Bordeaux En Primeur 2023: Sarah Kemp and Jane Anson give their view
This time of year, is exciting for lovers of Bordeaux. The annual En Primeur tastings see the international wine business great and good flocking to one of the world’s wine capitals to see how the recent vintage has turned out.
Two of the wine trade’s most experienced Bordeaux experts, Sarah Kemp, founder of The Wine Conversation, and Jane Anson, founder of Inside Bordeaux, talk to Sommelier Edit and explain their thoughts on the 2022 vintage following extensive tastings at the very best châteaux.
Interest, expectation, and speculation surround these tastings every year and for Sarah Kemp, “It is a vintage like I have never tasted before. The wines demand concentration this year,” she reveals from the car as she drives towards possibly three of the region’s most famous names Châteaux Lafite, Latour and Mouton Rothschild, with her companion Jane Anson.
Kemp adds, “2022 is very much an individual vintage and a vintage where you needed a very good winemaker who knew how to vinify. It really is estate by estate, there is nothing homogenous about 2022.”
Anson admits that 2022 is an “extremely unusual vintage,” she continues, “It certainly is very interesting, as Sarah says, and takes a long time to taste because there’s a lot of tannins and structure but I found some good freshness as well. This was not an easy vintage to handle because of the extreme temperature.”
According to Kemp and Anson there has been a buzz building around 2022. Anson reveals, “It is a vintage that does deserves interest, you really have to think about these wines. What I have enjoyed about this vintage is that there is a lot to the wines; a lot of tannins, a lot of fruit and when there’s acidity, there is good acidity. I would say that you need to take what we learnt on paper about 2021 and turn it on its head for 2022. So where last year the Châteaux had to work to find concentration because the vintage gave them freshness, there was a lot of aromatics, it was quite subtle. This year it is the opposite and the Châteaux had to wrestle with those big tannins, they had to find the acidity and look for the nuance.”
Tip: Top 2nd wine for both is Petit Mouton. “A triumph this year”, says Kemp.
2022 was an extremely dry vintage with wildfires during the hot summer the big question for the future in Bordeaux is how this will affect growing conditions. “2021 was a wet vintage and there were some water reserves for 2022,” says Anson, “but if we have continued drought in 2023 the areas with limestone and clay limestone, as you would expect with their ability to retain moisture, will perform better.”
The advice from these two formidable palates is that you are certainly going to have to trust your critic of the merchant that you have the same taste. It is not a vintage to buy blindly or recommend uniformly.