The 2012 vintage for Burgundy had its fair share of problems but still managed to produce some fantastic wines.
A wet, cool spring saw the occasional bout of frost, but it was the persistent rain that proved most problematic. Further difficulties arose in early June when hailstorms slashed the region and the appellations of Meursault, Saint-Aubin, Beaune, and Chassagne came badly under siege. Fortunately, flowering only took a minor hit. However, the damp conditions continued throughout July and cooler than average temperatures proved ripe for mildew. Most producers, at this point, were relying on sprays to combat the mildew and producers who were prohibited by organic and biodynamic practices likely suffered the most.
Temperatures warmed up towards the end of the month however hailstorms, at the beginning of August, viciously struck most of the same appellations across the Côte de Beaune as before. In the aftermath of the hail, powdery mildew posed a serious problem. Fortunately, the weather began to improve as temperatures climbed, although the heat did prompt the occasional storm and some grapes, especially in the Côte de Nuits, suffered from heat and sunburn. As much of the crop had been cut by rain, hail and sunburn, what had survived ripened rapidly in time for a September harvest.
For whites, the harvest began mid-September for Chardonnay and despite the growing season’s earlier problems, the vast majority of fruit was healthy. However, timing was essential,l and some wines suffered from grapes being picked too early giving them a slightly green character. However, others picked on the later side could veer towards clunky. The picking for reds began late September and careful sorting was required but the Pinot Noir berries that did make it through the turbulent growing season tended to be small and concentrated.
The resulting yields were lower than normal and although quality was generally good, it did vary. For the reds, there was a danger that some wines were over-extracted leaving them a little thin in body; others were richly concentrated, although often still on the light side. Top wines emerged from the Côte d’Or and Côte Chalonnaise and the safest bets are likely to come from the top estates or ones with solid reputations.
Many of the whites were fresh and expressive with some particularly good examples from Chablis. However, some were slightly high in acidity and lacked body and quality – like the reds – fluctuated dramatically. Most whites will be drinking well now and, foremost, further aging will be unnecessary. Like the reds, the best whites are likely to come from the top estates or other reputably producers.
Overall, the 2012 vintage for Burgundy was too inconsistent to be great but some good wines were made. Most wines will be ready to drink now but careful research is probably wise.
Vintage quality: Good
Current condition: Ready to drink