Team Vinny at Chateau Margaux for 2022 Bordeaux En Primeur
The 2022 Bordeaux Assessment:
Overall, I would say that 2022 Bordeaux is a very good vintage and will produce many great wines. As we were reminded many times, it was a warm and dry vintage. Very warm and super dry. Surprisingly, the fruit flavors were very attractive – sweet and pure and not overripe, nicely tart in some cases, and generally very fresh. There were very, very few wines that tasted overripe. However, there were wines that were not easy to taste and when they weren’t, it was usually because the tannins were somewhat dry and coarse. This is not so surprising given that the warm and dry conditions led to berries that were smaller than usual with thicker skins. So, the ratio of juice to skin and seed was lower than normal and, if the winemaker was not very careful, the tannins could become assertive. There are plenty of chateau that did a good job to manage this and made great wines. Yet, across the board, we heard that yields are down in 2022 Bordeaux. If I had to guess how much yields are down on average, I would guess 15 – 20% based on what we heard, but that’s just my guess. The point is that with quality quite good (maybe the best ever, our friends in Bordeaux say!) and yields consistently lower, prices will be higher this year than they were last year. We should be prepared for that.
We started our journey at a large negociant tasting on Sunday and tasted about 35 samples from the 2022 Bordeaux vintage, all of them from the Left Bank. There were probably another 40 or 50 reds to taste but our palates were shot. For me, the stand outs at this tasting were Leoville Barton, Malartic Lagraviere and Pape Clement.
We went far north and started the morning at Chateau Lafite Rothschild. I’ll spill the beans right out of the gate and say that 2022 Chateau Lafite Rothschild was my favorite 2022 sample to taste amongst the first growths: beautiful dark fruit in a generous silk robe. Having said that, I’ll add that the 2022 Chateau Latour and Chateau Haut-Brion might be just as great or even better in the long run. They confidently strutted a more classic style when we tasted them as they were slightly more reserved, but powerful. I felt that Chateau Margaux was as glorious as ever but perhaps not to the heights of it’s first growth peers this vintage. Unfortunately, I thought that the Chateau Mouton Rothschild sample we tasted was not in good condition. Anyway, a jam packed and fast paced Monday, the most notable wines this day (outside of Lafite and Latour) were Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac and Chateau Montrose - both were exceptional and cellar-worthy. In the more modestly price wines, I really liked Chateau Branaire Ducru, La Dame de Montrose and Chateau Capbern.
We were in Margaux most of the day with visits to Pauillac and St Julien. We started at Chateau Brane-Cantenac and both of their wines were super impressive!!! I was pleasantly surprised by the second wine, Baron de Brane, and I think this is going to be a tremendous value propostion. We had a quick visit at Chateau D’Issan and the wines showed well in their usual, classic Margaux style. Chateau Rauzan-Segla was a standout for me and showed more beautiful, voluptuous dark fruit than other Margaux reds. Pichon Baron was very nice but I did not think it was as expressive and fine as Pichon Lalande. I was seriously impressed by the second wine at Pichon Baron, Les Griffons, as it seemed to be very close to the Grand Vin and another great value proposition. Our last stop on Tuesday was at Chateau Palmer and these wines were really a treat. Palmer showed a combination of power and elegance that was impressive and memorable. Surprisingly, though Palmer was the last barrel sample of the day, it was easy to taste and rock-star delicious to a worn out palette.
We were in Pessac-Leognan all day on Tuesday and the wines were very consistent. Consistently good! Chateau Haut-Bailly was outstanding and Chateau Malatic-Lagraviere and Chateau Pape-Clement were both great again. We were both in agreement that Chateau Haut-Brion was a touch better than La Mission Haut-Brion, but we both felt the second wine of La Mission (La Chapelle) was slightly better than the second wine of Haut-Brion. Yet, the big surprise of the day….and maybe the surprise of the week was the tasting at Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion. We both loved the wines here and the Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion came across like a first growth with big, broad presence with very fine tannins and a long finish. The winemaker uses 70% whole cluster and the result is remarkably elegant. The second wine, C Des Carmes uses 30% whole cluster and it was also showing beautifully. It has a low ph and is made so that it can be enjoyed as a young wine. I felt like I could have enjoyed it that day. Bravo.
We started the day in Pomerol at Nenin and tasted some very nice wines. Then we went to Figeac and tasted just one wine, which for me was a doozy. Chateau Figeac was my favorite of the Right Bank and again combined beautifully pure, bright fruit with silky tannins and a tremendous finish. There are several others in St Emilion which are also outstanding including Canon, which is classic and clearly on a roll (but this is going to be a really low yield vintage for Canon). Chateau Ausone which is as majestic and beautiful as ever and Canon La Gaffeliere, which is a slightly more modern style, but was certainly my top wine at the St Emilion UGC tasting and something I will likely buy for myself. We also really liked Chateau Beausejour Becot and we think Joanin Becot will be a nice value once again. In Pomerol, we had great visits at Conseillante and Vieux Chateau Certan and the entire group was buzzing after these tastings. We tasted just the Grand Vin on both stops and the wines were simply beautiful. These two properties seem to make great wines every vintage and I am hoping that prices will not get out of control.
Jim’s Top Three 2022 Bordeaux
2022 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
2022 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
2022 Château Figeac
Nancy’s Top Three 2022 Bordeaux
2022 Château Cheval Blanc
2022 Château Conseillante
2022 Vieux Château Certan
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAY:
Check out these links for other 2022 Bordeaux analysis.
2022 FUTURES CAMPAIGN
The 2022 futures campaign begins now. We won't spam you, but if you are interested in the periodic offerings, please email Jim and Nancy to let us them know to include you on the offer list for 2022 Bordeaux.