Now, For My Latest Trick: Burgundy 2022


Côte de Beaune: Aloxe, Ladoix & Pernand | Beaune | Chassagne-Montrachet | Côte ChalonnaiseMaranges, Monthelie & St-Aubin | Meursault | Pommard | Puligny-Montrachet | Volnay

Côte de Nuits: Chambolle | Fixin & Marsannay | Gevrey-Chambertin | Morey-Saint-Denis | Nuits Saint-Georges | Vosne-Romanée


God is watching Friends and munching a pink Fondant Fancy when He sees the newsflash. The sober-looking newsreader coughs and composes himself. What the dickens has happened this time? He readies himself for the worst. The news is so unbelievable that He sits there frozen, Fondant Fancy suspended in front of open mouth.  

“There are unconfirmed reports that a Burgundy grower has reduced, I repeat, reduced their 2022 prices.”

God paces the living room like a biodynamic winemaker on a root day.

“Get it together. You. Are. God. You are all-powerful. You can do anything. Don’t panic.”

He speed-dials his local merchant. A plummy English voice chiseled by a hideously expensive public school education deigns to answer.

“Good afternoon. How may I assist?”

“God speaking. I’m phoning about the Burgundy grower that has reduced their prices.”

The merchant covers the speaker with his hand. His guffaws remain audible.

“Is this a prank call? Next, you’ll be telling me that the Beastie Boys are DJ’ing in Clos de Vougeot or that someone has made Riesling in the Côte d’Or*, Syrah in Mâcon**. Let me guess. You really are the Creator of life, the universe and everything.”


He hangs up. God jots down the name of the merchant whose future is instantaneously as bleak as a vine planted on 161-49 rootstock in the mid-nineties. He phones Mother Nature.

“God here.”

“Which one?”

He sighs. “The Old Testament one.”

“Aw wight, darlin’,” she replies, sounding like Eliza Doolittle before her first elocution lesson. “Are you phonin’ to fank me for blessin’ Burgundy with a pair a lov-er-ly growin’ seasons?”

“No, I…”

“It did cause one or two fires. Wot a palaver! That’s the price ya’ pay if you want ripe grapes.”

“No, I am calling about…”

She witters on inanely, not listening to a word of reason, like a deluded vineyard owner who’s doubled the price of his over-cropped Chambertin. He puts down the handset, picks up the TV remote and watches a live report of rioting outside wine merchants. Bellicose men in pin-striped suits elbow each other out of the way and flash wads of money. One shoves 500 Euro notes through a letter box, bawling: “I’ll take anything…anything you got…as long as it’s Grand Cru and 100 points.” Flicking through His Instagram feed (@ireallyamgod), conspiracy theories are legion.

The price reduction is AI-generated.

The price reduction is a sign of world peace.

The price reduction is Divine Intervention…

If only.

Eventually, His eye catches the TV screen. In hiding since the news broke, the culpable winemaker is being interviewed on French TV outside the Hotel Dieu in St.-Tropez-Sans-Mer, the official new name for Beaune. In the studio waiting to debate the issue is renowned Japanese sommelier Shizuku Kanzaki, looking a bit “sketchy” today, and Trudy Kurniawan, who claims she can concoct blends that taste absolutely nothing like the real thing.

“It’s my fault,” the winemaker sobs. “I pressed the minus key by mistake. Our prices are increasing by 20%.”

Two grim-faced gendarmes cart him away to a penal colony adjacent to Beaune’s Les Cité des Climats, which just celebrated its 10th visitor.

God slumps onto his sofa and pops the rest of his Fondant Fancy in his mouth, resigned to the fact that nothing flips the bird to economic theory like fine wine. He entertains the thought of buying that case, even if the price has gone up in a more prodigious vintage.

Well, should He?

He logs on to Vinous, His favorite website, skips the infantile preamble, and starts to read.

Driving out of Chambolle-Musigny after yet another torrential day’s rain, the clouds momentarily broke and created this fiery sky. I slammed the brakes, whipped out my iPhone and captured the moment - this image has not been touched up in any way. A sign from God about 2022 release prices?

