2022 Bordeaux Vintage Report
by Callum & Will Gardener
The initial noises coming out of Bordeaux (not for the first time) suggested we were in for a real treat this year with trade, press and vignerons comparing 2022 to the great vintages of yesteryear, including the fabled vintages of 1947, 1961 & 1982… Because of this our fine wine team arrived in Bordeaux in a buoyant mood, eagerly anticipating the 2022 vintage and we immediately felt a real buzz around the vintage, the kind not seen since 2017 whilst tasting the lauded 2016 vintage. The hype was almost tangible, but was it justified?
2022 was one of the hottest and driest vintages ever, with record low rainfall and extreme temperatures recorded throughout the growing season. Despite these intense conditions and almost counterintuitively, 2022 is far from a ‘hot’ vintage with the very best wines exuding a vibrant freshness, minerality and beguiling balance, the likes of which we have never seen before.
The Growing Season
The growing season began with a cool, yet relatively dry winter followed by a very warm spring triggering an early bud break, vine growth and flowering in near perfect conditions. The ever irritant sharp frosts occurred in early April, however this was fortunately after bud break resulting in minimal damage to the vines. The months that followed saw extremely high temperatures with May, June, July, August and September eclipsing their 5, 10 and 30 years averages. Despite the extreme heat during the days in many micro climates, the diurnal range was significant with cooler nights, ultimately helping to bring the balancing freshness which we see in 2022, but less so in other extreme solar vintages like 2003.
Hydric stress was not significant at the top estates. With an absence of vine blockage, the ripening sprinted on and the small thick-skinned berries were ready to be harvested in record time, many properties including Canon, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion & Montrose began harvesting towards the end of August.
The overriding question is; having been subjected to such extreme growing conditions, how were the vines able to produce such healthy vibrant fruit and ultimately some of the finest wines the region has seen?
The fact is the vignerons are not categorically sure. Could it be that the early and then consistent on set of fine weather naturally caused the vines to prepare for the same, restricting growth and foliage helping to eke out water reserves expediently? This adaption combined with prime terroir and smart viticulture was a recipe for success. What we must mention however is that properties with a certain type of terroir (mainly warm gravels and sand) struggled to find a balanced ripeness and if grapes were picked too late and/or gentle work in the winery wasn’t carried out, the resulting wine is imbalanced.
“We simply tell ourselves, like Einstein did, that nature is sometimes beyond our comprehension.”
“When you look back at the vintages we’ve had since 2015, the weather has often been hot, and yet the wines have had this freshness and balance. I like to think that the vines have gradually adapted to this type of weather.” Marielle Cazaux, Managing Director, La Conseillante
Soils & Terroirs
Bordeaux’s finest soils and terroirs allow their vines to mitigate problematic conditions. In an extreme solar vintage this is usually at the expense of their stylistic identity and character, and before our visit we did hear comments supporting this. Surprisingly, in our opinion 2022 is a terroir accentuated vintage.
Properties with cooler limestone and clay soils are more able to regulate water release and provide a greater brightness and freshness in their wines. Properties with warmer sand and gravels however tended to struggle due to their propensity to absorb heat and their difficulty to retain water.
“It is more about the soil and terroir as opposed to the vine itself. Angelus’ limestone and clay terroir is the reason for this great vintage” Bong Grelat-Tram, Ch. Angelus
“Clay soils were absolutely key in this vintage.” Marielle Cazaux, Managing Director, La Conseillante
“The limestone plateau was key for Ch. Canon in this vintage.” Nicolas Audebert, Directeur General, Canon
“Our wonderful blue clay subsoil that comes down from Pomerol helped regarding water retention” Alexa Boulton, Communications & Exports Director, Figeac
“Our great strength in Bordeaux is that each château gets its identity from its terroir, and that’s reflected in this 2022 vintage.” Frederic Fate, Technical Director, Figeac
“2022 has revealed a classic expression of great Bordeaux and it expresses the character of Pichon Baron’s terroir more than anything that has gone before” Christian Seely, Managing Director, Pichon Baron
In the Vineyard
Work in the vineyard is important in any vintage, but none more so than in 2022. The extreme heat and sunshine meant that an eagle eye was necessary throughout the growing season.
Canopy management was vitally important in 2022 in a bid to prevent the sun from scorching the grapes. François Josselin, Cellar master at Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion informed us that he and his team went to extreme lengths in the vineyard for this very reason and even cover grapes with white mud to act as a sunscreen. Alexa Boulton, Communications & Exports Director at Figeac also explained that “it was necessary to leave a substantial canopy to protect the grapes” and that there was “no turning over in the vineyard to leave needed moisture in the soils”.
Another consideration that has to be taken into account in 2022 and also for vintages of the future is a Château’s winegrowing philosophy. Nicolas Glumineau winemaker and general manager of Pichon Lalande informed us that it is the properties organic and bio-dynamic principles that helped the vines, terroir and ultimately the final wine to be successful despite the vintages growing season:
“The minerality and freshness is down to our philosophy in the vineyard. We allow the vineyard to relax. Great wines are made outside.”
One striking observation for us during our trip this year was the amount of cover crops in so many of the vineyards. It is said that cover crops avoid erosion, supply nitrogen, aerate soils and improve yields whilst encouraging biodiversity allowing a vineyard to find balance in its ecosystem. This is clearly something that more and more vignerons are adopting. Gone are the days of picture perfect acres of mathematically precise lines of green and brown rows in the vineyards, and this seems to be a positive environmental shift which is adding to the health of the vines. Hubert de Bouard of Château Angelus was so pleased with the condition of his Cabernet Franc vines at harvest time that he took photos and hung them up in pride of place in the Château for the duration of the En Primeur tastings. He was keen to point out just how green the foliage was, unlike in past extreme solar vintages.
It seems that “The 2022 vintage was the year of the intelligence of the plant.” Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director, Cheval Blanc
One final thought on vineyard management revolves around the replanting of vines. Interestingly, Amandine Bidault of Château Laroque informed us that it is the practice of massal selection (the process of new vines being produced from wood taken from old vines) in the vineyard that has contributed to the impressive freshness in their Merlots in 2022. She explained that massal selection is a technique that has been used at Laroque for decades as it gives greater resilience to the vines, something that will only help moving forward, particularly with the threat of global warming looming ever closer.
“At Laroque massal selection is key to the future of our Merlots.” Amandine Bidault, Director of Commericial Development
In the Winery
Having experienced many solar vintages over the past 10 years astute winemakers were informed and well equipped to decide exactly when to harvest. Those that picked at the right time were rewarded with wonderfully physiological and sugar ripeness in their grapes. Those that waited too long very quickly risked over ripeness.
With the vintage yielding grapes with thick skins and a very low juice to skin ratio, tannin levels matched or even surpassed the record levels of 2010. Because of this, delicate work in the vat room was imperative. Winemakers that managed tannins extraction well were left with wonderfully silky and powdery tannins, the finest we have seen. Those that did not were left with aggressive and astringent ones.
“Gentle extractions were the order of the day and quite low fermentation temperatures. No higher than 26°C which is 2°C lower in fact than in 2021” Frederic Faye, Technical Director, Château Figeac
“The drought produced tiny berries with very little juice and thick skins. So there was a huge concentration in tannins. But those tannins were perfectly ripe and very velvety. For me, the tannic richness is the major characteristic of the 2022 vintage.” Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director, Cheval Blanc
Another potential difficulty posed to winemakers in 2022 was PH & alcohol levels. Naturally, in hot dry vintages PH and alcohol levels will rise and in 2022 both were either slightly above average or for some significantly above average. Many of the wines that we tasted despite these higher than average levels were vibrant and bright and alcohol levels imperceptible. Two more paradoxes of the 2022 vintage perhaps, but in our opinion the better wines of the vintage are wonderfully balanced and will most certainly age effortlessly.
“PH is higher than usual this year, but the way the tannins are built produces a sensation of freshness” Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director, Cheval Blanc
“Due to advancements in the vineyard and the winery, modern wines will last longer than the wines of the past” Alexa Boulton, Communications & Exports Director, Figeac
Press wine was a topic we discussed at some length having heard commentary from Noemie Durantou at Château Eglise Clinet, who explained that in some vintages the pips reach optimum ripeness, brown and dry, greenness all gone, this is a good sign and it happened in 2022. The press wine can be subsequently pushed and is hence deeper and richer and with judicious application brings that silky luxurious feeling to the wines. Magical seasoning.
Francois Josselin at Château Carmes Haut Brion explained that the ratio of the cap in the fermentation tanks was 40% this year, very high due to the low juice/skins ratio. Importantly the quality of the press wine was particularly good, and it eventually represented 40% of the Grand Vin.
