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2022 - a great, sun-blessed vintage for Bordeaux

By Vitisphere September 20, 2022
2022 - a great, sun-blessed vintage for Bordeaux
Whilst criticism is often levelled at Merlot for its inability to cope with climate change, David Pernet notes that the variety “often showed fewer signs of fatigue than Cabernet. We should not make presumptions about its future in Bordeaux”. - crédit photo : Sovivins

t’s back to the future for Bordeaux red wines. After 2021 was defined by balance and levels of ripeness that harked back to the last century, the 2022 vintage bears the stamp of a series of heat waves illustrating the reality of climate change. “It's interesting to see that the two can go hand in hand: a window on the past and a glimpse of the future”, sums up David Pernet, director of the Sovivins consultancy based in Martillac. In his reference review of the vintage, Pernet comments that the growing season became sunny from May onwards, resulting in “early, rapid and good quality flowering with the first flowers on 16 May”. In mid-June, early July and early August, there was a series of heat waves, whose effects were partly mitigated by welcome rainfall at the end of June – though unfortunately with some hail – and in mid-August.

The early onset of the heat and water stress from mid-June allowed the fruit to prepare itself for the hot weather that ensued – the skins thickened, mitigating the sunburn and wilting that were expected in July and August, explains Pernet. The small berries boosted phenol content with the fruit showing particularly high tannin/anthocyanin ratios: “There is more tannin content than colour, but extractability is high due to the water issues”, he adds, stressing the quality of the tannins in the 2022 grapes. The pips show very good ripeness and are “crunchy with roasted hazelnut flavours”.

Soaring to extreme temperatures – including the current harvest period, which is very hot by day and by night – the vintage is nonetheless reassuring, feels Pernet: “We are dealing with a vintage that is as restrictive as 2003 – or even more so, because the pressure came earlier – with a significant impact on yields, but which from a quality perspective shows how resilient the vineyards are in most blocks. They look better at the beginning of September than at the beginning of August. This resilience is encouraging for the future considering the current range of technical solutions and existing grape varieties available”.

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