The Growing Season

Some vintages like 2016 and 2021 are so complex, so storied, that the season reads like War and Peace (without the bloodshed). That is unequivocally not the case in 2022. It is comparatively straightforward with one significant event. Nearly every winemaker used the word “easy” to describe the 2022 vintage…except the Côte d’Or’s resident contrarian, Frédéric Mugnier, and also Cécile Tremblay.

As I wrote before, it is naïve to limit one’s purview to the calendar year as a tabula rasa. Instead, see the growing season as the latest of an interconnected chain, the previous one the basis for the next. Twenty-one was traumatic, beset by devastating frost, constant rain, endemic rot and a late harvest where many struggled to achieve ripeness. Unsurprisingly, the vines were exhausted by the end, and with inclement conditions at the forefront of their minds, vines produced more fruit the following year to lengthen the odds of survival. You could argue that they did just that, albeit two years later in the abnormally abundant 2023 vintage.

The 2021/2022 winter was milder and drier than average, prompting vines to begin their growth cycle in early April. Cold air descended from the north, leading to a skirmish with frost between April 3 and 11. Fortunately, except for a handful of susceptible pockets in Saint-Aubin and Puligny, a skirmish is all it was; winemakers spared lighting wax candles. This cold snap was immediately followed by a warm period that allowed vines to make up lost ground. Vines sprinted ahead like Usain Bolt running for a bus. At Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, vineyard managers Nicolas Jacob and Didier Dubois were forced to overlap vineyard work such as pruning, de-budding and typing up/down instead of tacking each in turn as usual, in order to keep up with the vines. (They should have hired Usain Bolt.) Flowering was a fortnight earlier than average, between May 19 and 26, expedited by a small shower on May 24. The first important factor about the 2022 vintage is that flowering was undisturbed by unseasonal temperatures or wind. Save for a peppering of millerandage, it foregrounded a relatively early and large harvest, just what was needed after the depleted 2021 crop.

June is the crux.

No June, no 2022 vintage as it is.

The month began with warm and dry clement conditions, which began to concern winemakers since they had already faced a water deficit of 42% by the end of May. Whoever prayed for rain, well, their pernoctations were heard, and Mother Nature went a bit overboard. Clement conditions broke, and thunderstorms beset the region for four days between June 21 and 25. The BIVB figures of 50mm across the region and 90mm in some areas do not tell the whole story.

This astonishing photo, taken by Pierre Duroché, depicts the ominous moment before the heavens broke. Imagine the amount of moisture suspended in that sagging, misshapen cloud. The Wicked Witch of the West appeared soon after.

Firstly, the storms were tremendously violent over Gevrey-Chambertin on June 22. Roads turned into roiling brown rivers, and cellars were soon inundated with water. Officially, 100mm fell in just 45 minutes. Arnaud Mortet pointed out that the magnitude of rain was such that the local weather station was unable to measure the exact figure. It was biblical.

Why did Gevrey take the brunt?

Speaking to growers just north in Marsannay or south in Morey-Saint-Denis, I was surprised to learn that the deluge was far less severe, with 70mm falling in Vosne-Romanée, for example. One theory is that the Combe de Lavaut, the narrow valley perpendicular to the ribbon of vineyards, funneled the unstable air mass into one area. A second is more contentious but worth relaying. Brian Sieve, winemaker at Domaine de Montille, speculated that the anti-hail canons in the Côte de Beaune tend to push storms northwards into the Côte de Nuits. When I broached this theory to another winemaker, he did not dismiss it out of hand.

Two consequences must be considered. Firstly, how much of that rainwater penetrated the soil to replenish undergrowth reserves? There are two contradicting ideas. Firstly, those that plowed soils enhanced their water retention, water seeping deeper into the earth, in contrast to compacted soils where water tends to run off. Another said that maintaining cover crops was more beneficial because it prevented soil erosion. This was a huge problem. One winemaker provided a thought-provoking fact: It takes a millennium to create just one centimeter of topsoil. A priori, it took minutes to wash away thousands of years of earth, exposing the upper root system in some cases.

So, what are you going to do?

Domaine Armand Rousseau hired mechanical diggers and three workers tasked with transporting 200 tons of soil back up the slope and redistributing it around the vines. A week later, I bumped into Cyrielle and asked her whether the quoted figure was correct. Yep. 200 tons. It took three people two weeks to complete.

