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Saint-Émilion 2022 en primeur – tasting notes

The 2022 vintage in Saint-Émilion is one where the probability of finding excellent value at any price point is high – perhaps more so than in any other of the leading appellations. db’s Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay gives his detailed tasting notes on the wines. 

Rooftops of Saint-Emilion, Aquitaine, France

For a full run-down on the 2022 en primeur from Saint-Émilion 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.

Full tasting notes

  • 3 d’Angelus 2022 (St Emilion; 85% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon). Plump, fresh and juicy with a lovely black cherry and cassis fruit – very pure, bright and crunchy (croquant). A little green and pink peppercorn. Limpid, soft, caressing, with impressive purity. Simple, but the product of intelligent choices. Very ‘Angelus’ and an excellent introduction to the range of wines here. Sapid and super fresh with a pleasing touch of menthol. 89-91.


  • Angélus 2022 (St Emilion; 60% Merlot; 40% Cabernet Franc; for the first time we find in the final blend Merlot from what was previously Château Bellevue). So dark fruited and so pure, with loads of Cabernet Franc character. Subtle, a little restrained aromatically at this nascent stage and slightly intimate in character, even – you have to come to it. Blueberries, wild bilberry, mulberry and a touch of black cherry and black cherry skin. There’s also the gracious leafiness of the Cabernet Franc – green herbal notes and redcurrant and black currant leaf. The oak is almost imperceptible oak, gently supporting everything and bringing with it a touch of spice and that distinctive rose peppercorn note but nothing more obvious. With air, the cassis notes build on the palate. This is brilliantly textured and layered and fantastically pixilated in a manner than only calcaire tannins seems to be able to achieve. It is ample, broad and velvety-textured but with a gracious mirror-pool and polished glass mid-palate. The tannins are so soft and when they start to grip they release the cedar-charged juicy sapidity (the first time we encounter the cedar). Very delineated. Very composed, Quite majestic. 97-99.


  • Arômes de Pavie 2022 (St Emilion; 50% Merlot; 50% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 28 hl/ha; pH 3.74; 14.5% alcohol). Floral, elegant with much more Cabernet Franc than usual. That is reflected in the fruit profile – blueberries and black cherries – and in the wild herbal element. There is liquorice too and a subtle, gentle and very natural sucrosity. This is dense and compact over a tight and quite refined and yet chiselled frame. It is tense from the contrast between the old-vine Merlot sucrosity and the herbal undertones from the Cabernet Franc. There is good delineation and a little pixilation and excellent ageing potential too. 93-95.


  • Les Astéries 2022 (St Emilion; no fiche technique). It is lovely to see this back in production after the ravages of frost in 2021 (and perhaps 2020 too), even if there is still no Le Carré. I love this. It’s a little more refined and elegant than it used to be and is less marked by the new oak than I recall. It is very pure, precise and linear, with the astéries calcaire tannins crafting and sculpting this wine so beautifully – it’s almost like imaging Michelangelo getting to work on a tablet of limestone. There’s wonderful pixilation and mid-palate detail and the fruit – a mix of crushed and fresh raspberries – is captured as if in hyperreality. Wonderfully and radiantly fresh and fabulously juicy on the finish. A vin de garde of course and with considerable tannins – but that is the signature of astéries calcaire! 94-96.


  • Ausone 2022 (St Emilion; 50% Merlot; 50% Cabernet Franc; tasted in the chai at Ausone). The nose immediately prepares you for something very special. This, for me, almost perfectly encapsulates the vintage in St Emilion and it is one of the best ever wines I have ever had the privilege to taste en primeur. Opulent, elegant and with such finesse yet at the same time both sumptuous and massive. Cassis, blueberries and cherries seems to vie for attention at first in all their plump sapid perfection, but they ultimately decide to share the same stage and when they do so this becomes almost explosive aromatically. It is floral too, with bright freshly plucked rose petals note … and when the fruit, the cedar and the flowers come together we have something magical, yet also incredibly subtle in its cool, dark precision. This is incredibly dense, multi-dimensional and supremely complex texturally. We have milles feuilles layering but also great detail and pixilation along each layer too – in fact we have three-dimensional pixilation. The structuring of the freshness is remarkable too. It seems to comes from the dark mulberry and damson fruit and that essential Cabernet blackcurrant leafiness (always present, but reinforced by aeration in the mouth, the effect staggering as it unleashes a whole new dimension of textural effects). A wine of incredible potential that will age at a glacial pace. Sapid, fresh, bright and energetic on the finish which seems to last all the way to the horizon, cross it and reach for the next. 98-100.


  • Badette 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Plum and baked plum, black cherry, the freshness of damson skin, a little touch of sweet spicing – nutmeg, clove, cinnamon – and the subtle support of cedar. Very svelte and soft. Creamily-textured with a reasonable amount of oak still to resolve. Another ‘best from here’ with gracious soft, caressing fine-grained tannins and a lovely mouthfeel, the palate fully charged with berries and cherries. Very appealing and likely to represent great value; just a little sweet on the finish but juicy and refreshing nonetheless. 92-94.


  • Balestard la Tonnelle 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 22% Cabernet Franc; 8% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Very pure and intensely fruited, a blend of red and darker berries – raspberry, loganberry and bramble – with some wild herbs too (thyme, even lemon thyme) and graphite. A hint of florality, but more flowering herbs than the florist’s blooms. Very lovely. There’s a little red cherry on the palate too. Ultra-fresh and with exquisitely soft tannins. This really impresses me. Definitely a ‘best ever from here’ showing. 92-94+.


  • Barde Haut 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.45; 15% alcohol). Again, very calcaire with that low pH. Big and broad-shouldered but with a lovely silky mouthfeel, nice layering, with pixilation from the fine-grained tannins as much between the layers as along them. Black cherry, bramble, raspberry and blackcurrant, with little plumes of cassis rising up from below with aeration in the mouth. White pepper, nutmeg, bay leaf. This is less floral than Poesia and bigger boned. It is more chiselled too. Intensely sapid and juicy on the long finish, with lovely ripples of undulating freshness and good grippy tannins. Long with chewy cherry skins on the finish. Plenty of polished tannins ensure a long future. 92-94+.


  • Beau-Séjour Bécot 2022 (St Emilion; 76% Merlot; 22% Cabernet Franc; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; pH 3.55; 14.5% alcohol; aged in barrel, foudres and amphorae; no green harvest; use of cover crops and a reduction in the height of the canopy for the first time here during the growing season; tasted at the property). The Cabernet France is elevated in the final blend (with Merlot planted at 80% in the vineyard). This has a very dark berry and stone fruit – wild blueberries, brambles, mulberries, damsons. I love the Cabernet Franc freshness, with that combination of wild green herbality and redcurrant leafiness that brings freshness – or, in fact, underscores it. There’s lots of fresh mint too. The cassis is (even) more present on the palate, though there are bunches of plump brambles and mulberries too. Sinuous, luminous, the freshness comes in ripples when the grip of the calcaire tannins break up the outer surface of the chiselled structure. So clear and translucent. Sleek in its style, very refined and with lots of limestone terroir character, this is all about precision. At least on a qualitative par with the very fine 2020. 95-97+.


  • Beauséjour Duffau Lagarrosse 2022 (St Emilion; 69% Merlot; 31% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 42 hl/ha; 14.9% alcohol; tasted with Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse; the product of drastic selection and with the highest ever proportion of Cabernet Franc in the blend). Everything about this wine is beautiful from the colour and the appearance in the glass, with its almost dayglo punk-pink rim, to the seemingly eternal finish. Even a metre from the glass the nose is present, excitingly and temptingly so, it seems to start to approach you from across the room – fascinating, especially as close up it remains subtle and delicate, almost a little introvert, but almost more luxuriantly beautiful for that sense of intimacy. It has that wonderful hint of austerity that is the mark of true greatness. A glorious wine, the best I have ever tasted from here and a wine that touches me emotionally such that I can neither talk nor write. My initial notes are all over the place – words typed quickly, reflecting my enthusiasm and haste to capture every essence while it is most fresh and present. The result is a profusion of incoherent babble (even more than usual)! Amongst all that a few things are clear. First, the sublime cedar and graphite notes that so graciously enrobe the dark berry fruit. Second, and strangely perhaps, I am powerfully reminded of the 2001, with the Cabernet Franc so eloquent and essential. This is glorious, sublime, ethereal. It is sutbely austere as it feels it should be but bright and fresh and lifted and so natural. It is intensely floral. Violets. Peonies. Elderflower. A little pink rose petal.. And then we have the fruit. Cassis and blackcurrant leaf; a touch of cherry skin. Blood orange too. There’s a little Szechuan green peppercorn. And, rest assured, it is incredibly textured in the mouth. Just glorious. This again touches me emotionally. Goosepimples. A tear in the corner of my eye. It is cool, fresh, so soft, incredibly precise and fabulously pixilated. It has everything but not too much of anything. So tender, so lithe, so limpid, so delicate and so translucent but so long, so layered and so gracious. So juicy; so refreshing. Wow. 98-100.


  • Bélair-Monange 2022 (St Emilion; 98% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Franc; from 26 hectares on astéries limestone on the plateau and blue clay over limestone on the slopes; tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). It is the cedar and graphite that one senses first, before the black cherries and dark briary autumnal fruit, wild heather and herbs. The violets come next. A lovely pronounced chalky minerality too has you anticipating the granularity of the tannins and the saline touch on the finish. Little hedgerow flowers and blossoms of a variety of kinds, blood orange, orange blossom too. Walnut shell. Almond and frangipane. This is very complex and ultra-harmonious. It’s powerful too, but nicely disguised. It is cool at the core and very finely chiselled by the pixilating limestone tannins – between the layers and vertically too – a little like the limestone cellar below the new wine-making facility. Very much in touch with its terroir and feeling like it is drawn directly from it. Superb. Ethereal on the finish with a touch of fleur de sel sustained all the way to the horizon. The wine of the Moueix tasting for me in this vintage. A triumph for St Emilion! 96-98.