The use of new oak in aging the wines in Bordeaux is under the microscope. There does seem to be a move to reduce it, and this year it would seem that the very careful handling of the harvest and elevage would need to be mirrored in the maturation process. The wines are almost on a knife edge, too much new oak could just tip the structure over towards excess firmness. Nicolas Glumineau at Pichon Lalande explained they now use two thirds maximum, and that he prefers to use less new oak but for longer aging. Clos Fourtet as another example only used 40% New Oak.
The hype was almost tangible, but was it justified?
Ultimately 2022 is a vintage that has produced extremely high quality from the very top to bottom, with a variety of styles that accentuates terroir. For us there are several wines that we would describe as the finest we have tasted, with outstanding freshness, tension, depth and complexity. This is of course a sign of a great vintage, however 2022 is far from homogenous and certain wines quite frankly lacked freshness and/or offered only over extracted, astringent tannins leaving a wine conclusively imbalanced. Because of this and once again, selecting carefully is a must.
“Stylistically a combination of 1947 & 2016 but more accessible” Bong Grelat-Tram, Ch. Angelus “
It’s a synthesis of 2018, 2019 and 2020. But 2022 is the most Figeac of them all.” Frederic de Faye, Ch. Figeac
“If I wanted to make a comparison with wines of recent vintages, I’d say it’s a mix of 2019 and 2020.” Guillaume Thienpont, Vieux Château Certan
“What we had in 2022 was a magical conjunction of circumstances which gave us a vintage like no other.” Marielle Cazaux, Ch La Conseillante
“2022 is in the category of the top vintages, but we have a new balance and a wine that is so accessible young, which is extremely rare!” Noemie Durantou, Ch Eglise Clinet
“2022 has the palate of 2020 with the kick of 2019 minerality & freshness” Florent Genty, Ch Pichon Lalande
“The conclusion is, is that’s it’s a bloody good vintage!” Christian Seely, Ch Pichon Baron
It is no secret that the global wine trade is expecting price increases from the Châteaux during this campaign and due to the special quality of many, rightly so. However, the burning question is by how much? High interest rates and global economic uncertainty means that the majority of Bordeaux negoces will struggle to absorb a vintage that doesn’t sell through to the end consumer, and for the end consumer to buy En Primeur there must be an incentive. There are certain wines that will see demand regardless of price, but most will need their proprietors to act judiciously and read the room so to speak. If the Châteaux do this then 2022 is undoubtedly a campaign to get behind, albeit selectively. If not and prices are dramatically increased, the future of following campaigns could also be harmed hammering one more nail into the coffin of the institution that is the Bordeaux En Primeur system.
Top 10 for quality
La Conseillante 98-100
87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc. The nose is deep, dark and serious with precise perfumed black fruit; black berry, black currant, black cherry unfurling out of the glass, followed by star anise and liquorice. There is a controlled energy to this nose. The palate is super silky with layered and concentrated dark fruits prominent. The energy and tension at the core is extraordinary and all is underpinned by a vibrant freshness and filigree tannic structure. The finish long with a saline minerality persisting. The elegance, balance and harmony here is astounding. There isn’t a hair out of place. This is the finest La Conseillante I have had the pleasure to taste. A potential perfect wine.
Leoville Las Cases 98-100
83.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.5% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot. Extremely dark and dense colour. Classic in style on the nose with graphite, black pepper, black olive, balsamic and cassis pouring out of the glass. Complex and serious. The palate is fresh, with juicy but cool black fruits resting on a broad yet powdery tannic structure. The finish is so, so long with the tannins lifting freshness. There is an immense balance between elegance and power here and a linear tension too. Unbelievable confidence and composure. Iron fist in a velvet glove. It is very difficult to criticise this wine. A potential perfect wine.
La Mission Haut Brion 98-100
51.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43.2% Merlot, 5.1% Cabernet France. Deep ruby in colour. Dark fruit aromas of damson, black plum and blackberry jump out of the glass followed by cocoa powder, a cinnamon and clove spice and a lavender perfume. Serious yet vibrant. The palate is super suave, silky and collected with concentrated dark fruits resting on a broad yet powdery tannic structure. The finish is long with a savoury, mineral laden toast flavour persisting. Outstanding harmony and togetherness here. A serious and classic La Mission that could achieve perfection.
92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. Deep ruby in colour. A very Pauillac and very Latour nose, with graphite laden aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry and elderberry, followed by cedar, sweet tobacco, black pepper and nutmeg. The palate offers a silky yet full mouthfeel with precise mineral laced dark fruits resting effortlessly on a foursquare but powdery tannic structure. The finish is very long, mineral and spicy, with a freshness that lifts the whole tasting experience. There is unbelievable precision, tension and ultimately balance in this wine. The tannic structure is reminiscent to that of the Leoville Las Cases. Difficult to fault and potentially a perfect wine in my eyes.
Cheval Blanc 97-99+
53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose offers aromas of violet infused black cherry fruit, followed by BBQ smoke, ginger, clove and five spice powder. Extremely complex. The palate is so fresh with a saline minerality coming through initially, followed quickly by juicy black cherry fruit, orange zest and anise. The tannins are so supple, almost untraceable in fact, until the finish where they enhance the savoury, saline minerality. Extremely long. The energy at the core of this wine is quite something. A unique Cheval Blanc and the finest I have tasted En Primeur.
Lafite Rothschild 97-99
94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. The nose is deep, dark and quintessentially Pauillac with aromas of cassis, blackberry, graphite, cedar, pencil shavings, sweet tobacco and a potpourri perfume unfurling out of the glass. Impressively expressive and complex. The palate is fresh, with concentrated black fruits gliding effortlessly across the midpalate, followed by a vanilla cream and then an intense salinity. There is a real vibrancy and energy resting in between the fruit and powerful tannic structure. Multi-layered. The finish is incredibly long and similarly to the palate, intensely saline and mineral. This Lafite will age for a century. Superb.
Haut Brion 97-99
53.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43.2% Merlot, 5.1% Cabernet Franc. Slightly richer nose compared to La Mission with black cherry and black berry, together with a gravelly earth, graphite, mint and tobacco, even black forest gateau… A layered and complex nose. The palate is typically fuller in texture than La Mission, with concentrated savoury black fruits at the core, with a real tension and energy at the core. All is underpinned by a seamless, silky yet powerful tannic structure. The finish is extremely long with the vintage signature saline, mineral freshness persisting. Like La Mission this is a true Haut Brion of outstanding quality.
Pichon Baron 97-99
81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot. A typically dark character on the nose, with hints of black olive, black tea, cassis, black pepper, graphite, pencil shavings and tangerine peel. A calm and confident nose. The palate offers cool black fruits that rest on a substantial yet unobtrusive tannic structure. There is elegance here together with a vibrant intensity and power. The finish is exceptionally long with a hint of mocha and then an abundance of saline minerality which is lifted by the powdery tannins. Calm, composed and confident. Superb.
The affable Mr Christian Seely told us that for Pichon Baron in 2022 “the conclusion is that’s it’s a bloody good vintage!” and I whole heartedly agree with him. The finest Pichon Baron I have tasted.
50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. Vibrant nose with aromas of violet perfumed tangerine, raspberry, morello cherry and mango jumping out of the glass, followed by sweet spice, menthol and citrus zest. There is something quite tropical about this Ausone and not for the first time. The layers and complexity on this nose is mind blowing! The palate is so fresh and vibrant yet so elegant and effortless. There is concentrated red and black fruits at the core, with unbelievable tension. The tannins are almost completely covered such is their silkiness and ripeness, until the finish where they add to the already vibrant freshness. A classy Ausone, long and ethereal. A unique St Emilion.
Les Carmes Haut Brion 96-98+
34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot. A very intense, deep and dark colour at the core, with purple hues at the rim. The nose offers an abundance of black fruits; blackcurrant, blackberry, elderberry, black cherry, together with anise, earth, black pepper, sundried tomato and then perfumed crème de mure. Complex and precise. The palate is intensely fresh with concentrated and vibrant black fruits leading the way. There is a real tension and togetherness here. The suave and silky textured fruit rests effortlessly on the filigree tannic structure. The finish is wonderfully long with a savoury mineral flavour persisting. Formidable energy. Monsieur Guillaume Pouthier and his team are doing incredible things at Ch. Les Carmes Haut Brion, with their 2022 the best yet!
Haut Brion 98-100
53.6% Merlot, 35.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc. Very deep here, the nose is more resistant, touch of crème anglaise, deep dark profile and freshness comes through on the nose, the palate is like cashmere here, very cool and confident, the weight is just as perfect as can be, this is just an amazing wine, so much balance with little hits of salty freshness on the finish almost like popping candy, so much controlled power. A privilege to taste this range today and this is la piece de la resistance. Surely a candidate for wine if the vintage. Eureka!
La Conseillante 98-100
Full plum, ethereal nose, very floral, clean, touch of Asia, stalky, inky, perfumed, very black fruit, cloves, deep and intense aromatics, the palate is very voluptuous with impressive tension right from the off, beautifully saline framed fruit here, very persistent finish with incredible finesse. Great purity, there is freshness here and plenty of structure, keeps up well with the opulence, the competition between the two keeps it all going, humming.
