2022 looks set to be a classic vintage for many of the Europe’s fine wine regions.  The growing season has been variously described as ‘unique’, ‘extreme’, and ‘challenging’.  From Burgundy to Bordeaux, Vintage Port’s Douro to Champagne, winemakers have expressed excitement regarding the quality of the wines they have been able to produce in the 2022 vintage.

In this latest blog from MWH Wine, the home of affordable fine wine, we’ll look ahead to what wine lovers can expect from the 2022 vintage.   We’ll also consider their investment potential as they come into a more challenging wine investment market.

Bordeaux 2022

At the 2020 Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London, there was much talk of the wines of 2022.  The year got off to a shaky start with frosts and hail in the spring, followed by a prolonged dry period with high temperatures.  September nights provided some relief and bestowed some much-needed balance to the wines. 

Generalisations can be tricky when it comes to a Bordeaux vintages, but 2022 seems to defy them completely.  There were differences from plot-to-plot within a property’s holdings, with factors such as vine age, soil composition – those with limestone or clay dealt with the drought better – and the skill of the winemaker.  We asked Leoville Poyferre for a comparable year and we were smilingly told, ‘2022!’ 

This unique year will provide a small crop with some outstanding wines, wines that despite the heat won’t have the roasted character of the 2003s.  Châteaux selection will be vital, and buyers will need to choose carefully if they want the very best wines.  We’re pretty excited about them, and we’ll be sure to report back on our findings when we taste them in April.

Burgundy 2022

Quantity and quality sums up the 2022 Burgundies.  The Cotes de Nuits’ wines have been described by Faiveley as ‘terrific’ and the wines of the Cotes de Beaune as ‘stupendous.’   Reds and whites seem to have thrived in what was an unusual year.  Spring was perfect and flowering was uniform.  Late June saw a deluge of rain that arguably saved the vintage as vines were able to draw on water in the limestone soils.  Without these reserves it’s likely that heat and water stress would have led to a very different outcome. 

The harvest is larger than the five-year average - not that, that’s saying much – and from Chablis to the Maconnais, great wines are expected at all levels.

The Rhone Valley 2022

With 25% less rainfall and soaring temperatures, the 2022 Rhône vintage will be small, but perfectly formed.  August rains saved many vineyards, but a storm decimated Châteauneuf du Pape reducing yields even further.  The harvest was early and many producers are reporting ripe, well-balanced wines that will be long-lived and of exceptionally high quality.

There’s been a resurgence in interest in the wines of the Rhône in recent years, and 2022 can only increase this.  The top wines from the likes of Chave, Guigal, Rayas, and Chapoutier will be magnificent.

Italy 2022

Heat, drought, rain bombs, and hail, Italy’s wine regions saw it all in 2022.  For many this has been as challenging a year as it was in Bordeaux, but the general picture is looking promising.  Yields are well down in Piemonte, yet are said to be good in Tuscany. 

Port 2022

While a declaration is some way off, it looks a certainty.  Despite challenging conditions with exceptional heat – temperatures reached a frightening 48·C/118.4·F (!) in July - and rainfall down 31% on recent years, this will be a vintage Port that collectors and drinkers will want in their cellars. 

The wines are said to be supremely concentrated, full, and powerful, but are lacking any roasted, raisin character that might have been expected from such a testing year.  Winemakers have been surprised how fresh the wines are, and have speculated that the vines stopped photosynthesising during the extended dry spell owing to a lack of humidity.  The region’s abundance of old vines - many are over 50 years old – and the limestone beneath them undoubtedly helped them survive the gruelling conditions.

When released, the 2022 vintage Ports will be outstanding and are likely to rank with the likes of 1977, 1985, 1991, and maybe, just maybe, titans like the 1963s or 1955s.

Are The Wines Of 2022 Likely To Be A Good Investment?

Wine Investment chart 2022

Wine has become a major investment market over the past couple of decades.  Over the last two or three years it’s proved resilient to the world’s economic challenges, delivering growth, and in the case of Burgundy and Champagne, some spectacular returns.  

So what of the wines of 2022? Is there investment potential here?  Well, for a vintage to be seen as of investment grade it needs to satisfy three basic criteria:

  1. It needs to be of exceptional quality, and ideally small in quantity
  2. It needs to be sensibly priced
  3. It needs to come to a receptive market 

At this point we have two out of three.  The vintage quality is excellent and, as we have noted, production is down in some regions owing to the freakish weather conditions.  

We (generally) have a receptive market.  The overheated, wine-starved Burgundy market will likely see fierce demand again and the very top producers may be able to charge what they like.  That said, they are coming to a market where prices are as high as the levels of economic uncertainty which may curb the enthusiasm of some.

Emerging investment wine regions such as the Rhône will probably price their wines relatively conservatively.  In Italy the superstar properties such as Sassicaia, Masetto, and Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo will, we would have thought, be snapped up irrespective of the prices as collectors ensure their tiny allocations.

Bordeaux’s châteaux will need to tread carefully.  In terms of investment, Bordeaux has been a laggard of late and fears of being unable to sell their wines has forced sensible pricing.  Had the magnificent 2019 Bordeaux hit a better market, the pricing would have been far more aggressive. 

We’ll know more come the spring, but our hunch is that prices will be up on 2020 and 2019, but not make the stellar jump they did in 2005.  If that is the case, and the wines are as good as the Bordelaise are saying, then we could see the first decent en-primeur campaign since 2019. 

Wine investment is a long-term affair, if the wines are as fine as many suggest, for this ‘unique’ vintage then buying early could be a good strategy.  We’ll have to wait and see the prices, of course, but it’s quite possible that this will be a vintage year for investors and drinkers.

The Wines Of 2022: Greatness Awaits? 

2022 has been an extraordinary year for European winemakers. For many it’s presented significant challenges and it hasn’t been an easy ride.  The fruits of the year are likely to be a clutch of superb wines at all levels, but the finest and rarest may well rank with the greatest we have seen.  Time will tell, and in the case of Port and Champagne (also superb), it will be many years before we actually get a chance to savour the wines.

What we can say for certain is that there’s a buzz of excitement about the 2022s.  It appears to be that rarest of beasts, a universally great year that will provide an embarrassment of riches. 

We can’t wait!

Like Some Fine Wine Help?

We hope you've found this blog to be of interest.  If you would like some wine advice, then please do get in touch by calling Mike on 0118 984 4654 or by emailing MWH Wines here.  A recognised authority on wine, he'll be happy to advise you on which wine is right for you.