  • Bellefont Belcier 2022 (St Emilion; 72% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 5% Petit Verdot; pH 3.6; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault and again from the property; from the final assemblage). Brilliantly crystalline and with a highly expressive nose – this is fabulous. Black currant and bramble crushed and concentrated, but also with a subtle freshness from the redcurrant and blackcurrant leaf notes, some black cherry skin, damson and sloe, mulberries too. Engagingly floral, with a little lilac and peony. Graphite and a faint hint of cedar – almost imperceptible until you lock in on it. This has incredibly satinous tannins, super softly enrobing the generous plump crunchy fruit and an impressively dense but succulent and opulent mid palate. So juicy too. The wine we’ve been anticipating from Bellefont Belcier. A hint of fresh liquorice root on the finish and crushed aromatic peppercorns. The best ever from here and a sharp ascent. I simply love the cedar and violet notes on the finish. 95-97+.


  • Berliquet 2022 (St Emilion; 65% Merlot; 35% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.55; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting and then at Canon; in organic conversion as at Canon; aging for 16 months in oak, 44% of which is new). With cool, plunge-pool refinement, this is exquisite and the best I’ve tasted from this property now on a rapid ascent towards the stars. Very floral, but more lilac and violet to the peonies of Canon (tasted alongside). Subtle hints of cedar supports the perfectly plump, juice-filled, pulpy berry fruit, with black cherry and blackcurrant and then the floral elements (lilac and violet) adding to the layered complexity. This feels cooler still and even fresher than Canon, though the fruit is just a shade lighter in hue. Gorgeous and profound. So softly textured with diaphanous calcaire tannins so wondrously outlining, like a draftsman, the structure of this glorious wine. There is fabulous freshness on the finish. This comes close to Canon now in quality and it’s really more a question of the fruit profile one prefers. 95-97+.


  • Cadet Bon 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot;20% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Lovely violet and lilac florality on the lifted, quite gracious and expressive nose, nicely intermingling with the black cherry fruit. There’s just a hint of grated black chocolate too. Soft, gently caressing, svelte, plump and pulpy. Just delightful; almost cuddly. 92-94.


  • Calicem 2022 (St Emilion; 100% Merlot; a final yield of c. 30 hl/ha from vines of around 60 years of age; pH 3.60; 14.7% alcohol; Thomas Duclos consults here). More limpid in the glass than Couvent des Jacobins (tasted alongside), this is glossily textured, quite viscous and it glistens enticingly in the sunlight. It exudes a lovely gracious harmony. This is refined and a little restrained at first but in a lovely subtle way. It is quite intimate and somehow feels like a tiny production wine (one has the sensation of sharing a secret). Blueberries and bilberries, red and black cherries (more of the latter as it breathes in the air and exhales), fruits of the forest, walnut oil and a little wild thyme. There’s an engaging very natural sweetness, all in harmony and nothing too much. It also has the most incredible texture – ample but it’s breadth is difficult to appreciate at first at the tannins are so soft, incredibly layered and dense but also so sapid and juicy and fresh and crystalline. I love the saline minerality and the fabulous grip just before the fantail that forms the long and tapering finish. Long and perfectly balanced – just the grape skins left in the mouth like an apparition. The best yet from here – though there is more to come. 94-96.


  • Canon 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 45 hl/ha; pH 3.5; 14.5% alcohol; aging for 18 months in oak barrels, 50% of which are new; tasted at the UGC press tasting and then at the property where it was presented before Berliquet for the first time). Bigger, more ample and richer that Berliquet but with precisely the same sense of refinement – if maybe even more layering and delineation. A continuation of the vein of fabulous recent form from Canon. Limpid, lithe and translucent. One hones in on the graphite first, with the cedar building with aeration. A lovely dark briary fruit, above all mulberries and finger-staining brambles. Very glossy and refined texturally with a mirror pool mid-palate and that lovely cedar element so archetypical of this wine. So gracious, so elegant, so finely pixilated and so utterly harmonious, a very special wine in this vintage (as in 2019 and 2020 before). The Cabernet Franc is again fabulously fresh and it brings brilliant under-currents to the wine. Like so many of the greats, the power is almost difficult to discern and is so finely disguised in silk. Exquisite. Peonies emerge with aeration in the glass and they are there again in the empty glass. The finish is just incredibly beautiful. Cool and fresh with all the freshness coming from the juice and not from the menthol notes. 96-98.


  • Canon La Gaffelière 2022 (St Emilion; 50% Merlot; 35% Cabernet Franc; 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 47 hl/ha; 14.2% alcohol; not presented at the UGC press tasting and tasted at the property). Cedar, violets and lilacs, black cherry, mulberry, bilberry. The old-vine Cabernet here is glorious. One seems to taste the quality of the vineyard management in the health of the plump, plush, crunchy berry fruit. This is intense, crystalline and pure and yet deep, dark, rich, multi-layered and finely detailed. Precise, focussed, chiselled and so very fresh and sapid. A truly excellent wine that works for me on every level. 94-96+.


  • Cap de Mourlin 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at the UGC press tasting at Dassault). Very soft on the entry and with ultra-fine-grained tannins at first. They turn a little dryer and more abrasive on the finish, however. Pure-fruited – a little black and red cherry and brambles too. This lacks the complexity of the real stars, but is very fine and certainly well-made. 91-93.


  • Carillon d’Angélus 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; tasted at Angélus). More profound, more wild and heathery than No. 3. This has a very pure dark berry and stone fruit. It also has much of the textural finesse and gossamer tannins of the grand vin. There is excellent oak integration and this is glossy, luminous, translucent and crystalline in and through the well-structured and nicely detailed mid-palate. A lovely hint of walnut and also graphite, with just a suggestion of cedar too. There’s a pleasing freshness to this reinforced by the slight hint of leafiness and the green herbal note that comes from the Cabernet Franc. Great purity and yet impressive complexity too for a second label. 92-94.


  • Chapelle d’Ausone 2022 (St Emilion; 60% Cabernet Franc; 35% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon). Just wow. This is more taut, tense and tightly structured than La Clotte and its minerality is more saline too. The Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are wondrously soft and the tannic frame they help to build binds the fruit more tightly to the spine, producing incredible density and purity. The mid-palage is packed with plump ripe berries, and crunchy black cherries. A little blackcurrant leafiness brings further coolness and eddies of additional sapidity to the already fresh fruit. I’m deeply impressed by this and we haven’t got to Ausone itself yet! 95-97.


  • Le Châtelet 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). A very pure raspberry fruit with generous graphite and cedar. Fresh and cool, with lots of menthol notes even in the mid-palate, but it’s as if the freshness comes from that rather than the fruit per se. The tannins I find shade a little towards the dry side by the finish. 90-92.


  • Chauvin 2022 (St Emilion; 78% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; 4% Cabernet Sauvignon; from a vineyard of 17.5 hectares between Cheval Blanc and la Butte de Roi on the Pomerol border and on a terroir of sandy-clay over crasse de fer; aging in oak barrels, 50% of which are new). Tasted three times, gaining in volume in the mouth each time, first at the property, then from a négociant sample and, the last time, at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault (where I nudged up my rating). Almost black at the core. Purple-black highlights and a radiant shocking pink rim. Very pure with crushed berry fruit notes prominent – bramble, blackberry and cassis, a little black cherry, pomegranate too. There’s a gorgeous purity about this straight from the attack. Compact, tight, very linear and bright yet elegant. I love the graphite-encrusted dark cylindrical core. This feels lively and very natural. As good as the excellent 2020. 92-94+.


  • Cheval Blanc 2022 (St Emilion; 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon; there is no Petit Cheval in this vintage; 41 of the 43 parcels in production were used in the final blend). Fabulously elegant with quite a tight and narrow frame, so no great amplitude and that just intensifies the sense of freshness and the density and compactness. This is so very Cheval. Graphite rods and cedar and the most gracious Cabernet notes – those leafy, herbal, floral undercurrents that wells up from the bottom of the palate, bringing tension, detail and fascinating textural dynamism. Wow. This texturally sublime – what a mouthfeel! So cool; so intensely cool; it is like diving into the deepest plunge-pool. So enervating, so refreshing, so sensorily-dynamising. But it is also opulent in its concentrated purity and it is perhaps the most finely pixilated wine of the vintage at this stage (accentuated again by the narrow frame and the additional concentration and compactness that comes from that). A wine of perfect balance and perfect harmony. Magical, yet with nothing out of place, nothing overstated. Indeed, it has that slight touch of austerity that is so rare in this vintage. Another tear in the corner of my eye – Cheval Blanc has done that to me before. Such levity. 98-100.


  • Clos des Abesses 2022 (St Emilion). Smokey. A hint of vanilla and oak at first but only in passing and actually very little oak influence on the palate. Dark berry fruit. Very chiselled on the palate with a small diameter cylindrical core – but no great concentration. Fresh and pure. Simple, unpretentious, if a little monotonic.


  • Clos Cantenac 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; 14% alcohol). Red berry fruits – raspberry, even a little strawberry – accompany the plum skin and mulberry fruit. Crystalline, lightly extracted and nicely balanced, with great intensity and purity of fruit even if there is no great concentration in the mid-palate. The tannins are fine grained and help build an impressively well-sustained and balanced finish. Nicely done. 91-93.


