Together with another 6000 industry professionals, I returned from the Primeur-week in Bordeaux extremely satisfied with what most of what I tasted.
I tasted well over 250 wines straight from the barrel from the 2022 vintage and my general opinion is that 2022 is an gorgeous vintage with deep, full bodied, expressive & characterful wines in an incredible unexpected freshness. The wines will, of course, continue to age in the barrel for the next two years, before being bottled and released so there is still a long way to go for these wines, but the potential is there and the excitement is palpable.
The Bordeaux primeur system gives the customer (whether a casual drinker or investor) the opportunity to buy these wines today, well before they are bottled, at a pre-determined price and it is part of my job to determine the potential of these wines and to advise clients on the best wines to buy from this vintage.
People have asked me if this is a predominantly 'Merlot' or 'Cabarnet Sauvignon' Vintage, but I don't believe we should label the vintage as one or another. There were top wines from both sides of the bank and it would be silly to put a blanket statement. If however, I was put on the spot to choose, I would probably veer towards a Merlot vintage, but again I say this with several caveats.
My personal top wines of the vintage, with potential 100 points are:
Château Cheval Blanc St.-Emilion Rouge 99-100
-Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Rouge 99-100
Château Pontet-Canet Pauillac Rouge 99-100
Château Angélus St.-Emilion Rouge 99-100
Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan Rouge 99-100
Château Ausone St.-Emilion Rouge 99-100
If I were further pressured into choosing one wine, Chateau Cheval Blanc would probably take the honours and I would choose Château Pontet-Canet as the dark horse in the crowd. A wine that I enjoyed so much due it's character, approachability and immediate complexity- I look forward to tasting it again in a couple of years. I believe Jancis Robinson picked the Mouton Rothschild as her no1, awarded this Grand Vin a 19/20.
There were other wines, that I thoroughly loved, but just fell short of 100 points (in my opinion of course).
Château Canon St.-Emilion Rouge 98-100
Château La Conseillante Pomerol Rouge 98-99
Château La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan Rouge 98-99
Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Rouge 98-99
Château Palmer Margaux Rouge 98-99
Château Figeac St.-Emilion Rouge 98-99
Château Margaux Margaux Rouge 98-99
Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Bordeaux Blanc 98-99
Admittedly, I gave myself a bit of leeway on the fabulous Château Canon so I do apologize in advance - It could still be an eventual 100 pointer in my eyes. This does not detract from the beauty of the other wines are undoubtedly gorgeous. Château Figeac and Château Palmer where impressive and perfectly balanced. Château Margaux had extreme power, but still kept superbly true to it Margaux-esque style, which was definitively a positive.
What about those wines that are high-risk, high-reward?
Ah, those wines that usually do not usually increase in value by more than 10% or 15%, but have the potential to do so, Could this be their year?
I think Château Durfort Vivens may start to be recognized for the 2nd Growth that it is. Could it start to be the super-second I believe it is? I gave the wine a top score of 97-98/100 and the fact that they have been achieving such high, consistent scores lately, I think Durfort Vivens may be a good bet for the future.
With the same reasoning, Château Rauzan Segla has been consistently improving and their 2022 simply hit the ball out of the park. I scored it at 96-97, but judging from the 97-99 by Jeb Dunnuck and 18+/20 from Jancis Robinson, I don't think I'm the only one that believes this wine has catapulted them up to competing with the big boys.
Château Lascombes, also sounds like a strategic bet this year. Contrary to Château Rauzan Segla or Château Durfort Vivens, Château Lascombes has been going under the radar for some time, but this second growth is definitely looking to get up with the big boys. They are investing huge amounts of money and the addition of Axel Heinz (yep, the guys who's been making Masseto & Ornellaia) has left his 18 year tenure to join the 2nd Growth from Margaux in April this year. It's true that I found the 2022 vintage a juicy and vibrant wine and still underperforming as a second growth, but I have no doubt that the wine will make inroads in the next couple of years under the superstar winemaker. Scoring at 90-91/100 it's not a bad score in the least, and could still potentially shoot up in price in a couple of years, especially if the demand or Château Lascombes shoots through the roof.
Some wines have been released already and we are getting price increase of 21% for Château Cheval Blanc and a whopping 30% for Château Angelus. Considering such price increases, do you think Bordeaux 2022 is still a sound investment ?
Nobody can guarantee a sound investment. External forces and unforeseen circumstances are not uncommon - we have just come out of a 2 years pandemic after all and it would be crazy & unprofessional for anyone to guarantee Bordeaux will be the best investment ever. However , I have put down a couple of points that I think are interesting and relevant to this vintage.
- Vintage 2022 was a unique year. Some coined it as the vintage of the century and others compared to 1982 (which was a legendary year – hence the Vintage'82 company name). Whether or not the vintage will be as memorable is difficult to speculate, bit it surely is up there with the great vintages.
- Many of the wines received incredible scores and there are several possible 100 pointers. Though, I did find Jancis Robinson's scores on the lowish-side so it would be interesting to get her opinion. I believe her 2020 scores where generally higher than the 2022.
- My opinion is that the luxury industry has become more mainstream – the demand for luxury goods has far outweighed anyone’s expectations, such that demand has been outweighing supply across the board in Champagne, wine, whisky and even watches.
- Many of the Chateaux are keeping around 20%/30% of their wine in their cellar and will not be releasing them before another 10/15 years. This means that they have confidence in their brand increasing in value over the next 10/15 years and will also have some control over the increase in value.
- The yield in 2022 for most (not all mind you) has reduced and allocations are smaller.
- In comparison to the prices of Burgundy, Bordeaux still remains ‘cheap’
- other countries and appellations may look more appealing to investors. Bordeaux blends from Tuscany/Argentina are now 'cheap' in comparison to their Bordeaux cousins
- The vintage was hot and dry on an unprecedented scale , yet the wines where incredibly fresh and winemakers have different reasons for this. Is there something we don’t know? Did they add tartaric acid to increase the acidity (This may be difficult to taste now) and if that’s the case, how will the wines evolve and will it throw the wines off balance? (this is a rather negative perception, and nobody in Bordeaux would admit to it, but..
- These new release prices are high. Difficult to say if a 30% increase is justified but this means that some of the exceptional previous years may be better bargains at this moment in time. This could mean that 2020 (coming onto market now) may now look like good great value in comparison and in all probability the prices of the 2020 vintage will start to trend upwards as a consequence (good for 2020 investors). But if 2022 is as good as they are saying it should be then the prices should easily increase over time, but how long are we willing to wait?