Cheval Blanc 98-100
53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very deep colour, right to the rim, the savoury element creeping in here, complex blue fruit, Bolognese sauce, floral notes coming through now, deep concentration, fresh notes, touch of mint, the palate is very cool and creamy, chocolatey feel, saline notes coming through, it’s a wine which seems already evolved and approachable, I recall the same feeling when tasting the 1998 en primeur, which was a very successful Merlot vintage. But this is more complex with more finesse. Quite incredible, I can’t think of a vintage which has impacted so much en primeur.
Lafite Rothschild 97-100
This is quite foursquare on the nose, like a solid impenetrable block, the palate is very sensual, that pronounced acidity is there again, super saline, great minerality. This is so tightly wound, perfume, possibly the most mineral laden so far almost Szechuan spice, graphite, super classic, awesome energy, this is a tour de force. Very powerful it’s almost scary. Don’t think I’ve ever experienced a Lafite with this much energy. It reminds me a little of the 1996 but even that didn’t show this much mineral dimension.
Very dark almost black, good intensity on the nose with blueberry fruit note really comes out with coaxing with a refined marine note, black cherry, black pepper, the palate is very cool, almost chocolatey super fine dusty tannins here, this is a wonderful classic Saint Estephe, humming with terroir integrity, there is an awesome amount of tannin here but it’s just overwhelmed by the ripeness of the fruit, this is a triumph, best ever for me.
Very deep colour, hint of savoury, touch of reduction, crème patissiere, calm, mineral nose, floral. The palate is lush, charming, and calm with a building freshness underneath, effortless, elegant, salty mineral finish, great texture and presence, almost hypnotic, bring me back, very fine here. A great Ausone.
Mouton Rothschild 97-99
Very deep colour, there is a deep intensity to the nose, very pure and complex, open but not overt, totally unflashy, within itself, touch of saline, rich, no raisin. I love the aromatic profile, it shows so little but says so much. The palate is similarity proportionate, gently revealing its wares, there is a great sense of harmony from start to finish. The finish is never obtrusive. Soyeuse, great concentration. Very fine and could be faultless.
Leoville Las Cases 97-99
This is very deep in colour, enticing nose, warming, touch of clove, perfume, floral, earthy, more monolithic than some, restraint but so elegant and promising. The palate has very cool fruit, very tout droit, svelt, tannins fine, really sophisticated style with bags of flavour, this is a contemplative wine. Great flavour and great balance. The terroir here is magnificent, first growth in truth. A brilliant effort and possibly a benchmark.
Pichon Baron 97-99
Very deep colour, again the nose here is more brooding than some, similar to the Mouton Rothschild, the depth in the aromatics is very impressive drill down to hints of floral lined black berry fruit, it is elegant difficult to grab the identity of the individual aromas but the finished article is beautiful and restrained, the palate is a solid block very cool, unravelling very slowly, the tension here is remarkable, very mineral, juicy notes, super long, this is the best Pichon Baron I have ever tasted en primeur. The black cherry fruit is just amazing. Great flavour. This is showing even better than tasted earlier in the morning at UGC tasting at Château Lynch Bages. Remarkable.
52% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. 25th Anniversary. Very deep purple. This is reduced on the nose, less on the fruit profile, more earth and savoury, confident, almost reserved here, deep aromatics, the palate, is pure and intensely beautiful, this is knock out, difficult to follow the sensations, so much going on, super complex, very elegant, really fine long finish. Superb. This is a monumental Pavie. Leave this a minimum of 10 years in bottle before popping the cork.
Top 10 value picks
La Gaffeliere 94-96+
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc. Vibrant raspberry nose followed by black cherry, rose petal, cocoa powder and a saline minerality. An expressive and bright nose. The palate offers a full body with concentrated red fruits which is balanced by impressive freshness. The tannins are super plush velvety and lift freshness on the finish even more so. This is an excellent La Gaffeliere, so elegant and harmonious.
La Gaffeliere really is on role, with quite superb wines produced in 2018, 2019, 2020 & now 2022. In my opinion 2022 is the pick of the bunch.
Langoa Barton 93-95+
A very sexy nose with layered and precise aromas of kirsch and then cassis coming through, followed by caramel, dried tobacco and violets. Very complex and alluring. The palate is vibrant with a wonderfully silky and textured red and black fruit coming through. There is tension and elegance here. The tannins are fine and underpin the fruits and freshness effortlessly. The finish is very long with a sweet spice persisting. An excellent Langoa Barton, with an effortless balance. The finest I have tasted.
98% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Vibrant nose with the mineral limestone terroir immediately noticeable, followed by raspberries, strawberries, orange citrus and a cinnamon spice. The palate like the nose is bright and vibrant with cool yet juicy fruit; Morello cherry, strawberry and blackcurrant at the fore. The tannins are so plush and glossy. This is a very clean and elegant Laroque that will challenge the 2019. Excellent.
Clos du Marquis 93-95
45.5% Merlot, 44.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark and intense in colour. A very bright nose with perfumed black fruits unfurling out of the glass followed by cedar and liquorice. Clean and energetic. The palate fresh with fully textured, ripe black fruits at the core. The tannins are fine and the finish long and savoury. A superb Clos du Marquis and the finest I have tasted to date.
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. A rich and concentrated nose with aromas of black cherry, red plum, milk chocolate, sweet spice, tobacco and black pepper. A sensual nose that reminds me of the Ducru Beaucaillou. The palate is fresh, very elegant, relaxed and smooth with plummy fruit at the core. The tannins are super refined and lift freshness on the mouth-watering finish. A superb Lagrange and another superb St Julien.
Cantenac Brown 93-95
69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot. A slightly darker nose that most Margaux here with intense aromas of tamarind, balsamic, graphite and cassis unfolding. The palate is fresh with anise laden black fruits taking centre stage. The tannins are very fine but undoubtedly present and the finish mouth-wateringly long. A very serious Cantenac Brown, the finest I have tasted in fact.
La Lagune 93-95
Alluring nose with concentrated aromas of cassis, blackberry and black cherry covered in liquorice pouring out of the glass, followed by ginger bread and crushed stones. The palate is fresh with dark fruits prominent. There is a real energy, intensity and tension here. The silky black fruits lead into serious but satin like tannic structure. The finish is long with a savoury cocoa powder persisting. An extremely well balanced La Lagune and certainly the best I have tasted.
La Pointe 92-94
Vibrant ruby colour. There is noticeable energy on the nose from the offer, with red & black cherry jumping out of the glass, followed by kirsch, rose petal, violets anise and nutmeg. Layered and complex. The palate is fresh with similar energy to the nose. The texture is silky with creamy tropical flavours at the core such as mango and papaya. The tannins are super silky and support the mid palate fruits and acidity with ease. The finish is long with a subtle toast flavour persisting. Very together. An excellent La Pointe, a property that has gone from strength to strength over the past few years.
Ormes de Pez 91-93
51% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Expressive nose, with sweet spice, tobacco, pencil shavings, cocoa and blueberry coming through. Quite a seductive nose. The palate offers full bodied yet cool and perfumed blue fruit and a powdery tannic structure and the finish long and saline. A perennial favourite of mine that always offers excellent value. The 2022 does not disappoint.
75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Slightly richer and more precise on the nose compared to its stablemates, with black cherry, milk chocolate, cocoa powder and toast coming through. The palate is fresh, with a saline minerality coming through followed by juicy black fruit. The tannins are super fine but serious. A bigger structure here than La Chenade and Cruzelles. A very well made Montlandrie.
Very deep colour, touch of aged balsamic, excellent fruit concentration, floral plummy, open, cassis, aromatics, really solid here. This is generous on the palate with good layering and dimension, spicy, good grip, no shrinking violet for sure. Very nice mineral finish with a lick of new oak. Great potential. This is the best young Batailley I have tasted and will surely be one to buy in mags!
La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou 92-94
Super bright deep colour. The nose here is very interesting, great perfume, lovely integration of oak, vanilla, deep intensity of inky graphite laden aromas, the palate is cool and textured, with lovely intense spicy black fruits with super grip and gourmand into the finish, very mineral. This is exceptional, although it always impresses to be fair.
Gruaud Larose 94-97
Very deep colour here, this is very concentrated with a beefy extract, leather and black cherry profile, savoury and deep layered fruit, impressive intensity, great texture here too, sits very well, a powerful proportionate shape here, nicely tuned in, very fine for the estate, I suspect this is the finest since the fabled 1982.
64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% Alch. Big deep colour, there is an uplift here in elegance, there is ripeness here but short of raisin, the palate is cool and measured, this has the gubbins, good tension here, sufficient, blue fruit graphite finish, very good this year but this is a fuller extraction, a terroir which can take a bit of pushing. One of the stars of the appellation as is often the case. Low yields only 27 hl/ha.