Flooded vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, again, taken by Pierre Duroché.

Storms came with a side-order of localized hail. Nathalie Tollot told me she lost one-quarter of her crop in Chorey-lès-Beaune via two hailstorms on June 22 and 25. Another band targeted Gevrey-Chambertin and parts of Nuits Saint-Georges such as Les Pruliers and Roncières, where Antoine Gouges reported losses of 30%, impacting growers such as Domaine Robert Chevillon and Henri Gouges. On the plus side, ensuing dry conditions meant that damaged fruit dried quickly and simply fell to the earth instead of rotting on the vine.

This rainfall was fundamental to success because it stayed dry and extremely hot afterward. One advantage is that sanitary conditions were very good, with negligible mildew, though several winemakers pointed out that oïdium pressure remained high. Therefore, far fewer treatments were needed. There were four heat waves: July 10 and 25 (most acute between July 15 and 19 when the mercury reached 41° Celsius), the beginning of August, August 8 to 13 and August 24 to 29. It was the second hottest vintage since 1947 after 2003. There was also an incredible accumulation of sunshine hours, 275 hours more than average, equivalent to a hypothetical additional month of July. So, you would expect leaves to brown and curl before falling off, yet a majority of winemakers asserted that vines did not exhibit signs of stress, just a handful admitting younger vines on well-drained soils suffered. There were certainly instances of shriveled or burnt berries (grillure) where bunches were exposed to direct sunlight. Interestingly, Jeremy Seysses found that their biodynamic vines exhibited less sunburn.

One factor to consider is that temperatures did fall at night, differentiating it from the infamous 2003 vintage when they remained high and denied vines any relief. Also, intermittent showers kept the vines ticking over, for example, 20mm between July 15 and 18, another just prior to picking. I posit that vines were stressed, but stress that they have learned to cope with. That’s the crucial difference. When the mercury exceeded 35° Celsius, they discretely closed their stomata partially or totally in order to conserve energy. It would explain, when winemakers returned to the vineyards in mid-August, why they were surprised to find sugar levels lower than expected. Anticipated picking for around August 20 had to be delayed several days, which underlines why alcohol levels are markedly lower than in similar seasons. The heat waves did disturb and string out véraison. In many vineyards, the berries did not turn purple until around August 10. This means there was less than a month between the completion of véraison and picking. A handful of growers like Jean Lupatelli, de Vogüé and Etienne Grivot conducted a green harvest two or three weeks before harvest to limit yields, though the practice was uncommon.

Taken just prior to the picking, it was pretty easy to find signs of burnt berries exposed to direct sunlight. Observing several sites in early September, I suspect it was wider than some winemakers admit and obliged more sorting.

Most winemakers agree that the time to commence harvesting is becoming more and more difficult, some rueing that it was the most stressful period. This is definitely the case in 2022. It’s not like later picking when sugar accumulation is more gradual, and harvest can be more leisurely.

Let’s examine this in more detail.

One can make an analogy to taking a free kick in football or a pass in American football. How the player kicks/throws the ball is determined by where they want it to land. Likewise, the winemaker must project forward, intuiting when his various parcels will reach their optimal picking window in terms of sugar and acidity while ensuring his team will be ready on that day, even on that hour, warmer temperatures encouraging increasing numbers to pick from dawn ‘til noon, or even at night using headband torchlights. The “known unknown” is how sugar levels accumulate between parcels. Vigilance is key, but practicality depends upon the size and diaspora of parcels and number of pickers. You don’t want your entire team working their way through, say, Meursault Charmes, if your Les Perrières is sending out an SOS to be picked tout de suite. Burgundy’s monoculture of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and, in some cases, Aligoté means that optimal picking windows are becoming more clustered; ergo, more producers dispense with the orthodox “Chardonnay-then-Pinot” rule and either mix them together or begin with the most sensitive, thin-skinned Pinot Noir, e.g., at Fontaine-Gagnard and Thierry Matrot. Winemakers like Charles Ballot (Ballot-Millot) and Xavier Horiot (Launay-Horiot) hire large teams in order to complete harvest within the shortest time and give them flexibility. Picking dates underpin success and failure; you’ll find them all within the Producer Profiles.

