Burgundy 2021 Vintage Report: Everything We Know So Far

With this report, we aim to journey through the pivotal moments of the season, offering insights and advice for those eager to embrace the wines of Burgundy's 2021 vintage.

Burgundy, a region synonymous with the world’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, experienced a 2021 vintage that was a testament to both the resilience of its terroir and the adaptability of its vignerons. A mosaic of climatic challenges colored the growing season, from frosts to persistent showers, setting the stage for a harvest that required both intuition and experience. Yet, despite the trials of Mother Nature, some of Burgundy’s 2021 wines emerged with a signature grace, bearing the hallmark balance of the region’s legacy.

Earlier this week, our team at The Wine Cellarage had the pleasure of tasting several wines from the 2021 vintage. We found them to be very approachable with vibrant, ripe fruit and well-balanced composition. Diving into the specifics of the vintage reveals a tale of two wines: whites that shimmer with aromatic intensity and reds that dance with supple fruit notes. As with any vintage in this illustrious region, the true beauty lies in the details. From the whispers of early critics to the anticipatory buzz of early offerings, the 2021 Burgundy vintage has critics and collectors cautiously optimistic. With this report, we aim to journey through the pivotal moments of the season, offering insights and advice for those eager to embrace the wines of 2021.

Grand Cru Montrachet Bouchard Père & Fils




Growing Conditions

The 2021 growing season in Burgundy began with a few challenges. After a relatively mild winter, spring brought some unpredictable weather. April saw a series of frost events, which led to some concerns among growers. These frosts affected some lower-lying areas, and especially vineyards without protection measures such as the Côte-d’Or, affecting the quality and volume of production. Following the frost, intermittent periods of dryness and rain ensued in the late spring, stressing some vines, especially younger plantings.

The summer months of June and July were relatively hot with occasional heatwaves, which expedited ripening in some sectors. Thankfully, August brought some needed reprieve with milder temperatures and sporadic rainfalls, ensuring that the vines were not overly stressed and helping with grape maturity.



In light of the challenges of the growing season, producers were eager to harvest by the time September rolled around. With reports of possible rainfall approaching in late September, most producers harvested in mid-September, and nearly all had completed picking before the end of the month. Due to the small harvest window, there was an urgency for picking both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and not quite enough manpower to go around. This, compiled with the challenging growing conditions, led to an unusually small crop by the end of the harvest season.

Producers reported good sanitary conditions of the grapes with a balanced ratio of sugar to acidity. The yields were heterogeneous depending on the area and the damage from spring frosts, with some parcels giving low volumes but high concentration.



Once the 2021 harvest had been brought in, the expertise of Burgundy’s winemakers was put to the ultimate test. With grapes reflecting the year’s unique climatic challenges, it was the post-harvest decisions that would define the character and quality of the wines. Winemakers had to be particularly judicious in selecting which bunches would go into the press, and which might be set aside, ensuring that only the finest, most balanced fruit contributed to the vintage. The nuances of fermentation, too, required astute attention. Given the accelerated ripening in some parcels, decisions about fermentation temperatures, durations, and yeast selections were pivotal in preserving the inherent freshness and aromatic profile of the wines.

Additionally, the art of aging came to the fore. Determining the right vessel was crucial in accentuating the wines’ elegance without overshadowing their inherent fruit expression. Many winemakers, drawing from their experiences in similar challenging vintages, also made choices about the duration of maturation to strike a balance between immediate accessibility and aging potential. The wines of 2021, with their enticing balance and harmony, underscore the myriad post-harvest decisions made by these adept artisans. Their choices, based on years of accumulated knowledge and a deep understanding of their craft, were instrumental in molding the character of the 2021 Burgundy vintage.

Bourgogne Wines described the essence of the season best in their 2021 vintage notes:

“After a 2020 vintage where the industry threw itself into harvesting from mid-August onwards, the 2021 vintage took its time, and kept us in suspense until the bitter end. The harvest, which began on 18 September for still wines, was divided into sections which were picked rapidly, one after the next, finishing in very early October. As we wait to find out the volume of this year’s crop, predicted to be historically low, the technical skills of each winegrower will be key to bringing out the potential of each cuvée.”


Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole

Early Notes from Critics

The Burgundy 2021 vintage has elicited a range of reactions from critics, and while it may not be universally hailed as a “legendary” year, the consensus highlights the vintage’s distinct charm and elegance. The adversity of the growing season, marked by unpredictable weather events, led to a reduced yield, but this seemed to concentrate the flavors in many wines, resulting in offerings with depth and intensity. Critics have particularly lauded the white wines, citing their aromatic richness and striking acidity. Chardonnays from the Côte de Beaune, especially from the appellations of Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, have received mentions for their exceptional expressiveness and potential for aging.

Red wines, on the other hand, have been characterized as fruit-forward with supple tannins, making them approachable in their youth yet still promising longevity. Comparisons have been drawn to the 2017 vintage in terms of style and quality, with the 2021 offerings exuding a similar aromatic profile and purity of fruit. Regions such as the Côte de Nuits have been pinpointed for producing particularly standout Pinot Noirs this year, capturing the essence of their terroir with precision.

While the 2021 Burgundy vintage might not be marked as one for the history books in the same manner as certain iconic years, critics agree that it offers a unique expression of the region’s terroir. These wines, born out of challenges, carry a story of resilience and the prowess of the vignerons who crafted them. Enthusiasts and collectors are advised to approach the vintage with an open mind, ready to discover its individual treasures rather than broad generalizations.


Domaine des Lambrays

Advice for Purchasing 2021 Burgundy

  1. Do Your Research: While the general quality is expected to be good, it’s essential to do your homework on individual producers. Some managed the challenges of the season better than others.
  2. Seek Value: Given the uneven yields, prices for some wines may be higher due to scarcity. However, this also means there could be some outstanding values, especially in less heralded appellations.
  3. Trust Your Sources: Stick to trusted merchants and wine critics. Given the variability of the vintage, the advice of seasoned experts will be particularly invaluable.
  4. Consider the Whites: The 2021 white Burgundies are particularly compelling. If you typically gravitate towards reds, this might be the year to diversify and explore the whites.
  5. Don’t Overlook Lesser-Known Appellations: While Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines get the most attention, the village and regional wines might offer exceptional quality for the price in a year like this.
  6. Buy for Both Short and Long-Term: While many wines from this vintage will be approachable in their youth, there’s potential for aging, especially for the top-tier wines. Consider purchasing with a strategy to enjoy some bottles soon and cellar others for future enjoyment.


Shop Burgundy 2021 Vintage


Stay tuned for more updates about the Burgundy 2021 vintage

This promises to be an exciting vintage as we see more wines released in the coming weeks. For updates and personalized recommendations, get in touch with our fine wine experts at 212-991-5700

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