In the Medoc region, La Lagune and Chasse-Spleen go beyond their appellation names of Haut-Médoc and Moulis-en-Médoc, respectively. These two estates are located near Margaux and have successfully managed their vintage. Belgrave is also nearby and has a welcoming atmosphere similar to its famous neighbour, St Julien. Potensac, owned by the Delon family of Léoville Las Cases and made by the same team, is situated north of St Estèphe in the appellation of Médoc. While not unknown, significant improvements have been made to the estate in recent years resulting in the wine losing any roughness, it may have had in the past.
The 2022 red wines of Pessac-Léognan have a unique balance of tannic strength from Cabernet Sauvignon and juiciness from Merlot. The region's Léognan section experienced forest fires but was not significantly impacted. August rains helped grapes evolve, resulting in an average yield of 36hl/ha. Some wines, particularly at Haut-Brion, displayed a significant tannic presence. Overall, the reds from Pessac-Léognan, especially in Léognan, are lush and dense, with Merlot playing a critical role. Sustainable vineyards like Domaine de Chevalier and Haut-Bailly produced impressive wines. La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion had deep, structured, and tannic offerings, while Les Carmes Haut-Brion used whole-bunch fermentation to moderate alcohol levels and retain freshness, resulting in astonishing and impressive wines.
We offer a selection of dry white wines from Pessac-Léognan and the Médoc. The 2022 vintage, while not as brilliant as the previous one, still produces forward and aromatic wines with lower acidity due to the hot and drought conditions. While some lack mineral complexity, some very successful wines still have the aging potential to be discovered. The best vintage white wines are from Pessac-Léognan, particularly Domaine de Chevalier, which reinterprets itself with a new expression of white wine from a hot and dry climate. Haut-Brion stable and Latour Martillac also offers good options. Several châteaux in the Médoc have also produced competently made wines with less heft than Pessac-Léognan. Standout wines include Talbot’s Caillou Blanc, Mouton Rothschild’s Aile d’Argent, Blanc de Lynch-Bages, and Château Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc, which impresses with its minerality.
This year, St Emilion offers various wine styles ranging from thrilling to simpler yet enjoyable. Finding freshness and energy was the key to giving life to the Merlot. With St Emilion's diverse soil types, some wines were more successful than others, but the best ones are among the vintage wines. The yields in this area are the highest among all the essential communes at 41hl/ha. When blessed with either clay or limestone to combat drought, it results in a juicy, wealthy and successful vintage. The Merlots were very ripe, and many wines had an alcohol content above 14%. However, the Cabernet Franc performed beyond expectations by adding aromatics and vivacity to the blends.
The most consistent wines come from the slopes around St Emilion, which have limestone soils. This geology retains water, creates a cooler micro-environment, and blocks potassium uptake, resulting in a lower pH that retains a fresher edge to the palate. Chanel-owned Canon and Berliquet, made by the same team, and neighbours Beau-Séjour Bécot and Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse perfectly express this characteristic. Ausone had a monumental structure, but a precision of fruit and bright energy marked all the wines from limestone.
A little lower down the hill, the limestone is tempered by more clay, a better soil for holding water. The extraction of colour and tannin needs to be handled sensitively to give a broader texture to the palate. La Gaffelière opted for restraint and is ethereal and seamless, while Angélus is richer and more densely textured. The extraordinary terroir of Troplong Mondot synthesizes both. Its vineyards sit on the slopes around the highest point of the commune and have a mix of clay, gravel, flint, and uneroded limestone, which can produce some of the most powerful wines in St Emilion.
On the gravels by the border with Pomerol, Figeac famously has both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The deep-rooting rootstocks used when the vineyard was replanted after the frosts of 1956 gave the vines access to the deep-lying layers of blue clay, resulting in an excellent 2022 growing season. At Cheval Blanc, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were more alike in profile than usual, showing spice and richness. Quinault L'Enclos and Quintus, both part of the Haut-Brion stable, lie on lighter soils towards Libourne, resulting in wines that tend towards accessibility and juiciness.
The winemaking in Pomerol for 2022 has been sensitive, resulting in consistent and enjoyable wines with a great structure. The appellation's clay soils hold water, but a significant amount of gravel should be noticed. With low yields averaging 32hl/ha, many estates began their harvest on their earliest dates on record, and the Merlot ripened quickly. Although the wines lack the energy of those from St Emilion's limestone slopes, they have a noticeable freshness towards the end of the palate.
At Clinet, the cool nights were emphasized, while at La Conseillante, the Merlots displayed freshness similar to Cabernet Franc. Le Pin and Petrus showcased the purity and healthy nature of the raw material, but their sense of freshness is perceived differently from St Emilion. Above all, gentle winemaking was essential, as alcohol levels regularly exceeded 14%. However, all the wines we tasted maintained a precious balance, and heavy-handed winemaking needed to be evident.
Marsau, one of the top estates in the Francs-Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, is located 20 kilometers east of St Emilion. The vineyard is situated on clay and is dedicated to natural, sustainable, and regenerative farming practices. After ten years of diligent work, 2022 has produced the estate's best vintage yet, demonstrating that quality and value can be found beyond the well-known brands through careful selection.
The wines of this vintage could be easily hyperbolized as “great,” but that would ignore the examples that have not coped with the conditions and others. A “great” vintage should be homogenous, with success at all levels; that is not the case for Bordeaux in 2022. Our preferred adjective is “exceptional,” indicating that some excellent and fascinating wines have been made and that the vintage stands apart. It is an exception, created despite some extreme circumstances. A different sequence of climatic events – for example, the outbreaks of rain not arriving in June and August – would have produced a very different, probably more predictable, result.
So 2022 is an exceptional year, born from exceptional conditions. It has highlighted Bordeaux’s ability to adapt to some of the challenges of climate change. But, who knows, in 10 years, will a year like this still be seen as an exception?