Inside La Place – Bordeaux 2022, Resilience

INSIDE En-Primeurs week with Gerda

Gerda: During this week of discovery and tasting of the 2022 En Primeur wines, I have reflected on all the very visible changes within Bordeaux chateaux, affecting all aspects of the trade, from agronomy to winemaking.

The 2022 weather conditions felt like a projection into the future, with unprecedented levels of heat and drought. And yet, Bordeaux has produced some of its best wines in modern history.

We must pay tribute to visionary winemakers who know that our Bordeaux grape varieties still have a bright future despite these climate changes.

As someone who has lived in this beautiful Bordeaux region for more than 25 years, the word “admiration” also came to mind during the tastings. It is an admiration for the beautiful plant that is the vine. It is intelligent and has been able to adapt when winemakers have made the right decisions to preserve its vitality, revive the soil, and protect it from intense heat or sunburn.

So, a big BRAVO, because this season has been tough and challenging.

In the following text, I present you an overview of the vintage 2022 in order to understand it well and prepare for the upcoming commercial campaign.

Gerda: This year, 7 000 professionals representing 77 different nationalities registered for the tastings organized by the Union des Grands Crus. Our Asian clients are back after three years of absence.

The organization within the chateaux was perfect, and it was a pleasure to exchange a few words with Noémie and Constance Durantou, Marielle Cazaux, Edouard Vauthier, Charlotte Bouygues, Saskia de Rothschild, and Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos, who served their wines and spoke about them with passion. Everywhere, the owners, technical directors, sales teams, and staff were present to welcome us. Château Nénin even offered a valet service. To illustrate the precision and attention that châteaux have shown towards their guests, I discovered a note from Jean-Guillaume Prats left on the car dashboard after tasting this remarkable Léoville Las Cases 2022  (photo). 


Gerda: Daniel Cathiard, from Château Smith Haut Lafitte, entertained us when he mentioned in his welcome speech at the Fête du Bontemps that artificial intelligence could not replace the aromas, tastes, and emotions associated with wine.

Commanderie dinner at Château Simth Haut Lafitte – 2023.04.27

Summary of the vintage 2022 by RCA

Is 2022 better than the trilogy of 2018, 2019, and 2020? There are undoubtedly some sumptuous wines. At this stage, this paradoxical vintage is different from other exceptional vintages of the modern era. This difference makes our wines fascinating and, as we say in France, all tastes are inside nature.

Before we hand over to the experts, here is a summary of the vintage:

Climatology of the vintage

Harvesting and vinification

Wine tasting

Economic context

Climatology of the vintage

The 2022 vintage in Bordeaux was characterized by a hot and dry period, but it was not the hottest vintage on record. Cooler nighttime temperatures helped the vines resist drought. Viticultural practices also contributed to vine resilience, including deep vine rooting and changes in soil management. Clay-rich terroirs were more productive due to their ability to retain water. Thunderstorms in June also helped relieve water stress. Overall, the vintage has been described as “exceptional and paradoxical,” producing balanced wines despite extreme weather conditions.

 Harvesting and vinification

Yields varied considerably due to hail in some areas, but mostly due to drought. Soils with low water reserves had low yields, but clay-limestone soils were decent overall. Although some poor clay soils and young vines suffered a slight decrease in production, yields were not bad overall. However, the berries were small and had thick skins, resulting in a low amount of juice. This gave the wines a well-integrated tannic structure.


Wine tastings

The 2022 vintage has produced exceptional wines in Bordeaux. The wines have great complexity on the nose, with fruity aromas, freshness and purity, as well as a voluminous, soft, supple and energetic tannic structure. The wines have a depth that gives them a dark and intense sensation. The reds are fruity, with impressive tannic concentration but without harshness. Their savory character is remarkable. The whites are tender, slightly acidic but aromatic. The sweet wines are powerful and pure, with a balance carried by their flavor richness. Overall, the vintage has produced unique and multidimensional wines.


Economic context

Despite current uncertainties, merchants anticipate strong demand for the 2022 wines. En primeur wines are typically purchased by consumers, investors and wine distributors prior to bottling, in order to secure competitive prices and sufficient quantities. The chateaux have high ambitions for the prices of this exceptional and unique vintage. The strength of the brand and the quality of the wine will be decisive factors for buyers, who will make purchase decisions on a label-by-label basis more than ever before.

