Pomerol 2022: tasting notes
Pomerol 2022 is a story of heterogeneity, despite summer drought conditions that were brutal in their severity. The highs are extraordinarily high, with some standout wines, even if the lows are perhaps a little lower, reports db‘s Bordeaux correspondent, Colin Hay.
For Colin’s detailed summary of the appellation, see here.
A note on the ratings
This year, as for the 2021 vintage before it, I have decided to provide an indicative rating for each wine alongside the published comment. All such comments and ratings are necessarily subjective (they cannot be anything else, when one thinks about it). I would urge you to look at the two together and, if anything, to privilege the comment over the rating. My aim is more to describe the wine in the context of the vintage, the appellation and recent vintages of the same and similar wines, rather than to judge the wine per se.
The ratings, of course, reflect my subjective evaluations and relative preferences between wines. Your palate is likely differ from mine. I hope that my comments give you at least enough information to be able to recalibrate my ratings and, in so doing, to align them more closely to your palate. To give an example: if the idea of the ‘new classicism’ leaves you cold, you may well wish to discount the (typically high) ratings I have given to wines described in such terms.
2022 is, of course, a far from entirely homogeneous vintage – and, consequently, my ratings span a considerable range (from the very top of the scale downwards). I see little interest, either for the consumer or the producer, in publishing very low scores. Consequently, I have decided not to publish scores for wines that I have rated below 90 (here the range 89-91). Where no rating is published, the wine would have scored 88-90 or below.
Finally, élevage is likely to be very important in determining the quality in bottle of these wines (rather more so than in recent vintages). I am no soothsayer and cannot predict how that will turn out. All en primeur ratings should be treated with caution and taken with a certain pinch of salt.
Detailed tasting notes
- Beauregard 2022 (Pomerol; 67% Merlot; 27% Cabernet Franc; 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH 3.8; a final yield of 36 hl/ha; 14% alcohol; aging for 18 months in a combination of oak barrels, 45% new, and 500 litre fûts; tasted at the UGC press tasting and at the property; certified organic). Very fine, very refined, very pure and very lifted with lovely ‘Pomerol’ violets alongside the dark and intense berry fruit – blueberries and brambles, mulberries too. Naturally sweet on the attack – this is not residual sugar – but it’s still a little shocking. Intense, reassuringly fresh, and so deep and profound. Never quite ‘too much’ but almost. But for the florality this might almost feel a little new world. 92-94.
- Benjamin de Beauregard 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; southern part of the vineyard; a final yield of 36 hl/ha; aging for 14 months in a combination of oak barrels, 20% new, terra cotta jars and 500 litre fûts; certified organic). Juicy, ample, generous and quite opulent. Attractive. Big and broad-shouldered from the start, but those shoulders are well covered in velvet épaulettes! Rich, attractive and with a pleasing impression of layering. Very Merlot. The fruit is bright and crunchy and the Merlot was picked a little early to compensate for the lower yielding Cabernet Franc. Although simple in its way, this is impressive and rather well done – the product of careful choices. A great glass of Pomerol in the making. 90-92.
- Blason de l’Evangile 2022 (Pomerol; 81% Merlot; 19% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.8; 14%; tasted at the property); certified organic and in conversion to biodynamic viticulture). Though only a stone’s throw from Lafleur (where the rain in June was not seen as significant) this was reportedly ‘saved by the rain in June’ (no doubt because of the younger vines it contains). Crucial, too, were the pauses between the phases of the heatwave, unlike 2003. The sun-exposed sides of the vines were harvested first after the detailed analytics showed the significant differences between the two. The grapes here were harvested at less than two-thirds of their usual weight. But overall yields were still around 38 hl/ha. There was a little shrivelling on the grapes on the more-exposed southern side, reduced by later green-harvesting. Plump, ample and impressively structured. A little toasted brioche, cracked black pepper and opulent dark berry fruit. Broad-shouldered on the attack but reined back by the structuring tannins and so more slender on the finish. That lovely plunge-pool crystallinity on the mid-palate, this really is fabulously impressive texturally. it lacks only the complexity of the grand vin. Elegant, subtle, fabulous, with a subtle touch of sucrosity and juicy tannins. 92-94.
- Bonalgue 2022 (Pomerol; 92% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; aging in oak barrels, 40% of which are new; with a newly designed label based on the crest of the property; tasted with the team at Clos du Clocher). Tasted just after Monregard la Croix, there is more complexity here. Big, bold, ample and seductive but fine, limpid, fresh and cool – impressively so, even rarely so, in the vintage. Plush and plump and full with brilliant eddies of fresh juiciness and with good density and layering too. Ripe red and black berry fruit. Glossily textured. Plum and baked plum, spices a little like the 2018. The Cabernet Franc, even at less than 10 per cent, helps retain the freshness especially on the finish and that reins this back a little which works well to build tension after the initial amplitude. Nice salinity in the cheeks on the finish too. 91-93+.
- Le Bon Pasteur 2022 (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 34 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Another Pomerol that, aromatically, feels just a little confected. That said, it’s certainly very pure and precise and radiantly fruity – a parfumier’s essence of fruit or even that of the bonbon manufacturer! The oak is much more restrained than it used to be. Plums, damsons, black and red cherry – all super-ripe but juicy. On the palate, this is fresh and dynamic despite the depth and concentration. But it’s naturally sweet once again and you do feel the heat of the summer. Just a slide and a shade towards dryness on the finish. But I do love the violet essence and Palma violet notes. 91-93.
