Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur is shaping up to be an exceptional vintage that looks destined to join a shortlist of hallowed greats including the likes of 1961 & 1982. James Suckling is already celebrating “a new benchmark for Bordeaux after my first reference vintage for the region from barrel, 1982”, whilst Ducru-Beaucaillou's owner Bruno-Eugène Borie said to Head Wine Guru Tom the other day that 2022 "is the new '61". The hot growing season was challenging for vineyards, but ultimately led to grapes with incredible concentration and ripeness. The wines are already showing impressive depth and complexity, and many experts are predicting that this vintage has the potential to be legendary.
The summer months of 2022 were exceptionally warm and dry, with little rain to provide relief for the vines. Despite this, the vineyards were able to manage the conditions well, thanks to modern viticultural techniques and careful management. As a result, the grapes that were harvested in the autumn were of excellent quality, with great flavour intensity and a high degree of phenolic ripeness.
While it's still early days, many experts are already declaring Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur to be a vintage of exceptional quality. With its combination of concentration, ripeness, and structure, this vintage is likely to produce wines that will be highly sought-after for years to come.
For a full review of the growing season, once again we highly recommend Gavin Quinney’s report, but in brief, drought and heat are the watchwords of 2022. It is fortunate then that December was very wet, ensuring the vines had enough water reserves to call upon for the following months. Budbreak began early, though the chilly temperatures and frosts in early April were less impactful than in previous years. The dryness largely continued throughout the rest of April and flowering began during an unseasonably warm May.
The mercury hit 40 degrees in June, leading firstly to intense hail reportedly larger than golfballs, and then to forest fires, much like 1959 (incidentally another legendary vintage). Fears of smoke taint were rife, though thankfully all appellations appear to have escaped unscathed. Night-time temperatures remained cool, and that diurnal variation allowed the grapes to reach optimum ripeness whilst retaining their freshness, with the PH much lower than the ripeness would suggest.
Picking for Merlot began in late August, the grapes small and incredibly concentrated, with Cabernet following suite in September. According to Colin Hay, this more than anything contributes to the low yields of the vintage – much like 2020 – so whilst the quality of the wines point towards an “exceptional vintage, at least on a par with the trilogy 2018-2019-2020 and quite possibly greater than all three”, once again the yields are such that there will be far less wine than demand allows. Despite the obvious challenges of the growing season, all five of oenologist Dr Axel Marchal’s criteria for a great vintage were met.
We are heading out this week for primeurs to taste the vintage, but suffice it to say that early reports from commentors and the chateaux are confident that Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur is destined to be up there with the very best. Due to the small size of the berries, the concentration of the fruit is simply incredible, and the thick skins and acidity levels show considerable promise for extended cellaring. Suckling declares that "2022 wines can be flamboyant, fruity and tannic, yet they have a freshness and form that give them energy and vitality". For Montrose 2022 is a “historic vintage that combines tension and balance”, whilst Troplong Mondot declares that 2022 “is incomparable to any previous vintages and we are really lucky to experience it”. Giscours is also pleased to report “an outstanding vintage”.
Alcohol levels are also surprisingly under control on the whole. Pichon Comtesse for example clocks in at 13.65%, offering “smooth, delicious Merlot and elegant, aristocratic Cabernet wines”. After tasting it recently, Jeff Leve described the Comtesse 2022 as "elegance and depth at its best. 2022 here is as good as, or maybe even better than the 2016” – high praise given he awarded 2016 a perfect score! In fact “best ever” is the regular refrain on Jeff Leve’s Instagram feed, and whilst other critics outside of Suckling are yet to publish their thoughts, we can expect similar reverence for the 2022s.
We will have more information on Bordeaux 2022 in the coming weeks and look forward to sharing these incredible wines with you. Make sure to register interest for Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur to be first in line to receive the offers as they come in!