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In his summary of the 2021 vintage in Burgundy, wine critic Neal Martin provocatively proclaimed, “it is indisputably one of the most fiendishly complex, byzantine seasons I can recall.” The reasons for this are many, but chief among them was undeniably the weather. Save for a horde of locusts, it seemed Mother Nature hurled everything she could at Burgundy’s vignerons in 2021. From an unwelcome and poorly timed cold snap, to localized hail, and then an unrelenting bout of rain through the summer months, the challenges to overcome were numerous. Indeed, if the same conditions had occurred twenty years previously, the season would have likely been deemed a total loss. Thanks in no small measure to the resilience and ingenuity of the Burgundians and modern advances in viticulture and winemaking, there is no shortage of treasures from this challenging vintage—one simply needs to know where to look.
While the 2019s and 2020s from Burgundy are notable for their depth and range, the 2021s are best characterized by their elegance and refinement. In many ways, 2021 is a return to the classic Burgundies of the 1970s and 1980s. Vincent Ledy and Arnaud Mortet are just two producers that successfully navigated the difficulties of 2021, crafting wines of unparalleled nuance and sophistication. Across the board, yields were frightfully low, but what is lacking in quantity is more than made up for in quality. This sentiment is very much echoed in Martin’s assessment of Mortet’s 2021s when he writes: “This was one of the strongest and most consistent set of 2021s that I encountered during my tour of the appellation, scintillating and intense expressions of Pinot Noir that had so much energy I worried they would leap from my glass. As you approach the top flight of Premier and Grand Crus, you begin to wonder how they could have been born in such a traumatic growing season. But they were.” It has become commonplace to say that great producers will make great wines regardless of the season, but what is surprising is the degree to which this is proven true in the 2021 vintage. Across the Martine’s Wines portfolio, you will find an array of 2021s that not only charm and delight but, in some cases, stir the soul. From the dependable and terroir-driven expressions from Charles Audoin to impeccably balanced and elegant bottlings from Domaine Bernard-Bonin, there are a wealth of excellent wines throughout this small but mighty vintage. The 2021s will be brilliant wines to drink upon release and over the next ten years, with the most prized expressions having the ability to age twenty years or more.
The only downside we are finding with 2021 is availability. With production down so dramatically, there aren’t a lot of 2021s to go around. Given the already frenzied demand for Burgundy’s best, we don’t expect these bottlings to be around for long once they come into stock. With the first wines of the vintage due to arrive over the next few months, if ever there was a year that will demand quick action—2021 is the one.
–Jim Bradshaw, Martine’s Wines Operations Manager