Skip to content

Burgundy 2010 – The Terroirist’s Year


Both David Roberts and I spent a glorious two weeks in Burgundy tasting through the 2010 wines. With a combined effort, we covered as far north as Chablis and as far south as Beaujolais (a region to pay much attention to because quality has catapulted and many wines are just fantastic value). We could not have been more impressed and it was a truly palate-opening experience.

In my own experience, I can honestly say that besides 2005, the 2010 vintage was the most thrilling for me to taste “˜en primeur’. Racy, yet succulent at the same time, almost all of the wines embodied a laser-like core to them making them incredibly pure, focused, mineral, super fresh and terroir-driven but with wonderfully ripe fruit. Chiselled was one of the adjectives of choice in many of the cellars. They are quite different from 2005’s powerful, broad and velvety personalities.

It is also a vintage that is notably unlike 2009. Though 2009 was wonderfully delicious and easy to appreciate overall, 2010 will be for the Burgundy lover. Each terroir is exact and expressive. Chambolle’s Cras could not be anything else, while Puligny’s Perrières was all lace and polished stones. Yet varieties also triumph. The reds truly “˜pinote’ as the vignerons say, meaning that they are Pinot Noir at its best.

One may wonder what contributed to the excitement of this vintage as the growing season was far from ideal. The growing season was long which is always a great thing in our books as it enables greater minerality and deeper flavour profiles. But flowering generally suffered from the cold and dampness and as a result quantities were greatly diminished, by up to 50% for some growers. This is the key for 2010’s incredible success. With less grapes, those remaining were able to be tended to more with increased concentration in flavours, acidity, tannin, minerality and sugar. They were also very small further adding to the wines’ wonderful intensity.

Though it was not a physically tiring vintage to taste such as 2003 which had elevated levels of tannins, dry extracts and alcohol, I personally found it fairly mentally strenuous after both weeks because so many of the wines were just utterly intriguing. The bloodhound in me was seeking all the different flavour components as well as palate sensations. For many wines, there is an interplay between sweet and sour flavours that I found endlessly appealing. The search for a wine’s sculpted nuances – even at their infantile stage – pulled me in to no end.

Certain people have asked whether red or white has the edge and to me, I can honestly say that they are both very good- excellent. If I was forced to choose, however, reds most likely have the upper hand because obtaining ripe Pinot fruit while retaining an incredibly sculpted, glossy structure is not an easy feat. Yet, the whites are also delicious. Some winemakers excelled in 2010’s arena, producing wines similar to 2007 but with more concentration, structure and intensity. All good in my book.

These look to be wines that will be capable of long cellaring yet which will not be overly structured, forced or heavy. Many are absolute beauties and will deliver lots of pleasure (and some cerebral stimulation if desired)… that is, if you can manage to get your hands on some.