There is great consistency to the wines of Fronsac in 2022. The wines showed great colour, plenty of fruit, good structure, nicely handled extraction and ripe tannins at the Grand Cercle event back in April. As a bunch, they were very impressive. I find this appellation really intriguing and it certainly offers value in this vintage for the quality. The picks? Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine, Château de la Rivière, Château Fontenil and Château La Vieille Cure are all seriously impressive and worth seeking out. This will be a vintage that will age well in bottle but should offer lots of drinking pleasure early on.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Dalem’
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?
A brilliant set of wines have been made in Fronsac in 2020. It completes a run of three wonderfully impressive vintages here 2018-2020. I wonder if perhaps this year pips the rest in terms of balance and harmony. The wines show exceptional freshness and zap, alongside ripeness and there seems to be even greater vibrancy here this year than in 2019. Of the wines I’ve tasted, no one has put a foot wrong in my book, so if you still see any of these offered, you’d not be disappointed. At the very top we have Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine and Château La Vielle Cure, who have all produced terrific wines but excellent Fronsac has also been made at Château Fontenil and Château de la Rivière. Do search these any of these out.
For a second year running trips to Bordeaux have been complex. Once again, the châteaux have been sending barrel samples. Of course, there are concerns about the air freighted wines being in top notch condition when they arrive. It’s a compromise. For me, better to taste and exercise your judgement, than not taste anything at all. So there are caveats to reviewing Bordeaux these days, but given this, what does 2020 look like? The heat and drought of the summer, combined with varying quantities of rain at the end of the growing season, have resulted in a generally impressive vintage. Overall it is a good partner to 2018 and 2019, and marks a trio of fine vintages. On the basis of the few hundred wines I’ve tasted it’s the least consistent of the three. In general, it doesn’t have the coquettishness of 2018, nor the excitement and magnificent texture of the 2019s. It does have plenty of substance, the fruit is generally supple, the tannins creamy, and alcohols that are a tad lower than the last couple of years. But 2020 seems a more heterogenous vintage than the two before it, so it is not as straightforward to understand as those seemed. There is a hollowness to some and a lack of aromatics in others. Prices are slowly being released. You’d certainly not want to be paying more than you did for your 2019s. Ideally, given the economic uncertainty, and the volume of fine Bordeaux available in bottle, savvy châteaux should be selling this at a decent discount to make sense of an en primeur purchase.