Teams started picking the whites between August 21 and 25, the reds between August 25 and, at the latest, September 6, later in the Côte de Nuits than the Côte de Beaune. There is a divergence of opinion in the Côte d’Or about whether it is better to pick earlier in order to retain freshness or late to safeguard phenolic maturity. Be wary of drawing conclusions because you have to look at viticulture holistically, i.e., take into account rootstock, canopy cover, pruning, green harvesting, soil type (e.g., climats such as Les Amoureuses strewn with larger white detritus will reflect heat back upwards), clones and so forth. Consequently, some later-picked wines tasted incredibly fresh and vice versa.

Vincent Dureuil, in Rully, picked his Pinot Noir first, tucked it away in refrigerated units, sorted out his Chardonnay, and returned to his Pinot later.

Because of the early harvest and prevailing warm conditions, it was important to keep the fruit cool. Hence, there is greater use of refrigerated units, not just to keep the fruit cool and avoid spoilage but to regulate the pace of fruit entering the vat room. Vincent Dureuil in Rully is one who harvested his Pinot Noir and stored it in units simply so that he could make sure his whites were safely in barrel before tackling the reds. A majority of winemakers claimed that little sorting, if any, was necessary. “We sorted just one cagette out of hundred” one told me. That is understandable, though there is a bit of glossing over reality here. Christophe Perrot-Minot looked disdainful when I remarked that he was one of the few winemakers who insists that sorting was important. Etienne Chaix at Domaine Joseph Voillot is another who told me he had to get rid of any shriveled or burnt berries, even under-ripe berries if stressed vines had prevented phenolic ripeness. Sure, sorting was nothing like in 2021; however, I am certain that eyes needed to be focused upon conveyor belts.


Many of the top wineries have greater incomes than they had a decade ago. That’s partly due to higher prices, though more often, a result of inward investment from external parties wishing to get a toehold in the Côte d’Or. Some Domaines, suddenly flush with money, can afford to upgrade dramatically, for example, Domaine des Lambrays. Domaine Amiot-Servelle in Chambolle-Musigny is paradigmatic of how a new winery can meliorate vinification processes, especially in terms of smaller vats and extended barrel cellars enabling maturation beyond 12 months. There’s little point overhauling your viticulture, raising trellising, perhaps adopting échalas (cultivating individual vines on a stake), stopping rognage (hedging) to tressage vines and so forth, if fruit enters a winery that obliges compromise. The over-arching ethos is one of “gentler vinification” and “less intrusive maturation”, and these sculpt the 2022s in a different manner to even just a decade ago.

For example, Pellenc de-stemmers are becoming increasingly popular, enabling winemakers to de-stem while keeping the berries whole or lightly split. This allows them to conduct some intra-cellular fermentation at the beginning of alcoholic fermentation that enhances freshness and fruité. It’s not universally popular, and I advise readers towards the Producer Profile to understand why they opt for the advantages of crushing before pressing at Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. Others like to keep it old school and undertake a rough crushing of Chardonnay in Vaslin presses, allowing them to oxidize to mitigate against premature oxidation. Dureuil is one that leaves his must to brown while unprotected by a veil of sulphur for several hours before commencing fermentation. Many producers, including Paul Zanetti at Domaine Comte Armand, reported less juice than anticipated when they pressed the berries, which could be put down to evaporation during July and August.

With respect to both the whites and reds, the aim of practically every vigneron was to capture the unexpected freshness of the wines, which mainly derived for tartaric acidity instead of malic, since heat had burned much away. There is a continuing trend for shorter cuvaison periods, for example, Christophe Roumier and Dujac, and lighter macerations at lower temperatures in order to create lighter-colored, less-extracted, so-called “transparent” wines. The watchword remains “infusion”. Mother Nature had already bestowed fruit that does not need to be pushed. Sometimes, this approach can be taken too far, resulting in pallid wines that need more stuffing. “I think there is a limit to infusion,” Boris Champy tells me. “And if you don’t do enough pump-overs, then the yeast and sugar stays in the barrel.” Several winemakers mentioned that alcoholic fermentation was a little faster than usual and, as is de rigueur, many do not add sulphur at least until after the malolactic to enhance micro-biological activity, amongst other benefits, though one had to be careful because higher pH levels mean they can be more susceptible to spoilage. Faiveley is one who used a little more SO2. Malolactic fermentation was quick, often completed before the Festive period, due to the lower level of malic acid. Consequently, it did not radically alter the wines like other vintages.

