In contrast to the well-documented difficulties of 2021, 2020 was another wonderful vintage in the Côte d'Or. Triggered by the region's earliest flowering on record, it was consistently warm and dry throughout but with no great heat spikes (like in 2003) – temperatures stayed in the mid-30 degrees (Celsius). Harvesting of whites began early for most - between 17th and 20th August – which is on average 100 days after flowering mid-point. There is a surprising uniform freshness to the vintage, despite the heat, which was due in part to both cool evenings preserving freshness and hydric stress inducing lockdown in the vines. Regardless of technical explanation, the whites compare with the recent great vintages of 2014 and 2017 with wines showing richness but no sign of overripe flavours – brightness and minerality were seen throughout. Despite some high alcohol levels, there are some undoubtedly superb reds too especially from those favouring a more gentle approach to extraction. Great definition and incredible length can be found in the best offerings.
The quality to be found in the Côte d'Or will be discussed in the pages that follow but thankfully there is good quality and value to be found at the 'Bourgogne' quality level too. Beginning with the astute Stéphane Brocard who runs produces clean, well-crafted négociant wines under his 'Closerie des Alisiers' label. His exceptionally good-value Bourgogne Aligoté is fresh, crisp and green-apple-tinted whilst his Bourgogne Chardonnay is richer, fleshier and more gastronomic. A ripe Bourgogne Pinot Noir with delicate raspberry aromas and savoury palate completes the range.
Based in Chassagne-Montrachet and famed for his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Côte de Beaune, Bruno Colin also produces some great wines under the 'Bourgogne' appellation. He makes a superb value Chardonnay - from younger vines around Chassagne' - with ripe plum aromatics and fine acidic balance. This is paired with a highly-accessible, bright, juicy and fresh Bourgogne Pinot Noir from clay-limestone soils.