It almost goes without saying that 2022 was one of the hottest and driest years on record. In our humble opinion, it's not really a vintage that should be defined as either a left or right bank. Indeed, with global warming creating even more trials to confound wine producers, requiring ever increasing guile to overcome, that there is overwhelming advantage of being one side of the river or other or having a majority of one grape variety, would be somewhat simplifying the extremely complex decisions & tasks required to make good wine.
That said, our clay soils (by no means prevalent across the right bank), did help massively in retaining the little water available to our lovely vines. Full maturity could certainly be achieved everywhere, and there will surely be great and not so great, overripe, wines across the region.
All this after the deluges and horrors of 2021 when production was down by 60%, severely impacted by frost, rain and mildew. When we arrived in what should be a relatively calm period of end July/ August, there was the newfound fear that our precious plants might just wither under the unrelenting sun, and, non monsieur, you still can’t water your vines, not even the younger ones, of which a few unfortunately didn’t make it.
It’s considered an absolute minimum to have 300 mm of rain between spring budding, and harvest. In 2022, we had just 53mm in April, 23mm in May, 89mm in June, 17mm in July, and 29mm in August, (totalling a mere 209mm)- five months of compounded drought.
Average daily high temperatures went from 17.4 degrees in April, to 25.2 in May, to 27.0 in June, to 31.1 in July and just shy of 32 in August... I don't have the figures to hand, but this is most likely record breaking stuff!
In previously very warm and dry years such as 2003, 2009 and '15, '16, '18, '19 & '20, it's been a question of two or maximum three months during the summer, not four on the trot.
And yet, at Canon Chaigneau, we should produce a harvest of quality, and a good quantity, with not only ripeness and concentration but also a freshness and minerality, and alcohol not too over the top at around 14,2%.
Well, firstly, to have not been too heavily damaged by frost. Whilst we didn't use windmills, candles, our vines are all on higher ground where temperatures can be slightly higher, & frost tends less to 'gather'. Again this year, spring came early, the vines started their budding at the end of March, but whilst there was a total of 18 sub zero nights in January & February, we had none after budding. Even if frost doesn't wipe out buds, it can significantly weaken vines, making them more susceptible to disease, and heat stress.
Our vineyard team headed up by Louis Marin did a fabulous job. Some decisions did help deal with the lack of water. Firstly, some Châteaux will be left scratching their heads as to why they installed costly drainage systems, which help drain better when there’s too much, but this is looking to be an ever decreasing problem. As an aside, we are lucky to have great drainage atop our plateau, and indeed many many metres of terroir and topsoil before rock formations. Our vines, literally had to dig deep to find water, but had 'le quoi faire'. Plus, then, our terroir of clay and limestone meant that the precious water that was available was locked in and couldn't evaporate away.
Also, any decision to de-leaf vines won’t have helped, a tactic sometimes employed to give vines more sun exposure. Thankfully we skipped this (we did practise in 21).
Exposure also played a large part. Thankfully we have about half our plots which are sowed north south, so less exposed to direct sunlight than those east west. These plots tended to give more juice, whence some of our plots, the berries were a little less giving.
Our vines were thankfully untouched by fire and smoke taint, our thoughts are with vineyards who had this major supplementary disaster to contend with.
Finally, we started picking earlier than most years, on the 6th September, at a slow pace & parcel by parcel. (not as early as in 2003, which was the 4th September), but almost four weeks earlier than the previous year.
Sorting needed to be fairly rigorous, as we had a few berries on the table that had suffered some heat damage and a little smaller than wanted. We were 5-6 at all times!
Thanks to the above, our three grape varieties have all achieved optimal ripeness, only a few, generally young vine plants' berries slightly lacking in juice, but this should lower yield a little and give a wonderful concentration to the wines; and a very deep purple.. the wines should be a fascinating representation of our superb terroir & we’ll be releasing en primeur later next year.
All our clients are invited to come & taste for the primeur tastings between the 27th & 29th of April next year!
Do contact us for trade pricing or details of negociants, importers & distributers who carry our wines, or any other enquiry you may have!
You can download an updated presentation & press here.
Romik & Marine