Here comes your man, Boris Champy, the lyrics of Pixies’ Monkey Gone to Heaven scrawled on the barrel cellar door.

In terms of aging the wines, I suppose the big question is whether the 2022s need the second winter in barrel or in vat? Opinions are split right down the middle. You could argue that 12 months in barrel followed by 6 months in tank, is a middle-ground, underlying its popularity across the Côte d’Or. It frees up space in wineries as the next crop enters the winery while granting the previous crop with more time to mature, albeit within an inert, less oxidative environment. One unanticipated element of the 2022 vintage is the enormous volume of the 2023s. We will broach that next year, but the sheer volume of incoming fruit meant that some were forced to bottle their 2022s after 12 months, lest they run out of room, especially those without barrels/vats to age wines in the second year. Of course, many winemakers are loathe to admit that they had no choice. One that did raise my eyebrows was de Jean Lupatelli’s decision to bottle the Bonnes-Mares t de Vogüé’s after 12 months. Compared to the Musigny, I couldn’t help feeling that another few months would have…emboldened their Bonnes-Mares, bestowing the substance befitting this Grand Cru.

One trend in the Côte d’Or is experimentation with alternative barrels to the traditional 228-liter pièce. I spotted more larger barrels such as 350 and 500-liter demi-muids at Olivier Lamy and Laurent Fournier to name but two (see Producer Profiles for details). Also, a few more Stockinger foudres at Lamy, Ghislaine-Barthod, Henri Magnien and Sylvain Pataille inter alia. Several years ago, I expressed surprise that more winemakers were not at least trialing foudres that are economical in terms of space and simpatico with lighter wood influence. Plus, they look the biz. Doubtless, they will proliferate in the coming years as their benefits become clear. Glass WineGlobes are also more prevalent, ideal for raising small quantities in an inert reductive environment, though they work only in tandem with oak barrels instead of their own when they can render wine rather sterile. Naturally, there are more clay jars, though most producers are cautious about increasing their use beyond a minor percentage of the total blend, more so than Bordeaux. As already mentioned, most winemakers advised that no adjustment was necessary, though Ghislaine-Barthod and one or two others even chaptalized by half a degree as natural alcohol levels were below 12.5%.

Christophe Roumier in his barrel cellar, remaining faithful to the Burgundy 228-liter piéces.

Most of the wines will be bottled from January until next spring, with a few Domaines that conduct a full two years in the barrel, like Domaine Jean-Claude Bachelet, next July or August. To reiterate, bottling is the overlooked stage of winemaking, but it is a delicate task with the potential to ruin a great wine if done sloppily. Many use the lunar calendar to dictate the time of bottling, but of course, it can be dictated by whether you own your own bottling line or whether you hire one in. In the case of the latter, you might not necessarily be able to bottle precisely when desired; notwithstanding the ongoing travails in obtaining bottles, some producers now order well in advance to make sure they actually have something to contain their wine.

How The Wines Were Tasted

Virtually all the wines in this report were tasted between October 17 and November 24, when it poured with rain almost every day. I rang the doorbells of around 170 wineries. As is customary, I write all my notes in real-time, almost exactly as you read them. I prefer spontaneous sensory reaction that often proves to be on the money rather than dwelling on jotted observations later, plus it obviates the mind-numbing task typing some 2,500 notes upon returning home. Producer Profiles are composed on site: over 40,000 words of first-hand information from horses’ mouths. Perhaps these are the most important parts of the report: one-on-one discussions that offer personal insights into the season, exposing both concordance and, more intriguingly, differences of opinion. How boring if all winemakers thought the same. You will also find information on recent developments, new cuvées, modus operandi and the odd piece of tittle-tattle, at least that which is publishable.

