2005 Red Burgundies: Selections from an Outstanding Vintage

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We recently had the opportunity to taste a selection of Red Burgundies from the 2005 vintage being offered to the market by J.A.O Imports in McLean, VA. The 2005 vintage was one of Burgundy’s finest red wine vintages in recent memory, and we were delighted to assess the development of the wines in bottle and their future prospects.

Perhaps only the 1999 vintage was considered in the same category as 2005, though it was a more generous harvest. Tasting the 2005 reds soon after bottling, several wine critics gave the vintage very high marks. For example, Clive Coates, a world expert on Burgundy, acclaimed it was “a magnificent red wine vintage,” while Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator pronounced the vintage as “stupendous.” These critics were joined in their assessment by the region’s vignerons like Jean Marie Fournier who told Jancis Robinson that “the growing season was boring—but great.”

What was special about the growing season? As Jean Marie Fournier noted, the growing season was uneventful. It was exceptionally dry and warm in the summer months. During the final phase of ripening in early September, there were welcome rains followed by a long spell of excellent weather. Due to a lack of water many of the grapes picked in 2005 were small with thick skins, full of flavor, tannin and color. Most vignerons harvested their grapes at the end of September, achieving uniform phenolic ripeness and healthy fruit. Vinification of the wines was also generally trouble free, although a cold winter and early spring slowed down the evolution of the wines in barrel.

VinesThe wines in bottle initially revealed the great potential of the vintage, and great wines were produced everywhere, showing lots of color, ripeness, flavor and harmony combined with good concentration, high acidity, and firm tannic structure. However, soon after bottling, the 2005’s began to shut down and were expected to remain closed for years to come. In fact, Clive Coates recommended that wine enthusiasts “lay them down and throw away the key” as the wines likely wouldn’t be at their best until around 2016 for the village wines and around the mid-2020s for the top Premiers and Grands Crus.

In our recent tasting of the 2005 red Burgundies, we give many of the wines excellent ratings for their overall qualities, while noting that many of them are still very young and likely to require considerably more time to develop in the bottle before they are at their best. Several of the wines reveal youthful acidity and firm tannins characteristic of young wines, while others show earthiness, rusticity, and bold flavors that should become more refined and elegant in later years. Needless to say, we tasted many wonderful wines, from excellent producers. However, the wines are only now beginning to come around a little, although they are far from fulfilling their potential. Our rating, therefore, are based more on the wines as they are today than what they might become in 10 to 20 years.

Importer: J.A.O Wine Imports, McLean, VA

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