During the two vintages prior to 2013, wine producers in Burgundy had been challenged by the weather conditions provided by mother nature. In this vintage the Cote de Beaune in particular was hardest hit with hail storms depleting at least one third of the harvest for the Volnay and Pommard appellations. In fact these two appellations suffered three separate hail storms. One at budburst, one during flowering and one during the veraison (when the skin of the grapes changes colour and begins ripening). This third hail storm had a devastating effect on yields. The Cote de Nuits was more fortunate with only around a 10% loss of yields.

The months from January to March were colder than usual delaying the budburst. In early spring it rained and rained with numerous producers mumbling about saturated vineyards. The temperature remained low and with frequent heavy rain showers continuing, flowering took place over an extended period with a delay of 3 weeks.

August brought reasonable weather with enough warmth to further encourage ripening although remember everything was happening three weeks later than usual and when September arrived weather conditions remained warm and humid with the risk of rot ever present.

When would the optimum time be to harvest ? In the event there is a large divide between the times many producers chose to begin their harvest. Ripeness, when it came, happened very quickly but acid levels were also reducing quickly.

Challenging conditions indeed. Make that `stressful conditions’ for the producers.

In the end analysis the Cote de Nuits producers enjoyed the better of the erratic weather condtions in 2013. and armed with a wealth of family knowledge of their own vines, attentive practices in the vineyards and a `gut feeling’ have produced some very fine and approachable wines.

The lack of volume for the white wines especially for Puligny Montrachet, is a consideration and if you wish to receive your annual allocations, you will need to buy quickly.These wines are quite floral, fresh and approachable and will bring early drinking pleasure.

The red wines from the better producers have been, for me, a wonderfully pleasant surprise ! Again medium bodied they present beautiful, silky ripeness with intensity and freshness and round tannins. Quite perplexing considering the weather conditions !

Certainly a challenging vintage but one with a happy ending in terms of quality and rather disappointing in terms of the low volumes available.
Philip Slocombe