1993 Vintage Overview

1993 Vintage Overview


This is a vintage which has typically found more favour on the British side of the Atlantic. With slightly better weather in September it could have been a great year. As it is, somewhat awkward tannins have either dried out the wines or preserved them for the long term, depending on the wine – and your point of view.

The weather A difficult growing season ended in triumph for some growers, disaster for others. Heavy rainfall in the late spring and early summer led to major problems of mildew. Conscientious treatments were needed and those who stuck to biodynamic principles, or who were too careless to spray properly, lost their crops comparatively early on. Others suffered major hail damage, especially in Meursault where little wine was made from the three best vineyards, Charmes, Genevrières and Perrières.

Fortunately, the weather changed so that the second half of July and all of August were beautifully hot and dry, causing the grapes to start ripening well and to thicken their skins, which would later provide colour and extract. A great vintage for red wines looked possible, but the weather turned variable in September, becoming overcast and sometimes wet. The question was, as usual, whether or not to wait for maximum ripeness and risk spoilage by rain. The critical date proved to be the afternoon of Wednesday September 22nd when the heavens opened (as they had done on the same date in 1992). Most red wines and a few of the whites in the Côte de Beaune had been picked by then.

First impressions The September rainfall prevented ’93 being really successful for white wines, which showed disturbing acidity before the malolactic fermentations. However, they put on flesh during their time in barrel and became more presentable, albeit not of the standard of 1992. Growers in the Mâconnais and Chablis were relatively happy with their results.

First tastings showed deep-coloured reds of medium to excellent quality depending on picking dates. The thick skins induced by the August heat gave colour and flavour while the slight under-ripeness provided acidic structure.

Prices at the Hospices de Beaune auction in November dropped by a further 21 per cent, reflecting the economic crisis in France and the perception that the management team at the Hospices had made a mess of its wines. Bulk prices were already extremely low (in fact, for many appellations, 1992 prices were the same as 1974, franc for franc, without taking inflation into account), so they did not follow the Hospices downwards.

The wines in bottle The big surprise at the Ten Years On tasting was how well the whites showed, having retained the beneficial side of their acidity while the fruit had blossomed. Most were ready to drink, but demonstrated a higher level of quality than expected. I have continued to enjoy good bottles since, but most wines should have been drunk up by now. Two recent outstanding exceptions were the Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre from François Raveneau, and the inaugural vintage of Domaine d’Auvenay’s Chevalier-Montrachet.

The reds showed a pronounced bias in favour of the Côte de Nuits, with a tendency for the dry nature of the tannins to win out over the fruit in the Côte de Beaune. There are still plenty of wines with life in them, however, so we may still get some positive results with further ageing. In the Côte de Nuits, the rough edge of the tannins has gently faded away, allowing the fruit to come forward. There are many great bottles to enjoy, which may still be improving.


Tasting Notes

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Click to read tasting notes on wines from 1993


Tasting Reports

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Click to view – 1993: Revisited


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