Chardonnay berries were loaded with sugar, yet acids were vivid and electrifying
The winter of 2013-2014 was mild and dry, as was early spring. The vines had gotten off to such a fast start that, in mid-April, Vincent Latour considered moving up his traditional August vacation plans, thinking he might be picking Chardonnay when he had hoped to be hiking in the Massif Central. But then, thankfully, Burgundy cooled off. Six weeks of chilly, wet weather set Latour’s mind at ease. First, the vines needed the rain. Second, flowering had been pushed back, suggesting a normal harvest date sometime in mid-September. There would be no need to cancel his travel plans.
When we visited Burgundy in early June 2014, the mood in Puligny and Meursault was buoyant. Flowering had gone off without a hitch. The Chardonnay set, while not copious, was above the norm. If the weather held out, 2014 had the makings of an excellent vintage both quantitatively and qualitatively. For the next four weeks, right up until June 27th, Latour’s priceless Clos des Magny, a 2.3-acre jewel just below the village of Meursault, was bathed in warm sunshine, all but eliminating any early-season risk of mildew.
All was perfect. Perhaps too perfect. And then, as had been the case in each of the previous years, Nature brought Vincent Latour a well-placed punch to the gut.
On the evening of Saturday, June 28th, half the village of Meursault was glued to meteofrance.com. The other half stood outside on covered patios, or peered out of third floor windows, watching as the black clouds rolled in. When the lightning struck in the distance, lighting up the sky, the Latours, Roulots, Lafons, and Coche-Durys already knew what was coming. The first drops of rain splattered cobblestones like peach-sized water balloons. Then the thunder grew closer and closer as the sky opened up. Once again, a massive thunderstorm pelted the Côte de Beaune, rain and hail ravaging vines. Up to half of the potential crop was lost in just a couple of hours!
Vincent did as he and his family have always done in such circumstances: He took the red ink in stride and returned to the vines. July was a crapshoot. Some days were warm and sunny, others cold and rainy. August turned unseasonably cold, with daytime highs struggling to top 70 degrees.
Latour must have shaken his head, thinking back to late March when he wondered if he’d be canceling his August travel plans due to an early call to harvest. Now picking certainly wouldn’t begin until mid-September.
The last days of August and the first two weeks of September were glorious. Turquoise skies. Warm days and cool nights. Latour began picking in the second week of September. Chardonnay berries were loaded with sugar, yet acids were vivid and electrifying. The tiny crop drawn off the Clos des Magny was perfectly clean, making for some of the most exquisite white Burgundies ever produced by this estate. Despite — or perhaps because of — the season’s challenges, 2014 is today considered by many, including Wine Spectator, as possibly the best vintage for white Burgundy since 1985!
Steve Tanzer, the stingiest and most respected Burgundy critic on the planet, didn’t mince words in his vintage report: “For lovers of classic white Burgundies, 2014 is clearly a vintage to buy.” Tanzer hailed 2014’s “unusually consistent” quality, and Vincent Latour’s “Clos des Magny” is the perfect example.
The 2014 Domaine Vincent Latour Meursault Clos des Magny is a bonafide beauty. Bright, pale yellow. Complex aromas of lemon curd, honey, and vanilla — at once toasty and racy. Fine-grained, concentrated, and mineral on the palate, showing a balance of sweetness and acidity. Just a kiss of oak on the intense finish. Drink now-2022.
Just 40 cases were imported to the U.S., the lion’s share earmarked for Michelin 3-star Le Bernardin. After them, WineAccess comes first. 120 bottles are up for grabs. $59/bottle. Shipping included on 4. Meursault from vintages like 2014 don’t come around very often, this is NOT to be missed!
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