  • Clos Dubreuil 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; alcohol; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). I taste this with a certain sadness. It was made, of course, by the talented Benoit Trocard whose crowning achievement it is to have taken Clos Dubreuil to its well-merited place in the St Emilion classification. Slightly reductive at first (but not when re-tasted at Dassault). Big, punchy, opulent, svelte, supple (if not exactly subtle), dense, compact, broad-shouldered, layered and finely detailed. It is also very fine and very long. Lots of cedar and a gentle violet florality when re-tasted that I did not find at first. I find the tannins just a little dry on the finish. But this is a wine that screams its identity from the glass and that will bring a smile to the faces of those who have enjoyed and followed the evolution of this once tiny property to where it is today. 92-94.


  • Clos Fourtet 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Sauvignon; 3% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 36 hl/ha; pH 3.54; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting and then at Clos Fourtet). The first sample was a little reductive; the second, not at all. There’s a lovely dark stone-fruitedness at the core of this – black cherry and sloe jam, maybe a little blueberry too – and those classic Clos Fourtet cedary elements. On the palate the fruit is so softly coated in the finest polished calcaire Here it reveals a still more complex fruit profile of both red and darker berries and assorted stone fruits, including damsons and, again, blueberries. With air in the mid-palate a lovely pure fresh croquant raspberry fruit lifts this further as does the cassis fruit and, finally, its leafiness. There’s fennel seed and a little walnut shell too. A wine of incredible finesse. Quite saline, a little hint of liquorice root. A gorgeous finale that is incredibly fresh and palpably cool, thoroughly refreshing and sapid and with a brilliant fantail finish. What succulence in the mid-palate. Wonderful. 96-98+.


  • Clos La Gaffeliere 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 43 hl/ha; pH 3.5; 14.8% alcohol; tasted at La Gaffelière). Very limpid in the glass with a lovely lilac rim. This is not really a second wine in the conventional sense, coming as it does from separate parcels vinified in a separate chai. But is recognisably of La Gaffelière with that lovely crystalline signature and finessed tannins. Pure dark berry fruited with a little cherry and cedar, with aeration. This has a narrow frame, is not overly dense, but beautifully compact and stylish. A lovely introduction to the range. Great balance and precision. A little almond oil. Very impressive. Plush and sleek. 91-93.


  • Clos des Jacobins 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). An impressive wine, probably the best I’ve tasted from here. Like La Commanderie this is all about fruit purity and intensity. A subtle rose-petal florality accompanies the fruits of the forest and black stone fruit notes, with a little suggestion of toasted patisserie. Full, rich, plump and very sapid and juicy, with considerable mid-palate density and a nice sense of layering. Long and lingering but also fresh and clean and precise and focused. Very impressive, with excellent aging potential and refined tannins. Frankly, you just want to drink this. 92-94.


  • Clos de L’Oratoire 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 47 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; certified organic; tasted with Stephan von Neipperg at Canon La Gaffelière). Fabulous. Very fresh and juicy, yet deep, dark and concentrated – mulberry, blackberry, lovely cassis and a little blueberry. There’s impressive intensity here. The Cabernet Franc represents a higher proportion of the blend than usual and brings additional freshness, complexity and character. There’s great density too. The best ever from here. Long and sapid with fine-grained but chewy tannins. 92-94.


  • Clos de Sarpe 2022 (St Emilion; 78% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 2% Petit Verdot; alcohol; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Dark, slightly wild and with a very natural, primarily briary, fruit profile. A hint of heather flowers continues the slightly wild and very natural impression. There are pink roses petals and peonies too, more so with gentle swirling, and a little cedar and incense (more on the palate than the nose). A vibrant freshness is perfectly integrated into the structure of the wine. This is tense and energetic with super-svelte tannins and miraculous density and concentration for a wine that is quite so ample on the attack and with such a velvety mouthfeel. The tannins gain in granularity towards the finish but never quite become dry. A wine that has gained in finesse, subtlety and elegance in recent vintages. I find myself ever more convinced. 93-95.


  • Clos St Julien 2022 (St Emilion; 50% Merlot; 50% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Reductive at first on the nose but that passes very quickly. Quite saline, with a certain ferrous character to the minerality too. Red and darker berry fruit; glossily textured but maybe lacking the delineation of the very best. Sapid on the finish, the tannins remaining nicely coated by the fruit. 91-93.


  • Clos St Martin 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at the property in late March with Sophie Fourcade at the end of a fabulous vertical; then at l’Association des grands crus classés de St Emilion at Dassault). A wine that merely demonstrates what we already know – the clear premier grand cru classé potential of this fabulous property and its terroir. This is extremely elegant, refined and gracious for an en primeur Dark briary fruits with a little black cherry at first and then more and more red berry fruits and their plump, juicy sapid freshness. There’s a very different kind of florality here too – fresh and crushed and confit rose petals – and all gently supported by the toasted brioche notes from the oak. Very dark fruited, like the 2020, but with even more crunchy fruit. Walnuts and almond shell notes too – this quite nutty from the ripe pip tannins. There’s a lovely graphite note too and, with time, cedar. Above all, one can sense the freshness of the cooler nights. A considerable wine but with wonderful freshness and incredible tension. Fabulous. Brilliant tension. So long and racy. 96-98.


  • La Clotte 2022 (St Emilion; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; tasted at Ausone). This is fabulous as it so often is. Black cherry and plump rich dark berry fruit – blueberries, mulberries, brambles. There’s so much cedar here too and so much vertical lift. Sumptuous, opulent and gracious. Texturally fabulous with a broad and quite massive frame and yet so much density and concentration too. La Clotte in 2022 is a wine of purity and precision more than complexity per se but it’s incredible to achieve such crystallinity in a wine so dense. It is also very long on the finish, with a gentle taper all the way to the vanishing point on the distant horizon. Power in finesse. A monster in silk pyjamas; an elephant in a duck-down duvet. 96-98.


  • La Commanderie 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Dusty earthy notes combine with the black and green peppercorns, gentle sweet spices and pulpy plum, damson and mulberry fruit. Intensely sapid and extremely juicy in its freshness, there’s a well-defined and quite dense mid-palate here, less oak than I have found here in the past and a long tapering and cool menthol finish. Nicely done. 90-92.


  • La Confession 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 30% Bouchet; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Purer, less oaky and lovely in this vintage, if a little restrained at first aromatically – subtle cedary notes slowly emerging to support the fruit; super-svelte tannins; a narrow frame density packed with bright, fresh, sapid juicy blackberry, blueberry and mulberry fruit. Crystalline. Not massive, and almost delicate but very refined. Quite restrained. Lovely. 92-94.


  • Cote de Baleau 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.61; 14.5% alcohol; tasted three times, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault, the third at Clos Fourtet). Fine, but tasted at Dassault just after Clos St Martin this is clearly not quite at the same level (but then, what is?). Plush, plump, ample and nicely filled with fresh red and black berry fruit juice – more red berry fruit (raspberry), in fact, than many of the other grands crus classés. This is sapid, very juicy, very fresh and refreshing. But it lacks a little delineation and is shorter on the finish than most of its ostensible peers. Good easy drinking and accessible young. 90-92.


  • La Couspaude 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault, the first at the UGC press tasting). Reductive at first on both occasions, but that quickly yields, releasing the lovely cedar-enwrapped dark cherry and berry fruit. Cool and radiant too, with lots of energy and dynamism in the juicy, vibrant, racy mid-palate. The fruit feels just a little baked in comparison with others, but it’s sapid and juicy and the tannins are elegant and refined. 91-93.


  • Couvent des Jacobins 2022 (St Emilion; 82% Merlot; 14% Cabernet Franc; 4% Petit Verdot; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; aged in oak barrels, 45% of which are new, as in 2009, 2010 and 2015; pH 3.65; 14.4% alcohol; Thomas Duclos is the consultant here; certified organic; tasted two times, the first at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault, the second at the property). This includes relatively young Cabernet Franc from the plateau for only the second time and it shines alongside the old-vine Merlot and the Petit Verdot. Very pure dark berry fruit – blackberry, wild blueberry and blackcurrant – with a touch of fresher raspberry and loganberry. We also find walnut shell, blackcurrant leaf and a little violet. Gorgeous cedar highlights are released with gentle aeration or simple time in the glass. Clearly the best ever from here. It has a pleasing sense of austerity and lots of personality, with the Petit Verdot and the young vine Cabernet Franc bringing to this, respectively, a distinct green Szechuan pepperiness and a cassis leafiness that together accentuate the freshness, lift and energy. This is more layered and complex than it used to be (and than many of its ostensible peers), the fine-grained tannins providing pixilation in two-dimensions – between the layers of the milles feuilles and along the strata. A lovely ‘limestone’ tannic grip halts the crystallinity of the first part, pinching the palate and releasing waves of sapid juicy fruit. Linear, pure, precise and chiselled, this is by some distance the best I’ve tasted from Couvent. A property to watch as it seems to be finding its sweet-spot. 93-95.


  • Croix de Labrie 2022 (St Emilion; 84% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 6% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 35 hl/ha; pH 3.44; aging in a combination of oak barrels with some larger format oak and even foudres; 14.5% alcohol; tasted three times, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault and then again with Pierre Courdurié at the property). It’s the work in the vineyard that is so crucial to the quality of the wine here – perhaps the healthiest looking vineyard in the region and you taste it. Black cherry, bramble, blackberry and blueberry – all incredibly pure – and those lovely subtle violet hints. There’s lots of graphite, a little walnut shell, a lovely leafy cassis note, black peppercorns, Szechuan peppercorns and a fresh grating of expensive dark chocolate; a touch of patchouli and incense too. This exudes class and quality and richly deserves its new place amongst the grands crus classés on this (and, indeed, all recent) showing(s). Above all, a wine that sings of the health of its vineyard. It builds and builds and builds in the glass with incredibly purity and a shimmering bright crystalline fruit – as much blackcurrant now as black cherry. And the finish is incredible – so pure and clean and fresh and tapering all the way to the distant horizon. It leaves just a lovely cherry skin taste and texture (the finest hint of the finest tannins) and a delicate note of lilac and violet. A wine of great poise, balance and harmony – it just feels so natural, so energetic, so vivid. 96-98.