88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow super deep colour, intense dark fruit profile, earthy dark chocolate, wet paint, the palate is caressing, but very gentle, the fruit here is impressively concentrated, the structure is substantial too checking the fruit on the back, good balance here easily. Great flavour, so long and fine. This is seriously flashy but equally elegant, so well judged. A great success and certainly the finest I have tasted en primeur. If prices remain reasonable I am tempted.
50% new oak. Deeper colour, this is a touch more intense than Chenade, the fruit sweetness is impressive, nice texture again, good spice. There is a touch more substance and power but no less finesse.
Griffons de Pichon 92-94
Super deep, regal nose very perfumed here, cassis, the texture here is impressive the minerality here is just amazing. This is more serious and powerful than the Tourelles, great result here. I can’t recall tasting a young Griffons as impressive as this.
La Dominique 92-94
This is very deep in colour, the aromatics are immediately lifted here, intense and floral, very pure, excellent richness and concentration, the palate is luxurious, tannins nicely covered with creamy berry fruit, the finish is clean and refreshing, ready to go again, this is well judged. Certainly stylistically extracted but looks to be a very good result this year. Ambitious.
Great colour, the nose is a bit tight, redcurrant and cranberry notes, the palate is round and generous with plenty of support, good spicy finish with dusty and a fresh elegant profile, comes together elegantly into a narrow gauge gorgeous length. Fine result here.
Latour Martillac Blanc 91-93
Calm reserved nose on the riper side with a touch of peach and pear, the palate is cool and energised and just nicely fresh with a lovely nuance and layering of fresh citrus hits, this seems to have the right balance of freshness and generosity, quite lovely.
Appellation by Appellation
As previously touched on there were numerous highs but also lows in every one of the leading appellations with several surpassing their superb 2009, 2010, 2016, 2018, 2019 & 2020 expressions.
Surprisingly the Merlots on both the Right and Left banks were superb in 2020, a variety that has come under real scrutiny over the past five years or so due to the threat of global warming and it’s predilection to ripen earlier than it’s Cabernet counterparts. Merlots planted on clay, gravel covered clay and limestone flourished meaning St Emilion, Pomerol and pockets of the northern Medoc & Pessac Leognan thrived, with St Emilion proving to be perhaps the most consistent appellation of them all. One thing that vignerons will take away from the 2022 is that Merlot, in the correct terroir is resilient to extreme heat and drought and that the future for this eminent Bordeaux varietal is undeniably bright.
“The Merlots were some of the best we have ever seen” Christian Seely, Managing Director, Pichon Baron
“But what really encouraged me in 2022 was the way that the vines coped with the conditions. That was proof that Merlot can perform really well and produce balanced, fresh, elegant wines in extreme hot-weather years.” Marielle Cazaux, Managing Director, La Conseillante
Another grape variety that prospered on both banks of the Gironde is resourceful Cabernet Franc. In 2022 like the Merlots, Cabernet Francs were spectacular balancing Merlots roundness & Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure, ultimately adding another dimension to the blends.
“It’s the best Cabernet Franc I’ve tasted since I’ve been in charge.” Frederic Faye, Technical Director, Château Figeac
“Ripe but also fresh. It had excellent aromatic freshness together with its ever-surprising notes of wet limestone and ashes, the perfect complement for our Merlot. 100% of our Cabernet Franc has gone into the blend.”
Cabernet Sauvignon played a pivotal part to the success of many wines in 2022, with its love for the sun and inclination to ripen late proving a god send to many properties. In 2022 The Cabernets thrived in gravelly terroirs of the Medoc, right down to Pessac-Leognan providing a perfect framework for some of the finest wines the region has produced. Pauillac (which incidentally saw a small amount of rain in June, unlike its neighbours) and St Julien appellations proved the most consistent, while outstanding wines in St Estephe, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan were also made.
The Margaux commune generally has more gravel and less clay than further north with a more free draining soil, this certainly created challenges in 2022. However with diligent work the vignerons in are unsurprisingly excited with their wines this year, and true to form several showed brilliantly. Château Giscours and Cantenac Brown, particularly impressive
At the UGC – Château Lascombes
46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot. 35% Amphoras. Vin Bio. Good deep plum, very pretty nose full of rich black cherry fruit, and dried ink, juicy, earthy palate, good perfume and the freshness is ample too, nicely balanced good result. 90-92+
69% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Merlot. 13.5% Alch. Good deep heart, this is inky with a ripe pruny too note, good concentration on the aromatics, there is certainly tension here, the ripeness is obvious, leaning towards the pain grille with a toasty earthy finish with cedar too. Good depth and well-judged with a medium plus throttle. 92-94
63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. 14% Alch. Full purple, this is nicely elegant with the red and black berry route with good perfume and intensity. The impact on the palate is nicely silky with a drying tannic hit, the tannins are ripe into the finish a good result, salty toasty finish. 90-92
57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. 13.5% Alch. Very deep colur, dried ink, touch rubber, concentrated, open blue fruit nose, this is lovely and soyeuse and cool on the palate, elderberry on the finish, complex fruit, good attack. Big for the estate, and a success. 90-92
36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 53% Merlot and 11% Petit Verdot. 14% Alch. Good deep purple, the nose is clean here, red fruits, cedar, attractive but not wholly open aromatics, the palate is again nicely creamy, generous, mouth is coated nicely this builds on the finish with good inky tension, like the final result here, lots of spice. Surely one of the value picks this year. 91-93
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Very deep as usual, this has great cab aromas, cassis, cedar, macarons, the palate is lovely and silky, it’s all here with ample generosity and the flavour is excellent, pain grille, cafe, just lacks a bit of freshness for great. Ambitious as usual. 90-92
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 13% Alch. Not quite as deep as some, full nose open, plummy, cassis here, perfumed, this is nicely cool, certainly generous, I like the generous fruit forward style, lacks a touch of tension but good freshness and finishes well. Touch balsamic. This is less forced and it works well. 90-92
64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% Alch. Big deep colour, there is an uplift here in elegance, there is ripeness here but short of raisin, the palate is cool and measured, this has the gubbins, good tension here, sufficient, blue fruit graphite finish, very good this year but this is a fuller extraction, a terroir which can take a bit of pushing. One of the stars of the appellation as is often the case. Low yields only 27 hl/ha. 93-95
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Impressive colour, nice floral perfume here, impressive aromatic purity touch of crème patisserie, the palate sits nicely with cool fruit, round and generous and an impressive salty mineral grip on the finish. This appears to be well framed with well-judged extraction, very promising for the estate. 92-94
This is very deep, savoury edge, with floral perfume too, grille, leather, dark chocolate, quite dark and ripe with open aromatics. The palate is nicely coulis here, plenty depth here, this is broad and pleasing on the finish with plenty of spice. Very Good result for the estate. 90-92
Very deep here, this is lifted and concentrated, grilled, touch stewed on the nose, balsamic certainly on the dark powerful nose, the palate is very warm and very rich, inky and California it’s a bit overdone for me today. 90-92
Marquis de Terme
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Super dark colour, there is deep fresh cassis here, black cherry too, looks like full throttle here, minty, the palate is cool here and this is layered and I like the ambition I think they pulled it off with an admirable wine for the commune, but this will need a decade or even two to show it best potential. 91-93
As often quite pale compared to some, quite like the red fruit expression here, strawberry and cedar, the palate is very supple, the freshness shows it off well, it seems within itself a very good result for the property. 89-91
At Château Leoville Las Cases
Saint Julien is perhaps the most consistent commune in 2022 with some wonderful examples of unmistakable Bordeaux character. Again the true test of quality shines through in some of the less romantic estates such as Saint Pierre and Langoa Barton. Talbot was just sensational as well, in fact you really can’t put a foot wrong just a brilliant range this year.
