The 2022 vintage in Bordeaux

The 2022 vintage was marked by extreme weather conditions. The choice made at Haut-Bailly of a sustainable viticulture by preserving its old vines has fully taken its meaning in these extreme conditions. While gardens and forests suffered from the heat combined with the drought, our vines were superb and green! A vigor and life force that can be seen in our 2022 vintage. Axel Marchal, a university professor of oenology, reflects on the paradoxes of this year in Bordeaux for the Haut-Bailly projects page.

Unprecedented weather conditions for unusual but perfectly balanced wines, the paradoxes of the 2022 vintage

Professor Axel MARCHAL, Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the University of Bordeaux, Oenology Research Unit

When it comes to assessing the 2022 vintage in the Bordeaux vineyards, it is important to distinguish between the general climatic context and its consequences on wine quality. Extreme weather conditions, both in terms of temperature and rainfall, as well as their manifestations, unfortunately make climate change very real and raise serious concerns about the future of our planet. However, after a contrasted 2021 vintage, let’s not sulk in our pleasure: the wines produced in 2022 appear to be, at the beginning of their maturation, out of the ordinary and simply remarkable!

The five conditions of a great red vintage in Bordeaux have been met in 2022. At the beginning of their maturation and in general, the great red wines of Bordeaux 2022 appear particularly successful and even exceptional for many of them. Although extreme, particularly favorable conditions were seen this year at the different key stages of the vine cycle and of the maturation.

The Merlots are amazing on the best terroirs, and particularly on the clay-limestones. Fruity but not overripe, smooth but balanced, they have an irresistible breed and charm. Their astonishing success in a historically hot and dry 2022 beats certain theories or models that consider this variety to be already outdated in Bordeaux, echoing the comments made in the note on the 2020 vintage. On its preferred soils, and provided that viticultural practices are adapted, it is perfectly capable of producing remarkable wines. As in recent vintages, Cabernet Franc is also very successful. Their aromatic brilliance brings an extra dimension to blends and their characteristic texture, requiring perfect ripeness, contributes to the freshness and balance of the wines. The success of Petit Verdot in a dry vintage such as 2022 is particularly linked to the nature of the soil. In the absence of too much water stress, the wines produced bring a spicy character and a distinctive smoothness.

Finally, Cabernet Sauvignon continues to benefit from the drier and warmer conditions of the vintages of the last decade, for which Bordeaux winemakers have struggled so much in the past to harvest it at maturity. Its late ripening character and its implantation on soils that are often draining may have exposed it, in some cases, to marked hydric constraints. Nevertheless, on the great terroirs, the resulting wines are impressive by their powerful tannic structure but without austerity, by their accessible character while preserving much distinction.

Excessive in its climatology, the 2022 vintage seems to have produced surprisingly balanced and harmonious wines, tannic but pulpy, preserving a freshness and brightness typical of great Bordeaux. As always, ageing will reveal their true potential, but at this stage they appear particularly promising and literally exceptional.