  • La Croizille 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Newly classified. Quite woody and a little reductive on the nose. Incense, cloves, nutmeg, a bright red and darker berry fruit, a little damson and red cherry too. Tight, taut, with a narrow frame and impressive fruit intensity. The oak is far less present on the palate and this is lively, fresh and juicy. The oak beds in on the nose too with aeration. Impressive. A little like Le Prieuré in style, though the tannins shade towards the dry side on the finish. 91-93+.


  • Dame de Trottevielle 2022 (St Emilion 55% Merlot; 45% Cabernet Franc; tasted at Trottevieille). Fine and well-made. An easy and accomplished second wine, with a very pleasing Cabernet Franc character that sets it apart a little. Limpid and fresh. Not massive but good choices have been made here. A super introduction to the grand vin with the vinous, fresh and leafy Cabernet Franc fruit much in evidence. A little sucrosity aids the accessibility. 89-91.


  • Dassault 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted first at the UGC press tasting and then at l’Association des Grands Crus de St Emilion). The first vintage after the integration of the parcels from Faurie de Souchard (or its more limestone terroir), changing somewhat the presentation of the tannins. Limpid and glossy, with plenty of viscosity and with lovely crimson and violet highlights in the glass. Enticing. Subtle, and delicate at first on the nose, with cedar and then a gorgeous dark black cherry fruit which builds and builds graciously in the glass (with or without swirling). Seductive, succulent and svelte on the entry, with ultra-fine grained tannins at first imperceptible but then slowly outlining the contours of the beautifully framed and shaped mid-palate. I love the rolling, rippling, salivating juiciness of this and the salinity too. Fabulous. Another ‘best ever’ showing from here. 93-95+.


  • Destieux 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Slightly reductive. A mix of red and, primarily, black stone fruit. Crumbly tannins, a little more coarse-grained than many and shading a little towards the dry side on the finish. The oak is more restrained than it used to be which I appreciate. Fine, supple and well-made but lacking a little in mid-palate detail and delineation. 91-93.


  • Le Dôme 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Cabernet Franc; 20% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.72; 15.1% alcohol). Quite high in alcohol for a wine that is 80% Cabernet France and the wood, perhaps partly as a consequence, is more obvious than for Les Astéries. But that is, as it always has been, part of the identity of this wine. But, hang on a second … for, with air, those lovely gracious plump and pulpy blueberries and juice-filled black cherries peak through the spice, the vanilla pod and the brioche and just grow and grow in amplitude. Then we get the violets and by now the oak has been firmly put in its place. So, give this a moment or two for the magic to be performed and the pieces starts to slot into place. Lots of natural sucrosity on the palate, incredible breadth and depth and then all that glorious herbal, almost leafy, Cabernet freshness – menthol, blackcurrant and blueberry leaf, wild herbs, thyme, rosemary and lavender. That brings the freshness this needs. The finish is sweet yet sapid. Overall, this is predictably big and yet very classy, with lovely tension. It’s better for the presence of the Merlot, but the Cabernet makes it. 94-96.


  • La Dominique 2022 (St Emilion; tasted in Bordeaux and then a second time at the UGC press tasting). This has a lovely glossy sheen to it and remains limpid and translucent despite the dark violet/purple core. Crimson highlights. A beautifully refined and elegant nose reminding one of its august neighbours, with a delicate florality lifting the red and darker berry fruit. Vibrant and energetic on the palate, the fruit stretching itself out along the palate as well as into the cheeks. Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, any berry you care to name, but in such finely pixilated detail, the work of the soft, fine-grained tannins. The best ever from here, surely. 92-94.


  • L’Etampe 2022 (St Emilion; tasted in Bordeaux). Earthier and a little richer and more profound than Fontfleurie, the fruit a shade darker and the fresh minty finish a little fresher and a little mintier. This is, as ever, very chiselled, very pure, very precise and focused with rapier-like precision. It is not big or opulent or rich or especially concentrated but that’s it charm and its identity. A wine of delicacy, moderation, refinement and finesse. Above all, a wine you want to drink. 91-93.


  • Faugères 2022 (St Emilion; tasted in Bordeaux and re-tasted at Ripeau, rather more refined the second time). Big, bold, charged with fresh fruit, the first time with lots of ferrous minerality but much less the second time. A combination of fresh and baked plum, brambles and mulberries. Generously spiced, as ever, with lovely crushed peppercorns notes. The first sample was difficult to assess as it was very reductive; the second is shimmering, bright and energetic. It’s like tasting a different wine. Fresh, cool and sapid on the finish – the freshness from the fruit not the menthol notes of some. 91-93.


  • De Ferrand 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 29% Cabernet Franc; 1% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Very much a calcaire plateau wine, with reassuringly crumbly and then chewy tannins which never hint at dryness. Red and darker berry fruits; a little cedar, a little red cherry, a hint of patisserie. Sculpted and chiselled but also with a radiantly pure crunchy berry fruit that is oh so juicy. Quite distinctive actually in its freshness, its sapidity and the granularity of its tannins. It may not be the most refined or elegant, but it is authentically expressive of its terroir and rather fabulous for that. 92-94.


  • Figeac 2022 (St Emilion; 35% Merlot; 34% Cabernet Franc; 31% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH 3.7; 14% alcohol; tasted at the property). It is so exciting to taste this, the first vintage of Figeac as premier grand cru classé A. One could not have higher expectations and they are all exceeded. This is truly resplendent. It is gentle, so gentle; gracious, so gracious and all in complete harmony. It is limpid in glass, crystalline and glossy in texture. What is perhaps initially most striking is the cool, almost Médocain, Cabernet purity and elegance that is so emblematic of this vintage. We have white flowers, saffron, jasmine and amazing fruit complexity – first black cherry, red cherry, blueberry, cassis, redcurrant. Aeration in the mouth reveals loganberry, raspberry, blackberry, bramble and the intense sapid juiciness of each. The tannins are gloriously refined too, absolutely at the level of Cheval Blanc. And this is brilliantly fresh. Vibrant and so vivid. I’ve never tasted a more complete wine from Figeac and the quality of the tannins is at a new level for me. It is so fitting that everything comes together in this vintage. The best ever from here I am sure and how pleasing it feels to write that. 98-100.


  • Fleur Cardinale 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 38 hl/ha; pH 3/68; 14.8% alcohol). Very impressive even in the context of this great St Emilion vintage and probably the best I’ve tasted from here. A beautifully constructed and highly aromatically expressive entry – with crushed rosemary and lavender and fresh violet enrobing the dark berry and stone fruit. A little green tea too. Gracious on the entry, with more aeration (in the glass or the mouth) releasing lovely shades of graphite and, above all, cedar. Cool, sophisticated, elegant, refined and very fresh on the long, juicy, energetic finish. Really excellent. 93-95.


  • Fleur de Lisse 2022 (St Emilion). As it has the habit of being, very much the star in 2022 of the Vignobles Jade trio. Here the aromatics are much more complex, with glorious and evident cedar notes accompanying the panoply of red and darker berry and stone fruits. There’s a lovely, gracious natural sapid sweetness here too and that brings great energy to the crystalline mid-palate. Excellent. A wine of finesse and elegance rather than power and concentration but a brilliant example of what that style is capable of achieving. Very long. 92-94+.


  • La Fleur Morange 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Fine. Plump and pulpy bright red and darker berry and cherry fruit, a little oak still to incorporate on the nose. The tannins and acidity slightly destabilise this, but the core of fresh fruit is juicy and sapid. Not as long as many, nor quite as delineated or well-defined, but I like the vibrant mid-palate. Just shades towards the dry side on the finish. 90-92.


  • Fombrauge 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Rich, deep, dark, plump and full with great amplitude and impressive concentration. Black cherry and bramble fruit, a little brioche and oak smoke. Not as much delineation as some but lots of fresh and sapid juiciness towards the finish. Well-made and a success for the vintage. 91-93.


  • De Fonbel 2022 (St Emilion). After Haut Simard, this is a little ferrous, the fruit perhaps a little blitzed and blended. Full, plush and plump with lots of crushed berry and stone fruit. Layered, if again a little blended and lacking mid-palate clarity and delineation. Ample, with fine-grained and quite gracious tannins. Long on the finish if not the most elegant. 91-93.


  • Fontfleurie 2022 (St Emilion). Pure, bright, fresh berry fruited – raspberries and a little red cherry, a touch of redcurrant. Very fine grained tannins. Beautifully made, highly accessible and impressively layered and lengthy if lacking the complexity of its siblings. 90-92.


  • Fonplégade 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Gorgeous and rather different. There’s more red berry fruit here – raspberry, loganberry and then a little mulberry and blueberry and less (but still some) of the now more familiar black cherries of the vintage. The tannins are exceptionally fine, producing that mysterious and wonderful plunge-pool cool mouthfeel. A wine that is so authentically and integrally juicy and fresh with that vivid, vibrant ‘biodynamic’ thing (you really can taste it – or at least you can here). Incredibly bright and energetic and with a fabulous signature of its exceptional terroir. A wine that just gets better and better with each vintage. 93-95+.