- Bourgneuf 2022 (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 9 hectares on a gravel and clay terroir rich in iron; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). One knows where one is immediately with that touch of ferrous-saline minerality on the nose alongside the plum and baked plum and dark berry fruit. Somewhat burly if not exactly rustic, with quite a lot of extract and hence a rather heavier layering than many of the more ethereal wines of the plateau. That’s its style. But like some others here, there are finer and stronger recent vintages. 91-93.
- La Cabanne 2022 (Pomerol; 94% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; 14.7% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Less oak influence here than there used to be. This seems rather confected on the nose. A little too much. Parfumier’s essence of violet, baked plums and their spices, cherries and blackberry compote. Fresh and lithe on the palate but not in total harmony and, for me, this remains disconcertingly sweet. 89-91.
- Certan de May 2022 (Pomerol; 60% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; from 5.5 hectares on clay and deep gravel opposite Vieux Château Certan; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). You pick up the Cabernet Sauvignon immediately, giving this a very different fruit profile on the nose. There’s a touch of ferrous minerality too. Plump, bright, crunchy berry fruit – red and, predominantly, blue and purple. That suggests greater freshness, but actually there’s a natural sucrosity on the palate (as with many Pomerols in this vintage) that strikes you first and the fruit profile in the mouth is rather different, reflecting that – more black cherries, fewer blackberries and blueberries. A little cassis reappears with aeration in the mouth, bringing tension and additional freshness just when you need it. This is impressive and it will be fascinating to follow the evolution of this wine which is never the easiest wine to taste en primeur. But there is clear potential here and something of an upward track in recent vintages. Grape skins on the chewy long finish. 92-94+.
- Clinet 2022 (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; a healthy final yield of 34 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Quite toasty but with lovely intensity and refinement. Coconut, black cherry, blueberry pie, patisserie and peony, a little saffron too. Ample, opulent, rich, layered and seductive on the palate, with an impressive sense of fluidity and luminosity. Very long and the tannins are ultra-soft and remain juicy all the way to the horizon. It was hot here and it shows, but this is very well managed, if not for me quite at the level of the 2019 or 2020. 94-96.
- Clos du Clocher 2022 (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; on the high western part of the plateau at its highest point close to Trotanoy and La Fleur-Pétrus with plenty of blue clay; tasted from the final blend with the team who made it at the property; 5% of the press wine in the final blend here; in organic conversion). From a terroir that typically shows of its best in dry vintages, coming as it does from the flattest part of the plateau with a significant amount of blue clay below. Dried flowers and patchouli, black cherry and plum – and a little fresher damson note too. More and more violets, pink rose petals and even jasmine as it aerates. This comes from the bigger, bolder, more structural part of the plateau as is clear from the considerable substance in the glass. What a mouthful. This is rich, with incredible amplitude and much more like Trotanoy than, say, La Conseillante in this vintage. A lot of tannin, but very fine-grained and structuring of the chiselled, architectural finish. There’s plenty of tension too and a velvety rich deep sense of layering. It is the Cabernet Franc that brings this all together, with tension and freshness returning on the finish and with aeration in the mouth just when you think they might not. The elephant on the tripwire once again – tense but miraculously balanced. This continues an impressive upwards ascent. Best yet from here. 94-96.
- Clos L’Eglise 2022 (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.75; 15% alcohol; tasted at Barde Haut). Quite oaky, as ever, but with a lovely purity and satinous, gracious super-svelte tannins – quite a lot of them in fact. A narrower frame, interestingly, than the St Emilions here and that intensifies the fruit in the and through the mid-palate. One of the darkest fruit profiles of the appellation, with mulberries and wild bilberries prominent. Quite rich and full with the fruit nicely al dente. Sapid and juicy, succulent in the mid-palate and the oak here is imperceptible in the mouth and will temper on the nose. An excellent wine from here. Well done. 92-94+.
- La Commanderie 2022 (Pomerol; 92% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 5.8 hectares neighbouring Nénin and Beauregard on sandy clay with a little gravel; the vines have an average age of 43 years; a final yield of 36 hl/ha; this will see just 6 months in oak barrels, 85% of them new; tasted at the property). Gracious. A succulent and sumptuous Pomerol, a little oaky perhaps but that will bed in nicely with time. Cedar, graphite and black cherry, a little blueberry and mulberry compote. Soft tannins, rich and compact, lovely density, cool. The fruit is perhaps just a little blended but this is very well made and nicely expressive of its terroir. Fresh and sapid, svelte and juicy with a pleasing sense of harmony. 91-93+.
- La Connivence 2022 (Pomerol; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; from a tiny vineyard of 1.4 hectares on clay and gravel; pH 3.6; 15.2% alcohol). This is made by the team from La Gaffelière with the same care and attention as their icononic grand vin. It sees sub-plot by sub-plot vinification in thermo-regulated stainless steel, 25% full bunch fermentation for the Merlot and malolactic fermentation in barrel. Classic and rather wonderful, with violets and rose petals, cedar, dark berry fruit, black cherry, walnut and patisserie all vying for attention. Really special. Best ever from here but very much in the line of ascent of recent vintages (2016 afterwards). Tender and full, rich and impressively crystalline. Long, racy, supremely svelte and texturally very gentle and gracious. Sleek, as are all of La Gaffelière’s wines and, above, bright, fresh and extremely classy. 95-97.
