Bordeaux En Primeur 2022 Tasting Notes

Left Bank

Lafite Rothschild 2022

Lafite derives its name for an old French word meaning little hill or mount. Driving up to Lafite it is clear where the best plots are located. The hill provides drainage, and exposure to the sun. Next to this famous hill we find the chateau. I tasted the Lafite Rothschild 2022 in the professional tasting room with Saskia de Rothschild, the current CEO of this First Growth and Eric Kohler, the Technical Director at Lafite.

Kohler commented on the high temperatures in the vintage and explained that the vines apparently are getting used to these higher temperatures. The vines are older now and they seem to cope so far: “We have less density in the vineyards than before. (8-9.000 vines per hectare, from previously 9-10.000 vines per hectare). In the old days we wanted the vines to compete with one and other. That used to work in the old days, now we must adapt,” he explained with his signature modest smile. 

Saskia de Rothschild introduced me to her magic: “There must be something magical at work in this vintage. It made me think of sleep apnea. The vines kind of shut down and then all of the sudden, they started to breathe again.” Saskia explained to me that the tannins were a challenge at Lafite because there were so many. “Fortunately, they were perfectly ripe, and we could even use 17% of the pressed wine, the highest percentage ever.” She then explained that another major challenge was the extraction: “We did a very short extraction. After three days the wines were already almost black.

Carruades de Lafite (19- points/20)

[40% Merlot, 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc]

The wine shows a clear purple and red color with a somewhat lighter rim. Rather closed on the nose, more closed than I remember from earlier vintages. After a while some discreet hints of red and black fruit.

On the palate the wine is elegant and refined with some hints of chocolate at the end. Very long indeed, especially for a second wine. Having said that, we should realize that this is one of the best second wines in the world. The Carruades expresses the remarkable freshness of the vintage. Very good indeed.

Lafite Rothschild 2022 (19,5+ points/20)

[94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot]

Deep garnet red color with a beautiful intense purple rim. On the nose the wines doesn’t show much but don’t worry, I have seen this before in other vintages and the nose will show up with a few years. On the palate it is the complexity that hits you. There is so much going on in this excellent Lafite. Very long indeed with the signature elegance and elegant tannins of a great Lafite. Some chocolate towards the end. I found some hints of liquorice. From beginning to the end, a perfect balance, and a good tension. Discreet red fruit. Incredibly long. This is my first First Growth of the day. I am afraid I may need extra points above my max of 20/20.

Mouton Rothschild 2022

The Mouton 2022 is the second vintage that carries the mark of Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy. His first vintage, last year, was a challenging and yet he produced my “2021 of the vintage”. The vintage 2022 had different challenges but had all the potential of producing another great Mouton and man, did he outperform. 

I tasted the Mouton Rothschild 2022 with Philippe de Sereys de Rothschild, now in charge of this remarkable First Growth. 

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild 2022 (19- points/20)

[71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot]

Medium deep color. A beautiful and complex nose; very expressive with some black cherry and blackcurrant. Wines can be expressive on the nose this year! On the palate there are loads of fresh fruit with a pleasant elegant tannic structure. Incredible length. At the end some red fruit shows up. This second wine is going places. This Petit Mouton has a superb tannic structure and length that will make the first wine of many Classified Growths jealous. 

Mouton Rothschild 2022 (20 points/20)

[92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot]

The color goes more towards intense red than purple with a delicate garnet rim. A superb expressive nose that shows even more when it opens up. Concentrated aromas of ripe black fruit with blackcurrant and blackberry notes. The superb fruit is interwoven with the remarkable velvety tannins and an exemplary balance. This is so good that I forgot to spit! Interestingly I do not find the sometimes dominating freshness of this vintage. Don’t get me wrong, the freshness is there, but is seems somehow more integrated. The wine is more classic in style and simply outstanding even if the sample is slightly dominated by the wood. 

The wine shows hints of coffee, vanilla, toasted bread and the spices that reveal a great Mouton. The freshness is there but is not dominating like I have tasted elsewhere. I just love the ripe and structured tannins. 

My rating? 20/20; What else! This is definitely my Left Bank wine of the vintage.