  • Fonroque 2022 (St Emilion; 76% Merlot; 24% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Gosh, this is great too (tasted just after Fonplégade and there are certain similarities). Crushed pure raspberry and a little red cherry, then black cherry with more air – all hyper-concentrated and intense and, like Fonplégade, with all that juicy, sapid, energy and vitality that comes from the biodiversity and the almost tangible health of the vineyard. I’ve been watching the ascent here in recent years. This is a culmination. Bravo. 93-95.


  • Franc Bigaroux 2022 (St Emilion). Cassis and black cherry, some damson, a little wood smoke. A nice creaminess at first and good tension too, but the tannins are slightly aggressive and shade towards dryness on the finish. Pure and well-constructed, however, it does not have the complexity nor the refinement of the stars of the appellation.


  • Franc Mayne 2022 (St Emilion; 100% Merlot; from a vineyard of 5.68 hectares; a final yield of 37 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted a second time at the UGC press tasting). Gracious, with a gentle subtle florality – peonies and lilac – accompanying the graphite-enrobed red and darker stone and berry fruit. A hint of heather, gorse and wild herbs and a slight earthiness too. On the palate this has a lovely but very natural sucrosity from the ripe cherry and bramble fruit (the Merlot signature), soft and supple tannins, a well-defined core and spine and a refined, slowly tapering finish. This exudes harmony and equilibrium. 92-94+.


  • Franc la Rose 2022 (St Emilion; 75/25; from Benoit Trocard; 14.5% alcohol). A fascinating nose of baked and fresh stone fruit accompanied by curry spices – cumin, coriander, curry leaf – as well as assorted cracked peppercorns and a sweeter note of saffron. On the palate this has a bright fresh crunchy red berry fruit, a little plum and cherry skin and quite noticeable but fine-grained chewy tannins. Rather lovely and a little different. 90-92.


  • La Gaffelière 2022 (St Emilion; 60% Merlot; 40% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; pH 3.55; 15.1% alcohol; tasted at the property early, then a month later at the UGC press tasting and again at the property). Gorgeous. Cedar and graphite generously enrobe the mulberry, loganberry and bramble fruit, a little black cherry too which builds with aeration, and there’s violet and subtle hints of lavender too. A little white pepper. Lots of forward momentum and a brilliant bright and fresh mid-palate shading the fruit profile towards the red and imparting even more energy. An almost delicate finish, with lovely freshness maintained all the way to the vanishing point on the horizon. Incredibly sapid on the finish, so refreshing and mouth cleansing. A little fleur de sel just on the finish. A great wine. Sleak, stylish, silkily textured. Long. Classy, if alas no longer classified. 95-97.


  • Grace Dieu des Prieurs 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 40 hl/ha from its 6 hectares on sand and clay; aged in 100% new Radoux Super Fine Blend barrels; 15% alcohol). Dark crimson at the core with a vibrant punk pink/lilac rim – almost fluorescent. Distinctive on the nose, with a subtle but discernible Mitjavile signature – in fact rather more than either the 2020 (at 13.5%) or 2021, because of the higher alcohol which takes more from the barrique. Cedar, acacia wood, coconut, dried rose petals, saffron, even mimosa, clove and incense accompany and wrap themselves around the combination of dark and red berry, forest and farm, fruit, red and darker cherries and a little plum skin. Sweet on the palate and very finely layered – this builds in the mouth vertically as much as horizontally. There’s a lovely earthy undertone and a complex minerality which is both saline but also just a little ferrous. Very long and very broad on the finish – a wine that just builds and builds with aeration. Lots of personality and identity. Sapid and juicy too. Impressive and distinctive – I can imagine this not being to everyone’s taste and the graininess of the tannins is reinforced by the suggestion of oak tannin but that will dissipate. 93-95.


  • Grand Barrail La Marzelle Figeac 2022 (St Emilion). A big wine in this vintage but with polished berry fruit – a mix of red and black. This is punchy though with ultimately quite fine-grained yet grippy tannins. Subtle spicing, but another St Emilion in 2022 that is all about the almost crunchy fruit. Purity and focus rather more than complexity, even if there is a little layering with the tannins revealing if not the milles feuilles then perhaps the cents feuilles! Juicy and plump on the finish. I like the energy here. 91-93.


  • Grand Corbin 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc; 4% Cabernet Sauvignon). It’s good to see the development here. A bigger wine than it used to be but also one with more delicate and more finely-grained tannins and a significantly more compact and dense mid-palate. It is also broader-framed, more detailed, layered and altogether more profound. Intense dark berry fruit as if crushed in a mortar. A little more oak too – revealed in the toasted croissant note. Cool minty freshness on the finish reinforcing the sapidity. 91-93.


  • Grand Corbin Despagne 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 24% Cabernet Franc; 1% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Gracious, I love the slightly wild heathery herbal note alongside the dark berry fruit. This feels fresh even on the nose … and in the mouth it is incredibly juicy and sapid, gosh yes! Plunge-pool clarity on the attack with lovely salinity and sapidity working together and those incredibly svelte fine-grained tannins. There’s massive concentration here but a lovely tight and narrow frame, achieving great intensity. A superb expression of the vineyard, terroir and vintage. 94-96.


  • Grand Mayne 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; 40 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Cedar, expensive vanilla, a little toasted brioche and plums, damsons and black cherries – a heady cocktail. Soft and deep and rather luscious on the entry, the tannins gaining a hold and then building in granularity over the palate like a sculptor crafting the stone. A little more oak than many, but it subtly supports the fruit and the florality. Likely to represent excellent value. 92-94.


  • Haut Brisson 2022 (St Emilion; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.60; 14.5% alcohol). Pure. Fresh. Croquant. Bright. Crystalline. Limpid. Not especially complex but very well made. Dark fresh berries and a little stone fruit, all graphite-encrusted. Very juicy. Excellent considering where it is and its likely price point. A touch of liquorice root on the finish. 91-93.


  • Haut Simard 2022 (St Emilion, 70% Cabernet Franc; 30% Merlot; presented after de Fonbel at Ausone). This has more vertical lift than de Fonbel. Gracious and more opulent that Simard. The lovely cedary notes add complexity and graphite enrobes the bramble and mulberry fruit with a little damson too. A touch of black cherry. Deeply impressive and a big step up from de Fonbel and Simard. Much more elegance and the same gracious tannins; and there’s no ferrous note. A lovely leafiness from the Cabernet Franc. A brilliant wine. So sleek but over a very broad frame. Utterly graceful. Violets on the finish. The best everfrom here by some distance! 93-95.


  • Haut Sarpe 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Different. Very fresh. Almost a little vegetal, wild and green, quite vivid and ultra-fresh, the fruit is dark berry and only just ‘a point’. I like the hint of spring flowers. The tannins are soft and the frame slight, giving added intensity. Very pure. Not quite what I was expecting, but I rather like its singularity. 91-93.


  • Héritage de Monlot 2022 (St Emilion; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; tasted at the property). Bright, fresh, briary, aromatically very expressive and open. This gives the impression immediately of opulence and richness. Dark black fruit – black berry and bramble and a little warm spice. Creamily textured. Refined, with a nice trace of grippy tannins. Svelte but also very sapid, limpid, pure and precise. 90-92.


  • L’If 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 50% selected for the grand vin; pH 3.52; 14.3% alcohol; tasted at the Le Pin before the annual Pomerol Gala dinner and then with Jacques and Diana at Le Pin a second time). Just glorious. The most beautiful nose perhaps of the entire appellation, all in refinement and harmony. The pinnacle to date in the relatively short history of this wonderful wine (2011 is the first vintage). Briary finger-staining fruit. Blueberries; brambles; blackcurrant; blackberry. A little black pepper – but very fine and subtle. There is incredible lift and I find this more expressive in its personality of the parcels on limestone than before. Indeed, this is the first time that the young Cabernet next to Puyblanquet is present in the blend. It is on relatively pure limestone and that really adds to the backbone and structural integrity around which the wine is built. So soft and incredibly complete. Cool too at its core. L’If in 2022 has a tight frame and that accentuates and reinforces the profound sense of intensity. In the mouth this is densely packed with inky dark fruits of the forest and wild blueberries and this has a wonderfully diaphanous and crystal clear mid-palate that I find incredibly beautiful. Sumptuous and with incredible texture; made like Le Pin but oh so different because of where it comes from. The finish seems eternal. 97-99.


  • Laforge 2022 (St Emilion; 92% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.73; 14.3% alcohol). Made very much in the same style as Teyssier, but with a little more oak influence, greater depth and complexity and a more pronounced ferrous minerality (the link to the château name is not just figurative). Rapier-like in its precision and with, again, a very well defined central spine over which the fruit is well distributed. Not especially complex but with great precision and the purity of fresh, crunchy raspberry and bramble fruit. 91-93.


  • Laniote 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Much more consistent with the wines around it than in 2020 or 2021. Plum, baked plum and blackberry fruit. Quite a lot of ferrous and saline minerality. Svelte at first but the tannins become increasingly coarse and burly. Unpretentious but lacking the refinement of many of its peers.


  • Larcis Ducasse 2022 (St Emilion; tasted twice, the second time at the UGC press tasting). Impressive. Intense, dense and compact, yet also fresh, bright, lifted and dominated by the fruit. Reductive at first, but that clears and then the plump black cherry notes emerge – and with them a subtle hint of violet. Gracious, harmonious, very elegant and refined despite the girth, breadth, power, richness and amplitude that one always associates with this fabulous and unique terroir on the côte Patie. In fact this is deceptive. There’s more depth and profundity here than it’s super-svelte tannins would lead one to believe. The IPT must be stratospheric but you have much less sense of that than usual. Fascinating and with a ovely, chewy grape-skin finish. 95-97.


