Why are the wines so great?
2005 is considered one of the best vintage in Burgundy for red wines in the past few decades. Other “contenders” for this spot include the two vintages (1990 and 1999) which kicked off and ended the 1990s and the duo 2009/2010 from very recent history.
What happened in 2005? Simple answer: weather condition was almost perfect, month after month...
Cold winter - The winter of 2004/2005 was cold and quite long (did not end until March 10th). The low temperature killed of any bugs, thus leaving the vines in great healthy condition.
Wet spring - April and May were wetter than normal, which helped replenish the water supply in the soil, in light of the drought conditions to come in the summer. In fact, there was not much rain from end of May onwards till end of August.
Dry and hot summer - Other than in June when there was more sunshine than average, the entire ripening period was enjoying nice weather, but not burning hot. Vines would shut down their system of photosynthesis when facing excess heat; this was not the case at all. While sugar level gradually builds up, the lack of rain during this period also ensure no development of fungal disease. The lack of rain did however negatively impact younger vines given their shallower root system.
Mild rainy September - Entering September, all vignerons were eagerly waiting for the much needed rain to come, and it did! The vignerons took their time to harvest, waiting for the perfect moment for the grapes to achieve the ideal ripeness level.
Yet, the harvest was “boring”. Why? Because there wasn’t much work that need to be done. Grapes are mostly healthy without much foliage, so picking was a piece of cake. Sorting table was almost not required to take out the less than ideal ones.
What about the wine quality? Simply perfect! The vines enjoy the rare combination of ripeness, fullness and quantity. The wine tends to show both the freshness from a cool vintage and the richness and texture of a hot year. The wines can be consumed young due to the ripe fruit but also has real ageing potential. Lastly, the terrior differences across the vineyards would be clearly shown through the wine.
Jancis Robinson nicely summarized her view on the vintage: “In general, all the wines are charming, truly succulent and they faithfully express their origins. Can one ask for more?”
Interestingly, it is not just in Burgundy, but 2005 seems to be great to excellent in many parts in the world: Bordeaux (one of the best), Italy (above average), USA (above average) and Australia (one of the best).When mother nature shares her love, the winemakers simply use the vines as a tool to bring out the best from the terrior. It’s just a harmonious collaboration!