Bordeaux En Primeur 2022 Report

What’s it all about?

En Primeur week is a highly anticipated event in the wine industry, drawing Wine Merchants, Critics, and Journalists from around the world to the Bordeaux region. It offers a unique opportunity to taste and evaluate the latest vintage wines directly from the barrel or pre bottled, months or even years before they are released to the public.

During our visit to Bordeaux, the Waud Wines team had the chance to taste 99 wines over three days from some of the most prestigious wineries in the region, such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer and Chateau Angelus. There were a lot of black teeth and purple lips in Bordeaux airport on Wednesday night!

View of the Vintage

Before we started our Left bank tastings on day one, we, amongst others were expecting the 2022 vintage to be totally characterised by the harsh growing conditions and extreme heat. In fact, a question often asked in tasting rooms was ‘How would you compare this to 2003?’ which many of you reading this will know was a VERY hot summer. While the 2022 Bordeaux vintage and the 2003 vintage share some similarities in terms of the challenges faced during the growing season, they are really nothing alike. One of the key distinctions is the winemaking approach adopted by many winemakers in the 2022 vintage was that they prioritised low intervention techniques to allow the fruit to express itself fully. This resulted in wines that were notably fresh and fruit-forward, despite most wines showing higher tannin and alcohol levels. In contrast, the 2003 vintage was characterised by riper, more concentrated wines that were sometimes criticised for their lack of freshness and balance. The 2022 vintage showcases the remarkable skill and ingenuity of many winemakers in Bordeaux, who were able to overcome the challenges of the hot and dry growing season to produce wines of remarkable finesse, structure and even early drinkability.

Click here to see our scores for the 2022 Vintage

A Word for the Viticulturalists

The high-quality wines produced in what were truly unique conditions (for now) is not only a testament to the talented wine makers but also to the Viticulturalists and the agricultural practices used.

One of the techniques used was a clay spray, high in calcium carbonate as sunblock for vines. This mixture is applied to the leaves and grapes of the vines in the vineyard to reflect the sunlight and prevent excessive heat from causing sunburn to the fruit as well as limiting evaporation.

With hot summers becoming the norm, it is now common practice to grow grasses between the vines to keep the humidity up (preventing evaporation) as well as forcing the vine roots to grow deeper down rather than sideways. This allows the vine to remain healthy in arid conditions.

Low Yields

A common feature at all the Chateaux we visited, was very small berries in the 2022 vintage. Smaller berries tend to have a higher skin-to-pulp ratio, which means that they contain a higher concentration of aromatic compounds, as well as tannins and other phenolic compounds. This can result in wines with greater depth and complexity of flavour, and a more intense colour and structure. Yields varied from vineyard to vineyard, however a common output of around 33-38 Hectolitres per Hectare and some 20% down on the expected yields was commonplace. This of course gives the grower less wine to sell and he has to get his income from his release price!

The hot dry summer seems to have resulted in wines that have heaps of complexity and structure that will age very well however there isn’t very much of it. A couple of producers told us that their yield is down ~50% compared to a ‘normal’ year.

We would expect release prices to be higher this year compared to previous years but providing the demand for Bordeaux’s top names remains high and the supply is limited we are sure it will be another investable vintage. Perhaps one that will accelerate as time goes on? What can be said is that the quality is exemplary, and we have a finely tuned shopping list to acquire your wines for you as soon prices are quoted and we can determine if we think the wines represent sound investment opportunities for us and our fellow investors.

In Summary

  • 2022 vintage faced harsh growing conditions and extreme heat.
  • Low intervention techniques allowed fruit to express itself fully.
  • Wines notably fresh and fruit-forward with generally higher tannin and alcohol levels.
  • Small berries resulted in greater depth and complexity on the palate.
  • High-quality wines produced in unique conditions thanks to talented winemakers and viticulturalists.
  • Expect higher release prices due to limited supply but investable vintage with exemplary quality.

What Next?

If you are interested in securing an allocation of what promises to be a fantastic vintage or if you would like to learn more about how wine investment works, do not hesitate to get in contact. We will be hosting an online investment presentation on the 15th May at 18:00. If you would like to watch this, please send me an email.

Edward Stevens
Waud Investment Wines