En Primeur Notebook – Part 2
En Primeur Week, an annual ritual which sees wine professionals from all over the world flocking to Bordeaux. Over the course of three days, in six host châteaux, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux holds tasting sessions devoted to each of its constituent appellations. Tag along with Vintage for a behind-the-scenes insight into this vast event, and get an exclusive preview of the 2022 vintage.
It is Wednesday morning and we are back on the road – this time in Pomerol, the smallest appellation in the Union des Grands Crus. A place where you only need to cross the road to visit the neighbouring great growth. Pomerol is a real ocean of vines dotted with prestigious estates. Estate owners have chosen to host the tasters inside one of them, Château Beauregard, during En Primeur Week. Beauregard has pulled out all the stops, laying out the red carpet to welcome visitors! They will gather in the winery in front of the 22 temperature-controlled, truncated cone-shaped vats made of unlined concrete. It is 9.30 am, and you can sense the excitement of the châteaux representatives as they await the first visitors. Once the various wines have been analysed, scrutinised and evaluated, the experts confirm yesterday’s initial impressions: 2022 looks set to be a great vintage. One estate representative had no doubt about it. He announces enthusiastically: “It’s an incredible vintage! Despite the water stress which decreased volumes and the summer heatwave, the grapes were bursting with polyphenols and were harvested on time, producing wines with the right level of acidity to age well.”
© Martin Dupuy Photographie
“Word has gone around, there are a lot of people, particularly from abroad, who have come to taste this superb vintage. The wines have retained their freshness and the quality is excellent across the board.”
All over the Bordeaux vineyards, there is a buzz in the air as the estate representatives wait for the tasters keen to sample the results of their hard work. Now it’s time to head over to the left bank. After an hour’s drive, we arrive in Margaux at Château Lascombes at midday. In the estate’s grounds, the hosts are serving a delicious lunch in the orangery. Guests tuck into regional products and sip various vintages from the appellation. After lunch, the crowd heads over to the estate’s large vat room, inaugurated last Autumn, to taste the 2022 vintage. Here and elsewhere, we are delighted, not only by the numbers that are clearly up compared to last year, but also by the great quality of the vintage: “Word has gone around, there are a lot of people, particularly from abroad, who have come to taste this superb vintage. The wines have retained their freshness and the quality is excellent across the board”, highlights one estate manager. In the tasting room, rumour has it that Margaux would be the greatest success of 2022. But the other Médoc appellations have not said their last word. We’ll meet them tomorrow for the final leg of our trip.
Interview with Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine and journalist for The New Wine Review
What are your first impressions of the 2022 vintage?
It is a deeply-coloured vintage. The wines are very dark, almost black – it’s quite impressive, really. Beyond this aspect, they display wonderful freshness and tension, which I was not expecting given the weather conditions. It is a lovely surprise. The future prospects of the wines we tasted is quite variable: some are almost ready to drink now while others are so intense and concentrated that it would be best to enjoy them in ten years’ time. They have superb ageing potential, so let’s not be in a hurry to drink them.
What is the atmosphere like as En Primeur Week gets underway?
I attend En Primeur Week nearly every year. I hadn’t been back for four years due to COVID, so this visit feels extra special! It is lovely to be back with old friends, journalists, producers: to see Bordeaux on top form once again! There are smiles all round, not only since people are happy to see each other again and welcome tasters from abroad once more, but also because of the quality of this vintage.
As a Master of Wine and journalist, what does En Primeur week mean to you?
Bordeaux wines played a key role in my training. I had to get to know and understand the entire Bordeaux region to pass the Master of Wine exam.
For me, En Primeur week is much more than simply a presentation of the latest vintage. It is the opportunity to meet producers, purchase old vintages and discover the latest trends. It really puts Bordeaux in the spotlight.
Have any of the wines really stood out so far?
I was very impressed by Saint-Estèphe. The wines in this appellation are incredibly fresh despite the hot, dry vintage