Château Laroque has produced a wonderful wine in 2022. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. This large, historic property has seriously been on the up since the arrival of David Suire. The ‘22 follows on from a series of impressive vintages here, starting with the ‘18 and followed on by excellent wines in ‘19 and ‘20. Prior to these vintages the wine was distributed exclusively and not sold through the Place de Bordeaux. All that has changed. I’ve been offered Laroque ’22 en primeur by at least half a dozen independent merchants in the UK this week. Buyers have cottoned on to the improvements here. Price-wise, even with a bit of an uplift this year, Laroque remains something of a bargain. I tasted the ’22 in after an afternoon that included tasting Château Figeac, Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte. Laroque held its own. This is a seriously good ’22, perhaps even more impressive at this stage than the remarkable ’18 was during primeurs.
I’ve written before about the renaissance at this property under David Suire. The property was in good shape prior to his arrival, being in the hands of the Beaumartin family since the 1920s, producing good wine. It is the largest property in St Emilion and has an enviable position, high up, on beautiful limestone terroir. But how delighted the Beaumartin family must be with the transformation of the wine here since the arrival of Suire, who first pitched up just before the harvest in 2016. I’m sure there has been plenty of investment here too since he first came, but it’s the savoir-faire of a winemaker who has spent a couple of decades working alongside Nicolas Thienpont that counts [Suire still works with him at Château Larcis Ducasse and formerly when they managed Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse]. Suire has an innate understanding of the needs of the land and the vines at Laroque and he is committed to the pursuit of purity and balance. The philosophy shines through in the latest wines.
Suire compares the 2022 vintage to 2010 in terms of the rhythm of the vintage. “It was a relaxing growing season compared to 2021. We had very good weather, yes there were extremes of heat, we had three heatwaves, but Merlot has elasticity. Drought was the main issue but as the growing season was dry from the beginning, so the vines adapted early. In September they were still green, even if the trees had lost some of their leaves.” Laroque’s aspect [around 100 m above sea level], with cooling breezes and the limestone and clay limestone soils, helped preserve freshness in the vintage. In many ways Laroque’s terroir is set up for warmer years [of which there are now many].
The harvest for the Merlot began on 14th September and ended on the 22nd September. The small parcels of Cabernet Franc were harvest on 30th September. Yields were 41hl/ha and 45% of the harvest will go into the grand vin. They practice plot-by-plot vinification here in small capacity concrete vats, which are gravity fed. The wines are aged reductively on fine lees in a variety of barriques and large oak foudres.
The following sample was tasted at Château Laroque on Friday 21st April, 2023.
Château Laroque, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022
Lovely saturated colour; tight to rim; beautiful red and black fruits fruit; spices; freshness; this layered and has real intensity; very polished on the palate, wonderful and super refined with layers of fruit; a beauty; saline notes and fine tannins on the finish; wonderful purity and balance here. This might be the best Laroque under the tenure of David Suire. Drink 2027-2040. [98% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc, 3.55 pH]. 95-97+
Laroque’s Director David Suire