- La Conseillante 2022 (Pomerol; 87% Merlot; 13% Cabernet Franc; a tiny bit of vinification intégrale in oak; a final yield of 33 hl/ha, so around 20% less than normal, but 85% of the production made it into the grand vin; 10 of the 12 hectares are currently in production; pH 3.65; 14% alcohol; the wine is already assembled; aged in a combination of oak barrels, 70% new, 27% second-use and the rest in Italian amphorae; tasted with Marielle Cazaux in the chai at La Conseillante). The grapes here, Marielle Cazaux tells me, were dodu (lit. ‘chubby’). What she means by that is not that they were large but that they were plump, firm and bursting with what little juice they contained. This is a wondrous expression of its terroir, of the vintage and of the appellation and the kind of wine one would hope to pick blind in every detail in years to come (it’s archetypally Pomerol, very ‘La Conseillante’ and also very ‘2022’). The Cabernet Franc aromatics and fabulous but so too is that fabulous spicy, fruity Merlot – the signature of the vintage for me. Floral and with the most amazing violet-charged aromatics. Violet, yes. But lilac and patchouli too. This is also incredibly complete and gracious. Graphite-enrobed cool Cabernet Franc notes, a hint of the cedar to come, and plump, plush, black cherry and wild blueberry fruit. Crystalline and luminous on the palate, with that cool plunge-pool effect on the attack – the tannins so fine that they imperceptible at first allowing one to concentrate solely on the fresh, bright, juicy fruit. This is ethereal and so pure and precise that it feels almost like it’s been poured from a large format. So caressingly soft, so wondrously profound, so round, so gracious, so voluptuous – in other words, so essentially Pomerol. Ample in the mouth – but more so vertically than horizontally, as the fruit remains quite tightly bound to a central spine – like a cylinder with an elongated cross-section. The limpid quality is more like diving into a cool, dark well than, say, a mirror-pool as the frame is more compact. Saline, but delicately so. This is incredibly pure and I love the cassis and blueberry notes that appear when the tannins grip in the mid-palate releasing their little waves and rivulets of freshness. They seem to disrupt and intermingle with the black cherry notes from the attack. Racy. Juicy. And with great harmony. Possibly the best ever from here and confirmation of the ascent since around 2015. So vivid and vibrant. 97-99.
- Croix du Casse 2022 (Pomerol; 97% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc; tasted at Trottevieille). Creamy. Ferrous in its mineral profile. A little hint of cedar. A hint of game, too, and horse hair. Red liquorice. Red berry fruit. A little red cherry. Very pure and nicely focussed. Quite sweet but with plenty of natural compensating freshness, so tense. Bright and quite distinct in its red berry and cherry fruit profile – there’s a little red plum too. The tannins, however, are just a little severe on the finish. Menthol cool and with decent length. 89-91.
- La Croix de Gay 2022 (Pomerol; 89% Merlot; 11% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 25 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Oaky with walnut shell, vanilla and toasted croissant and sandalwood the first notes to show around the plum and baked plum fruit. Generous sweet spices too – but these only serve to accentuate the natural sucrosity giving the impression of residual sugar. This doesn’t feel totally balanced to me and feels also like it comes from further south.
- Domaine de L’Eglise 2022 (Pomerol; 98% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; 50% new oak; tasted at Trottevieille). Much darker fruited than Croix du Casse. But still quite massive. Red plums, red cherries and darker berry fruit. Quite spicy and with a subtle touch of oak – bringing with it toasted brioche, nutmeg and cinnamon. Dense, compact, with a nice sapid juicy fruit that penetrates all the way to the core. There’s a pleasing sense of tension between the sucrosity and the freshness. This is fine with nicely chewy tannins, even if it finishes just a little hot. 91-93.
- L’Eglise Clinet 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 32 hl/ha; 14.6% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 85% of which are new; tasted with Noémie Durantou at the property). A little intimate and introvert at first and slow to unfurl. But when it does, we find the most beautiful plump and plush black cherries, generously enrobed in graphite and cedar with a little rose petal, rose peppercorn and grated dark chocolate. Brooding, bold structurally and reassuringly true to its style. This is a very articulate wine. It is more structured and architectural than most – a gothic cathedral crafted to honour the splendour of the Merlot in this vintage (with a fair proportion of the tannins coming from its ripe, nutty pips). Yet, despite the structure this is super-svelte and quite voluptuous texturally. Black cherries, wild bilberries, walnut shell (from the ripe pip tannins), a little trace of rose-petal florality, this is remarkably delicate for such a wine with such concentration and such a compact tight frame. There’s a gracious pure naturally sweet cherry and crushed plump and sapid berry fruit, reinforcing the natural freshness and then just as you think the wine is going to settle, little veins of blackberry and cassis juice rise up from below like vertical columns, fanning out as they reach the cherries and freshening everything up to build the finish. Very fine. Very structural, as ever. Very much a vin de garde but with incredible purity and precision. Tender, tense and exciting. A little hint of violet in the empty glass. 96-98+.
- Enclos Tourmaline 2022 (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernt Franc; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; pH 3.52; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at Bellefont Belcier with Emmanuelle Fulchi d’Aligny). This has fabulous intensity and fabulous freshness – a cool compactness that is unusual in the vintage. Reminiscent of 2010 and 2016 in the quality of the tannins (even if 2010 pre-dates the birth of this climat Pomerol). Sinuous, luminous and truly excellent. Very dense and compact, but translucent and multi-layered, finely detailed and gracious on the finish. A little liquorice lingers on the palate. One of the coolest and most refined of the plateau Pomerols. 94-96.
