Burgundy 2021 En Primeur Vintage Report

The 2021 Burgundy vintage was largely a mixed bag, which is mostly down to the wild and unpredictable weather that blighted the growing season.

The growing season began off the back of an unusually balmy winter – mild, wet winters appear to be Burgundy’s new norm as a result of climate change – which initiated both early vine growth and budbreak. Unfortunately, the early arrival of the new vine growth left it susceptible to the elements and come the elements did. April saw temperatures take a sharp dive and a vicious frost set in, its icy grip wreaked havoc on the vines causing particular damage to Chardonnay. To add further insult to injury, snow then followed.

Summer continued in a depressingly damp vein with the intermittent rains making rot and disease like mildew a very real threat. However, June finally saw temperatures rise and there were enough sunny days to dry out the vines, reducing the risk of disease. Although June’s warmth prompted an early flowering, regional hail, however, then struck which again caused damage.

Heavy rain suddenly became the order of the day with little sunshine – or relief – throughout both July and August, this meant vignerons had to be vigilant when it came to keeping both rot and disease at bay. The weather finally eased before véraison and the fruit was finally allowed to dry out. Although the fruit did ripen – unusually the reds were quicker to ripen then the whites – the earlier stresses of hail, frost and rain had taken their toll resulting in one of Burgundy’s smallest ever vintages.

Overall, it is likely that the 2021 vintage for Burgundy will be far more vintage for reds than for whites as yields for whites were heavily reduced – although yields for reds were not high either. The quality of what was made, however, is said to be very good. One thing perhaps going in favour of this vintage is that the cooler-than-usual growing season failed to beat high alcohol into the grapes – as has been the case in recent years – leaving instead an arguably more refined style more closely aligned with classic Burgundy.