Burgundy 2021: Summarising a difficult vintage with incredible promise

Burgundy 2021: Summarising a difficult vintage with incredible promise

This year we are offering a range of carefully selected 2021 Burgundy En Primeur offers, from the producers we feel are making stand-out wines. Read more about the 2021 vintage here, and register your interest to receive these exceptional offers.

This year we offered a range of carefully selected 2021 Burgundy En Primeur offers, from the producers we feel are making stand-out wines. Please note allocations have now been made.

If the pandemic vintage of 2020 is to be known as one of plenty, then its successor 2021 will perhaps be best known for the opposite. There is no denying that 2021 was a tough vintage in Burgundy, with frost issues, and cold, damp conditions leading to a dramatic reduction in quantities produced. Yet despite the low yields, the vintage is one that perfectly showcases the amazing resilience of Burgundian winemakers. They are ones to weather every storm, and out of a tough year, they have crafted beautiful wines with good potential. In the expert words of Jasper Morris MW: ‘do not panic, the wines taste much better than the weather conditions might have suggested.’

Chablis Vines during the Frost. Photography by Titouan Rimbault // @titouanrimbaultphotographe

The Facts: 

  • The weather was tough in 2021. April came with devastating Spring frost that swept through from Chablis down to the Maconnais.

  • Chardonnay vines typically bud before Pinot Noir, so these Spring frosts mostly affected the white grapes yield rather than red. However, the whites had longer to recover during the growing season and show good quality.

  • Summer months were cold and damp, however, which slowed Pinot’s ripening and increased the risk of mildew.

  • Thankfully by September temperatures had begun to rise and ripening across the surviving vines caught up in time for harvest.

  • During harvest, meticulous sorting was key, even for the white grapes. This began in the vineyard for many, where only the best surviving fruit was hand selected. It was then sorted once more in the winery, ensuring a low yield but promising fine quality.

  • Low yields were the norm across Burgundy. How low are we talking? Antoine Jobard in Meursault reported that he was mostly down by 70 to 85%, and it is a similar story across the Cote d’Or. 2021 is going to be a rarity.


Our takeaway:

We have previously enjoyed the 2018/2019/2020 vintages as they were born from warm, generous years that have allowed them to be quite approachable when young. Yet all three of these years were perhaps lacking some of the classical elegance many of us crave in our Burgundy.

2021 was a tough year, but with perseverance and drive the winemakers and growers have been able to create wines that should return to the elegant styles we love most. This is reassuring to know, as the yields were dramatically down and as a result, we expect prices to be quite high. This is a necessity though. Each winemaker we love, and champion runs a tiny operation and relies on mother nature to make or break a vintage that they spend an entire year carefully nurturing. Their bills for dry good etc have also increased substantially, and unfortunately, that translates to a higher price for us to pay. All the more reason to buy En Primeur to ensure you receive not only the best price, but also the opportunity to support the producers who have toiled hard to create these amazing wines.

The 2021 vintage shows early promise, and we believe these wines will reward patience and go on to offer elegant, refined expressions of Burgundy. This really is a rarity in a time when global warming makes the 2018/2019/2020 vintages the rule and no longer the exception. With 2022 being exceptionally warm, will 2021 perhaps be one of the last, classic Burgundy expressions for quite some time? Only time will tell.