- L’Esprit de la Commanderie 2022 (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 5.8 hectares between Nénin and Beauregard; a final yield of 36 hl/ha; tasted at the property). Very impressive. Black cherry fruit, a little bramble, a hint of raspberry. Limpid, soft and gentle, with a pleasing limpidity and fluidity on the palate. A touch of graphite. Soft and fine-grained tannins. Excellent for what it is. Simple and unpretentious, if perhaps just a little hot on the fresh menthol finish. 89-91.
- L’Evangile 2022 (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 19% Cabernet Franc; 1% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH a final yield of 28.5 hl/ha; pH 3.8; 14.5% alcohol; aging in a combination of new oak (50%), second-use oak (25%), clay jars (15%) and the rest in wooden tanks; tasted at the property). Black cherry, a little blueberry and a gracious slightly wild herbal element with aeration in the glass. This is dense and hyper-compact, cool and velvet textured, incredibly dark and intense and with loads of cedar on the palate. It’s quite mineral-charged too – with crushed rock and saline and liquorice notes. An evolution of the style, I find this reassuringly ‘Evangile’ – the power of the old wine with the finesse of the stylistic evolution. Cool and limpid, gracious and extremely opulent, with a moreish chewy cherry skin sucrosity on the finish. Chunky but soft – almost chubby in personality. I love too the grip and pinch of the tannins right at the end that helps to build the fantail finish. 96-98.
- Fayat 2022 (Pomerol). One of many wines in this vintage to sport a new label. Refined, elegant and more subtle than many, with delicate floral notes – lilac and peony, a little violet – that spring up between the blueberries and the red and black cherries; a hint of the cedar to come. Plenty of fruit on the dense and compact mid-palate and a pleasing sense of balance and restraint – some of these Pomerols are almost too much, but not here. A super stylish Pomerol that is the best I’ve tasted from Fayat. 92-94.
- Feytit Clinet 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; 14.8% alcohol; tasted at Ripeau). A very strong showing from Jérémy Chasseuil at Feytit Clinet (though, in fact, he tore his Achilles tendon four days before the harvest commenced and so this was very much a collective family effort). Refined, delicate in the context of the vintage in part because it is so dark-fruited, fresh and compact. Walnut, a delicate hint of violet, blueberry and black cherry. On the palate, this is graciously soft on the entry and plunge-pool cool, ultra-fresh and sapid immediately. So refreshing and the antithesis of the wines of this appellation that seem be discombobulated by the impression of residual sugar. Very long, elegant and suave on the chewy grape-skin finish. The best for a while from here. 93-95.
- La Fleur-Pétrus 2022 (Pomerol; 96.5% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc; 0.5% Petit Verdot; from 18.7 hectares on an ancient deep white and clay-gravel terroir; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). Gosh, this is wonderful and, for me at least, quite a significant step up from Hosanna in this vintage – it had been creeping up! Violets and acacia and honeysuckle, the parfumier’s essence of pink rose petals and gracious dark berry and cherry stone fruit, with that delightful hint of cedar. Rich, big and broad, deep and profoundly layered, detailed and delineated (above all the latter) and with the texture of cashmere. Profound, with lots of mid-palate depth and profundity. One of the bigger wines of the appellation with plenty of juicy sapidity just when it needs it. 96-98.
- Le Gay 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 24.8 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting and then at the Château; 100% vinification intégrale in new oak). Parfumier’s lilac and violet, blood orange, a little dried lavender, incense and a very dark berry fruit profile – blueberry, bilberry and black cherry. There’s lovely use of the oak – it’s part of the identity and personality of the wine and yet so well integrated. There’s an impressively fresh and cool feel to this too and it’s less sweet than many of its peers – which I like. Big, indeed massive, but gracious in its amplitude with incredible density and detail. There is also a degree of limpidity in the mid-palate that I have never seen before here. I also love how the pixilation almost gets between the layers with the tannins reinforcing the sense of the milles feuilles texture, like little polished glass rollers. We find the same florality from the nose on the palate. Staggeringly complex and a ‘best ever’ candidate from here. A great wine to present for the first time at the UGC. Hedonistic and brilliant. 96-98.
- Gazin 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Sauvignon; 3% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 26 hl/ha; 14.3% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). A very compelling Gazin in this vintage and also a wine that many people mentioned to me (‘have you tasted Gazin?’ etc.). This feels cooler and fresher than many of its peers and I like that. A subtle and complex florality, with lilac more than violet, and a freshness to that florality, with a little hint of wild herbs too. Less of the often evident ferrous minerality of this part of the appellation too, and I like that as well. Plunge-pool cool on the palate with diaphanous tannins and a gentle natural sense of harmony. Lovely freshness from the cassis fruit. The is excellent. 93-95.
- La Grave (Trigant de Boisset) 2022 (Pomerol; 89% Merlot; 11% Cabernet Franc; from 8 hectares, as the name would suggest, on a predominantly gravel terroir with traces of fine clay; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). This I like more (after Lagrange and Lafleur-Gazin). A touch of cedar; a gentle hint of leafiness bringing some freshness to the nose, above all with gentle aeration. There is also much more detail and delineation in the mid-palate, the natural sucrosity of the vintage on gravel and clay soils like this better compensated by a certain freshness and juicy sapidity, above all on the finish. Long and true to its identity. But there are undoubtedly stronger recent vintages of this wine. 90-92.
