En Primeurs 2022: a superb vintage!
Every year, the En Primeurs campaign in Bordeaux brings together the Châteaux, wine merchants (négociants), critics, and specialist journalists from around the globe. Over a week, they discover the yield of land by tasting barrel samples of the new vintage wines. Matthieu Gombault, Head of our Wine Banking Services(1), reviews the 2023 campaign that showcases the 2022 vintage(2).
La Semaine des Primeurs: the headline event in the world of wine
On Thursday 27 April, the presentation week of the 2022 vintage in Bordeaux drew to a close. As predicted for several weeks, the word from the industry professionals — from winemakers, critics, merchants to journalists - is unanimous: not only is 2022 a fine vintage, it could very well be another “vintage of the century” for the Bordeaux region after 2010, 1982 and 1947.
As explained in a previous article, the En Primeurs campaign is the year’s biggest event in Bordeaux during which its vignerons present their new vintage. It traditionally takes place in April, allowing the professionals of the industry to discover the harvested and vinified vintage a few months earlier. The wine is therefore still ageing — the step after fermentation that allows it to improve as it matures — and is only bottled 12 to 24 months later.
This is also when wine merchants start planning their buying campaigns, reporting back to their clients around the world on the characteristics of the vintage. Journalists and critics also release their scores of the vintage, which have a tremendous impact on the future sales and visibility of the Châteaux. Since the retirement the American wine critic Robert Parker in 2019, who for nearly 30 years had a near monopoly on the Bordeaux scores, other critics have stepped in, including James Suckling, Neal Martin, and James Molesworth.
Weather: the making of a great vintage
In 2022, most of the weather conditions for a fine vintage were observed. After a mild, wet winter, dry conditions and sunshine in January and February, the spring saw little rain as well as slightly above-average temperatures. Whilst there were some sporadic bouts of frost in April, these had less of an impact than in 2021. The heat — at times intense — in May and June brought storms and hail, though not enough to top up the water table and relieve “hydric stress”. July too was a hot month, but also dry. In August, the rainfall was well-timed and translated into an optimal véraison(3) and ripening of the grapes.
All this made for an ideal grape-growing cycle throughout 2022. The heat and the water stress made for smaller, yet well balanced berries. The exquisite freshness of the fruit, combined with reasonable tannins, is the main feature of this vintage. On the downside, the weather conditions resulted in a smaller yield (heat plus hydric stress). But unlike the previous vintage, there will be no or little phytosanitary issues, the rain having kept fungal diseases at bay.
What pricing policy can we expect this year?
Every year brings the same question: what will be the price trend of this En Primeur campaign? Let’s review the facts: an exceptional vintage; general inflationary pressures; a sharp increase in the price of raw materials; and slightly lower yields. We can very well expect higher prices this year.
But to what extent? Will the Châteaux be reasonable and work with the merchants? Will we see huge price disparities? It’s a tough call, especially given the number of long weekends in France this month that make it very complicated to nail down the best possible release date for the Châteaux. All shall be revealed over the months ahead until the end of July!
What about the rest of France?
For the first time, 2022 was quite an even year across France. Climatic unpredictability generally left the plant cycles unscathed, and the heat coupled with water scarcity resulted in slightly lower yields. The watchwords of this vintage will therefore be sun and, against all odds, well-balanced in most of the regions.
“Stratospheric”, “exceptional”, “fantastic”, “vintage of the century” — just some of the praise for the 2022 vintage in Bordeaux and the rest of France. Only time will confirm these first impressions. But we can most certainly bet on a superb age-worthy wine(4), the potential of which will only grow over the years.
(1) Wine Banking is expertise of Société Générale Private Banking. We provide a suite of services from our specialist partners to help mature your goals of acquiring wineland or starting a bottle collection
(2) Sources of data provided: Idealwine
(3) When fruits, and in this case grapes, start to change colour as they ripen.
(4) Age-worthy wine: wines that are worth cellaring for several years before being consumed as they improve with age.
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