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1990 VINTAGE in Burgundy
This is probably the vintage of reference for many people in Burgundy. Exceptional climatic conditions allowed an abundant crop to mature perfectly and yield some most sensational wines in both red and white. The white wines have maintained their elegant aromas and freshness which has made them even more appealing, whilst the reds are concentrated and well built with tannins which remain firm but smooth. To be enjoyed for many years to come.
The drought that had plagued farming in 1989 again took its toll in many parts of France in 1990 with the notable exception of the best vineyards in France, including those of Burgundy.This year in the vineyards of the Côte d'Or the weather conditions resembled those of the French Riviera.
At this time, the natural sugar level in the Corton Charlemagne was 14 degrees and in the best vineyards of Corton Grancey the famous "degré 13" was consistently attained. Monsieur Duvaud-Blochet, a famous wine-grower of the 19th century, theorized on this rarely obtained level of sugar declaring that it was undeniably the bench-mark of quality.
A long awaited brief period of rain at the end of August really saved the vintage. The return of sunshine after this short spell of bad weather allowed an already abundant crop to perfectly mature and to yield a considerable quantity of very high quality wines in both reds and whites.
This however does not mean that all 1990 wines will be good. Over-production in some cases, picking prematurely in others, and also the consequences of drought on some slopes had an effect on quality.
The fact remains that all regions of Burgundy have benefitted from three successive fine vintages. 1990 is surely the biggest in size and of a quality which is at least equal to that of 1989.
It is not impossible that in due course we will see the best of the 1990 being of the quality of some of the excellent vintages of the past like `64 and possibly even `59.
It is of the utmost importance for Burgundy to be in a position to offer such a selection of fine wines from recent vintages. The 1988's are still a little austere but are beginning to show all the qualities of a classic vintage. The 89's are plentiful and rich for the whites, charming and easygoing for the reds and the 90's could well be a combination of both.
Nobody knows as yet what will be the effects on prices. What is sure is that any expectation of further price increases is obviously denied by the wine- growers. A healthy decline in the prices compared to those paid last year would be welcomed by the Trade and accepted by them. In due course this will be reflected in the quotations and will help Burgundy to recover its share of the world fine wine markets.