Wine Words & Video Tape

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Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: First thoughts

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

My primeurs visit this year [my first since 2019] was limited to a four-day long weekend of tastings on Bordeaux’s right bank in and around St Emilion. I hope to have an in-depth look at the left bank at a later date. Despite the brevity of the trip I looked at hundred plus wines and on the basis of those, 2022 certainly looks to be an exciting vintage for many. It was a hot and dry year, with real heat spikes. Challenging? Yes in some cases but if anything, part of the new normal in Bordeaux in climate and meteorological terms. Stylistically what’s the vintage like in terms of other recent vintages? 2018? 2009? 2003? Any declaration on style is affected by the fact that Bordeaux has evolved considerably over the last decade in winemaking and viticultural terms. In warm years, of which there are now many, picking is less super late, winemaking is generally less extractive and oak handling less obvious. Everyone, it seems, is searching for greater freshness and balance. The comparison most frequently offered by winemakers and proprietors in describing 2022, usually after some procrastination and umpteen caveats, was 2010. Not necessarily in terms of the precise weather conditions. 2010 was a vintage of so-called ‘cool’ maturity, which is not evidently the case in 2022. But there is certainly that level of concentration in the wines, and with much less evident extraction than a decade earlier. I certainly found the tannins in 2022 to be like satin. So, what are the highlights?

I’ll write in more detail on the individual property visits in forthcoming posts. Château Figeac experienced its earliest harvest start and has made a sublime wine. There is great concentration and intensity here, but also freshness. Director Frédéric Faye seems very excited. In Stephan von Neipperg’s stable, La Mondotte is as seductive and layered as ever, Château Canon La Gaffelière has great power and finesse, while Château d’Aiguilhe, over in Castillon, is super impressive. It should be a bargain. Extremely compelling wines have been made at Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Pavie Macquin under the Thienpont team. The former has wonderful purity and balance, the latter exceptional power. These should both be on your radar. Château Laroque, a definite insider’s wine in recent years since the arrival of winemaker David Suire, has produced a thrilling wine – perhaps the best yet here.

There’s always excitement tasting Jean-Luc Thunevin’s line-up, this year shown in his freshly minted tasting rooms at Château Valandraud, and no longer in his garage cellars in the back streets of St Emilion. Valandraud itself looks to be exceptional in 2022. It has terrific purity and freshness, despite considerable body and alcohol. Thunevin’s midas touch extends to his other right bank properties, the St Emilion Clos Badon, the Lalande de Pomerol Domaine des Sabines as well as Pomerol Le Clos du Beau Père. Amongst those properties Jean-Luc consults for Château Sansonnet, Château Villemaurine, Château Moulin du Cadet and Château Fleur Cardinale [typically decadent] really impressed.

Over at Château de La Dauphine in the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux put on a great press tasting for the 125 properties they represent. I tasted these blind. I was really impressed by the homogeneity across the board on the wines from the right bank. The Côtes de Bordeaux had lots of fruit and colour. Château Veyry and Clos Puy Arnaud really impressed in Castillon as did Château Réaut and Château Reynon in Cadillac. The wines of Fronsac were really knockout and should prove wonderful value. The picks were Château de la Rivière, Château Les Trois Crois, Château La Vielle Cure, Château de La Dauphine, Château Villars and Château Dalem. These were all brilliant wines with plenty of flesh and extract but also balance and composure.

Amongst the Pomerol’s shown, Château Feytit-Clinet was very attractive, as was Château Taillefer, Château Vieux Maillet and Château La Commanderie. Shortage of time meant I had to skip Lalande de Pomerol in order to get a good look at the various St Emilion on offer. In terms of St Emilion Grand Cru, Château Godeau, Château Patris Querre and Château Soutard Cadet looked very good.

The Cru Classé St Emilion were fabulous. Terrific colours across the board here, and aromatically lashings of seductive fruit with generally super refined tannins on the palate. All were good but I’d definitely search out Château Destieux, Château de Pressac, Château La Mazelle, Château Laroze, Château Grand Corbin Despagne, Château Yon Figeac, Château Fombrauge, Château Montlabert and Château Rol Valentin. I will post in more detail with notes and scores on all of these wines in subsequent posts.

At the Grande Cercle I also had a look at a dozen wines from the Haut-Médoc. These were also consistent and impressive. Ones to note especially were Château Lanessan, Château du Cartillon and Château Malescasse in the Haut-Médoc and Château Petit Bocq and Château Tour Saint Fort in St Estèphe. Château Bellegrave in Pauillac was also very impressive.

Finally on the last day of my trip I made it over to Château La Conseillante in Pomerol. This is a fabulous wine. There is freshness and grip but with a boatload of ripe fruit.

More detailed notes to follow.

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