Burgundy with Jasper Morris MW – The Wine Conversation November 16th, 2021

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JMIB 2 wine Conversation

Episode Summary:

Jasper Morris MW, one of the world’s leading experts on Burgundy, talks to Sarah Kemp about the region and the new edition of his award-winning book, Inside Burgundy, which has just been published. The first edition was published over ten years ago and Jasper discusses the updated book and the aspects of Burgundy which have been affected by climate change.

In the new edition, he has gone into more detail on lesser-known areas, such as Monthélie, Fixin, and the Maconnais, and tells Sarah he regrets not being able to cover Beaujolais, but, he notes, “after 800 pages, a book has to be bound by hand.” The new edition is 150 pages longer than the first, and describes more than 1,200 vineyards and 300 wine villages, as well as appraising 700 domaines. He discusses how climate change has affected the vintages and discloses how the producers have responded to new conditions. Jasper explains how the changing patterns of airflow and wind has meant that the polar air currents are much weaker and are sliding down, and how there are now fewer southwestern winds, but more north and south, which are both dry. “People have to manage extreme weather events, plus a generally hot and dryer climate,” he says.

Jasper also talks about the different measures the producers are taking to deal with the new climate conditions, including electric cables (which are already used in Chablis, but need large water supplies), mobile wind turbines and smudge pots, though, he adds, some producers are reluctant to use them, as they are petro-chemical based.

The rise of Aligoté is something that Jasper tells Sarah he is in favour of, as it is properly Burgundian, and takes longer to ripen, which brings freshness and acidity. He believes that canopy management is crucial, and rootstock needs looking at, as some rootstock is failing. He reports that the picking window has changed and producers need to be ready to go earlier than before. “People are going to have to be a lot more intelligent about their picking dates,” he states. The use of whole bunch and partial bunch fermentation is also discussed.

“2014 and 2017 had wider windows for picking because the sugars weren’t galloping, and that’s why those two are amongst my favourite two white Burgundy vintages,” Jasper reveals. He explains he likes early-ripening sites less than before and has found that Pommard “is hitting a wonderful streak of exciting wines.”

Sarah asks him what had surprised him most when writing the second edition. “Aligoté has leapt forward,” he replies. They discuss premature oxidation and Sarah asks if it has gone away. “No, but it nearly has,” he replies.

Jasper then talks about how the different vintages are developing for both reds and whites, which vintages to keep and which to drink, plus his favourites. Finally, the question of value is raised by Sarah and Jasper advises to look at some of the best producers in lesser communes. He also suggests there is true value to be found in Monthélie, Saint-Romain, the Hautes Côtes and the Maconnais.

“It was this frost in 2021 which has made people realise quite how serious it is.”

— JASPER MORRIS MW

Listen to the replay here.

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