- Guillot Clauzel 2022 (Pomerol; 83% Merlot; 17% Cabernet Franc; tasted in the chai with Guillaume Thienpont). This just sings! It is crunchy, pure and concentrated, even more fresh-fruited and essential than Le Pin (tasted just before), with lively fresh berry aromatics. And it has much the same density on the palate. It comes, of course, from a wonderful terroir, with a good proportion of blue clay and one can almost feel the freshness coursing through its veins. There’s a little more sous bois, crushed mulberries and brambles, black cherries and pink peppercorns. On the palate this is fabulously direct and ultra-expressive, energetic, vibrant and brilliant. It is a little more ample on the attack perhaps than Le Pin but one has the same sensation of diving into a deep lake or a well (like a scene from a Miyazaki film, you know the one!). There’s a little residual tannin at the end, just enough to structure the finish, enrobing so beautifully the fantail. 95-97+.
- Hosanna 2022 (Pomerol; 74% Merlot; 26% Cabernet Franc; from 4.5 hectares on blue clay on red gravel over an iron-rich sub-soil; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). Walnut oil, walnut skin, wild blueberries, black cherries, black forest gâteau, autumnal berries, a lovely if subtle hint of violet and lavender and wild rosemary. This seems to build and build in the glass with the floral and herbal elements enrobing the plump and generous fruit on the palate too. I find myself both delighted that this announces itself so clearly as Hosanna – a wine now with a very true identity – but at the same time craving just a little more freshness, though there is certainly plenty of sapidity on the finish. Seductive, opulent and generous, this will find and make many friends, even if it’s not quite at the level of the fabulous 2020. 93-95+.
- Lafleur 2022 (Pomerol; 49% Merlot; 51% Bouchet; from the same small block of dense deep gravel in the Lafleur vineyard). A wine that is never really ready to be appreciated for what it might become en primeur, in 2022 more than ever. This really does feel like infanticide. Not in any sense a photo of the finished wine and so my note is as much an act of projection as anything else. Gravelly, growly, with dark berry and stone fruits, violets and wild thyme and lavender. With a little more aeration and/or simply time in the glass, we hone in on lilacs and peonies, cedar – but just a suggestion at this stage – and graphite. Not at all expressive aromatically, in fact that’s something of an under-statement, but utterly fabulous in the calm authority it seems nonetheless to exude. On the palate, the fruit is gracious and dark – plump black cherries and wild moor-side blueberries. There is pixilation, both vertically and horizontally and the most sublime texture, giving the impression of weightlessness despite the evident density, compactness and concentration. Lafleur is another wine that feels like it comes from a very large format with the quality of tannin that one usually associates only with a double magnum. Such harmony, such refinement and that calm tranquillity once again. Very serious, utterly profound and graciously tense. 98-100.
- Lafleur-Gazin (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; from 8.5 hectares on lime, gravel and clay; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). This has much more freshness than Plince or Lagrange à Pomerol (tasted just before) and is, for me at least, reassuringly less sweet on the palate than the former. But I still find that this lacks a little of the vim, zing and zest of the very best wines of the appellation in this vintage – which was not easy on the edge of the plateau and beyond. Very mentholated on the finish. This brings freshness, but that freshness isn’t really drawn from the sapidity of the fruit. I’d like to like this more and, to be honest, I usually do.
- Lagrange à Pomerol 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; from a vineyard of 9 hectares on a gravel over clay and ancient blue clay terroir; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). Fresher than Plince and less toasty-oaky on the nose, but, once again this lacks just a little freshness. Its lacks detail and focus in the mid-palate and the fruit feels almost bruised and blitzed, without the delineation and definition and, above all, the freshness to bring the mid-palate alive. It finishes just a little heavy. Slightly abrasive tannins suggesting that this was pushed just a little too far in the extraction.
- Latour à Pomerol 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; 8 hectares, two-thirds of which are on clay and gravel, the rest lime and clay; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). After a slightly difficult start to the Moueix Pomerol line-up, we are back to the limpidity, freshness, charm and balance of the first St Emilions. Probably not the best vintage of this iconic but now often rather overlooked estate. But there is plenty of sapid, juicy freshness, lovely delineation and definition in the mid-palate and great precision and focus. A copiously structures wine, with an ample frame and impressive mid-palate density. The cedar and graphite slowly build in the glass to generously enrobe the dark berry fruit. Very fine and a great bottle in the making, though I prefer the 2019 and the 2020. 93-95.
- Maillet 2022 (Pomerol). Heady and vivid, with lots of plump, fully ripe black cherries and a little blueberry, a touch of graphite too and a little dried rose petal and lavender. Big and punchy on the palate with a pronounced natural sweetness that leaves one almost craving a little more acidity – the tannins having to do all of the work to rein this in that the acidity would normally help with just a little more. I find the finish destabilised a touch by the alcohol, but this is certainly hedonistic and packed with ripe cherry fruit. 89-91.
