1995 Vintage Overview

1995 Vintage Overview

1995

This and 1996 provide a fascinating pair: two potentially very good vintages with very different weather conditions, hence differing styles of wine. The 1995s, though, have become somewhat anonymous: they have not yet gone definitively over the hill, but nor are they delivering their early promise.

The weather There was a little frost damage early in 1995, and the flowering took place in poor weather in June, meaning a small crop and the risk of uneven ripening. Many grapes failed to swell properly, an effect known as millerandage, which can have very definite qualitative results. Small berries have a greater than usual proportion of skin (which contains the flavouring and colouring components) to juice.

Weather conditions in July and August were excellent but September was cool, overcast and somewhat rainy. The thickness of the skins and the absence of heat prevented the rain inducing any rot. In fact, the rainfall was sufficiently spread out that most growers were able to harvest in pretty decent conditions – certainly without the deluges of 1994. I remember that the leaves changed colour very soon after the harvest, which in retrospect causes me to wonder if they had not stopped giving nourishment to the grapes before the harvest.

First impressions Yields were extremely low for both colours. The white grapes came in with high sugar levels and good acidity and were, in addition, small and thick-skinned. Early on the wines were firm, concentrated and neither particularly aromatic nor acidic. This was because of the tannins from the skins, which masked other elements in the wine.

The red grapes came in with adequate sugar levels, usually slightly higher than for 1993, although some chaptalisation was needed. Thick skins and small berries provided good colour and ripe tannins. These aspects were all similar to 1993, and some of the same beautiful red-fruit character was apparent. However lower levels of acidity and tannin gave the wines a much softer feel, somewhat akin to 1985. In a few cases, especially in the more elegant appellations such as Chambolle-Musigny and Volnay, the wines went further than a blend of ’85 and ’93 would suggest and parallels could be drawn with the wonderful 1978s – another small and very fine vintage. In other cases the wines were certainly good, but they lacked the extra excitement of a great year.

Everybody in Burgundy expected great international demand for this vintage, partly due to the perceived high quality and partly because of the feeding frenzy for ’95 clarets. It was also an extremely small crop for most serious growers. So conditions appeared to be ripe for a major price-hike – but most growers were aware of the morose French economy and of the plentiful 1996 crop that they had just brought in. They therefore opted for fairly modest increases, preferring stable progression to the roller-coaster approach.

The wines in bottle Both colours have delivered a somewhat mixed bag of results. Most whites are now past their best, but there are still magical bottles to be found. The reds have been treading quietly, though Laurent Ponsot has always maintained that they will be magnificent if left alone for long enough. The village 1995s from Domaine Ponsot are indeed beginning to show quite well. It remains the case that the more elegant appellations such as Chambolle-Musigny have shown better than the more tannic ones such as Pommard or Gevrey-Chambertin: having said which a 1995 Chambertin from Armand Rousseau drunk in 2019 showed signs that the best wines of the vintage are now throwing off their shackles and starting to blossom.

 

Tasting Notes

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Click to read tasting notes on wines from 1995

 

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