I know understand Philippe de Rothschild’s big smile when he welcomed me. This is a great Mouton that will age for decades. 

Chateau Margaux 2022

In all its splendor Chateau Margaux remains a family affair. Owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos now works with her two children: Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos and Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos, who welcomed me at this First Growth. All elegance of the Palladian building is set aside for the tasting of the wine. I taste in the chai from simple wooden tables in a moderately lit and chilly room. 

At Margaux they consider 2022 an easy vintage in the vineyard. Very dry, so hardly any mildew. An early harvest brought in a relatively small crop, about 30% less volume than in an average year. The oldest vines stood up best to the heat. On the younger vines, Margaux lost about 35% of the crop. The hot vintages made for small grapes. A soft extraction was needed in search of the best tannins. Less volume but a better quality permitted that the Grand Vin represents 40% of the crop. Normally this would be around 35%. 

2022 is the first vintage without Petit Verdot in the blend. In the future we will see less Merlot in the blend as this grape variety is partially replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to fight the high alcohol levels due to global warming. 

Pavillion Rouge de Chateau Margaux 2022 (18,5+ points/20)

[64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc]

The wine shows and intense red color with some hints of purple but is far from the inky black color that I have seen elsewhere. The nose takes some time to open up with some pleasant fresh black and red fruit. On the palate I was almost overwhelmed by the power of this wine. And this is “just” a second wine. This is probably the most powerful Pavilion Rouge I have ever tasted on futures. Beautiful fruit with well-integrated tannins and extraordinary length for a second wine. 

Chateau Margaux 2022 (19,5+ points/20)

[92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc]

Chateau Margaux 2022 is aged in 100% new oak barrels.

The color is even more intense and deeper than the pavilion Rouge. The nose is discreet with some fruity and floral notes but seems reluctant to show its true colors as is often the case with barrel samples of Chateau Margaux.

This Margaux lives up to the reputation of a fist of iron in a velvet glove. An incredible power, but without losing the typical elegance that is the hallmark of a great Chateau Margaux. The special care they took during the vinification paid off: the beautiful silky tannins are a pleasure right now and will accompany this great wine in decades to come. All elements are there for a wine for the long term. The pure fruit is interwoven with the perfect tannins in a way that only Chateau Margaux can produce. The wine shows the remarkable freshness of the vintage and contributes to a perfect balance. Even at Margaux nobody really understands where this freshness is coming from, but it is sure that it saved the vintage. 

Chateau Latour 2022

Powerful and the quest for perfection are keywords to describe Latour. No pressure on quantity, just an aim for the best quality has been the motto for several years now. Latour traditionally doesn’t sell its wine on future anymore. Latour releases back-vintages of each of the three wines produces here as soon as they enter their drinking window. Precision seems to be the hallmark at this First Growth as even the percentages of the grape varieties in the blend are given with two digits after the comma…

Here at Latour, they were almost apologetic about the superb freshness in the wine. Even at this First Growth they don’t understand where this freshness came from but, having said that, they were very happy with the result in 2022. 

Pauillac de Latour 2021 (17+ points/20)

[48,8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46,2% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot]

The color is super intense purple with a slightly lighter rim. A very expressive nose showing fresh (black) fruit. On the palate I find the typical fruit-expression of this Pauillac de Latour. Very satisfactory tannins for this third wine. Much nicer than in earlier vintages. Good length.

Les Forts de Latour 2022 (18,5 points/20)

[58,7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37,9% Merlot and Petit Verdot 3,4%] 

A deeper purple color, more intense than the Pauillac but less inky than I have seen elsewhere. Rather closed on the nose as is often the case with Les Forts on futures. Beautiful expression of fresh fruit combined with a remarkable freshness. Good to excellent ripe tannins and e very good length. Remarkably structured or a second wine.

Chateau Latour 2022 (20- points/20)

[92,45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7,4% Merlot, and 0,15% Petit Verdot]

Deep intense color, going more towards deep garnet than purple. A beautiful expressive and refined nose; the word that springs to mind is elegance. Some violet.

See also  “Brown Gins?!” Seriously?

Tasting this wine is an experience in itself. Liquorice, coffee, black fruit, it all arrives in waves. Of course, there are the powerful and ripe tannins that are so characteristic for a great Latour. Phenomenal freshness!  Unbelievable length: this is yet another great Latour for the long term. 

