I have tried to resist the 2022 Bordeaux vintage. The words ‘earliest harvest since 1893’ tend to scare off most people who look for balance in their wines. And there’s no doubt there’s drama here, in many cases way too much of it. But there is also plenty to love and slowly but surely, they have won me over.
If you want to know what to expect, my best advice is take everything that you found with the 2021 vintage and turn it on its head. Where in 2021 winemakers were struggling to find concentration and creaminess among the light colours, low alcohols and fresh acidities of the year, in 2022 they were grappling with tiny berries, big tannins, and high phenolics, leading to some of the most consistently deep colours that I have seen in 20 years of tasting en primeur, across all appellations, grape varieties and terroirs.
This was a year with drought, heat, even wildfires. Irrigation was allowed for the first time in big name appellations such as Pomerol and Pessac Léognan. You’ll find plenty of luscious wines, but the barrel ageing phase will need to be carefully monitored. And acidity is generally low, with pH levels that stray dangerously close to the limit of protecting against spoilage issues, such as development of the Brettanomyces yeast.
You’ll hear that all of the challenges were miraculously overcome (‘we were surprised’ was the phrase of the en primeur tasings, and a bingo card with this would have been filled up within five visits) but don’t give all wines the benefit of the doubt.
One thing for sure is that 2022 is a vintage that will be referenced for many years to come, and I’ve tasted many exceptional wines that are truly worth getting excited about. Above all, it’s a year that provokes a ton of fascinating questions, and it was fun choosing these 10 wines that help answer some of them.