Bordeaux En Primeur 2022: “The best will rock you.” – Neal Martin


  • 2022 sets a new benchmark for Bordeaux.
  • The wines display a remarkable balance and freshness with nothing out of balance.
  • The finest wines were characterised by their exceptional fruitiness alongside refined and intense tannins.
  • Amongst critics, Neal Martin’s scores exhibit the strongest correlation with the average market price.

Intro to vintage

Bordeaux 2022 by all accounts is being seen as a ‘very promising vintage’ which has every chance of being accepted as an ‘exceptional vintage’. By all accounts the growing season in Bordeaux gave winemakers and vineyard managers constant nightmares with weather patterns encountered witnessing intense heat, drought, hail storms and regional wildfires.

Such was the severity of conditions during the growing season, some conditions had never been experienced before in Bordeaux. Terminology used to describe this vintage, include ‘Unique’, ‘historic’, ‘completely new’ and ‘extreme’. Whilst it is too early to quote comparative vintages, some Chateau owners and winemakers have pointed to 2009 for the silkiness and alcohol levels and 2011 for high concentration of tannins, 2018 and 2010 have also been mentioned in terms of quality and ability to age.

the wines

Growing Season

Merlot & Cabernet Franc are said to look very promising, both displaying depth and richness with depth of character with concentrated fruit and fine aromatics. Cabernet Sauvignon is said to be showing excellent tannins (allowing for great ageing potential), and are intensely concentrated.

During the 2021 winter conditions were cool but dry and remained so as temperatures started to climb throughout the spring, allowing both an early and successful budburst and flowering. April brought on frost which saw temperatures plummet, although fortunate timing meant that vine growth avoided major damage. In June localised and severe hailstorms (the size of golf balls) contributed to cutting yields and whilst temperatures continued to rise and the hail passed, drought conditions started to set in. July was the driest since 1959.

From July onwards there was virtually no rain, instead heatwaves with temperatures of up to 40C with practically no rain from budbreak to harvest. Young vines and those Chateaux on less water-retaining soils suffered the most stress. Older vines with deeper root systems were more able to gain moisture from deep underground, or those with clay and limestone terroirs fared better. Given such circumstances, special permission for the irrigation of individual plants was permitted in Pomerol, St Emilion and Pessac-Leognan.  In the vineyards, producers chose to green harvest cutting yields, helping to reduce the stress on the vines and to mitigate against sunburn. Night time temperatures however, were cool providing some relief enabling freshness and acidity in the fruit.

Due to the hot and dry conditions, wildfires raged throughout July and August. Fortunately, the topography of the region meant that vineyards escaped damage and given timings, grapes had already developed thick skins protecting the fruit. Harvest started early with fruits reportedly to be exceptionally fine.

  • Both hot & dry growing season and a year of highs and lows -high temperatures, low rainfall.
  • Night time temperatures were relatively fresh (helping lock in freshness), well below 2003 temperatures as another heatwave vintage.
  • Fruit ripeness is on point, with good freshness, which will allow beautiful balance.
  • In the vineyard, canopy management was pivotal helping the vines, reducing day time peak soil temperatures, as well as reducing water loss through transpiration.
  • Harvest came early (at Cheval Blanc before the end of August -first time ever).
  • Potentially high alcohol levels (around 14, 14.5 & 15%), but with compensating freshness.
  • Vast Majority of red grapes harvested in September much like 2018, 2020.
  • Already been judged by some as an exceptional vintage, with at least on par with 2018,2019
  • Overall yields are down and similar to those attained in 2021. Typically lower in the Medoc due to the hail and intense drought on less water-retaining soils in Margaux, St Julien and Pauillac.
  • Comparative vintages – 2009 for silkiness and high alcohol and 2011 for concentration of tannins. Other comparisons 2018,2005 & 2010

Notable Releases for 2022

Chateau Cheval Blanc 2022
“One of the stars of the vintage is the striking 2022 Cheval Blanc, a blend of 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon that bursts from the glass with aromas of mulberries, cherries and wild berries mingled with mint, orange zest, pencil lead, vine smoke and exotic spices. Medium to full-bodied, velvety and layered, it’s rich and gourmand, with beautifully refined tannins, lively acids and a long, saline, pungently perfumed finish. Harvest began on 29 August, with all the Merlot picked before the month was out, and the result is a wine that is as vibrant as it is lavish.” 97-99+/100 – William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

“This is a wine that soars to new heights.” – 99/100 James Suckling

Chateau Angelus 2022
“This estate’s shift in the direction of gentler extraction and more reductive, less overtly oaky élevage continues, and this extreme vintage only underlines that. Fermented at cool temperatures (20 to 23 degrees Celsius), and with an increasing proportion of the wine’s Cabernet Franc component matured in large wooden foudres, the 2022 Angélus wafts from the glass with deep aromas of dark berries and cherries mingled with hints of iris, licorice and pencil lead. Full-bodied, deep and seamless, with a layered core of cool, vibrant fruit, powdery tannins and a long, saline finish, it’s a brilliant young wine in the making. The 2022 is a blend of 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.” – 96/98 William Kelley, Wine Advocate, April 2023

“So many beautiful primary fruit aromas. Al dente. Peaches. Very floral. Aromatic. Full-bodied and extremely fine tannins with length and beauty that show incredible depth. Superb brightness and reality. Exciting. Cabernet franc freshness and dynamics come through now, even though the blend is 60% merlot and 40% cabernet franc.”98/99 James Suckling,, April 2023

“Rather than just selecting those with the highest scores, I would suggest: Brane-Cantenac, de Fargues, Haut-Bages-Libéral, l’Eglise-Clinet, La Conseillante, Léoville Barton, Phélan-Ségur, Pichon-Baron, Ségla, Sénéjac, Vieux-Château-Certan” – Neal Martin

Highlights of 2022 by Critic

the wines