excellent balance of acidity and tannic structure.

Many producers have been stumped as to how such a dry growing season has produced wines with such balanced acidity, with vignerons reporting that they believe that the vines “shut down” due to the dry conditions, pausing sugar development which has led to the preserved balance and retained acidity.

“The 2020 vintage is shaping up to be a prodigious success for white Burgundy.”

William Kelley | The Wine Advocate

So far what we have had the fortune to taste as a team in December 2021 has shown impeccable freshness on the whites with excellent minerality while the reds are already showing longevity, packed with powerful flavours.

With the 2021 harvest looking rather small, do not be surprised to see less availability on the market, tighter allocations and a possible surge in pricing for the 2020’s. First of the major critics to release their findings, Neal Martin, notes that “We must factor in the 2021 growing season, another tiny crop for the whites, which means that Burgundy lovers will double down on securing 2020s, while winemakers are incentivized to withhold their 2020s in order to supplement next year’s shortfall”.

We are incredibly excited to have added some new producers to our range of Burgundy En-Primeurs for 2020. Available quantities are extremely limited and we are most certainly encouraging collectors to look past their usual ‘go to’ producers. Martin does voice that “So many 2020s deserve attention. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the most sought-after wines, but there is a simple remedy. Expand your purview. Look beyond the label. Venture into uncharted appellations and unfamiliar growers” … and over the coming weeks, we hope we can help you expand your collection.

In summary

I think 2020 is a great vintage to add to anyone’s cellar as the wines are fantastic and they are going to age well, notwithstanding that the price doesn’t yet reflect the lower yield for the 2021 vintage. Producers and suppliers will want to keep some wines back to factor the lower volume of next year, so if you can get a hold of some of the great 2020 wines, we highly recommend it.

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