  • Larmande 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at the UGC press tasting and then at l’AGGCSE at Dassault and then, a third time, at Ripeau). Gorgeously intense with an intense and compact blackcurrant fruit – in its purest and more perfectly ripe form – like a still life painting in pixilated perfection. Violet and black cherry; blackcurrant leaf too. Black pepper and Szechuan peppercorns – but just a touch. On the palate the same. Wondrous. Really exciting. You want to drink this – now! I love it. Best ever from here, with a very subtle use of the oak. Searingly and almost architecturally fresh (in that the acidity plays such a key role in the structure of the wine and its development over the palate). 94-96.


  • Laroque 2022 (St Emilion; 98% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 41 hl/ha; pH 3.55; tasted three times, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault, the third at the property with David Suire; 14.5% alcohol). The Merlot coped fabulously well with the hydric stress contributing to the higher yields. Incredible work in the vineyard was also crucial to the success of of this wine. Crushed fruits of the forest, black cherry, a little ripe plum, so pure and precise, so massively intense too; a little spiciness with a touch of cinnamon and a twist of white pepper; cedar; but also that fabulous slight leafiness that underscore the freshness of the fruit and hints at the sapidity to be found on the palate; a most subtle hint of brioche; little purple spring flowers as it opens in the glass; an almost velvety soft nose; cool; complex and subtly evolving as it slowly unfurls. This is both brilliantly bright and fragrant. Another wine that tastes and feels like it comes from a large format, such is the integrity of the tannins (a double magnum perhaps). Incredibly energetic and explosively expressive of the fruit. Raspberry, loganberry and bramble, blueberry to darken the fruit profile, a subtle hint of toasted brioche, green and rose peppercorns. A fabulous wine once again from David Suire, Laroque is, as ever, so lithe, so crystalline, so energetic and so dynamic on the palate. There’s a slight but delicate touch of salinity on the finish. The best I have tasted from here, which is saying quite a lot! A brilliant wine as it so often is nowadays with a personality and identity all of its own, but that sings so eloquently of its calcaire 96-98.


  • Laroze 2022 (St Emilion; 62% Merlot; 27% Cabernet Franc; 8% Cabernet Sauvignon; 3% Petit Verdot; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Plump, ripe, dark berry and cherry fruit. Ample on the attack and remaining broad-shouldered until the grainy tannins start to grip and pull this slowly back to the spine. Long and impressively substantial. Cool in the mid-palate (always a good thing). Definitely one of the better wines from this property in recent years, though not quite the finesse of the stars of the appellation (but that said, this is still very good – and I nudge up my rating on re-tasting). 92-94.


  • Lassègue 2022 (St Emilion; 65% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH 3.67; 14.5% alcohol). This is highly expressive aromatically with a touch of peony and lilac florality and a combination of fresh, bright dark berry and stone fruits, gently supported by the undemonstrative and quite subtle oak influence (which was more obvious for me in previous vintages). There’s impressive mid-palate density here and those lovely structuring calcaire tannins that work in combination with the acidity to pull the fruit over a well-defined central column. Bright, fresh and quite aerial. The steep upward progression at Lassègue in recent vintages is maintained here in a wine that seems to speak very eloquently of its impressive terroir. 92-94.


  • Mangot 2022 (St Emilion; 60% Merlot; 35% Cabernet Franc; 5% Caberner Sauvignon; tasted at Ripeau). Newly classified and deservedly so. Quite a bit of oak – toast, vanilla, coconut but a lovely rich and dark violet-lifted blueberry and mulberry fruit – very intense. Pure, precise, intense and densely concentrated and charged with fresh fruit juice. The frame is tightly structured, its parameters reined back and impressively delimited by the limestone tannins accentuating the feeling of concentration and intensity. Juicy. Very long. 92-94.


  • La Marzelle 2022 (St Emilion; tasted first at the property and then at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault with similar notes). Almost black in the glass, very pure and precise, nicely composed, cool and enticing, quite intimate and introvert. Very dark fruited, with intense cassis, concentrated bramble and a few plump mulberries thrown in for good measure. Super-fresh and with great clarity in the mid-palate. Walnut, graphite and a little cedar. On the palate, blueberry and mulberry, again, and bramble compote. Very intense with a very linear core – like a graphite rod – and juicy, svelte, ripe tannins. Long and linear but never foursquare as the fruit is so beautifully enveloped by the fine-grained lacy, silky tannins. Above all this feels very fresh and quite dynamic – one can sense the biodynamic viticulture. More like the 2020 than any other recent vintage but a step up in quality. A great success. 93-95.


  • Monbousquet 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.83; 14.3% alcohol; tasted at Pavie). I find this much improved. There’s less obvious oak and that gives this a more natural sense of balance. It is also more expressive of the vintage and feels much less like a brand wine, constant between vintages. Liquorice. Baked and fresh plum, black berries. Limpid in texture and quite tight framed. Yet sweet and sunny in its fruit profile (‘solaire’ as the French would say). And spicy as ever, with hoisin, star anise and Chinese five spice. Chewy, a little blended and lacking a little mid-palate delineation and a shade dry on the finish, but this represents a subtle change in direction and I like that. 90-92.


  • La Mondotte 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; final yield of a 45 hl/ha; 14% alcohol; certified organic; tasted at Canon La Gaffelière with Stephan von Neipperg). Saline. Pure. Concentrated. Graphite more than cedar, but both are present with a little aeration. Liquorice. Subtle floral notes. And an intense berry fruit – a basket of plump blueberries, raspberries and loganberries – with that lovely sapid berry freshness; wild heather, even heather flowers. Ample. Limpid. Crystalline. Pixilated. Very layered. This is powerful, but the puissance is beautifully disguised. Creamily textured, very svelte and refined. I actually find this more subtle than Canon La Gaffelière. Another truly fabulous wine from La Mondotte. 95-97.


  • Mondot 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; more a second label than a second wine, coming as it does predominantly from the unclassified parcels of the estate; tasted with Aymeric de Gironde at Troplong Mondot). Limpid and glossily-textured, quite viscous to the eye with a pronounced purple/pink rim. Graphite, a little cedar, red and black cherry, raspberries. There’s a dusty, baked path minerality and this is quite spicy too. A little touch of sage and oregano. A saline twist as well. On the palate, this is quite chiselled by the calcaire tannins, pulling the wine back to the spine. And its fresh and crumbly on the finish. Bright and crystalline and more complex than it used to be from the Cabernet which is incorporated for the first time. I love the raspberry and mulberry finish. 91-93.


  • Monlot 2022 (St Emilion; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; tasted at the property with the wine maker and estate manager; acquired in 2011). Creamily-textured. Plump, well-framed and quite broad-shouldered on the attack but not at all foursquare. Expressive aromatically, with crushed brambles, black berry and mulberry, a little cassis leaf. There’s a pleasing crushed rock minerality too bringing complexity. The mid-palate is tense, tender and quite luminous. Tender. The tannins have that lovely limestone granularity and you can tell that at least some of them come from the côteaux (slopes) above the property itself. Up and coming and with benefitting now from the considerable investment now. One to watch. 92-94.


  • Montlabert 2022 (St Emilion). Refined, with lots of finesse if perhaps just a little monotone; the oak is not fully integrated yet on the nose which is actually unusual now for St Emilion (though it won’t be a problem and is almost imperceptible once one focuses in on the fruit). Quite a subtle and slightly shy graphite-encrusted dark stone fruit on the nose, a little hint of curry leaf and cumin. Gentle tannins with a very fine-grain that slowly outline the contours of the bright, fresh, fluid and juicy mid-palate. A lovely pinch and a release of sapidity helps build the fantail finish. Nicely structured if lacking a little in fruit complexity. Menthol on the finish reinforces the sense of freshness. 91-93.


  • Montlisse 2022 (St Emilion; 82% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). A very pure crushed loganberry and bramble nose – with considerable fruit intensity. But with even a little air it turns to apple skins and becomes somewhat reductive; better when re-tasted and I nudge up my rating. Pure and dynamic on the palate, the fruit profile shading lighter (from purple/blue to red). A little coarse however on the finish and the acidity becomes somewhat bracing. 89-91.


  • Moulin de Cadet 2022 (St Emilion 100% Merlot; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Very Merlot. Nutty – walnuts – and a plump red raspberry and darker mulberry fruit. Pounded fruit, pure and simple. Racy and juicy but this lacks a little complexity. Chewy, grippy, textural tannins bring more interest on the palate. Simple in a way but rather fine in its focussed precision and purity. 91-93.


  • Moulin St Georges 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc on an argilo-calcaire terroir; tasted at Ausone). Cordite, wax candles, flint, struck match, dark berry fruit, a little raspberry and loganberry too. This has a much tighter structure that Simard, Haut Simard or de Fonbel and has greater intensity and more cool fresh fruitedness than any of these as a consequence. Juicy, integrally so. Pure, precise, layered and with those lovely beady calcaire tannins pixilating the finish. Very fine indeed in this vintage. 92-94.


  • Du Parc 2022 (St Emilion). A dark plum and blueberry nose – very blue and purple fruited. A little touch of cedar too. With more air, black cherries. The fruit feels a little blitzed and blended and this lacks mid-palate delineation or definition but it’s pleasingly bright and fresh. For me this finishes just a little hot, though strangely cool at the same time – the menthol and the alcohol combining to produce a rather strange effect.