Chateau Haut Brion 2022

I tasted the wines of this oldest of the First Growths in the professional tasting room at La Mission Haut Brion as Haut Brion is building its new winery. My host was the very knowledgeable Turid Alcaras, the estate’s Public Relations Manager. Turid explained that Haut Brion had to adapt the work in the vineyards to the hot and dry weather in this vintage. “Especially de de-leafing was restricted to an absolute minimum to protect the grapes from the heat and the sunlight. The vines adapted and the leaves stayed green toward the end of summer.” 

Haut Brion had the second earliest harvest in the chateau’s long history. The earliest was in 2003. 

Le Clarence de Haut Brion 2022 (Second wine of Haut Brion) (18+? Points/20)

[62,1% Merlot, 21,9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14,5% Cabernet Franc and 1,5% Petit Verdot]

Medium-intense color, almost hesitating between red and purple. The wine is rather closed on the nose and takes some time and some swirling to show some pleasant notes of ripe red fruit. 

On the palate the first thing I notice is the freshness interlaced with beautiful dark fruit tones. Great mid-palate and a good structure. There seems to be tendency towards some dryness at the end. This is something I tasted in some of the Pauillac wines as well in this vintage. I am not sure if this dryness will fade away over time. If it does, then this is going to be a lovely second wine.

Haut Brion 2022 (19,5? Points/20)

[53,6% Merlot, 35,4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc]

A deep intense dark red color. On the nose I find this typical classical nose of a great Haut Brion: Incredibility complex fruit tones, some discreet tobacco notes. I can just sit here all morning sniffing this superb and complex nose. Probably the best nose I have experienced with any of the 2022 wines. On the palate the first thing that strikes me is the powerful precise fruit. Great mid-palate. This is a wonderfully and structured Haut Brion. As with the second wine, I find a bit of a tendency towards dryness at the end. This Haut Brion is very good and possibly extraordinary if this dryness will fade away during the ageing in barrel. 

The color is super intense purple with a slightly lighter rim. A very expressive nose showing fresh (black) fruit. On the palate I find the typical fruit-expression of this Pauillac de Latour. Very satisfactory tannins for this third wine. Much nicer than in earlier vintages. Good length.

Right Bank

Chateau Ausone 2022

I taste the Ausone in the chateau with Alain Vauthier and his son Edouard. Alain explained that a lot has changed since 1971, his first vintage at Ausone. Of course, Vauthier was happy with his wine but worried for the future with global warming. We discussed the carbon footprint of the wine production. The largest emission of CO2 comes from the bottle (so let’s recycle them) and from wine tourism (so let’s be reasonable and join only our tours from now on).

Pessimism or not, the wines here are really in a league of their own. 

Chapelle d’Ausone 2022 (19- points/20)

[25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 75% Cabernet Franc]

Intense deep color. On the nose I find superb, beautiful ripe fruit with almost some jammy sweetness. On the palate the journey towards velvet starts. Super tannins like they only seem to exist here at Ausone. The ripe fruit combines perfectly with the ripe tannins and the freshness, so important in this vintage. The first wine today, that I refuse to spit out. Well done, and this is “simply” a second wine. 

Chateau Ausone 2022 (20+ points/20)

[35% Merlot and 65% Cabernet Franc]

A deep intense color, much like “La Chapelle.” Superb complex nose that seeming continuously shows layer after layer. Just the nose is enough to make my day. 

On the palate I can reduce my tasting notes to one word: WOW! This is really special. I have had the pleasure of tasting Ausone on futures for almost 20 years now, but this beats everything I have experienced so far. The velvetiness tannins in the world with a precision in red and black fruit like only a great Ausone can produce. A completely linear experience; flawless! In simply incredible balance with acidity, tannins, and an astounding pure fruit expression. I refuse spitting out this great wine. A magnificent Ausone from an exceptional vintage. My verdict? 20 points is not enough: 20+ points as this wine beats everything.

