Vintage preview Bordeaux 2022
Vignerons all over France had their fingers crossed for the 2022 vintage after the uniformly complicated 2021, which saw both decreased yields and (if we’re being honest) quality. After a spate of warm and successful vintages, 2021 was cool and ripening was a struggle. So hopes were high for a return to the normal of recent years. The Gods were smiling as 2022 is shaping up to be a very good vintage overall in France.
Bordeaux En Primeur week is upon is in Europe and over the coming months the wines will be tasted, rated and released for sale. So how are things shaping up specifically in Bordeaux? Here follows a brief harvest report and some thoughts on what we might expect from Bordeaux in 2022.
In short, 2022 was a warm and successful vintage with high temperatures and low rainfall. Quality is looking very high, with yields slightly down on average. A wet December 2021 helped replenish water in the soils, which proved much needed given what was to come. From the start of flowering to the end of harvest it was a hot growing season. Fortunately, the nights tended to remain on the fresher side, which helps with acidity retention in the grapes.
June saw some severe heat spikes with temperatures soaring to +40°C. This was followed by some heavy storms in the region on June 20th. Some areas were sadly affected by hail, yet those that received just rainfall were blessed, given the lack of rainfall up this point. Summer rains can really prove a godsend in hot vintages.
Vine age can also make a huge difference as to how the vines cope in these very hot years. The shallow-rooting younger vines tend to suffer more from more stress than those with established root systems, and this was noted by producers in 2022. The harvest started early unsurprisingly, with Cheval Blanc starting on 29th August and Chateau Margaux on September 8th.
In the winery, the rich, juicy and unctuous grapes called for gentle extraction in many cases. Alcohol levels will be back up towards 14% and above in many cases. Malic acid levels were low, yet freshness seems to be good within the wines. Tannins seem to be relatively high as well suggesting good ageability. So we can expect concentrated, vibrant and silky wines to come from 2022.
Whether it is a better left-bank or right-bank vintage remains to be seen. So far it would appear that both have performed well, and I have spoken to wineries who believe it will be a right bank Merlot vintage and others that say it Is a Cabernet and left bank vintage. But what seems to be sure is that we have a very good vintage indeed on our hands.
- Alistair Cooper,
Master of Wine & Esteemed Critic
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