  • Pavie 2022 (St Emilion; 52% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 18% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 31 hl/ha; pH 3.67; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at Pavie). Cool and lovely. The most gracious Pavie that I’ve had the privilege to taste en primeur, with that mirror-pool glistening crystalline clarity and luminosity that is so characteristic of the stars of this vintage. Naturally sweet. Rich, full, but with very plush, velvety tannins. Colossal – majesterial, indeed – but never so dense and compact as to lose the layering and the detail. The tannins are considerable but more gracious and elegant and refined than before. A profound, even weighty wine, with great depth and gravitas from the Cabernet Sauvignon which seems to offer additional ballast and support almost like limestone foundations. I love the tension from the interplay between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, on the one hand, with all its fresh leafiness and sapidity and the sucrosity and tightness of the Merlot. Cedar and graphite notes emerge with aeration in the glass. A further refinement of a well-worked style. 96-98.


  • Pavie Macquin 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 19% Cabernet Franc; 1 % Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 31 hl/ha; 14.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Wow. Violets and confit violets and rose petals and even lilac – not really what one expects – and raspberry and red and black cherry. Big and punchy on the palate, but also lithe and tight and taut and tense. Very different to Larcis Ducasse and much more red-fruited. There’s no cedar at this stage and, strangely, there’s almost a little dip in intensity towards the finish. I’d like to re-taste. It’s very good, the question is just how good. 93-95.


  • Peby-Faugères 2022 (St Emilion; 100% Merlot; a final yield of 34 hl/ha; tasted just the once at Ripeau). Very beautiful. Staggeringly intense, with the most gloriously opulent sapid, juicy concentrated berry fruits – bramble and black berry crushed and concentrated. Generously enrobed and lifted by the graphite notes. A super wine. All about purity and precision; a little monotonic perhaps but deeply impressive. Voluptuous. 93-95.


  • Petit Faurie de Soutard 2022 (St Emilion 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Rich, ample, big-boned and yet incredibly soft, opulent – indeed, succulent. The fruit is just a little soupy, however, and this feels a bit of a blitzed and blended mix of red and dark berry fruit, cherries and plums all thrown in together. It’s almost too creamily textured – like a velouté. More positively, the fresh fruitedness brings sapidity and a luminous quality but this lacks pixilation. Maybe that is harsh, but somehow I don’t feel that this quite coheres. I’ll be interested to re-taste as I have tended to like this more. 90-92+.


  • Peymouton 2022 (St Emilion; 89% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 1% Cabernet Franc; from a vineyard of 31 hectares, previously part of the, then, enormous Laroque estate before it was split prior to classification; this is also made by the hyper-talented David Suire – and it tastes like it; there are two types of terroir here – a thin film of clay over pure limestone and a deep red clay; tasted at J P Moueix). This is fabulous and likely to be a wonderful value in the context of the vintage – an insider’s secret. Lovely calcaire St Emilion credentials immediately in evidence, this is a wine that sings of its terroir. A wine that can be a little stern and tough, but not in this vintage. Indeed, it’s a bit of a bell-weather. Tight, pure, with a very glossy mouthfeel. Lots of class. Very pure crunchy croquant dark berry fruit! 92-94.


  • Pindefleurs 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; tasted at J P Moueix). Glossy, svelte, quite bright but less vertical and a little more blitzed and blended in its fruit profile than, say, Peymouton (tasted just before). Svelte, pure, with nicely fine-grained tannins, but this perhaps lacks a little interest. A shade of green on the finish, but very sapid and nicely juicy. 89-91.


  • Poesia 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.39; 15% alcohol; tasted at Barde Haut). The limestone is very close to the surface here. More exuberant and more floral, as the name implies, that the other Vignobles Garcin wines. A little touch of wood-smoke, toasted brioche and patisserie and a gentle spiciness, with cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg most evident. Black cherry, mulberry and bramble fruit. A subtle rose petal note too and a little candlewax. More ample than the d’Arce (their excellent Castillon, tasted alongside), broad and well-structured with a nice calcaire bead to the tannins. Limpid, luminous, quite crystalline but with quite a significant tannic volume that builds in granularity towards the finish. 92-94.


  • De Pressac 2022 (St Emilion; 70% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; 7% Cabernet Sauvignon; a little Petit Verdot, Carménère and Malbec; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Up and coming. This has pleasing graphite and pencil-shaving notes alongside the dark berry and stone fruit; quite saline in its minerality. A hint of the cedar to come and a lovely wild heathery note. Fresh and softly textured, but with a fully charged, compact and energetic core of crushed ripe berry fruit – a little cherry skin and its tannins around the edges. Impressive. Long and always fresh and sapid, with good intensity. Continuing the upward trajectory here. 92-94.


  • Le Prieuré 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at Calon Ségur). So much fresher than Vraye Croix de Gay (tasted alongside) and very much defined by its astéries limestone terroir and their tannins, as ever. I love the beady, slightly crumbly, chewy tannins. Sapid and saline. With that mineral chalkiness that tells you where this comes from. Powdery on the finish too. Sapid, very juicy, gorgeously dark fruited – with blueberries and blackberry – and both fresh and bright. There are pleasing cassis leafy undertones too and a touch of walnut shell from the ripe pips. Long and fresh if a little sweet perhaps. The 2020 was, I feel, just a little fresher. 93-95.


  • Puyblanquet 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 15.2% alcohol; pH 3.4; from a vineyard of 19 hectares, but only 11 of those are currently in production and less than 6 of those are selected for the grand vin; tasted at La Gaffelière). Creamy and yet pure and precise with a damson and dark berry fruit at its core. This has a lovely compact style and is finely chiselled by the calcaire tannins. I love the cedary notes that build in the glass with aeration. Very expressive in 2022 of the cool terroir from which it hails. So intensely sapid and juicy in the mid-palate, with little eddies and up-currents of cool freshness. Tender, fresh, sleek, crisp and always sapid and juicy. The alcohol is elevated by you don’t notice it. Likely to represent fantastic value. 92-94+.


  • Quinault L’Enclos 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at Cheval Blanc; 14.2% alcohol). Floral, with lots of violet and the parfumier’s essence of violet. So impressively succulent too. This is incredibly svelte and soft and gracious texturally – the tannins very much feeling like they come from the Cheval Blanc stable. Limpid and almost sinuous with a lovely black cherry fruit. Limpid, cool in the mouth and succulent, sleek and very stylish. I love the bitter chocolate that seems to weave itself around the violet notes. Fabulous, exceeding my expectations and the best yet from here, the tannins at a level that this has not previously attained. 93-95.


  • Ripeau 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at Ripeau). Svelte tannins, quite sweet on the entry but with a lovely compensating sapidity, this is quite sinuous despite the sheer fruit intensity. Maybe a little monotonic, but with great precision and purity nonetheless. Bramble compote, a touch of wild heather and a touch of graphite. The best I’ve tasted from here. 92-94.


  • Rocheyron 2022 (St Emilion; destined for a short aging in oak barrels, only 20% of which are new, to retain the purity; a low yield, partly due to the size of the grapes, but also a target for them to concentrate the terroir identity; 14.8% alcohol; tasted with Peter Sisseck at the property). This for me reaches in this vintage a level previously unattained. A fabulous wine from an exceptional terroir that is now set to rival the greatest of the appellation. Limpid and incredibly glossy in the glass, with considerable viscosity and with a radiant crimson/pink/lilac rim. Fabulous fine-grained archetypical limestone tannins, like glass beads on with the fruits is rolled into position of silk sheets across the palate. A glorious deep violet florality, a little lilac too, perhaps a rose petal or two. Blueberry. Bramble. Blackberry. Damson. Autumnal wild fruits. Graphite as if from the nuclear reactor core; a little cedar. As Peter says, the terroir here used to be regarded as the St Estèphe of the appellation – hard, cool and with a little too my clay. Now that clay on limestone is pitch perfect for the climatic challenges everyone is facing. A lovely sous bois note, a touch of wild herbality. This feels incredibly pure, cool, lithe and limpid in the mouth with a fabulously compact structure and great intensity. The gracious dark berry fruit is incredibly detailed –pointillist rather than impressionist (Seurat rather than Monet), but with the softest of pixilation. Juicy, sapid, fresh – just fabulous. A beautifully balanced wine of great harmony and shimmering natural freshness. I’ve followed the steep ascent upwards here in recent vintages – we have reached a new level with this vintage. 97-99.


  • Rol Valentin 2022 (St Emilion 78% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; 7% Malbec; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Very pure with crushed loganberry fruit once one gets past the reductive phase. Tight, dense and with a very fresh mid-palate, with a nice pleasing luminosity. Maybe lacks complexity but compensates with impressive precision and focus. 91-93+.


  • Sansonnet 2022 (St Emilion; 85% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; 7% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Almost jet black, well, jet purple and pretty opaque but limpid and lively. Deep dark rich black cherry fruit – super-ripe but not overripe. Black forest gateau, too, with expensive dark chocolate and a little kirsch. Cordite, toasted brioche, Chinese five spice and incense. Seductively soft and one of the most opulent wines of the vintage. Though this probably sees a fair bit of new oak, the fruit remains the star of the show, even if the tannins shade towards a hint of dryness on the finish (which leads me to reassess my rating here). A sprig of mint on the finish and the chewy black cherry skins complete the black forest gateau impression. Slightly modern in style, but with a lovely, opulent and sapid mid-palate. Hedonistic, yet still tense. 92-94+.


  • Saint Georges Côte Pavie 2022 (St Emilion 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Gracious, soft, deluxe, I find this very harmonious yet quite opulent at first with super-svelte tannins on the entry outlining and ultimately chiselling its passage over the palate. An impressive sense of shape and structure crafted by the considerable tannins that reveal where it’s from. And a lovely bright berry fruit with lots of precision and sapidity. The best I’ve tasted from here. 93-95.


