Latest News – December 2021 December 20th, 2021

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Jasper Christmas Tree

It is cold and damp at the moment in Burgundy, but thoughts are turning to Christmas and the end of a very difficult year. A brief survey of 2021, a year with some highs and a number of very definite lows, will follow between now and the 31st.

For me, the principal high has been the successful publication of the Second Edition of my Inside Burgundy book – now all but sold out from most stockists, and with a reprint coming in January. Work on this new edition took me to a whole range of producers whose wines I did not know as well as I would like.

The worst of the year was the loss of three great friends, all of whom broke the mould in their respective areas of vinous expertise – Becky Wasserman, Jim Clendenen and Steven Spurrier. The wine world and my own life was enormously enriched by each of them.

For vignerons throughout France, 2021 was a very challenging year, starting with the brutal frosts at the beginning of April and continuing through a tricky growing season, culminating in a harvest that may yet prove to be a lot more interesting in quality than could initially have been imagined.

Prices for vineyard land and also for the wines of Burgundy continue to press upwards in dangerous fashion. Of course I am delighted that the Hospices de Beaune sale in November, now under the direction of Sotheby’s, earned so much for charitable causes, but we do not need to see further substantial rises in regular pricing.

We have just been hearing of numerous vineyards changing hands – it is not entirely coincidental that such a spate has come through more or less together, because the new vineyard year starts at Martinmas (11th November), but this year a significant number of major vineyards in the Côte de Nuits are heading into new hands, principal benefactors being Comte Liger-Belair, Domaine des Lambrays, Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat, Domaine de la Vougeraie and Jean-Yves Bizot.

I have much more to say on all these points in a Review of 2021 before the end of the year.

Meanwhile Covid is sweeping the region. I have been incredibly fortunate not to have succumbed myself (as far as I know!) and only to have had one appointment cancelled for Covid reasons this year. There appear to have been various super spreader events around the time of the Hospices de Beaune auction, not excluding the Paulée de Meursault, and the ripples have spread out to one wine commune after another.

Never apologise, never explain, they say. I shall do both however. The apology is for the lack of content uploaded to the website during the past two months. The explanation is that I have been flat out sniffing my way through all the 2020 Burgundies and a few thousand tasting notes will be reaching you over the next couple of weeks. My plan is to deliver the Côte de Beaune and a general vintage introduction by Christmas Eve, and the Côte de Nuits and sundry others around the New Year.

If you cannot wait, then here is the briefest of sneak previews: it is a very fine and exceptionally consistent white wine vintage, somewhat akin to 2017 with a twist of 2014. The reds are much more variable, but include a number of profoundly brilliant wines which may even surpass the best of the two previous hot dry years, 2018 and 2019. There are some horrors too, so sustained study of the notes on individual wines will be important!

On which note I leave you, to go back to preparing the 2020 reports.

@insideburgundy #jaspermorris #JMIBLive #JasperMorris #insideburgundy

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