2022 Bordeaux Vintage Shocks Producers | Wine Enthusiast
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Producers Feared the 2022 Bordeaux Vintage Would Be a Dud. It’s Exceptional.

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Astonishment was the first reaction of many Bordeaux producers when they realized the quality of the 2022 vintage. Two months of 100°F record temperatures and no rain had zapped their hopes, but the resulting bottles were decidedly not what they’d expected.

The drought and heat should have cooked the grapes, but producers were shocked by the evident balance and greatness of the vintage. The 2022 Bordeaux reds are powerful and dense, with alcohol around 14% to 15%. They have an astonishing freshness that puts them firmly in the tradition of great Bordeaux.

Pleasantly surprised, producers are scrambling for an explanation.

Standout Areas

“After the weather we had during the summer, I feared we would end up with hot, jammy wines. But that is clearly not the case,” says Thomas Duroux, director of Château Palmer in Margaux.

And the excitement goes beyond Margaux: The whole of Bordeaux has produced some fine wines. The reds all have drinkability when young and a capacity for aging. Only the whites and sweet whites have disappointed, lacking acidity and freshness.

Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien on the Left Bank and Saint-Emilion on the Right Bank are standout areas in 2022, particularly when it comes to Merlot. In recent warmer years, this workhorse grape across Bordeaux has been worrying, producing heavy wines that are high in alcohol. That’s why in Saint-Emilion, new plantings of Cabernet Franc have supplanted Merlot. In the Médoc, it’s been Cabernet Sauvignon.

You May Also Like: Our Top Bordeaux Picks, from Budget to Baller

But the most recent vintage has turned this thinking on its head, producing exceptionally fresh Merlot. Incredibly successful blends include wines from Saint-Emilion, which are usually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, as well as those from neighboring Pomerol, which include an even higher proportion of Merlot.

Why Did This Happen?

No one knows, exactly. “The vines seem to have done the work all by themselves,” says Pierre-Olivier Clouet, director of Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion. He adds that some growers believe the vines adapted to the warm weather conditions all on their own.

Before they knew the current vintage’s character, producers had worried it would look like 2003, another hot year that produced big, heavy wines. But 2022 has revealed itself to be a complete contrast.

The 2022 vintage “was hotter and drier than any other season right from the start,” says Fabien Teitgen, director at Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan. “The vine got used to the heat, compared to 2003, when hot, dry weather suddenly arrived in the summer.” He reasons that this past fall and winter were also satisfactorily wet, meaning the vines were in a good state to survive a hot, dry summer.

Where Can You Try The 2022 Bordeaux Vintage?

These wines are currently in barrels in cellars across Bordeaux and winemakers are selling the wines en primeur, or as futures. Quantities of this top-quality vintage are small, given that the berries were small when harvested after the dry weather.

As a result, many Bordeaux chateau owners have raised their prices. The norm is an average price increase of 20% compared to the less-than-overwhelming 2021 vintage. Some estates have been more reasonable, while others—in this reviewer’s opinion—are being greedy.

Unfortunately, this means that many recent visitors to Bordeaux have tasted the new wines and gone home without buying. Ultimately, if you want to buy top Bordeaux at a lower price point, it’s much better to buy back vintages.

The Bordeaux system is complex. Chateaus sell their wines through brokers, who then sell to Bordeaux wine merchants. These merchants then sell to importers, who sell to distributors, who sell to retailers. They then finally sell the wines to the everyday consumer. Everybody takes their cut along the way.

The big takeaway? These wines may be good, but they are expensive. Prices will only go down if the market adjusts. If you’re not looking to shell out a fortune, wait until the vintage is bottled and released at the end of 2024. For now, relish the fact that Bordeaux can (again) pull rabbits out of hats.

Some 2022 Bordeaux Bottles to Try

Château Palmer 2022 Barrel sample (Margaux)

98-100 Barrel sample. This majestic aromatic wine is fine and stylish. It has layers of rich black fruits and firm tannins. This will be a great wine that has acidity, structure embedded within it. The wine is rich, but beautifully textured and with a great future. 99 Points  —Roger Voss

$418 Millesima Fine Wine

Château Figeac 2022 Barrel sample (Saint-Émilion)

98-100 Barrel sample. This wine, with its 65% of the two Cabernets, is dense and ripe, with great acidity and freshness. It is a beautifully textured and rich wine. The wine’s concentration is impressive. 99 Points  —R.V.

$733/ 1.5L Millesima Fine Wine

Château Pichon Baron 2022 Barrel sample (Pauillac)

97-99 Barrel sample. This is already shaping up to being one of the stars of the vintage. With its great fruit, fully enveloped by the structure and tannins, the wine has been set well for the future. The aromatic black fruits are intense and concentrated. 98 Points  —R.V.

$180 Wine.com

Château Cos d’Estournel 2022 Barrel sample (Saint-Estèphe)

97-99 Barrel sample. The qualities of the 2022 vintage have been good to Cos d’Estournel. Freshness and black fruits have lightened the tannins into a fine and juicy wine. The result is impressive—a superb, generous and structured wine that is one of the best from the estate for many years. 98 Points  —R.V.

$250 Wine.com

Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2022 Barrel sample (Pessac-Léognan)

96-98 Barrel sample. The wine’s richness is impressive. Ripe black fruits show well with acidity and a balance between the fruit and the serious structure. It is a wine that shows great fruit now but its tannins mean it will age. 97 Points  —R.V.

$150 Wine.com

Château Troplong Mondot 2022 Barrel sample (Saint-Émilion)

97-99 Barrel sample. The wine has a silky texture, with ripe black tannins, fine acidity and black fruits. The wine is both succulent and seriously structured. It is one of the best from this estate in many years and shows great tension, depth and a long-term promise. 98 Points  —R.V.

$625/6L Millesima Fine Wine

Château Cheval Blanc 2022 Barrel sample (Saint-Émilion)

97-99 Barrel sample. The wine is very fine, elegant and impressive. It has depth and concentration, being very floral and offering great black fruits alongside the firm tannins. There is a lovely line of succulent fruit and acidity. Almost accessible now, it is really set for long-term aging. 98 Points  —R.V.

$769 Millesima Fine Wine

Château Angélus 2022 Carillon d’Angélus Barrel sample (Saint-Émilion)

93-95 Barrel sample. Mainly Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc, this wine has fine tannins and ripe succulent black fruits. It is a rich wine, with fine acidity and generous open berry flavors. The wine has a nice touch of smokiness. 94 Points  —R.V.

$461 Millesima Fine Wine

Château Mouton Rothschild 2022 Barrel sample (Pauillac)

96-98 Barrel sample. Big and bold, this is a classic Mouton, with the difference of acidity and freshness. The wine’s structure shows some powerful tannins, giving richness balanced by a crisp touch at the end. 97 Points  —R.V.

$696 Wine.com

Château Léoville Barton 2022 Barrel sample (Saint-Julien)

96-98 Barrel sample. This is a beautifully textured wine, with its fruit and tannins in harmony. Its intensity is matched by its balance, giving a ripe, layered and elegant wine with a fine future. 97 Points  — R.V.

$305/ 1.5L Millesima Fine Wine

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