- A really fine vintage. The best since 2015. Wines with structure, power but great freshness too – a lot more than in 2018, 2019, 2020. Good potential for ageing.
- Easy conditions in the vineyard and cellar. Like so many recent vintages it was a hot, dry summer, producing clean fruit with grapes harvested in great condition.
- A large crop, which seems to have delayed the ripening. Another early harvest, though a bit later than 2020.
- Modest alcohol levels after the monsters of 2020.
- Stable pricing, mostly, with the cellars full. (Another large crop was harvested in 2023).
- Good value offered by the high quality wines from the less exalted villages (Marsannay, Ladoix, Mercurey).
We made our regular trip in early November. As usual, we flew to Lyon and made our way north up to Marsannay. We’d heard, of course, that quantities were much improved after 2020, and especially 2021, and heard all the talk of a really good vintage over the past twelve months, so it is reassuring to be able to add now my own endorsement of the quality of the vintage. As a Burgundy lover brought up in a different era, I have struggled with some of the recent ripe vintages. But in 2022, though we have great ripeness and concentration, we also have balance and freshness, and energy. We have wines which look, smell and taste much more like a classic vintage. In most cases, the colours are red, not black. The nose is fresh and pure and shows all those classic, Burgundy perfumes. The palate is lively too. Firm and concentrated with sometimes powerful tannins, but overall, a great balance of fruit, structure and acidity.
The vintage escaped the frost scares which wrecked 2021, and with good weather during flowering and throughout the summer, everyone reports full cellars. In fact, some cellars are absolutely groaning under the weight of the wines produced. If 2022 was a huge relief after 2020 and 2021, then 2023 has produced substantially even more wine. I will write more about the 100 hl/ha stories next year.
Weather conditions: When they are challenging, you hear all about them – the dates of the frosts, the problems around the flowering, the summer hail bursts, the August ‘canicule’, the rainfall during harvest. In a year like 2022 there was none of that, just the theme – repeated everywhere – that the summer conditions were good, and that vintage was ‘easy’.
Winter was dry. There was almost no frost, though it threatened, as usual, in early April. There was good rainfall in June, the perfect time, followed by glorious sunshine and no more rain until a crucial few grape-refreshing showers just before harvest. There was very little disease pressure, and excellent conditions for harvest, which began for some at the end of August, but for most, in the first days of September.
It’s a hard task, understanding how the natural conditions lead us to what we taste in the glass, and there is an intriguing, and welcome paradox in 2022. Namely that such a hot vintage has produced wines which are often so crisp and lively. Perhaps, climatically, it was a little cooler than 2020, but the wines are much fresher, paler, slimmer than they were in 2020. The explanation given more than once for this is the quantity of the crop. A vine will ripen a larger volume of grapes more slowly than a small crop, with acidity levels more likely to remain high. It is also suggested in these warm vintages that tartaric makes up most of the acidity. It’s a stronger acid and, unlike malic acid, is not altered after the malolactic fermentation so is retained in the finished wine.
Many growers were nevertheless conscious that small berries would give concentrated wines, and so extraction was something to practise cautiously. Generally plunging (pigeage) was practised more sparingly than pumping over (remontage), and for some, it was sufficient to leave the skins and juice to infuse without much working of the must.
There are variations in time spent in barrel and bottling dates this year. Some growers (Heresztyn-Mazzini, Philippe Jouan) took their wines out of barrel a little earlier, while others (Confuron, Cathiard) will stick with their regular format of leaving the wines for two winters in barrel.
Quantities are better this year in most cases, though some top estates continue to reduce the amount they offer ‘en primeur’ (or to us at least). In allocating, we prioritise customers who support us through the rest of the range, and we appreciate orders which are balanced.
Please let us now as soon as possible what you would like. The sooner we receive orders, the sooner we can confirm availabilities.
Burgundians like to have the current vintage in barrel before they fix pricing for last year’s vintage. And the abundance of the 2023 vintage has persuaded most of our growers to leave prices largely untouched for the 2022 vintage. Though there are exceptions.
We have a slightly better FX rate than last year, which of course helps our customer who are buying in Sterling, though we are paying a lot more for refrigerated transport and warehousing / onward delivery. But on balance, even if Burgundy doesn’t reduce its prices, we can, so there are quite a few wines which cost less this year.