Everything you need to know about the Burgundy 2020 vintage – in just 5 minutes!
It’s a pretty special vintage (at least something good came out of that otherwise catastrophic year…) But is it better for white or red wines? Was it warm or cool, big or small, what styles of wine can we expect? And, most importantly, what of the prices?!
In this quick-fire Q&A, Peter puts Susie on the spot, challenging her not only to sum up the wines in just 5 words but also to drink (Burgundy, of course) while she thinks – sometimes even while she’s talking.
And Susie has some quite eye-opening responses…
(ps and two of her favourite producers in this vintage are Paul Pillot in Chassagne for whites and Joannès Violot-Guillemard in Pommard for reds – photos below.)
Leave us a question, challenge or message in your own voice in seconds! All via the magic of Speakpipe:
Peter: Hello and welcome to Wine Blast Live, our short video podcast.
And in this one we’ve ditched the comedy outfits and the rubbish cocktail garnishes in favour of challenging you, Susie Barrie, Master of Wine, to tell us everything that we need to know about the 2020 Burgundy vintage in just five minutes. Are you up to it?
Susie: No pressure.
I’m of course, always up for it. Or up to it.
Peter: Glad to hear it.
I forgot to say that we will be drinking Burgundy as part of this challenge while we chat.
Susie: I already am.
Peter: You are, which is always good to see. I would say plus ca change but…
This is less of a challenge for me than it is for you drinking this stuff because you’ve got to talk more.
But you know, it’s true self sacrifice and all that.
I put myself on the line for this podcast…
Right, let’s get started.
2020 is the latest vintage release for the Burgundians. Is it good or bad?
Susie: Neither .
2020 is a GREAT vintage.
From the hundreds of wines I’ve tasted and everything I’ve read and heard, it’s a pretty special year.
I do remember going back to the 2020 Harvest someone in the trade saying the 2020 vintage might be one of the few good things to come from this depressing year.
How right he was!
Peter: and how much we need that.
Okay, so give us a bit more detail on the nature of the vintage.
Was it a warm or cool year was a big or small?
Susie: so it was a warm vintage.
It’s the third warm vintage in a row: 2018 2019 then 2020.
But the interesting about 2020 was: there were no big heat spikes, which never particularly good.
And it was just consistently warm and dry.
It was an early harvest, and there was a little bit of heat stress for the vines, or water stress.
But in general it was a non problematic year.
And actually what’s interesting is even though it was a hot year for various reasons, there was a lot of freshness in the wines, particularly the whites.
Peter: That’s good. What about quantities?
Susie: oh yeah, quantity. Second part of the question.
Well, it’s not as small as 2021 which is tiny, but it isn’t a huge vintage.
I think it’s about half the average quantity, and that was down to the heat.
Peter: I’m already hearing alarm bells ringing about pricing.
But we’ll come onto that in a second. Before we get into that, is this a year for the white wines or the red wines?
Is it a red vintage or a white vintage?
Susie: I’m gonna have to drink, because that’s hard to answer that.
Okay, well, if you want If you want to put it this way, if you want consistency If you want freshness, typicity, if you want potential mid to long term ageing: it’s the whites.
Peter: There we go!
You heard it here first: it’s a white vintage.
Susie: But you know the Reds, they are, frankly, all over the place.
I mean, certainly in terms of style.
And that comes down largely to producer philosophy on picking dates and the style he or she wants to to make.
Some are elegant and light and red fruited.
Some are in that style, but a bit more complex and gamey, which is where my heart definitely lies.
Others are really deeply coloured wines, rich and, you know, quite firm tannins.
Still balanced. Still beautiful.
And then others are just a bit too much.
Peter: Okay, there’s probably something out there for everyone in terms of the Reds?
Susie: I think there is that.
I think there’s some something for everyone, and in terms of taste, it depends what you like.
But the main thing to say is, you know, when they’re good, they are spectacular.
They really are.
I think what you’ve got to do is you have got to read the reviews.
Look for the wines – and I mean individual wines not just producers – individual wines that sound like they’re going to appeal to you.
Peter: So give us five words to describe the wines.
Fresh and vibrant.
Concentrated. Probably more for the reds.
They’re very stylish wines, and they’re very self assured.
Peter: There you are. In the bag.
What about to buy or not to buy?
Susie: Okay, so this is where wine lovers out there. You’ve got to ask yourselves the question.
Do you want to drink Burgundy?
Or do you want to drink really nice chardonnay and pinot noir?
If you want consistency and decent value, I would say you can look elsewhere.
Susie: Australia, New Zealand, other places.
But you know, Australian, New Zealand do spring to mind.
But if only Burgundy will do. And fair enough, then go for it.
But you have to be prepared for a bit more unpredictability in terms of ageing and development, and also you’ve got to be prepared to pay for it.
You know, the the you’re competing with the Far East market, who loved their Burgundy, and they are really prepared to pay for it.
Peter: Okay, so for people who are going for it, what’s your advice?
Susie: In terms of what to buy?
Probably bypass the entry level wines.
It’s a great vintage. So treat yourself.
Treat yourself to the mid range wines.
You could go for the top of the Grand cru but you don’t have to. If you want to drink it, fine.
But the mid range where you are in the village and premier cru level of a great producer.
You’re going to pay about 40 to 80 quid a bottle.
A lot of joy.
A lot of joy can be had at that level with those winds.
Peter: We like joy.
If you’ve got a challenge or question for us, please do shout meantime, Thanks for joining us.
Um, we’ll be back again very soon with more.
In the meantime, here’s to the joy of Burgundy! Cheers.