Dry, small and challenging: 2022 Bordeaux should be (far) better than 2021

7 September 2022

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

Dear Readers,

Sorry for such a long absence. Because this site is free, I don’t update that often. I get paid to write for Decanter and other publications.

But here some Bordeaux 2022 perspectives, as I arrived the day before yesterday:

First off, the grapes are very small. “Yields will be catastrophic”, says Claude Rougier, of Château Camponac. Much of that is due to dry, hot weather, with little rain. Just walking along vines yesterday in Entre-Deux-Mers reveals compact bunches of small grapes, and among them raisin shriveled grapes.

“There is basically very little juice in the grapes,” said Thomas Hervé of Château Moulin Haut Laroque in Fronsac.

However, while 2022 is challenging, it is nothing like 2021. Hervé describes 2021 as “horrible” in terms of the challenges, while 2022 required no treatment: It was very hot and dry, but no mildew or oidium, for example.

With Thomas Hervé of a well known Fronsac estate, here at Planete Bordeaux with his AOC Bordeaux Supérieur Château la Communion

When I visited Frédéric Faye at the famous – and likely to be promoted – Château Figeac in Saint Emilion, he marveled at “just how green” the vines are, despite the heat and arid weather. While heat stress was a problem, the underlying clay soils helped keep the vines in good shape. And the estate avoided any de-leafing to keep as much shade as possible for the grapes.

“There is heat in the vineyard”, Faye repeated as we walked along the vines – some of the Merlots had been picked already, while most of the Cabernets remain to be harvested. “You cannot wait too long, because we need to maintain acidity for freshness”. His team is checking acidity levels in grapes regularly.

“I am quite enthusiastic about the vintage,” Faye said. “The grapes are small, but they are ripe – and we should not wait too long to harvest”. Faye says that phenolic maturity for many grapes had arrived already by late July, in fact. He compared grape maturity this year with a barbecue: “Just because the charcoal is ideally hot for the grill, you won’t overdo your steak, right?” he asked rhetorically.

But not every estate has the impressive panoply of terroir and choice of grapes like Figeac (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), so it will be interesting to see which estates may have suffered from heat stress that could lead to green notes or which estates may have overdone their steaks.

One thing seems certain: 2022 has the potential to yield some truly great wines. As opposed to 2021 …


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