IPT 82, 14% Alch. Very deep, this is light on its feet on the aromatics, nicely open, perfumed and floral, the palate is full and weighty, this attacks well, impressive and structured framework. Ripe and beautifully perfumed, this is a solar bombshell. Will need time as always, but what a potential bargain for the patient. 90-92
Clos du Marquis
IPT 82, PH 3.7. Very deep to the rim, this is like furniture polish, very floral, soapy, very creamy here, could be California, the fruit has resilience on the palate, a sizeable wine with freshness of fruit building well, refreshing length. Excellent balance, signature St Julien. Fine for the estate. 92-94
Leoville Las Cases
This is very deep in colour, enticing nose, warming, touch of clove, perfume, floral, earthy, more monolithic than some, restraint but so elegant and promising. The palate has very cool fruit, very tout droit, svelt, tannins fine, really sophisticated style with bags of flavour, this is a contemplative wine. Great flavour and great balance. The terroir here is magnificent, first growth in truth. A brilliant effort and possibly a benchmark. 97-99
At Château Ducru Beaucaillou
66% Merlot. Deep colour, spicy nose, black pepper, the palate has plenty of depth, cool and ample, the tannins are plentiful and dusty. Leave the palate tight but with good terroir flavour. 87-89
Le Petit Ducru
70% Merlot, Deep purple, more reticent here on the nose, clean and dark in profile, attractive earthy notes, this is again powerful and structured, will need time to meld. 88-90
La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou
Super bright deep colour. The nose here is very interesting, great perfume, lovely integration of oak, vanilla, deep intensity of inky graphite laden aromas, the palate is cool and textured, with lovely intense spicy black fruits with super grip and gourmand into the finish, very mineral. This is exceptional, although it always impresses to be fair. 92-94
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot. Very deep colour, very complex attractive nose, serious depth, lots of floral intensity, dark side too with black raspberry, clove and earth, inky notes, freshness too, the palate is nicely silky, there is a grille aspect here, muscular structure, welcome to the Medoc. Lots of tannin a little obscuring today, this is very ambitious for the estate. Patience required. 94-96
The UGC Tasting at Château Beychevelle
Fine colour. Good inky intensity on the nose, fresh fruit salad, palate here is lovely and gentle, creamy fruit texture, the structure is there on the finish. Dusty filigree even. There is a sense of great finesse here, beautiful balance. 93-95
Dark brooding colour. Complex aromatic cocktail here with milk chocolate, peach Melba, purity of berry fruit and fine freshness. Again this is so sexy on the palate, lots of tension on the back, it broadens out with freshness kicking back in, leaving a medium plus body and very nice length. Dusty. Excellent result here, up there with the best vintages produced.93-95
Very deep colour here, this is very concentrated with a beefy extract, leather and black cherry profile, savoury and deep layered fruit, impressive intensity, great texture here too, sits very well, a powerful proportionate shape here, nicely tuned in, very fine for the estate, I suspect this is the finest since the fabled 1982. 94-97
Good deep purple, vibrant freshness of berry fruit on the nose, good purity, there is sense of more concentration here than usual, darker. The palate equally shapes up nicely, good generosity, ample, good grip on the finish a very fine Lagrange. 92-94
Very deep here, deep intensity of black fruit and floral notes, seasoned here, touch of spice, patisserie. Very satiny palate, there is a lot of everything here, loads of spicy licks, heavy tannin but ripe, the finish is refined and impressive. This is a potential value pick. 91-93+
Very deep colour, this has exceptional intensity of grille and cacao, singed, with a blue fruit coulis note, the texture is exceptional for me, good freshness at the core and into the finish. A power house for sure but this is no brute. Just singing. An underrated estate. Great value 94-96
Very deep again, this is concentrated with a hint of peppery alcohol, good fruit profile too, lovely sweetness to the gorgeously endowed palate. Finishes comfortably with dusty notes, good energy and control. A great Talbot. Must be the best since the wonderful 1986.93-95
Great colour, an impressive inky, tight knit nose, pure and enticing, cedary, this has a generous palate with good tension. A smidgen of everything. Less extraction here which certainly suits the vintage, great finish with bags of finesse. Super effort here. 93-95
Very dark here, well to the rim, again this is lifted amongst the finest with a real intensity on the nose, almost salty concentration, very dark profile of cassis and dark chocolate, the palate is nicely cool with great generosity, this is a big wine with lots of sweet fruit richness. Just pips most for its extra layering, fine for sure, and a significant wine for the property. 95-97
Very deep here, that singed grille top not note in tow again here, salty chocolate, old Jamaica, lots of freshness, serious profile as always on the structural side, there is great minerality here, freshness keeps it going no problem with the plentiful tannins, very well done, a great effort for me. This is always a little more on the classic earthy style, this year there is the generosity and elegance to match. 95-97
Very deep colour. This is surprising well put together, plenty of generosity here, and finishes with good flavour and persistence. Always more immediate. Ideal for early drinking. 88-90
Good deep purple, attractive pure black berry notes, nicely textured palate, supple no aggression, really surprising result, lovely balance. This is the best Chasse Spleen I have tasted EP. Will be a great value pick. 89-91+
Pauillac is very impressive this year with several wines putting in strong claims for wine of the vintage, as well as some really well made efforts in the good value bracket. The three first growths all made potentially legendary wines, and it is very difficult to pick a favourite as all three produced such classic examples of their individual terroirs. Equally the super second trio of Pichon Lalande, Pichon Baron and Lynch Bages stunned us with their sheer precision, power depth and elegance, here on early showings Pichon Baron would reach the dessert island.
The claim that 2nd wines are particularly good in ‘22 is backed up strongly by really lovely showings from the Griffons de Pichon and the La Reserve de Comtesse.
UGC Tasting at Château Lynch Bages
Good deep plum, vibrant, inky, beety nose, dark fruits, immediately there is an impressive top fruit note, very ripe and generously textured, dusty finish, good energy and potential. This has become a very reliable and affordable Pauillac in recent years and 2022 could be the best yet. 90-92
Very deep colour, the nose is elegant here, very pure berry fruit notes, spice laden, red fruits, the freshness here comes through with more structure too, there is generosity, the acid profile is quite intense, dusty finish, quite extracted. A sizeable effort. A telling investment in recent years. 92-94
Grand Puy Ducasse
Very deep, clean pure nose with good intensity, the palate is textured, generous with a slightly metallic edge, very inky into the finish. Again a bold extraction. A good result, but patience required. 90-92
Grand Puy Lacoste
Full plum, freshness on the nose introduces complex berry aromas, good purity with crème patissiere edge, the palate fruit richness is impactful, generous with good tension, certainly grip here with impressive energy holding on the finish. 93-95
Very deep colour, touch of aged balsamic, excellent fruit concentration, floral plummy, open, cassis, aromatics, really solid here. This is generous on the palate with good layering and dimension, spicy, good grip, no shrinking violet for sure. Very nice mineral finish with a lick of new oak. Great potential. This is the best young Batailley I have tasted and will surely be one to buy in mags! 93-95
Very deep colour here as can be expected, the nose hits you with intense and concentrated dark berry, excellent purity, with lovely floral notes, really classy depth, immediately you know this is another level. The palate is very nicely calm, with gobs of generous cassis and stone laden fruit, so perfumed into the finish. Contains the large structural wall you would expect here but this is a good battle between fruit amplitude and rugged tension. Really fine here. Very bold. Very Pauillac. This is up there with the best vintages made at this famous estate. 95-97
Super deep colour, this is quite mean on the nose, regal, reserved, takes some coaxing, to reveal the dark graphite edged nose, The palate is very soyeuse, great texture here, this really comes alive into the lovely complex finish, great tension this is a time bomb. This is a great example of the trombone shape long and narrow, fanning out on the extended finish. I love this. I think this is the best I have tasted en primeur. Tasted at the Château with even more pleasure, kudos to Christian Seely and his team. 97-99
Very deep, lifted nose here, more open and richer than Lynch, extraordinary purity, lovely caressing palate, almost oily with a resounding freshness, round and complete, humming with energy on the vibrant finish with graphite and plummy fruit jockeying with the big structural frame, huge potential. It doesn’t get much better. 96-98
At Château Mouton Rothschild
Great deep colour, this is rich on the nose, very pure and quite open, good complexity, touch savoury, hint of cigar, the palate is textured with good salty tension, powdery and refined, very fine for the estate this year, and probably the best I have tasted. 93-95
Not as deep as some, touch savoury here, deep scented perfume, underneath good richness, very silky here, soft gentle and easy going. This is a fine Petit Mouton 92-94
Very dark colour. Serious nose, brooding, good perfume, tight, elegant, sexy palate, creamy, feeling of freshness, unravels revealing lots of spicy tannin, really very interesting finish, long and complex. This is surely a great Clerc Milon. 93-95
Very deep colour, there is a deep intensity to the nose, very pure and complex, open but not overt, totally unflashy, within itself, touch of saline, rich, no raisin. I love the aromatic profile, it shows so little but says so much. The palate is similarity proportionate, gently revealing its wares, there is a great sense of harmony from start to finish. The finish is never obtrusive. Soyeuse, great concentration. Very fine and could be faultless. 97-99
Aile D’Argent Blanc
