The 1982 was legendary but since the vintages ending with a two have been classical – 2002 actually currently drinking well (not as classy as the beautiful 2001) and 2012 gorgeous harmony and silkiness but light bodied fresh and classy (perfect christmas drinking by the way if you come across any).
With this vintage, 2022, are we in for another great vintage? (normally reserved to vintages ending in a 5 or 0).
Growing Season Climate of 2022;
We had the hottest most seering hot summer experienced since 2003 with dry conditions and no rain. This heat began as early as June and it seems that the resilient vines (each year pruned back like little Bonsai trees), particularly the old ones with their roots that descend down some 15 metres to reach the water table, were unaffected by the extreme temperatures – even in the hot gravel of the Haut Medoc where the gravel terraces are thick in various levels.
These old vines in addition to having well developed deep roots seem to have a genetic memory – they have seen this before and know how to deal with these extreme conditions. It was the younger vines who suffered due to their lack of deep roots. Otherwise surprisingly foilage stayed green throughout the heat of the summer.
The cooler nights gave appreciated rest-bite to the vines who made the most of the fresher mornings benefitting from the ample sunlight to make lots of sugars. As the midday sun warmed up, the vines would then furl up their drooping leaves to prevent unnecessary moisture loss during the boiling hot afternoons.
This seems to have maintained some freshness in the grapes particularly the Cabernets which are able to keep some acidity (they cope better in the is extreme heat and are btter adapeted to the climate change) when fully ripe unlike the Merlots which become sweeter, more alcoholic and soft and fleshy (they needed to be picked before over-ripe) who develop added concentration when suffering from such hydric stress.
Counter-intuitive wine style; Surprisingly we have found floral aromatic notes of raspberry rather than the supposed notes of jammy, cooked or stewed fruits or dried fruits such as prune.
Harvest times were around 3 weeks earlier than usual (last year 2021 was late due to the lack of sun but 2020 which also was a hot dry year was around a week earlier).
Often grapes (picked normally in the cooler mornings) were put in refrigerated containers to reduce the temperatures and to hold them until the sorting tables of machines were ready to deal with them. Some used dry ice.
Everyone complained of the reduced yield due to the lack of rain. There was a lot of skin to juice ratio. Everyone was happy and pleasantly surprised by the aromatics depite the heat – good quality all round.
Mechanical extraction took place at the start of the fermentation before the aggresivity of the extraction of alcohol took over to ensure legance and not over powerful and tannic wines.
High sugar levels meant yeasts had problems (particularly wild yeasts) struggled in some cases with some reportings of Brettanomyces (a bad yeast that produces animal notes and phenolic qualities) who are attracted to the sugars that persist in the vats.
The free-run wine is coming off thick, black and concentrated with nice aromatics. There is a lot of skins to press this year and the press wine is fruity and strong. Now the malolactic is underway in vat or barrel and the sharp apple acidity is softening to lactic acid as in milk.
The new baby vintage is being pumped into barrel and the glass bungs are placed to allow any additional carbon dioxide to come out and to stop the pesky fruit flies from getting into the precious new vintage. 2022 is born!