- Manoir de Gay (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of just 24.8 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at Le Gay). What I really like about this is that it is fabulously representative of the personality of the grand vin itself, with that lovely combination of black cherries and violets. Very floral, very natural and very fresh, with all of that coming from 100% Merlot in this vintage. Svelte, plump with brilliantly pure fruit and a lovely refined texture. Radiant and quite limpid and luminous in a way that is rare for a second wine. 91-93+.
- Monregard la Croix 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; 14.5% alcohol; from a vineyard of 1.5 hectares of 44-year old Merlot in the vineyard of Clos du Clocher on sand but close to fresh water; aging in oak barrels, 30% of which are new; in organic conversion). Black/purple in the glass. Saffron, roasted langoustine shell and a little toasted brioche. Red and black cherry, some briary fruit notes too. Full, quite rich, but lacking somewhat in mid-palate delineation. One can feel the heat here. Plush, plump, ample, but with just enough freshness if always rather massive. Strikingly long on the finish. 90-92+.
- Monviel 2022 (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of just 17.5 hl/ha; 15 parcels distributed widely around the appellation; tasted at Le Gay). Limpid in the glass, with an almost luminous lilac/purple rim. Nice viscosity. Violets. Blueberries. Verbena. Blood orange. Lots of Pomerol personality. Gracious; chewy and with a lovely sapidity. Generous but never threatening to become ‘too much’. A little ferrous minerality and a pleasing sense of balance and harmony on the finish. 91-93.
- Nénin 2022 (Pomerol; 64% Merlot; 36% Cabernet Franc; tasted at Léoville Las Cases). The is gracious (that word again!, glossy, with a lovely dark berry and stone fruit – damsons, sloes, mulberries, black cherries too. This has a lovely almost slightly austere dark Médocain character that I really like in the context of the vintage. Nénin has been on a steep upwards trajectory in recent vintages; the 2022 seems of anything to accelerate that trend. Tender and very fresh. This is excellent and the best I’ve tasted en primeur from here. I adore the leafy Cabernet Franc notes on the finish. 93-95.
- La Patache 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.67; 13.5% alcohol). Fabulous brightness. Pure, fine, gracious, nice narrow frame, very sapid and juicy right to the core but with great density and concentration too. Lovely grippy, crumbly tannins. Good length. Pure berry fruit notes. Maybe lacks a little bit of Pomerol typicity, but impressive. Fabulous freshness. 90-92.
- Les Pensées 2022 (Pomerol; 57% Merlot; 43% Bouchet; from 0.7 hectares of archetypally ‘Pomerol’ clay forming a mini valley at the heart of the Lafleur vineyard; tasted at Lafleur with Omri Ram). Much more aromatically expressive than Lafleur itself with loganberry, bramble, white pepper, sous bois notes and a very subtle hint of violet and wild lavender. Red cherries too, graphite and a hint of cedar. So pure, so harmonious, so round and voluptuous, so refined and so finely detailed and pixilated. Ample on the attack and yet brilliantly layered. Indeed, spectacularly so. The tannins are reassuringly chewy on the finish where they are joined by a little white pepper and a suggestion of walnut shell from the ripe pip tannins. So lithe, limpid and lifted on the finish, which seems both ethereal and endless. Incredibly complete, a wine of textural and aromatic beauty in equal measure. 96-98.
- Le Petit de Petit Village 2022 (Pomerol; 92% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; from the tip of the triangle that forms the vineyard of Petit Village, minus those parcels that are waiting to be re-planted; a final yield of 26 hl/ha; aging in a combination of oak (15% of which is new) and larger fûts of 500 litres, pH 3.85; 14% alcohol; tasted at Petit Village with the team who made it). This is a fabulous second wine of exceptional quality that says a lot about the new philosophy of this rapidly up-and-coming property so well placed on the plateau. This is plateau Pomerol from contiguous plots and not really a second wine at all – though it has much of the personality, identity and style of the grand vin (which is exactly what you want from a Pomerol second label). Just a little closed at first, but one sense straightaway the gentle opulence and refinement. Gracious, again. Impressively floral – violets, lilac, maybe a little mimosa, rose petals too. There’s a lovely graphite note too. Creamy, cool and sophisticated and tasting like it comes from a great terroir. The new name (this used to be called Le Jardin de Petit Village) almost seems ironic. And as the name perhaps implies, the wine is quietly understated too – bold, rich and plump, yes, but never too much. Fresh and limpid and layered and svelte and glossy and, frankly, better than en primeur samples of the ‘old’ Petit Village used to be. One of the best 2nd labels of the appellation and likely to represent fabulous value in this vintage (though it will only be released in bottle). Plump, juicy Pomerol just as it should be – but cool and elegant and refined and with the most wonderful tannic quality. 92-94.
- Petit Village 2022 (Pomerol; 65% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Sauvignon; 28% Cabernet Franc; from 10.5 hectares on a fabulous prime plateau terroir of quartz and flint gravel over blue clay; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; tasted at the property with Guillaume Fredoux and Vincent Priou and also at Beauregard across the street). Fabulous with a brilliantly intense violet florality intermingly with the black cherry and wild blueberry. I find, too, a little confit violet enrobed in the most expensive single estate dark chocolate. Cedar. Cassis leaf and a little spearmint. A hint of thyme. This is cool, calm, very fresh and juicy in its salivating sapidity. It is delicate, too, despite the considerable breadth, amplitude and generosity. It come, of course, from the heart of the clay plateau – and you can tell. Fabulous texturely and with less sensation of oak than the 2020. There’s a delightful touch of pepper and nutmeg on the finish alongside the sapid croquant fruit. The best ever from here. 95-97.
