After several days in Bordeaux in late April/early May, tasting a lot of barrel samples during "en primeur" week and visiting several châteaux and talking to a lot of people I know, I feel I have a pretty good read on the newest "Vintage of the Century." Let's not bury the lead here. 2022 is indeed another wonderful vintage that will provide many beautiful, powerful, intense, age-worthy and possibly legendary wines that have a freshness and purity of fruit that often jumped out of the glass. These wines are still more than a year away from being bottled, but their potential is quite obvious.
With 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 all being excellent vintages, Bordeaux has been on a major hot streak as of late. "Hot" is a word that was used a lot during my stay in Bordeaux, as Bordeaux had a very hot and dry year in 2022. There was also some hail and frost in certain parts, so it was definitely a year of extremes. Unlike 2003, a reference point for any of Bordeaux's really hot vintages when several weeks of record breaking all-day and all-night heat and drought led to some overcooked wines in certain appellations, 2022 saw multiple yet shorter bursts of intense heat during the day followed by cooler nights that were beneficial to the vines. There was drought as well in 2022, but whether the vines have adapted to the new normal temperatures or whether it's 20 years of advancements in people's know-how and vineyard management, the wines of 2022 have a freshness that often defy explanation.
While I am bullish on 2022 as a vintage, let's talk quickly about what 2022 is not. Unlike vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2016, the wines of 2022 are not an across-the board slam dunk success story. Those previous vintages saw wines from practically every corner of the region, spanning every price point, make absolutely beautiful wines. 2022 will offer up many amazing wines, but it's a vintage where we need to be a little more selective. In addition, 2022 is a somewhat smaller than normal crop. The extreme weather conditions often produced smaller grapes with less juice, so many of the châteaux produced 20-30% less wine than in 2021.