There are many upsides to the popular media coverage of wine which has developed over the last decade. Other than the hundred point scale of rating wine, the worst development is the need “to call the vintage” early on. During our recent foray through Burgundy (700 wines in five days) we were reminded again on the futility of this endeavor. We tasted hundreds of 2008 reds that either had not finished malo (malolactic fermentation: the conversion of hard malic acid into softer lactic acid and carbon dioxide) or were not yet bottled. Sadly, the vintage has already been declared as so-so, saved from certain doom by some decent weather at the end of the growing season prior to harvest. Pinot noir is a fickle grape which does not express itself immediately and the character of it’s terrior (what you are paying for when one purchases Premier Cru and Grand Cru Burgundy) does not reveal itself until even later. The finished reds which we did taste showed better than expected and have nice balance and purity of fruit, not the most long lived, the question will be pricing.

The unexpected pleasure of the trip was the 2008 whites. Many of these wines, at all levels, showed good mid palate concentration and the delineation to be expected in Premier and Grand Cru bottlings. We are very much looking forward to their arrival in the states.

The pundits need to be reminded that is why they label fine wine with a vintage – it is the summation of all the events of a particular growing season. Sure 2008 had very dicey start weather wise but it remains too early to call wines still due to this very late culmination of le malo. Burgundy perhaps more than any other region has seen revisions in the “calling” of vintages over the same period that this practice has grown.

A few pecific highlights (both new and old) of the trip include: Mugnier 2008 Musigny, Roumier 2008 Bones Mares, Roulot 2008 Meusault 1er Cru Charmes, Perrot-Minot 2008 Mazi Chambertin, Raveneau 2009 cask samples, de la Tour 2007 Clos de Vougeot Cuvee VV, Charlopan 2001 Mazi Chambertan, de Vogue 2001 Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru, Dugat-Py 2001 Couer du Roi, Grivot 1997 Nuits-Sanit Georges 1er Cru Ronciere,Lafarge 1980 Volnay.