The Buyer
Armit’s Nicolas Clerc gives his verdict on Burgundy 2022

Armit’s Nicolas Clerc gives his verdict on Burgundy 2022

Meeting demand and stabilising prices are two possible outcomes of Burgundy 2022 being followed by another plentiful harvest in 2023, writes Nicolas Clerc MS, portfolio director for Armit Wines. In this thought-provoking analysis of the 2022 vintage, Clerc givens an inside track on the wines, where the real value for money lies and which producers to keep an eye on. In general though Burgundy 2022 is solid and moreish in both colours, approachable, expressing terroir, underscored by purity of fruit and freshness. No wonder the Burgundians are smiling again.

Nicolas Clerc
10th January 2024by Nicolas Clerc
posted in Opinion,

“Volnay is pretty, Pommard is solid, whilst the villages of Meursault, Chassagne and Puligny are pure, precise and on top form,” writes Clerc about Burgundy 2022.

Nicolas Clerc MS, Armit’s portfolio director

As the Armit team returned to the Côte d’Or and Chablisien, eager to taste the Burgundy 2022 vintage, they were met by the smiling and relaxed faces of our vignerons. The producers exuded a palpable sense of ease and relief, a stark contrast to the challenges wrought by the 2021 vintage: the elements came together to make the life of many producers easier in 2022.

The 2023 vintage blessed cellars with an abundance of robust and healthy grapes. The prospect of two consecutive generous vintages brings opportunity: merchants can meet increased demand, and we anticipate a stabilisation of prices, not only at Regional and Village level, but extending to some 1er Cru and Grand Cru appellations.

Price stability will, of course, vary from domaine to domaine, but there was an overall awareness amongst our vignerons of the increased costs of living and global events.

Collectors, in turn, will be charmed by the vintage — solid and moreish from both colours. It not only showcases approachability but an authentic sense of place, underscored by enticing purity of fruit and freshness.

The Burgundy 2022 growing season

The 2022 vintage began with a dry growing season. A mild winter transitioned into a beautiful spring, initiating early budbreak. Flowering, transpiring under dry conditions, faced minimal disease pressure, setting the stage for healthy fruit-set, early in the season.

Early summer was marked by drought and some hydric stress until the end of June when 200 mm of much-needed water fell in a short period of time, cooling down the plants and filling the reserve for the scorching months ahead.

A scorching summer ensued, causing veraison to either slow or stop due to hydric stress. Relief arrived in mid-August, providing the vines with the necessary water to propel fruit ripening under the intense heat, culminating in an early harvest – essential to retain freshness and acidity into the berries.

The berries where thick, concentrated and in volume, yielding extraordinarily concentrated juice: Céline Fontaine of Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard recalls “the berries being as thick as chewing gum’!

A distinctive trait of the vintage lies in the contrast of high daytime temperatures and cooler nights, resulting in wines with a fresher character. Harvest dates, critical in solar vintages, saw Chardonnay in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet maturing rapidly. The harvest commenced in late August for most white growers in the Côte de Beaune and the first week of September for Côte de Nuits and Pinot Noir growers.

Many compared the 2022 Chardonnay with that produced in 2020, but “more precise and lifted, with increased focus and less influence by the generous warmth,” according to Benoit Riffault at Domaine Etienne Sauzet, while Christophe Roumier at Domaine Georges Roumier believes that 2022 will “share many characteristics with 2017: refined, reflecting the terroir, racy and precise.” The wines were often flamboyant and open from an early stage, destined to reveal their true character after a second winter of rest for those patient enough!

The elegance of the Côte de Beaune

The warmth of the vintage, coupled with wines with low malic acid and an early harvest, yielded supple, fruit-rich wines. Even while resting in the cold underground cellars, the wines exuded flamboyance and openness.

The concentrated juice-to-skin ratio brings a certain lift to the wines. The palate, in turn, is refreshing and tense with the Chardonnay displaying crystalline purity, whilst Pinot Noir balances textural firmness with crunchy berries and floral tones. Clothilde Lafarge of Domaine Michel Lafarge is thrilled with the vintage: “we managed to control the solar effect, and the result on both [red and white] is fantastic. It will be a fantastic vintage.”