With respect to included Domaines, I strive to blend blue-chip producers with minnows, historic négociants stalwarts and arrivistes, from Maranges up to Marsannay. It welcomes growers that I have been remiss at not visiting before such as Dureuil-Janthial, Ballot-Millot and Henri Germain, others returning after a hiatus such as Oudoul-Coquard and JJ Confuron. Any omissions are nearly always because there are only 24 hours in a day. I have little urge to chase hipster micro-négociants producing minuscule quantities, too often sold at astronomical/egomaniacal prices. This is a topic I will broach in a follow-up piece on the market. I make a point of tasting entire ranges, not just Grand Crus; after all, the caliber of a winemaker is more accurately gauged by their entry-level cuvées, not necessarily their most expensive.

Further reviews from more producers will be added in the near future, and I strive to publish before the London primeur tastings in mid-January. That constitutes a herculean task not only for the author but also for the team tasked with proofreading this tsunami of notes and prose, notwithstanding transferring them onto the database.

Cécile Tremblay with hound outside her winery in Morey-Saint-Denis. She will have a couple more cuvées in 2023.

The Wines

No Burgundy vintage has wrong-footed me like 2022.

I mean that in a positive sense. I expected dark-hued, high-octane, high alcohol/low acidity, opulent wines in the mold of 2018 or 2020, wines that provoke lamentations about the loss of “classic Burgundy”. The 2022s confounded expectations to such a degree that I deliberated whether to summarise the growing season, lest I risk readers drawing false conclusions! My preconceptions were (mis)colored by two events: the unprecedented heat wave experienced here in the UK and the concurrent wildfires in Bordeaux.

I cannot remember a Burgundy vintage that elicited so much joy from barrel, and I’ve undertaken this exercise for over 20 years. I appreciate the whites’ freshness, particularly their textures, and the deft use of extract that lends weight and presence and heightens umami. Quality is spread fairly evenly across white appellations, though perhaps the peaks reside in Chassagne-Montrachet, fuelled by a cluster of forward-thinking winemakers such as Benoît and Alex Moreau, Sébastien Caillat, Simon Colin, Pierre-Yves Colin, Thierry Pillot and Sabine Mollard. Rather than appellation, perhaps one should examine soil type for differences? “The clay soils are a little spicier,” Damien Colin told me when I visited Domaine Marc Colin in the confusingly named village of Gamay, “while the limestone soils on the slopes are more difficult to drink young. But I think that they will age better.”

In some ways, the reds are even more surprising. Stylistically, they fit more into the mold of cooler and classically styled vintages. Lighter colors, delineated aromatics, often tensile, surprisingly vibrant wines with ample weight and length, despite comparatively higher pH levels that vary between 3.25 to 3.50 pH. Adjustment in the winery? I’m sure some did, though when I enquired, a majority denied acidification. Moreover, the wines don’t feel unnatural or manipulated. Many barrel samples an appealing croquant of “crunch” that would have been denied at higher alcohol levels.

Louis-Michel Liger-Belair is arranging his expanded, enviable portfolio that includes a métayage from Domaine Lamarche.

Perhaps alcohol levels are the biggest surprise. They’ll please everyone except those intent upon inebriation. Most of the reds come in between 12.8% and 13.5% when I was limbering up for wines north of 14%. It makes a tangible difference, lifting terroir expression and enhancing that elusive, intangible notion of Pinoté. Prosaically, it imbues the 2022s with drinkability, albeit with caveats (see “The Travesty” below). The reasons for lower alcohol? Higher yields, for starters, many within 15% of the maximum yields permitted, making it the largest in volume for several years, especially the reds. Excess sunlight was distributed among more clusters. Balanced vines predicate balanced wines. In addition, most vineyard managers opted to pick earlier rather than later.

Where the hand of the vintage can be seen is within fruit profiles that sometimes veer towards black rather than red, though without totting them up, I’d say that they were evenly balanced between the two. A quirk of 2022 is that some barrels samples implied stem addition when there were, in fact, none. Never mind - it is a trait I like. After completely misreading one of David Croix’s cuvées in terms of guessing the percentage of the whole bunch, he suggested that high pH levels can simulate the sensation of stems, a similar feeling to one he had in the 2019s. Most winemakers appear to have used a similar percentage of stems even if they raised pH levels, confident that the warmth and sunlight had fully lignified them.

