There’s no doubt that the high pricing of many top Bordeaux 2022’s has been a disappointment in this en primeur cycle, regardless of the quality of the wine on offer. If like me you’re looking for good Bordeaux at a reasonable price, then there are definitely some Côtes de Bordeaux to consider in 2022. At the Grand Cercle tasting back in April, there was some variation. A few were rather ponderous and overripe with somewhat chewy tannins. Clearly the heat and drought proved tricky to manage for some. That said several showed really well. These wines exhibited greater freshness and life. My picks were Château Veyry and Clos Puy Arnaud in Castillon, Château Réaut and Château Reynon in Cadillac and Château Haut Bertinerie in Blaye. In earlier notes I have also posted on an extremely impressive Château d’Aiguilhe in Castillon.
Posts Tagged ‘Clos Puy Arnaud’
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?
If there is genuine excitement to be had in Bordeaux 2020, that is, excitement above the wines made in 2018 and 2019 here, then it probably lies in the wines of the right bank, and starts with the Côtes de Bordeaux appellations, especially those on limestone and clay limestone soils, such as Francs and Castillon. I was super impressed by the quality of some of the wines from the latter appellation especially [and also in Fronsac too – more on that appellation shortly]. Château Alcée, L’Aurage, Château Le Rey and Clos Puy Arnaud are simply knockout in Castillon in 2020. Château Ampélia and Château La Brande are also very impressive and close behind in quality. Château Puygueraud in Francs is very good and in the Côtes de Bourg, Roc de Cambes is a wonder.
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.