- La Petite Eglise 2022 (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 32 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; just 4700 bottles; aging in oak barrels, 60% of which are new; tasted with Noémie Durantou at L’Eglise Clinet). Another fabulous wine from Noémie Durantou. Tasted immediately after Montlandrie we are immediately transported to a very different aromatic and textural universe. On the nose we tune in on the rich cedar, as ever, the plump blueberries and the fresh cassis leaf. In the mouth, this has a much more ample frame than Montlandrie, even if there are similarities in the fruit profile. This is cool, fluid, luminous and limpid with lovely slightly crumbly grippy tannins that wrestle the fruit back to the well-defined spine. Long and intense; also intensely juicy, with a lovely creaminess. 93-95.
- Petrus 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; tasted in the chai at Petrus with Olivier and Jean-Claude Berrouet). This is not at all what I had expected and the effect is almost shocking. One prepares to taste Petrus mentally and I had imagined a wine that would be structurally massive and somewhat closed. Instead we have the most aromatically expressive and sensuous wine of the entire appellation, perhaps of en primeur itself. It is staggeringly beautiful, incredibly complex and yet supremely harmonious, balanced and elegant. We have all kinds of senses and sensations (and the emotions that go with them) but what is most impressive is the completeness and harmony in the glass. Black cherry. Plump dark briary berry fruit. Damsons. Sloes. Pink and green peppercorns. Baies de Timut. Wild blueberries. Mulberries. Lots of graphite, but in a gentle and supporting role. There is a freshness too and the anticipation from that of the profound sapidity to be found on the palate – and all of that without the liquid passing one’s lips. And in the mouth, eventually, after nearly twenty minutes of aromatic fireworks, Petrus 2022 is incredibly soft and gracious. Ethereal. Again one is just gob-smacked by the harmony, the eloquence and the completeness of this wine. Yes, it is multi-dimensional and multi-layered, if you think about it, but it is also a perfect unity – and to appreciate that one has to stop thinking for just a moment and enjoy it. It is much less obviously massive than Lafleur with a succulent sparkling brilliance and weightlessness that I find nowhere else. This is the most complete Petrus I’ve tasted at this stage and so utterly, utterly different from Lafleur just a couple of hundred metres away. The crystalline brilliance, clarity and luminosity is incredible; as is its eloquence at this nascent stage. It is harmony in complexity – like the final chord of Mahler’s 9th. And what has made this possible is the humility, the restraint and the deftness of touch of Olivier Berrouet and the inter-generational accumulation and wisdom informing his craft. Profound, utterly. 99-100.
- Le Pin 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; from a magical terroir of sandy gravel with iron oxide pebbles on a bed of deep clay; a final yield of 29 hl/ha; pH 3.77; 14.4% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 65% of which are new; tasted twice with Jacques Thienpont and Diana Berrouet-Garcia at Le Pin). We start with cedar. So beautiful. So refined. So sophisticated. So subtle. Richer, deeper, fuller than L’If. Gracious in its subtle opulence – and so cool on the entry. Indeed, it is more refined and elegant than opulent even in this most opulent of Pomerol vintages and, as such, so true to its identity and its signature. Le Pin 2022 is utterly divine. Blueberries, black cherry and a gorgeous slight leafiness – a blackcurrant leafy freshness to be more precise. There is such intensity too, but it’s almost imperceptible and it seems almost vulgar to draw attention to it. On the palate this is super-svelte and ultra-silkily textured. It is generous and ample on the entry, compact, dense and layered – and how! It is like a million ultra-soft sheets of silk placed one above the other. Indeed, it is that which makes the depth and density so imperceptible. For in its pixilated detail it is each individual sheet that captures the attention and each sheet is so fine, just like the grain of the tannin that reveals the structure. There are textural similarities with the diaphanous 2010 tasted later, especially the integration and harmony of the mid-palate. As with a few other stars fo the vintage, it’s like the sample comes from a large format after both élévage and bottle aging. There it total elegance and harmony here; total refinement. Magical. 98-100.
- Plince 2022 (Pomerol; 85% Merlot: 15% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 8.5 hectares on flint over crasse de fer; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). A little like the 2021, though for very different reasons, one has the sense that things were not easy here. Oaky and toasty on the nose. Quite sweet on the palate and a little closed and introspective. Round, supple, the tannins svelte on the entry but becoming increasingly coarse and rustic towards the finish. This lacks definition and delineation and is, for me at least, disconcertingly sweet, lacking the freshness so essential to success in this vintage.
- Porte Chic 2022 (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; Benoit Trocard; 14% alcohol). This is bright, engaging, lively and rather distinctive on the nose. It’s very floral but it’s not just the usual violet and lavender notes one finds here (much though I love them too). We have, in addition, assorted fresh roses, peonies, even a little lilac and hibiscus. With air, cedar too. There’s a little sweet saffron as well. The palate is impressive too, with the ultra-fine but still grippy tannins intervening quite early, like acidity in a rich white wine to keep this tense and taut and interesting. Precise, focussed and beautifully detailed, this is a wine I have loved for a number of vintages now – and this is the best yet. Archetypally plateau Pomerol. 93-95.
