Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur
There is no doubt that 2022 is a thrilling vintage for Red Bordeaux. Our tastings this spring revealed reds at all levels that have pure, ripe fruit, rich textures and impressive structures, with harmonising freshness and surprisingly fine tannins. For many châteaux, 2022 was the hottest and one of the driest ever experienced, leading to harvest dates that were the earliest on record. Yet the best of these wines show no signs of over-ripeness, having well balanced alcohol and acidity, with remarkable vibrancy and finesse.
The winter of 2021-2022 was mild and dry, with December rainfall allowing the ground to build up its precious water reserves. A few nights of negative temperatures in early April forced many to protect their vineyards against frost, but fortunately it caused little damage. Favourable, dry, warm conditions prevailed throughout flowering in mid-May, taking place quickly and evenly – this uniform flowering was an initial marker of the healthy development of the vintage. Late May alternated heat wave temperatures (up to 40°C) with precipitation, in most areas falling as light rain but in some coming as violent storms. Hail damage, which was quite severe in some cases, fortunately remained extremely localised. This precipitation helped to prepare the vines for the summer that lay ahead of them.
And what a summer it was, with the hours of sunshine from June to September being the highest recorded since 1949. Remarkably intense and unusually long heat waves followed one another, including a two-week spell from 31st July-13th August, with highs, once again, of 40°C. Thanks to the replenished water reserves and the occasional, reviving – if brief – summer shower, the vines were able to withstand the drought. This enabled balanced ripening of the grapes, with valuable vine foliage remaining green. Harvest began in early September, with beautiful, anticyclonic conditions making it possible for growers to pick each grape variety at optimum ripeness.
Why are these 2022 reds so harmonious?
Over recent decades, Bordeaux winemakers have needed to adapt their vineyard management and winemaking practices in order to respond to more regular seasons marked by weather extremes, most notably in 2022, heat and drought. There were certainly examples of wines that we tasted which were negatively impacted by these extremes, having over-ripe fruit, pronounced alcohols and bitter tannins – wines that we rejected from our selections. But for those who had learnt from past years and were in tune with this in their vineyards and wineries, the results have been exceptional. “Picking date was crucial,” we were told by François-Xavier Borie of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. “It was our earliest ever harvest. At the end of August, we had to watch the vines extremely closely, with picking starting with the Merlots on 7th September – when fruit ripeness, acidity levels and maturation of skins were in perfect balance.” He continued: “The berries were very small and tightly concentrated, both in aromatics and valuable acidity. In the winery, extractions needed to be very gentle, at cooler temperatures, before and in the earlier stages of fermentation. This avoided the extraction of any harsh tannins. The result? 2022 is one of the best 5 vintages I have made, alongside 1982, 1996, 2005 and 2010.”
Edouard Moueix of Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix told us “We did not practice leaf removal in the first half on the summer in order to preserve enough shade to protect the grapes from the sun and avoid stewed fruit aromas. Precise grooming and green harvesting allowed us to adapt the yields to the extreme climatic conditions of this vintage. The skins grew thick, the tannins soft, and the fruit intense.”
This is a vintage where Second wines of well-known names have surprised us in their intensity, elegance and length of flavour – and a number of these feature in the pages ahead. Our selections, as ever, have concentrated on beautiful wines with excellent potential, and which have been released at sensible prices. These we recommend most warmly.
Prices are per case in bond UK, for delivery from spring 2025.