Pale straw colour, cats pee, limey, this is nicely tensile on the palate with good creamy fruit, no exotic notes, touch acacia, very together quite delicious salinity. 92-94
At Château Latour
Les Forts 2017
Lovely sweet notes, touch of marine, pleasing finish with dried flowers and earthy notes. Beginning to build and flesh out. 92
Les Forts 2022
Super deep colour, deep enticing black fruit profile, quite tight but hints of floral and earth, the palate is as expected very sensual with a super mid-palate, great structural core sits there composed. It is not at all aggressive. Very fine example here. 94-96
Full plum colour, lovely macarons on the nose, attractive and opening up nicely, a touch of marine behind the initial fruit, minerality, concentrated aromatics, and the palate is nicely textured with good weight, plenty of structure here but there is plenty of generosity here too. This is foot off the gas, plenty of charm, this is shaping up well. Irony finish. 95/100
Very deep here, hints of floral. Quite tight, this has richness underneath just showing a hint of its purity, the palate is imposing, great tension and so layered here, reminds me of Las Cases tasted the day before. Powerfully built but so calm and composed. The finish is very pleasing with great powdery tannins, held for as long as you want. Just brilliant. 97-99
At Château Pichon Lalande
La Reserve de Comtesse
Appears very deep in colour, great perfume and energy in the aromatics, black cherry, rose petal, the palate is really very textured, so much almost too much, the freshness is unseated but the flavour is very impressive, super result here. This is definitely the best I have tasted, a must buy. 92-94
Wow so deep, this is very concentrated on the nose, the fruit is very pure, with dark earthy notes, very classic, very rich, the volume here is incredible, supple and friendly but not to be underestimated, great salinity on the finish. Great shape here. 96-98
At Château Pichon Baron
High Merlot, this is rich with a hint of Caramac, really attractive fruit dimension on the nose, nice freshness holds the dense palate very well, super potential here. 90-92
Tourelles de Pichon
Merlot dominant 2nd wine. This is very deep, the nose is very fruit salad, and great merlot here, so ripe, flavour is great, kind and pleasing. Will drink very early. 90-92
Griffons de Pichon
Super deep, regal nose very perfumed here, cassis, the texture here is impressive the minerality here is just amazing. This is more serious and powerful than the Tourelles, great result here. I can’t recall tasting a young Griffons as impressive as this. 92-94
Very deep colour, again the nose here is more brooding than some, similar to the Mouton Rothschild, the depth in the aromatics is very impressive drill down to hints of floral lined black berry fruit, it is elegant difficult to grab the identity of the individual aromas but the finished article is beautiful and restrained, the palate is a solid block very cool, unravelling very slowly, the tension here is remarkable, very mineral, juicy notes, super long, this is the best Pichon Baron I have ever tasted en primeur. The black cherry fruit is just amazing. Great flavour. This is showing even better than tasted earlier in the morning at UGC tasting at Château Lynch Bages. Remarkable. 97-99
At Château Lafite
Moulin de Duhart
Very classic Pauillac nose, iron and lead pencil, rich cassis, very nice depth on the palate here really good start. 90-92
Very deep colour. Really lovely richness here, black cherry, black pepper, spice, the palate is very full, dense even heavy, loaded with substantial tannic heft, but not aggressiveness here leads into great mineral finish. Very long and vibrant. Super stuff. 93-95
Carruades de Lafite
The nose is more cautious here, very pretty rich palate, the acidity is very pronounced here, this is serious even a touch astringent for me. Inky. Juicy finish. This is more ambitious than usual, more in line with the first wine stylistically than usual. 92-94
This is quite foursquare on the nose, like a solid impenetrable block, the palate is very sensual, that pronounced acidity is there again, super saline, great minerality. This is so tightly wound, perfume, possibly the most mineral laden so far almost sechuan spice, graphite, super classic, awesome energy, this is a tour de force. Very powerful it’s almost scary. Don’t think I’ve ever experienced a Lafite with this much energy. It reminds me a little of the 1996 but even that didn’t show this much mineral dimension. 97-100
Great wines are often made in Saint Estephe in solar vintages, where soil with good water retention is generally prevalent. Several wines look to be following this tradition with Montrose particularly spectacular.
Very deep colour, really lovely feminine purity of bright fresh black fruits on the nose, the palate is silky and generous, there is plenty of peppery tannins, the grip is a bit grinding, but certainly this is a promising effort. 91-93
Very deep here, the nose is quite ripe even a touch raisin, perfumed too, quite dark, the immediate creamy approach is obvious, the palate is sizeable, matiere, freshness is a little dwarfed, but this is a very promising and seriously good value. 90-92
At Château Calon Segur
Very deep colour, quite a grille nose, inky, impressive concentration here, nice mouthfeel, full bodied this year and a good result. 89-91
Marquis de Calon Segur
Very deep, attractive nose here, nice open berry nose, there is an attractive savoury touch to the ample fruit, and oak, nice cool freshness, black fruit, and big wine here structured. This is well judged. 15% Alch. Spicy. 90-92
Very deep colour here, the aromatics are feminine, lovely black cherry notes, spice here, nicely complex, deep and enticing, this is very rich, there is extraction here, buzzing on the finish, very concentrated palate. Tingling palate, freshness still prevails but this is challenging. 94-96
At Château Montrose
Dame de Montrose
Very deep and intense here on the nose, pain grille, lots of grip with nice freshness, good tension carries the mineral finish well. 90-92
Very dark almost black, good intensity on the nose with blueberry fruit note really comes out with coaxing with a refined marine note, black cherry, black pepper, the palate is very cool, almost chocolatey super fine dusty tannins here, this is a wonderful classic Saint Estephe, humming with terroir integrity, there is an awesome amount of tannin here but it’s just overwhelmed by the ripeness of the fruit, this is a triumph, best ever for me. 97-100
At Château Cos D’Estournel
Pagodes de Cos
Good deep colour, nice blue fruit impression on the nose, ripe fresh fruit, No raisin, nice mouthfeel, this is pleasing, medium full, nice balance well judged. 91-93
Full purple colour, on the fruit salad aromatics, touch raspberry. There is no surmaturite here seemingly, the palate is very fresh, and there is a big structure, heady perfume, raspberry notes again on the long complex finish. As in recent years this is held back, and shows remarkable elegance. 95-97
As in 2020 the amazing limestone and clay subsoils came to the aid of ecstatic wine makers in Saint Emilion this year. Without doubt some of the 2022 vintage’s most iconic wines have been crafted here. All grape varieties were on top form which does make this year’s crop particularly special. It is significant to N&P that wines which are often regarded as very good have been particularly fine in 2022, for instance La Dominique, which has been on the rise for sure, but this year hit the jackpot. Valandraud also, though already noted by many, was mesmerising to the whole team.
At the UGC Tasting – Château Valandraud
Good deep plum, pretty red fruit, red currant, floral, very attractive purity, juicy, fresh, a bit on the leaner style perhaps, less extraction suits here, pleasant here for the property
Balastard la Tonnelle
Very deep purple, ripe plummy notes more black fruit, touch of oak, spice and earth, textured and generosity followed pretty quickly by substantial tannic structure, good flavour on the finish. Quite a dusty extraction. Will need a few years in bottle. 90-92
Cap de Mourlin
Good deep colour, pretty fruit aromas but a touch closed, clean, the palate is nicely cool, solid frame too, and this is a big wine for the estate, mineral finish, and good job this year. 90-92
Deep purple colour, clean pure aromatics, controlled but positive black fruit profile on the nose, damson, blackcurrant, the palate is nicely caressing, fine ripe tannins here, all looking harmonious, I like this, sometimes it can be a bit challenging en primeur but this year its effortless. 91-93
This is very deep in colour, the aromatics are immediately lifted here, intense and floral, very pure, excellent richness and concentration, the palate is luxurious, tannins nicely covered with creamy berry fruit, the finish is clean and refreshing, ready to go again, this is well judged. Certainly stylistically extracted but looks to be a very good result this year. Ambitious. 92-94
Very deep colour here, the nose is immediately exciting with a high toned inky note, perfumed, complex, touch of lilac, the palate is caressing and calm, sits comfortably, over the structure, earthy inky flavour on the finish, humming with saline minerality, and this is an excellent Clos Fourtet. 94-96
Canon la Gaffeliere
Good deep plum colour, this has sense of purity aromatically with defined elderberry on the nose, quite individual aromatics in the room, a touch more savoury, with a sweet macarons note, complex, the palate is calm, elderberry again, the texture is less creamy than some with good tension, the tannic profile is quite evident. Good shape and fine for the estate. 93-95
Very deep this year, a complex bouquet of sweet macarons, wild strawberries, mint, more on the red fruit profile, beautiful floral notes too, delicate and charming, the palate is cool and fresh, with very good tension, drifts over the palate serenely, and this is the second time tasted with excellent results both times. Inky mineral finish, long and impressive. Fine for the property, continuing a great run. 94-96
Deep as expected, quite closed, but red fruits coming through underneath, fresh and nicely rich, the palate is textured, this is solid on the palate, certainly grip here, there is sufficient generosity to back up the fruit, short of the best estates in that respect, but this is a very good result for the property. 92-94
Very deep colour, that sweet top note evident here, touch sweet balsamic, black cherry. Clean and detailed aromatics, touch of black and red fruit, the palate is caressing and creamy. Quite structured here, solid attack. This is ambitious for sure. The finish is very promising long and mineral. 93-95