The eye of the experts

Three personalities shed light on their vision of the vintage:

  • Hubert de Boüard, Director of HdB Consulting and Oeno-lab, Co-owner of Angélus
  • Thomas Duclos, Oenologist Consultant
  • Axel Marchal, Professor of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux and Oenology Consultant

Gerda: How has the vineyard been able to withstand the drought of 2022?

Hubert de Boüard: The year 2022 was characterized by a hot and dry period, but contrary to what one might think, it was not the hottest vintage ever recorded. According to our sources, the year 2003 had higher temperatures in the summer, while the years 2009 and 2010 had more extremes temperature. However, the vineyard was able to withstand the conditions due to three key parameters. Firstly, the year 2021 was very humid, which allowed for a significant water reserve to be built up in the soil. Secondly, over the past decade, the way in which the soil is worked has evolved considerably, particularly in terms of vegetation cover. This change has favoured deep rooting of the vine. Finally, the decrease in night-time temperatures helped to mitigate the effects of drought on the vintage.

Thomas Duclos: It is undeniable that Bordeaux viticulture has seen improvement in recent years, with more reasoned choices and a significant reduction in systematic character. Soil and foliar surface management practices tend to strengthen resistance to extreme weather conditions. However, it is also legitimate to question the vine’s ability to resist. Indeed, over the last decade, it has had to adapt to increasingly frequent drought episodes. Personally, I am convinced that the vine has learned to cope with less water as long as its irrigation regime is constant.

Axel Marchal: Although the dry period was not continuous, the thunderstorms in June helped alleviate water stress. Then, viticultural practices were adapted, and it can be speculated, without being certain, that the succession of dry and hot vintages allowed the vines to better cope with the extreme conditions of 2022. Finally, the behavior of the vines was strongly influenced by the nature of the soils, with clayey and especially clay-limestone soils presenting less water stress.

Gerda: What about the yields?

Hubert de Boüard: Although some soils poor in clay and young vines experienced a slight decrease in production, overall, the yields are not bad. The Pomerol and Margaux areas recorded the lowest yields. It should be noted that the berries were small and had thick skins, which resulted in a low quantity of juice. However, this characteristic gave the wines a well-integrated tannic structure.

Thomas Duclos: When there is a lack of water, the berries produced by the vines are smaller, which results in a lower wine yield. Clay-rich soils were more productive due to their ability to retain water.

Axel Marchal: They vary considerably, notably due to hail in some areas, but mostly due to drought. Soils with low water reserves had generally low yields (notably gravel soils), but clay-limestone soils were decent overall.

Gerda: What is the style of the 2022 wines?

Hubert de Boüard: According to our sources, it is exceptional and combines all the styles of great wines. The vintage offers great complexity on the nose, with fruity aromas, marked freshness and purity, as well as a voluminous, soft, supple, and energetic tannic structure. In short, it encompasses all the qualities of classic exceptional vintages of Bordeaux.

Thomas Duclos: What stands out in the produced wines is their depth, which gives them a dark and intense sensation. The real surprise of this harvest is the balance achieved despite the extreme weather conditions, an essential element to produce a great wine. The wines have remarkable freshness and a very pleasant tannic maturity that gives them a silky texture, even with a high concentration of tannins. Moreover, they are already delicious to drink and rarely show signs of fatigue or over-ripeness. Clearly, this is an unprecedented and surprising style of wine.

Axel Marchal: The style is unique, with soft and slightly acidic yet aromatic white wines. The reds are fruity, with an impressive tannic concentration but without hardness. Their savory character is remarkable. The sweet wines are powerful and pure, with a balance carried by their richness in flavors.

Gerda: Finally, if you had to describe 2022 in one word or phrase, what would you choose?

Hubert de Boüard: It is a unique and multidimensional vintage that a winemaker encounters only once in a lifetime.

Thomas Duclos: To be somewhat provocative, it’s like a meeting between a hip-hop dancer and a great classical dancer, where the muscularity is put at the service of elegance. Without this muscularity, the result would be different.

Axel Marchal: Out of the ordinary and paradoxical, as an extreme climate has produced balanced wines.

I would like to remind you that our sales team will inform you, at each primeurs release, of the scores given by journalists, as well as technical sheets and marketing elements provided by the chateaux.

The Roland Coiffe & Associés team wishes you a very successful En-Primeur campaign.

Gerda BEZIADE a une incroyable passion pour le vin, et possède une parfaite connaissance de Bordeaux acquise au sein de prestigieux négoces depuis 25 ans. Gerda rejoint Roland Coiffe & Associés afin de vous apporter avec “Inside La PLACE” davantage d’informations sur les propriétés que nous commercialisons.