Negatives? There must be. It’s Burgundy - that most fickle wine. I loathe reducing wine into numbers. However, as tastings progressed, I noticed how overall quality was high insofar that many wines easily scored in the low to mid-nineties, a superb wine in my book. Yet it did not convince me that 2022 is a bevy of potential legendary wines, comparatively few breaching 95 and above. Maybe that’s because I don’t throw out high scores like confetti? But maybe the shorter hang-time, 80 to 90 days instead of 100 days, precluded incremental maturation that can engender more complex fruit? Is that Nature’s pay-off for avoiding over-ripe, concocted Burgundy à la 2003? I think that localized hail knocked some producers harder than expected, especially around Gevrey-Chambertin, and I feel that 2022 will penalise cuvées that could not picked at precisely the right time, too early or too late. Consequently, there are times when I noticed I preferred 2021 over its 2022 counterpart, but that’s Burgundy for you.

Thierry Pillot in Chassagne-Montrachet at Domaine Paul Pillot.

The Travesty

The travesty is how much Burgundy wine is consumed barely months after bottling. I frequently saw 2021 Grand Crus on Beaune restaurant lists. Enjoyment can be found drinking white or red in their flush of youth, particularly with respect to the former, so I’m not advocating some blanket ban on consuming wines before a minimal point. I’m flexible. Yet, some winemakers admitted feeling pressured to acquiesce to consumer demand, alter modus operandi to fashion approachable wines that risk riding roughshod over the nuances of terroir that need time to manifest. “We have to satisfy the demands of sommeliers,” one winemaker confessed. “They often want the latest ‘hot’ producer on their list.” Then again, if secondary prices are so stratospheric, can you really blame them? Haven’t we all done it?

The style of 2022 is primed for early consumption, more than 2019 or 2020. These are open wines, not overly tannic, fresh and tensile. They’ll take over the 2017s as the vintage that entertains drinkability, though I would argue that most 2022s are superior. The travesty is that the 2022s are blessed with the balance and substance to mature exquisitely in bottle. Reality is that too many will be consumed within the first four or five years. Consequently, my drinking windows reflect my belief that while they will doubtless be delicious in their youth, morally, I hope that the best wines are allowed to reach their prime and for both colors to prove their longevity. That’s for drinkers to decide.

Simon Colin, a scion of Philippe Colin, one of Chassagne-Montrachet’s rising stars.

Final Thoughts

Doomsayers predicting the demise of Burgundy due to global warming may have reason not to be quite so pessimistic tasting 2022s. In vino veritas. Empirically, there’s definitely something going on out there in the vineyards, vines responding to their “new normal”. Géraldine Godot, winemaker at Domaine de l’Arlot, spoke succinctly when she told me: “I think the vines have adapted to the new conditions, and maybe for them, it is more natural to change than human. I think there are no rules. Sometimes things are completely strange, and we have to think differently, not systematically.” Exactly how vines are adapting is not understood at a biochemical level. Carel Voorhuis at Camille Giroud points to research in the role of abscisic acid and how, when sprayed in conjunction with managed leaf-to-fruit ratio, it can control plant hormones such as ethylene that regulate berry ripening. It’s too complicated to discuss here, but it is worth noting that there is much ongoing research trying to understand vines’ adaptation on a molecular basis, not least because global warming threatens the entire wine industry.

The 2022 vintage in the Côte d’Or is one that I will enjoy returning time and again. Some dub these tastings a “marathon”. It can feel like that sometimes, but honestly, it was more of a joyride. At this point, I advise readers to fill their boots, yet we must await release prices. I fear they may increase despite higher quantities, a short-sighted strategy with the abundant 2023s imminent, a vintage growers already seem to be downplaying. But if your favorite growers’ price tags seem fair, then I would not hesitate diving in. The 2022 vintage is Burgundy’s latest trick: a treasure trove of bright ‘n bushy-tailed whites and reds in a season that implied such wines would be impossible, wines predestined to give immense drinking pleasure.

* Nicolas Faure ** Mark Haisma

© 2024, Vinous. No portion of this article may be copied, shared or re-distributed without prior consent from Vinous. Doing so is not only a violation of our copyright, but also threatens the survival of independent wine criticism.

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