  • Saintem 2022 (Saint Emilion; 100% Merlot; 14.4% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 30% of which are new; tasted with Noémie Durantou at l’Eglise Clinet). Tender, round and quite voluptuous in fact. Liquorice; plums; blackberry fruit; a little hint of florality; pot pourri; cedar (above all in the empty glass). Refined and with not too much extraction, this will fill out well. At present it’s quite delicate but with bold grippy tannins. Easy but well-balanced, this will need a little time as the tannins remain quite substantial on the finish. 89-91.


  • La Serre 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; from a very well situated vineyard of 7 hectares on the limestone plateau just in front of Trottevieille and La Couspaude and neighbouring Le Prieuré; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault; re-tasted at J. P. Moueix in Libourne). Bright, red berry fruit, a little cherry bringing additional ripeness and juiciness. Quite lifted and very true to its style. There’s a nice double movement here – first the berry fruit freshness and then a little second pulse of richer, darker, plumper and more generous cherry. A little burly perhaps, but producing a big mouthful of fresh, sapid fruit juice but also a pronounced slightly ferrous minerality (a little less evident when tasted the second time). Grainy, chewy tannins but entirely fresh and bright. This has impressive complexity and lots of potential. A little more extraction than many, but it really works here. 92-94.


  • Simard 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at Ausone). Dark briary berry fruit, a little black cherry and that slightly ferrous minerality that is its signature. Sinuous. But substantial. Crystalline. Dense and yet with graciously soft tannins. A very elegant and fresh version of this invariably punchy and substantial wine. 90-92+.


  • Soutard 2022 (St Emilion; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Not unlike Larmande, and hyper-floral too, but more lavender than violet and a little more black cherry to accompany the cassis. This is also a little fuller and more ample on the opening, and less compact and intense as a consequence. But it’s very gracious and elegant. The finish is menthol cool and the tannins very refined. Lovely. Dare I say, yet again, the best ever from here. 93-95.


  • Tertre Rôtebeouf (St Emilion). Fabulous in this vintage. Incredibly fresh on the nose, and perfectly harmonious and completely integrated. Dark berry and stone fruit – damson, blueberry, blackcurrant, bramble and mulberry – also raspberry and loganberry on the palate. I find this fresher than the 2018 which I hadn’t quite expected. Tender, sapid and intensely juicy with a lovely mouthfeel and great tension. Gracious, especially when the cedar arrives to coat and support the fruit in the mid-palate. The purest expression of the vintage of the four wines presented here. This for Francois Mitjavile is ‘époustouflant’ – stupendous, but in the sense that it takes your breath away. He’s right. 96-98.


  • Teyssier 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.67; 14.2% alcohol). This is lovely in its unpretentious simplicity. It exudes bright crunchy redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit, a little graphite and that’s it. Just pure, precise, richly-fruited laser-like focus stretched out along a well-defined spine. Long and super-refreshing. 90-92.


  • Tour Baladoz 2022 (St Emilion; 77% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Cabernet Franc; 6% Petit Verdot; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Very reductive on the nose, making it difficult to decipher. Taut, tight, and quite crystalline on the mid-palate, a little drying on the finish, but with lots of racy, fresh bright red berry fruit juice coursing through its vinous veins. Maybe simpler and less profound than its sibling, La Croizille, but in the same style. I’d like to restate this. 90-92.


  • La Tour Figeac 2022 (St Emilion; 60% Merlot; 40% Cabernet Franc; 14/5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting and again at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). Somewhat soupy and a little blitzed after the more precise focus of Soutard and Larmande. It’s fine, floral, but the fruit feels more pulped and blended, lacking delineation and definition in comparison. I like, however, the cool minty-leafy finish. Fine and good if upstaged by some of its peers, those tannins shading towards the dry-side on the finish. 91-93.


  • Tour Saint Christophe 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault; re-tated at the property). Subtle violet notes, full plump berry and black cherry fruit. Lithe. Rich. Lovely harmony and integration and with instantly recognisable calcaire Very pure, fresh, lifted, and brilliantly expressive of where it comes from. It shows graphite at this stage more than cedar. A brilliantly chiselled mid-palate after the tannins grip and then sculpt the wine, drawing the fruit – which becomes ever more concentrated and fresh – back to the spine, building tension in the process. Cool calm, slightly introvert and very good in this vintage. A lovely trace of violets in the empty glass. 94-96.


  • Trianon 2022 (St Emilion; around 2% old-vine Carménère). Tasted twice, first from the property, with similar notes. Explosive aromatically. A touch of cordite to complete the metaphor. Sloes, damsons, black cherries. A little red currant and cassis too. The wild herbal sage note is quite dominant and there’s also an earthy-clay minerality. There’s a lovely structuring freshness to this. It’s pure and compact, yet fluid and energetic. I love too the little white pepper, violet and lavender note from the Carménère which is co-vinified with the Cabernet Sauvignon (tasted separately). Tense and lively and quite creamily textured. Not quite the delineation of the very best, but this is heading rapidly in the right direction. 90-92.


  • Troplong-Mondot 2022 (St Emilion; 85% Merlot; 13% Cabernet Franc; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of an impressive 50 hl/ha, though there is less grand vin because of the strict selection; pH 3.48; the fruit was picked and stored in a cold room before sorting, destemming and vinification followed by a cold maceration; 14.5% alcohol; tasted with Aymeric de Gironde). Incredibly fresh and lifted and now in a very comfortable style all its own – it has varied a little over the last 10 years but this now seems totally refined and extremely composed in its eloquence and elegance. Lifted, bright, fresh and vertical with opulent bright, crunchy, berry and stone fruit. Gaining the upper hand for now is the gracious cassis that builds in the glass with aeration. There’s quite a lot of fresh mint, sage and even marjoram – an almost wild herbal complexity nicely in keeping with the vineyard itself. We have graphite for now much more than cedar. Very refined tannins and an ample frame producing a fabulous struggle and tension between the structuring powdery tannins that want to bring this back to the spine and the opulent of the fruit which resists. A lovely supple juiciness. Very pure, precise, quite limpid and glossily-textured – satin rather than velvet. There’s a super pinch and injection of freshness before the finish making this very refreshing on the finish. 96-98 .


  • Trottevieille 2022 (St Emilion; 50% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; 45% Merlot; all of the Cabernet is used in the grand vin for the first time; ageing in new oak barrels; pH 3.60; 14.2% alcohol; tasted at Trottevieille; Axel Marchal is the consultant). Creamy. Dense and compact. Aromatically beautiful. Quite sweet scented. Very Cabernet with lovely floral elements – violets, peonies, lilacs. The fruit is dark and pure – wild blueberry, black cherry, cassis. And the oak is almost imperceptible. Limpid, sapid, fresh and rolling and rippling in its juiciness, this is ample and glossily textured like a mirror pool but one whose surface is disturbed by cool under-currants from the deep. Ethereal. A wonderful wine and not too dense or overcharged as it sometimes used to be. This shows lovely restraint. It also has glorious calcaire tannins from the old vines. Incredibly sapid and a brilliant sense of internal, almost structural, tension. Very beautiful and I love the little crushed chalk minerality. Very complete. 96-98.


  • Valandraud 2022 (St Emilion; 88% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc; 6% Cabernet Franc; 15.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Stylish and very much in its style, the oak is present and gently supporting of the florality – like Lascombes in Margaux – but it never dominates. Toasted brioche, patisserie, black cherry and concentrated black cherry compote notes, blackberry and bramble; fruit bonbons. Lots of freshness and lots of brightness from the sapidity of the fruit itself. Very tense and energetic and the oak is really only perceptible on the nose where it will need a little time to incorporate. 94-96.


  • Vieux Chateau Mazerat 2022 (St Emilion; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; pH 3.75; 15.5% alcohol). Always a bit of a monster and at 15.5% alcohol, 2022 is certainly no exception. Incense, embers, raspberries, baked raspberries, mulberries, brambles and assorted briary fruits – a little blueberry too. Massive concentration and density, reinforced by the crumbly tannins that pull the fruit back to and over the spine never allowing it to get too comfortable and relaxed. That creates both density and compactness whilst also bringing tension. And a second source of tension is the almost bracing acidity. Balanced in the end, this is a bit like an elephant on a tripwire. The oak use is very restrained. A fascinating and very muscly wine that will divide opinion and that, although not exactly to my taste, is terribly impressive. 93-95.


  • Villemaurine 2022 (St Emilion; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; tasted twice, the second time at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault, tasted also at the UGC press tasting). Sporting a new label to mark the new ownership. Very intense and a little blitzed – like throwing ripe grapes and violets into the mixer – a kind of pesto of blackcurrant and floral elements, a little handful of wild herbs thrown in for good measure. Vibrant and very intense. The palate I prefer, indeed it’s remarkably intense again with vibrant bright almost dayglo fruit intensity. A punk version of the classic St Emilion flavours. It’s almost shocking. But at the same time, rather like a fine perfume, it feels very natural. Impressive and certainly distinctive. I’m not quite sure what to make of Villemaurine in 2022 and it will likely divide opinion, but I want to reward the originality here. 92-94+.


  • Yon Figeac 2022 (St Emilion 81% Merlot; 13% Cabernet Franc; 6% Petit Verdot; tasted at l’Association des Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion at Dassault). I find this a little difficult to assess. Sandalwood, candlewax, red and darker berry fruit but it feels rather blitzed and blended – a kind of chunky fruit compote. The tannins are also a little coarse and angular in comparison with many. But there’s a pleasing sense of freshness. I look forward to re-tasting this. 89-91.

Read more

Please click link for db’s 2022 en primeur vintage report, along with appellation-by-appellation reviews (links updated as they become available) on Margaux, St Julien, Pessac-Leognan & Graves rouge and blanc, St Estèphe & Haut-Medoc, Pauillac, Pomerol, Saint-Émilion and Sauternes.

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