Chateau Cheval Blanc 2022

Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Cheval Blanc’s technical director modesty declined all honors for the vintage: “We take no credit for this vintage, it were the vines that did everything themselves.” Like elsewhere, the freshness was a big surprise: “Normally you get a very sweet wine in a hot vintage. This year the heat and the drought didn’t happen at once, but was the signature of the vintage during the entire growing season. We don’t understand where the freshness is coming from. We could have harvested as of August 15. The tannins were already perfectly ripe at that time. We just waited a bit for the alcohol and the tannins.”

All this may be true, but the yields suffered. Cheval Blanc harvested a mere 27 hl/ha. As a result, this year there is no Petit Cheval, the second wine of the former First Growth A.

Freed from the burden of the Classification (where the vineyards are classified and not the lable) Cheval Blanc snatched up its next-door estate Chateau La Tour du Pin Figeac.

Chateau Cheval Blanc 2022 (20- points/20)

[53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon]

The wine shows a deep purple color with a slightly lighter rim. On the nose the wine seems reluctant to show its true colors. It takes a while and some swirling and then there is some good precise fruit, some floral and some prune aromas. On the palate the I find the typical elegance and freshness of a great Cheval Blanc. It is not just the freshness of the vintage but also the signature Cabernet Franc that adds to the expression of this great 2022. Beautiful precision of the fruit. And the silky tannins are powerful but well-integrated and perfectly ripe. A great Cheval Blanc for that will be able to age for decades to come. 

Chateau Angelus 2022

Arriving at Angélus I found the chateau seemingly calm and quiet. I didn’t notice any change apart from a huge crane next to the chateau. Entering the impressive entrance hall, I notice the building noise. Well, more breaking noise for the time being, as the entire vat room is being torn down. In short, Angélus is renovating again, and I have the feeling that this is going to be spectacular again. But that is a story for another time. At Angélus the next generation is at the helm and Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal has started a tradition of naming vintages. When I saw that she called the 2022: the Majestic, my expectations were raised. I tasted with Léa Bodin in the tasting room in the tower behind the chateau. At Angélus the crop was very homogenous. Freed from the yoke of the Classification, Angélus could incorporate the 3,6 ha of neighboring Bellevue into their wines. The ratio Merlot-Cabernet Franc remained the same thanks to rigorous selections at harvest time. Stéphanies father Hubert de Boüard continues to be the winemaker as he has been doing for over 30 years now. 

Carillon d’Angelus 2022 (18+ points/20)

[90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc]

Good deep purple-red color. On the nose this wine is very expressive. The fruit simply dances out of the glass with red and black fruit notes. 

Here too I find a lovely freshness. Both subtle and elegant. Good length.

Chateau Angelus 2022 (19,5+ points)

[60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc]

Deep dark ruby red with some purple tinges. A superb and complex nose, almost flawless. A big step up from the Carillon. Black fruit and some floral notes with some violet. Some hints of liquorice. Superb freshness that is the signature of the way Hubert vinifies his Cabernet Franc and this 2022 is no exception. Full-bodied with a great freshness, very complex and refined. Gorgeous, almost linear tannic structure. Very silky indeed. Great length. Another great Angélus.

Chateau Pavie 2022

The vintage 2022 represents party time at Chateau Pavie. It is the 25th vintage made by the current owner Gerard Perse. Of course, they celebrated 10 years of being a Premier Grand Cru Classé “A”. Pavie was the only chateau from the 2012 Classification to remain “A” in 2022. 

Aromes de Pavie 2022 (17,5+ points/20)

[50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc]

The color is intense, almost black with a slightly lighter purple rim. 

Rather closed on the nose with some hints of cooked fruit and some whiffs of menthol. Some fruit on the palate with blueberries and blackberries. Less dominated by the oak as previous vintages. The wine has a tendency to give a sensation of dryness towards the finish that I find less appealing. Good length.

Chateau Pavie 2022 (19,5- points/20)

[52% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon]

Incredible deep almost inky dark purple color. Rather closed on the nose. The wine shows jammy notes and some cooked fruit; almost sweet? A bit more freshness than in previous years. I keep finding it challenging to appreciate a sample that has such a strong influence of the oak. Some nice fruit tones manage to show. This is a big wine with big tannins, but having said that, the tannins seem more elegant and riper than I have experienced here before. The road to less oak and more elegance is noticeable.