We’ve had some good releases the last couple of days. The Leoville Barton promises to be one of their finest ever (first vintage in the new cellars) and Langoa was simply awesome. Just wish I could get more of both as volume was down. Siran promises to be one of the best buys this year and also sports a one-off special label in tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Finally a trio of what are arguably the best-buys in all of St. Emilion. First off is Chateau Mangot. This has been a “sleeping giant” for quite some time with a superb terroir right near Chateau Valendraud. It was given cru classe status this year along with our next new offering the always loved Tour St. Christophe. This is once again another “homerun” from TSC don’t miss it. Finally another “sleeping giant” -Chateau Bellefont Belcier. This incredible property sits right next door to Chateau Pavie and the wine has never been better. I actually went out of my way to taste it twice just to be sure. Don’t miss it!
The campaign gets underway today with the release of two very important wines. Cheval Blanc and Angelus. Both are some of the greatest ever produced at these famous Chateau!
Bordeaux 2022... The future is bright!
I just returned from a wonderful week in Bordeaux tasting the fabulous 2022 wines “en premiere”. With a very vigorous schedule I tasted almost every important wine on both banks (really the only ones I missed were Petrus, Le Pin and Lafluer!) some 2-3 times (as I also attended a few negociant tastings). All in all, I probably tasted close to 500 wines. Safe to say I’d like to think I have a pretty good sense of 2022 in its infant stage!
If you recall from the news 2022 was a very hot summer in France. Chateau folks told me they returned from holiday in August and were very concerned when they saw small berries with thick skins. Perhaps another 2003 was in the works? But when it came to harvest (one of the earliest ever harvests by the way) the wines showed incredible freshness with reasonable alcohol levels. How did this happen? I asked this question many times and received many different answers:
- Better vineyard practices -especially canopy management to help give the grapes some nice shade
- The vines have adapted to the “new normal” of hot vintages
- 2021 was a relatively cooler vintage so the vines were in better shape to handle a rebound vintage like 2022
- Better winemaking with more gentle extractions in the cellars
More flexibility at harvest. With smaller fermentation tanks and cold rooms for holding fruit, winemakers could harvest over a longer period of time instead of being forced to pick over-ripe or under-ripe grapes.
Of course, all of the above are probably true and as one Chateau director told me -these are Mediterranean plants that can adapt to these harsh climate changes. What remains to be seen is if this is a “one off” type of “miracle” vintage or if this is the new normal. Only time will tell but the winemaking and vineyard practices in Bordeaux have never been better so the future seems bright to me!
How do the wines taste? Well overall these wines were an absolute pleasure to taste. In many instances the fruit was so pure and beautiful it was almost as if they were ready to be bottled. The fruit is deep, dark and intense but in most cases the tannins are well integrated and very fine. You know you are tasting a wine of power, but the freshness and lift make that element quite less obvious. Almost like driving a large luxury car with a huge motor. The ride is quiet and smooth, but you know what will happen if you step on the gas!
My top five (well 6) of the vintage... not in order and it’s six as Latour is not sold as a future:
Vieux Chateau Certan
20% Cab Franc. A wine of amazing balance, intensely ripe but you don’t feel it, perfume for days on the nose…wow!
Blueberry compote on the nose, intense mineral undertone. The great Merlot here shines through. Tannins are so integrated. Fantastic
Violets on the nose, hidden power tension classic Pauillac. A great wine in the making for sure.
Carmes Haut Brion
Floral nose, mid-weight very, very pure fruit and tons of freshness. CHB just keeps getting better and better.
50/50 blend of Cab Franc and Merlot. Super dense yet balanced so exotic but still old world. Magical stuff
Brooding, mineral intensity. Dark berry fruits -tight and compact keeps changing in the glass. Amazing accomplishment
Another year, another great Canon. Layers, layers, and more layers. Almost “salty” with that Canon elegance.
The limestone and clay terroirs at this special spot looking down on the rest of St. Emilion So subtle and so balanced. Hss all the hallmarks of a great wine. Troplong is the wine to watch right now.
Loved, loved this wine. 17% Cab Franc-layers of spicy fruit build up in intensity such finesse. Best L’evangile ever? Time will tell!
Voluptuous, and rich with wonderful Cabernet shining through. Very complex even at this early stage.
Lots of buzz going around for this one already. Super fresh and bright and so finessed. A real joy to taste.
Other wines to put on your radar screen (that hopefully will be reasonably priced as well):
This will get huge scores. Sweet tannins and intense concentration yet you still know it’s a Margaux. Great stuff here
Another Phil favorite and the 2022 doesn’t disappoint. With that classic Larcis sexy fruit and mineral undertone it goes on and on…
Texture, mouthfeel, and delicious fruit. This should be a very strong buy.
I’m always a Branaire fan and I love their 2022. Dark fruits, but so delicate at the same time. Has an interesting exotic character that brings you back. Great stuff!
Is there a better bang for the buck in Bordeaux right now? Red fruits, medium weight and so fresh. Another excellent Lagrange!
Delicious, will be a bargain and it will age very well. Once again, a “no brainer” purchase that you’d be best to buy right away as it sells out quick.
This is just a handful of highlights. Many other greats that I may comment on as they are released. As always, please feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions.
*First growths and “big” St. Emilion and Pomerol wines will come in wood three packs. All other wines will be in wood six packs.