Good deep colour, open aromatics here, slightly muddled profile, touch of mint with blue fruit, crème patisserie coming through with coaxing, this is nicely cool and polished on the palate, creamy, with good uplifting freshness, the finish is quite citrus fresh. This estate is so consistent and is a real value pick. 93-95
88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow super deep colour, intense dark fruit profile, earthy dark chocolate, wet paint, the palate is caressing, but very gentle, the fruit here is impressively concentrated, the structure is substantial too checking the fruit on the back, good balance here easily. Great flavour, so long and fine. This is seriously flashy but equally elegant, so well judged. A great success and certainly the finest I have tasted en primeur. If prices remain reasonable I am tempted. 96-98
Nicely deep crimson colour, beautiful singed inky Merlot nose, quite intense, there is certainly freshness in the aromatics too, the weight is interesting quite relaxed, gentle even, the suave tannins, composed, good length, impressive for sure. This was the first wine tasted on our trip, and it made a very good impression. 91-93
50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% Alch, PH 3.65. Very deep, the nose is calm again, lovely sweet notes, hint of balsamic, fruit forward, blueberry, the palate is nicely cool, the extraction is controlled, freshness, yes, the balance, impressive, elegant, to touch of spice. The finish is almost airy, very gentle tannic extraction. Cashmere. This is a wonderful Angelus, it does seem to be more towards elegance which is the want of the team here and it definitely suits. 96-98
At Château Pavie
Very dark here, well to the rim, really lovely intense fruity nose, vivid. With a tiny hint of surmaturite, spice, balsamic, good cool attack, very round, juicy, some freshness but this is lush, lacks a little tension but certainly a sizeable Monbousquet. 90-92
Again very dark, super charged nose, blacker fruits here, the chalky tannins are certainly prevalent. A fine black fruit profile. Dusty finish. 89-91
Aromes de Pavie
50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. Broader aromatics, here the freshness comes through, really polished deep fruit on the palate, calm, and fine generosity, certainly showing well as many second wines do. 92-94
52% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. 25th Anniversary. Very deep purple. This is reduced on the nose, less on the fruit profile, more earth and savoury, confident, almost reserved here, deep aromatics, the palate, is pure and intensely beautiful, this is knock out, difficult to follow the sensations, so much going on, super complex, very elegant, really fine long finish. Superb. This is a monumental Pavie. Leave this a minimum of 10 years in bottle before popping the cork. 97-99
At Château Ausone
Quite deep, the nose has an edge of mineral water, marine, blue fruit, and some style here, there is perfume, good perfume of lilac here on the finish, I like it. A fine Fonbel this year. 88-90
This is deep but not as dark as some, the aromatics are more in tune here, on the red fruit profile, cranberry, and raspberry, elegant smoky, palate is very polished, lovely and generous, there is a faint touch of oak on finish. This is singing, a very fine La Clotte, underdone and within itself. 93-95
Very deep colour, hint of savoury, touch of reduction, crème patissiere, calm, mineral nose, floral. The palate is lush, charming, and calm with a building freshness underneath, effortless, elegant, finish, salty mineral finish, great texture and presence, almost hypnotic, bring me back, very fine here. A great Ausone. 97-100
At Château Canon
75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. PH 3.5. Very deep colour, the nose is very floral, very rich too, very pure and vibrant aromatics fresh fruit, the mouth feel is very impressive, creamy even, exciting depth here on the palate, nice salty finish too, spice, good freshness. The overall feeling here is of perfect judgment, very elegant. This is just so Canon. 95-97
Very dark, touch of smoke here, good intensity, restrained, cool here, good freshness, mineral finish, touch more prevalent on the tannic profile. Big wine just less polished than Canon. 92-94
At Château Figeac
Very deep colour, superb elegance in the aromatics, beautiful cigar notes, smoky oak and cassis, the palate is nicely fresh, great weight and texture, dusty tannins, touch balsamic, quite nice crème brûlée, on the finish. A confident Figeac. A classic expression of the estate, great energy. 96-98
At Château Cheval Blanc
53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very deep colour, right to the rim, the savoury element creeping in here, complex blue fruit, Bolognese sauce, floral notes coming through now, deep concentration, fresh notes, touch of mint, the palate is very cool and creamy, chocolatey feel, saline notes coming through, it’s a wine which seems already evolved and approachable, I recall the same feeling when tasting the 1998, which was a very successful Merlot vintage. But this is more complex with more finesse. Quite incredible, I can’t think of a vintage which has impacted so much en primeur. 98-100
At Château Laroque
Very deep colour, too the rim, lovely expressive, attractive nose, and certainly power here, inky mineral notes, black berry with perfumed notes too, the palate is very dense, generous, with good complexity. Finishes with a touch savoury and a good long minerality. The 65% limestone soils worked wonders here. 92-94
The famed blue clay soils in Pomerol are perfect for drought conditions and the results are spectacular at the most lauded properties. This is a year to buy across the board with great value at Château La Pointe to the extraordinary La Conseillante, potentially the wine of the vintage.
At Château Eglise Clinet
Vivid purple, pronounced blackcurrant nose, very juicy palate, nice freshness on the side of the tongue, this is very expressive for the estate piercing purity of fruit. I love the simple purity here. Easily the best I have tasted EP. Same yield as normal. 88-90
Deep colour, blue fruit here, fruit salad, clean but a touch ripe, the palate is cool, creamy texture, freshness here, really impressive, there is clarity here again, at this level! A no brainer. 89-91
50% new oak. Deeper colour, this is a touch more intense than Chenade, the fruit sweetness is impressive, nice texture again, good spice. There is a touch more substance and power but no less finesse. 90-92
This is particularly attractive on the nose, very open red berry aromatics, on the palate this is ample, the freshness gives the flavour length, this is impressive, and so pure this appears drinkable now, long here. 90-92
La Petite Eglise
Good full plum colour. A more saline edge to the nose, instantly impressive here, quite delicious red cherry notes, the palate is fascinating too, this is just so well balanced. Just so much potential for this limited production second wine. I don’t believe I have tasted a better example EP. 92-94
Very deep robe. Smell the coffee here, intense here, embers, the purity level is exceptional, this is a somewhat darker profile than expected, powerful but charming on the palate, the grip is impressive too. There is defined mineral expression on the finish, very saline. This will need some patience but will be amazing. Humming length. 96-98
At Château La Conseillante
Full plum, ethereal nose, very floral, clean, touch of Asia, stalky, inky, perfumed, very black fruit, cloves, deep and intense aromatics, the palate is very voluptuous with impressive tension right from the off, beautifully saline framed fruit here, very persistent finish with incredible finesse. Great purity, there is freshness here and plenty structure, keeps up well with the opulence, the competition between the two keeps it all going humming. 98-100
At the UGC Tasting – Château Beauregard
Good deep colour, clean rich fruit nose, red berries coulis. The palate is round and broad with pleasing freshness and good flavour on the finish. The balance here is impressive, long with good finesse. A good value pick. 89-91
Deep colour again, very vibrant aromatics, energetic, salty edge, touch of spice, very creamy again on the palate, good freshness, touch of alcohol coming through but soon engulfed in the fruit richness. Seems very impressive to me. 91-93
Vray Croix de Gay
Good deep colour, ripe aromatic notes here, good spice and intensity, fresh mineral notes, bath salts, there is good finesse here on the palate, good tension but sweet and soyeuse, nice balance and flavour. 91-93
Deep plum colour, the nose has elderberry and a touch of new oak, the palate has good texture and freshness this is very impressive on the finish, gentle extraction. There is sufficient structure to carry this. Very promising for me. 90-92
Good deep plum, attractive feminine aromatics, stylish and intense, perfumed with a touch of dark chocolate creeping in on the deft palate. Nice and silky with wound up tension and freshness towards the finish, there is certainly heft on the finish. 92-94
Great colour, the nose is a bit tight, redcurrant and cranberry notes, the palate is round and generous with plenty of support, good spicy finish with dusty and a fresh elegant profile, comes together elegantly into a narrow gauge gorgeous length. Fine result here. 93-95
Solid purple, fresh fruit nose touch with a hint of tangerine, cranberry, sweet notes. The palate has that cool fruit, very nice mouthfeel for me, fruit rides happily along above the structure, medium body, like the balance here. 92-94
Very deep colour, bright, fresh fruit salad, red berries, clean, pure, cool and silky. Nicely measured extraction this is together, surely will be harmonious in the bottle and give great pleasure. 91-93
This is deep, this is ripe almost raiseny, touch singed, this has been pushed a little, the palate is very silky, impressive, sits well, elderberry, spicy finish. Bio-dynamic here and it does have that individuality which comes with it. Smart choice. 91-93
Pessac Leognan had to wait until the final day of our tour for some attention. First thing at Château De Fieuzal, for the UGC tasting, in somewhat warmer conditions than we had received all week, revealed a set of whites which were charming and interesting if not forceful, and a set of reds which were not at all timid but lacked the finesse and dimension of a truly fine vintage.
Two vins blancs which hit the spot for me were the super value Latour Martillac which repeated its very impressive showing in 2021, having a lovely layered and complex mid-palate and length with fine freshness. Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, rather less surprisingly showed its class, stealing the show in fact with its subtle and crystalline detailing.