Buoyed by a plentiful harvest, producers invested in new barrels, infusing the wines with a pleasant spicy and savoury character. This is the case at Domaine de Montille: “we had to increase the amount of new oak, and on certain cuvees, decrease the amount of whole bunch grapes for the sake of logistics. The wines remain very much in the de Montille style, but they will be made more for long ageing with structure and tannic characteristics.”

In the words of Benjamin Leroux, “each wine and each appellation is where it should be.” Pierre Antonin Darviot from Domaine Darviot-Perrin seconded that comment, adding that “old vines have adapted to the drought and warm temperatures. We were all expecting a low yield vintage, but nature gave us abondance and quality.” His Meursault and Chassagne -Montrachet are some of the best examples of classicism and quality. Now on his third vintage at the domaine, Pierre-Antonin has set the bar very high.

The Côte de Beaune performed very well, and each of the key appellations is a classic reflection of its terroir: Volnay is pretty, Pommard is solid, whilst the villages of Meursault, Chassagne and Puligny are pure, precise and on top form. Customers looking for value are advised to explore Ladoix, Beaune, Savigny, the Haute Côtes de Beaune, and the Bourgogne regional appellations.

The charisma of Côte de Nuits

While the northern reaches of the region suffered from water scarcity, notably the sandy parcels of Marsannay and Fixin where the solar character is more prominent, the reds emerged with a richer and juicier profile. According to Pierre Bart of Domaine Bart, “I had to adapt our vinification technique, notably with our whole bunch vinification. The risk of residual sugar within the bunches, combined with a low acid vintage, can be spoiled by bacteria. For me it was essential to first de-stem the bunches, and then add the stems following fermentation to avoid bacterial spoilage. This gives the wines a more lifted profile. I am very happy with the 2022s, firm in texture but pretty and approachable.”

Aurelien Vedet described it as a “technical vintage,” whilst Romain Taupenot of Domaine Taupenot-Merme “welcomed a healthy harvest, with rain at the right time and optimal ripeness.” Both producers excelled in key appellations such as Morey-St-Denis and Nuits-St-George.

Gevrey-Chambertin emerged as a key village of the vintage, with Nicolas Potel from Domaine Roche de Bellene and Jean-Luc Burguet of Domaine Alain Burguet providing us with optimal precision in some of their 1er Cru and Grand Cru vineyards. The quality and focus of the fruit – in particular, the precision and the charm of their 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques – is simply exemplary. Nicolas has moved to 80% of his ageing in large oak contenant, from 600 to 1200 litres, limiting impact of maturation in favour of fruit purity.

Clement Boillot at Domaine Ghislaine Barthod in Chambolle-Musigny has produced some of the most pretty and lifted wines of the vintage, offering delicacy, chiselled freshness and harmony. He shortened the maturation to 13 months in oak, thanks to the wines being open and accessible since the early summer. Christophe Roumier has done the same, who noted the lower level of alcohol in wines which reveal an extra dimension of elegance.

Across appellations, the reds were pretty and open, even at the Grand Cru level. Early bottling will likely be important for some producers, whilst the cooler temperatures at the end of November will see many wines close down over the winter.

The wines of Chablis

In Chablis, the absence of frost, coupled with a timely June rainfall, set the stage for a straightforward growing season. Heatwaves punctuated the summer, but multiple rainfalls mitigated their impact. Didier Seguier at William Fevre commented: “the wines now are very pleasant, this is a vintage of precision with real identity of our different terroirs. A vintage to drink, but a vintage to age too, the sign of a great millesime!” The resulting wines, ripe with yellow fruit and stone fruit, retained a focus on acidity and showcased the unique identity of the contrasting Chablis terroirs.

In conclusion

Our diverse and enticing array of wines, carefully curated by the team at Armit, is a testament to the unparalleled quality and complexity that Burgundy has to offer – from regional to Grand Cru appellations. With climate change, the quality of Burgundy’s wines have never been so high, from regional Bourgogne appellations to Grand Cru.

Whilst some domains may be subject to strict allocation, price stabilisation and an increased accessibility of some Crus are to be anticipated. The 2022 vintage beckons exploration with confidence – a stellar collection marked by refreshing approachability, underlying structure, and a solidity that promises years of pleasure.

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