‘Fabulous’ Burgundy ’22 vintage impresses merchants as en primeur gets underway
The “fabulous” Burgundy 2022 vintage is set to be a “big crowd pleaser that will satisfy the intellectuals as well”, merchants have reported on the eve of the en primeur campaign.
Catherine Jaën MW, buyer at Lay & Wheeler, which launched its campaign today, called it a “fabulous” vintage that was “really exciting to taste” en primeur, as well as being one of the easiest and more consistent vintages, with very few wines that were awkward or out of balance.
“It seemed like almost everyone understood the vintage really well and has managed to capture this kind of effortless balance in the wines,” she said. “It was just notable how much of pleasure it was to taste.”
“I think it’s kind of got everything going for it in terms of quality, it’s fantastic in both colours. It is going to look great once it’s in bottle and will start drinking well, quite early. And the more senior appellations will be able to age with the best of them.”
Also launching its campaign today, Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy buyer Adam Bruntlett called the wines “the best wines he had tasted in over a decade working in the region”.
Speaking on Corney & Barrow’s Burgundy podcast last week, Joe Muller said it was a vintage “that’s going to be a very, very big crowd pleaser, but it’s also going to satisfy the intellects as well.”
Guy Seddon, head of fine wine buying, added that the wines were vibrant and fresh, and had been “equally successful across the reds and the whites.
“Sometimes we have Burgundy vintages where it’s clearly a white wine vintage (2014 is an example) but in ’22, the quality potential for both Pinot and Chardonnay, and also Aligoté, which we’re increasingly seeing, was high across the board. So I think in that sense, there was a homogeneity which you don’t always see in Burgundy,” he told listeners.
The vintage itself had been characterised by a series of small heatwaves across the summer indispersed with rain, meaning that the character of the wines was not defined by the heat. Budbreak was a bit later than usual, and the danger of April frosts – which blighted the ’21 vintage – was largely averted. Similarly the decent rainfall across the Cote D’or in June prevented too much hydric stress, resulting in “cool grapes overall in terms on quality and freshness,” Corney & Barrow’s Joe Muller noted.
Freshness despite the heat
Speaking to the drinks business, David Roberts MW, buying director at Goedhuis, noted that the tannins and freshness were surprising in what was essentially a drier, warmer year,
“The red wines have a stunning balance, the tannins are very charming, they’re very fine,” he said. “They’re not like a hot, dry vintage where you’re getting hard tannins, they’re really lovely and have got a nice freshness – I think that the cold nights were crucial in that.”
Although warm and dry, it wasn’t a ‘heatwave vintage, so the wines are “very relaxed and confident”, with no hydric stress and good appellation typicity, he said. Even though analysis shows the acidity levels “aren’t huge”, the fast malolactic fermentation meant that the malic and tartaric acid remained constant, “keeping the freshness of the wines.”
“And they will be approachable, relatively young, but they will have the ability to age,” he added.
In the podcast, Seddon noted that there was a slight blockage of maturity during the really high temperatures, which slowed down the vines, pausing photosynthesis and stopping the development of physiological ripeness. “Paradoxically, you’re retained more freshness through very hot conditions, than you would do in a slightly cooler season. So you have this doubly beneficial effect of the fruits being slightly crunchy and the acidity slightly higher” he explained. There was also a large difference in diurnal temperature with cooler nights, and the moisture in the soil from the rain during June and July helping to retain freshness. He also noted the increasing move to organic and biodynamic farming, which fosters deep root networks, “that means that you’re able to retain a far more classical character in the wines than you would if the roots were all stuck at surface level.”
“That sensation of freshness, which at the end of the day is the most important thing when we taste, was fantastic,” he said.
Muller added that freshness “took us by surprise” but that “2022 for me was a vintage where terroir is is king,… [where] a mark of the vineyards typicity is first and foremost stamped on the wine.”
In terms of the whites, Roberts told db it was a “perfect vintage” for the market, being of sufficient volume and suitable for drinking you, after a dearth of “lovely drinking white Burgundy” over the last 18 months.
“It’s going to be a vintage the white wines, you can drink early, which I think is brilliant because there’s a shortage of good quality white Burgundy on the market, particularly after the ‘21 vintage, so it’s the perfect vintage that we want in terms of people who are desperate to have some lovely drinking white burgundy,” he said.
The white wines displayed more yellow fruit aromatics than previous years, however there was also “great freshness” on the palate, along with a “dry extract” that was “almost like they’ve got some tannic structure some of the way so you can really feel the depth as well again”, he said.
Overall, the merchants we spoke to were enthusiastic and optimistic for the coming campaign, not only due to the wines themselves, but also the ‘sensible’ pricing adopted by producers, the return to normal yield levels after the frost horrors of the last few years, and the assurance of an equally large ’23 vintage already in the cellars.
“I’m hopeful that it will be a campaign that has quite a nice long tail to it because I think that are so many wines to get excited about,” Jaën concluded.