I admit to struggling a little with what seemed to be a rather weak fruit defence fielded by many of the reds against the inevitable tannic onslaught. Both Domaine de Chevalier and particularly Pape Clement were happily more up to the challenge, they will undoubtedly be heralded as great examples of their respective estates.
The cause of the reds was boosted following visits to Château Carmes Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. Guillaume Pouthier’s installation, since 2012, at the former has been unrecognisably transformative, and this was fully on show this year. Francois Josselin gave us some insight into just how much attention to detail is harnessed by their team. 70% whole bunch fermentation helps here to deliver a freshness which many properties would surely have dreamed about. The skill and judgment in the cellar here must surely be as good as anything in the whole of Bordeaux. To follow this with a plainly emotional experience at La Mission Haut Brion where all the wines were truly exceptional and classical representations of their individual terroir made our final day memorable. I can’t think of a range which has moved me quite so much. Both second wines of La Mission and Haut Brion were stunningly good, the best I have tasted for both. Both first wines are incredible, I have to admit to lowering my score on La Mission, tasted first, because Haut Brion was so good.
The three whites were a triumph too, particularly Haut Brion Blanc. Almost the antithesis of the great wines in 2021. But despite their voluminous and opulent profile they managed to deliver superb freshness and fine detailing, a great combination.
UGC Tasting – Château De Fieuzal
Chantegrive Blanc Cuvee Caroline
Touch pear here, attractive clean aromatics, gentle, fresh palate, generous core, pleasant medium finish. 88-90
Slightly reticent aromatics, green fruit hints. This is nicely creamy on the palate, with good tension, medium full length. 88-90
Sour apple notes, the palate is clean with a touch of saline, quite sweet fruit at the core. This is fairly straightforward, with a warming touch of white pepper on finish. Quite like this, could be a value pick. 88-90
This is more on the yellow fruits. There is good freshness on the palate and this is more pronounced again with more grip and spice on the finish. An excellent result for the property 89-91
De Fieuzal Blanc
Classic Sauvignon Blanc here, green apple, sweet pea, this is citrus and complex on the palate, nicely tensile with good salinity, grips well, mineral finish. 91-93
Delicate citrus notes on the nose. This has positive energy on the palate, soft and round, good plus mineral finish. 88-91
Larrivet Haut Brion Blanc
This is composed on the nose, quite subtle clean and delicate. The palate is very nicely textured, with lacy layering, precise and elegant here, good faint spice on the finish. 90-92
Latour Martillac Blanc
Calm reserved nose on the riper side with a touch of peach and pear, the palate is cool and energised and just nicely fresh with a lovely nuance and layering of fresh citrus hits, this seems to have the right balance of freshness and generosity, quite lovely. 91-93
Pape Clement Blanc
63% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon and 2% Muscadelle. Icing sugar and sour apple combo, on the nose with a delicate intensity. The palate is really quite narrow takes some coaxing, this is all so controlled, starts to come alive on the elegant finish. 91-93
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
The nose is calm even reticent. Tiny little aromatic hints, citrus and towards yellow fruit, mint. Again quite sedate initially on the palate with flecks of citric notes, it quickly builds in complexity with good fruit generosity. The detail of the flavours is lifted here, very gentle, almost crystalline. Really fine here for the vintage. 93-95
Good deep colour, really attractive blue fruit nose, good intensity and purity, the palate is textured, with an earth and black fruit profile. Quite a big structure kicks in. This will need some time to subside. 89-91
Domaine de Chevalier
Good depth, solid crimson, lovely fruit compote on the nose, freshness, certainly ripe here, this is very earthy, powerful but well judged, the oak is quite segregated at the moment, finishes firm with cedar notes. 92-94
There is a lighter touch here evident on the colour which is not so deep. Pretty red fruit notes here, touch of cranberry, on the palate this is composed, sits nicely, lots of freshness here not so generous in the mid palate almost lean against some but less extracted and it rides along into a focussed pure finish. Good judgment here. 91-93
Medium deep purple, not as deep as some, this is lovely and pure on the nose, touch of damson and raspberry, and the palate is immediately generous, this is less extracted than some, with good freshness, a classic terroir example, and earthy plummy finish. 90-92
Very deep, high toned as expected, ripe but pure, the palate is nicely cool here, the fruit wraps the palate well, good defence here against a fuller structure. This is one of the best in the tasting. 92-94
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Good depth of colour, plenty of cassis on the nose here, touch new wood, this is sensual on the palate, very silky, a big step up here for me, this is well judged. Smart balance, good flavour very fine for the appellation. 93-95
At Château Les Carmes Haut Brion
C de Les Carmes Haut Brion
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. 30% whole bunch fermentation from a 40 hectare plot separate from Carmes Haut Brion in Martillac. The dark fruit richness is impressive, there is a dark earthy cassis element, the palate is nicely fresh, brambly fruit, black berry, and the tannins are powdery, dark chocolate on the finish. 90-92
Les Carmes Haut Brion
40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot. 70% Whole bunches, very dark colour, the nose is very rich, certainly there is ink, black cherry, earth, clove, dark berry but not overdone, the palate is very generous, chewy but the feeling is very airy and light, so much energy here, the finish is nicely spicy and very long. The fruit is so caressing. This is a really lovely result. Refreshing. The best I have tasted. Incidentally our re-tasting of the 2020 in October 2022 was similarity spectacular. 95-97
At Château La Mission Haut Brion
The estate mentioned the quantity reducing small berries, harvested in perfect conditions from 29th August to 17th September. Cabernet Sauvignon ripened particularly early and was harvested before the Cabernet Franc which is not the norm. Cool nights and reduced canopy thinning helped retain the freshness. The vineyard was still unusually green at harvest time considering the extremes.
La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion
55.9% Merlot, 35.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.7% Cabernet Franc. Deep colour, touch of alch, ample richness on the nose with no sense of surmaturite. The mouthfeel is excellent here, sits nicely undisturbed. Nice extraction here leaves a medium full balance. 91-93
Le Clarence de Haut Brion
61.2% Merlot, 21.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% Cabernet Franc and 1.5% Petit Verdot. This has a touch more concentration on the colour and the nose than the Chapelle, riper with deep figgy notes alongside the dark fruit profile. On the palate there is an extra level of caress, nice minerality on the finish, exceptional for me this year. 92-94
La Mission Haut Brion
51.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43.2% Merlot and 5.1% Cabernet Franc. Very deep colour, lovely blue fruit nose, intense and crème anglaise here too. Very elegant nose, the palate is very cool and soyeuse, the minerality is lifted, great freshness, super flavour on the finish, and so satisfying, lovely lick of oak, wow this is magical, as good as I can remember in terms of its overall balance and complexity. 96-98
53.6% Merlot, 35.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc. Very deep here, the nose is more resistant, touch of crème anglaise, deep dark profile and freshness comes through on the nose, the palate is like cashmere here, very cool and confident, the weight is just as perfect as can be, this is just an amazing wine, so much balance with little hits of salty freshness on the finish almost like popping candy, so much controlled power. A privilege to taste this range today and this is la piece de la resistance. Surely a candidate for wine if the vintage. Eureka! 98-100.
La Clarte de Haut Brion
53.7% Sauvignon Blanc and 46.3% Sémillon. The marine influence hits home early here, lovely delicate citrus notes too, the palate is cool and delicately nuanced excellent intensity to the freshness too. Nice saltyfinish good tension. 91-93
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc
72% Sémillon and 28% Sauvignon Blanc. Quite pale, again slight oyster shell, delicate touch of pear, the palate is cool and full, there is plenty of layering here, quite rich with well-judged freshness, white pepper finish, very impressive length a great success this year 94-96
Haut Brion Blanc
51.4% Sémillon and 48.6% Sauvignon Blanc. There is a bit more freshness on the nose, touch of pear and grass cuttings, white asparagus, there is a wonderful cool weight here on the palate, so chewy and all the time gripping the tongue with licks of freshness, there are very pleasing acacia notes on the finish, very complex and delivering a real ride sensation. A really fine result this year. 95-97
Lion de Suduiraut
Semillon dominant, this has a good lemony nose, slightly herbaceous, attractive, the palate is generous, lively sweetness with good freshness, attractive and complex at this price. 25-30 years old. 90-92
Suduiraut Blanc Vieille Vignes
Tighter nose. Intense hints, minty flecks, this is very nicely tensile, super texture with great freshness, love this. 92-94
Nose is very tight, faint line and mint flecks, the palate depth is impressive here, lots of tension and depth here really very impressive, with honeyed notes. Complex here. 93-95
Quite deep colour here for a primeur, surprisingly so. The most concentrated botritis ever! Three tries, final one 24th October. Lovely marmalade here, apricot, super complex, the freshness is a bit under wraps, great intensity, oily texture, spicy finish, very salty just great potential. 95-97