- Rouget 2022 (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; there’s a fair amount of vinification intégrale in barrel here; re-tasted at the UGC press tasting). This, too, is explosively aromatic with intense violet, blueberry and black cherry notes shooting like fireworks from the glass; there’s a little incense too. Soft and succulent tannins, a dense and richly-packed mid-palate of black cherry and blueberry again and a well-sustained and slowly tapering finish. It’s not subtle, but it is elegant in its way, and it’s certainly vivid, vibrant and deeply impressive. Menthol cool on the finish and more refreshing for that. Somewhat dividing opinions in this vintage, with the suggestion from some that it’s almost a little ‘too much’. I rather like it. Crucially, it remains fresh. 91-93+.
- De Sales 2022 (Pomerol; 83% Merlot; 12% Cabernet Sauvignon; 5% Cabernet Franc; aged in oak barrels, 18% of which are new; pH 3.45). The culmination of an impressive transformation in recent vintages at de Sales, this is likely to represent fabulous value in the context of the vintage (and more generally). One of the cooler vineyards in the appellation and also one with a significant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon – both advantages in this vintage. This is fresher than many of the stars of the plateau with a more delicate and fresher floral touch than many; lovely cedar and graphite are already starting to develop and the tannins are so much riper and finer than they once were here. The gentle use of oak brings a little supporting spice to the blueberry and damson fruit and this is beautifully refreshing on the finish. The best yet from here though there is more still to come. 92-94+.
- Séraphine 2022 (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc; from a tiny vineyard of just 2.2 hectares; 14% alcohol). Highly perfumed, very elegant and stylish and another archetypal Pomerol, above all in this vintage. Cool, intense but at the same time ever so slightly introvert on the nose, with subtle violet and peony florality encasing and enrobing plums, cherries and berries of every hue; a hint of roasted coffee bean too. A basket of fruit and a basket of flowers. There’s lot of energy here, plenty of depth and absolutely no hint of dryness on the long and flowing finish. Opulent but very fine and with lots of tension. 94-96.
- Trotanoy 2022 (Pomerol; 96% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc; from 7.2 hectares on a terroir of clay-gravel and black clay over crasse de fer; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). Glorious. It’s lovely to have some Cabernet Franc back, even in a small amount, in the final blend. Lilac, rose petal, mimosa, a little violet but less than in La Fleur-Pétrus (tasted alongside – well you would, wouldn’t you?). Full, rich, plump and profound with an incredibly broad frame and then fabulously well-defined milles feuilles of silk in and through the mid-palate This is finer textured than La Fleur-Pétrus and more gravity-defying still. Aerial, ethereal and very special. I perhaps prefer the 2020 but this is another great Pomerol from this great estate. Massive in a way but so finely detailed and so precise and pure, and so micro-fibrous in the mid-palate that it seems weightless and utterly gracious. A touch of liquorice underscores the saline minerality. 96-98.
- Vieux Château Certan 2022 (Pomerol; 75% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 35 hl/ha; pH 3.78; 14.4% alcohol; tasted at the property with Guillaume Thienpont). Gloriously VCC. Lithe, limpid, sinuous and so aromatically expressive that it couldn’t really be anything else. Soft, round, voluptuous, with those redolent cedar and walnut notes generously enrobing the black cherry and wild blueberry fruit – so utterly sublime and gracious. Intense and intensely floral, with lilacs, violets and peonies, camomile and mimosa and a very natural wild herbal and heather note. Concentrated and yet so elegant, with a very gentle salinity. It’s not unlike the 2020, with that almost structural freshness and translucent clarity in the mid-palate; but if anything it’s even more profound. Guillaume Thienpont tells me that he was “more stressed than the vines”, not least because 2021 gave them exactly what they needed to endure the vintage. He’s not stressed now and rightly so. What I really love here is the almost structural role played by the juicy sapidity in the wine. The layers of freshness it builds intermingle so seamlessly with the tannic structure in creating the glacial, crystalline, mirror-pool texture. A fabulous and yet also archetypal VCC. 97-99.
- La Violette 2022 (Pomerol; 100% Merot; a final yield of 23.8 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; 100% vinification integrale en barrique; tasted at Le Gay). Another fabulous La Violette tasted alongside a no less fabulous Le Gay. This year La Violette is a little less concentrated and more restrained than its sibling. It’s a little more subtle too and with a tighter and more compact frame. What I love is the brilliant intermingling of cedar, black cherry and vibrant violet florality. There’s graphite too and a little acacia honey note capturing the natural sweetness of the vintage and a hint of saffron. This is incredibly vibrant but incredibly soft too – silky rather than the more velvety Le Gay and dense and compact, a little gravity-defying in fact. The lovely grippy tannins on the finish are almost more St Émilion in character and texture than Pomerol and this has a charmingly natural sweet finish, but plenty of freshness too. Blueberry bonbons! 96-98.
- Vraye Croix de Gay 2022 (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 3.7 hectares on clay and gravel on the plateau; a final yield of 28 hl/ha; pH 3.85; 14.5% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 30% of which are new; Eric Boissenot is the consultant oenologue here). This is made at Siaurac in Lalande de Pomerol for the time-being. Sweet – just a little too sweet for me in fact. But there is a nice compensating freshness. Plush and full, but this still tastes to me rather modern. Limpid and sapid it certainly is, but the sweetness feels a little residual to me. Stony fruit, a little candlewax and a generous, plump and juicy mid-palate. The oak has been toned back a little, and I like that, but this lacks the balance and harmony of the leading wines of the appellation. Time will no doubt help. 91-93.