Vinous has published Neal Martin’s Bordeaux 2022 scores and tasting notes. Martin was once again voted the most influential and trusted En Primeur critic by the trade in Liv-ex’s most recent En Primeur survey results.
On the 9th of May, Neal Martin also sat down with Liv-ex’s Anthony Maxwell to discuss his book, The Complete Bordeaux Vintage Guide, the 2022 vintage and where the value lies for collectors of Bordeaux.
Alongside the scores and notes comes a vintage report entitled You’re unbelievable, in which Martin reflects on Bordeaux 2022 with a healthy dose of sarcasm and scepticism.
The critic identifies three ‘snow-capped peaks’ from the vintage, or ‘wines that may eventually merit perfect scores’. He finds the wines surprising in that ‘contrary to what the growing season implied, they are suffused with freshness’. In one of several musical analogies in the report, Neal Martin compares the top wines from Bordeaux 2022 to ‘Freddy Mercury strutting the stage’, ‘show-offs whose talent cannot be denied’.
Looking back on the growing season, which he describes as ‘a season of paradox and luminosity’, the critic remarks that ‘unlike in 2003, the vines mostly shrugged off these unprecedented conditions’. While there was some damage to the vines in various estates, Martin ponders whether ‘recent warm summers are making them accustomed to the new type of growing season’.
However, a common theme across domains was a small crop and reduced yields, ‘around 15% less than the 2011-2020 average’ for the region as a whole. The reduced volumes did mean that some châteaux ‘installed smaller vats and could maintain their tailored ferments, separating plots and sub-plots’. This was but one of the many techniques and innovations adopted during production, which contributed to the quality of the vintage despite the climatic odds.
‘This season’, writes Neal Martin, ‘terroir is not the be-all and end-all’. The critic highlights ‘a partial flattening of the hierarchical pyramid’ in terms of quality, although he is quick to add that release prices will soon rectify this. As such, he concludes that ‘it’s a vintage where I would buy according to what suits your palate instead of a prestigious name or classement’.
Buying En Primeur
When asked whether collectors should buy En Primeur, Neal Martin says ‘it depends’. He begins by reiterating the trade’s concerns that ‘Châteaux’s rapturous belief and conviction in the vintage means that prices will likely be set as high as the market can withstand, hearsay suggesting 25-30% above 2021 justified by the quality and reduced volume’.
However, he takes the example of Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, released at £320 per 12×75, to highlight that ‘Bordeaux could win back a swathe of consumers’ with the right pricing strategy.
‘The question’, according to him, ‘is whether initial prices make any purchase worthwhile vis-à-vis other vintages currently on the market’. As outlined in Liv-ex’s latest market report, if release prices are high – which they seem to be so far – collectors might want to consider back vintages to find value.
‘There’s no penalty for mispricing’, Martin writes ominously. ‘But with higher interest rates, will négociants relying on credit be so willing to sit on unsold stock?’
Neal Martin’s top-scoring Bordeaux 2022 wines
The three ‘snow-capped peaks’, or wines with the potential for perfection according to Neal Martin, are below. The critic also gave his second highest score, a barrel range of 97-99 points, to seven further wines.
NB: Château Latour will not be released En Primeur.
Of Château Cheval Blanc, released last week at £5,760 per 12×75, Martin says that it is ‘blessed with breathtaking delineation’ and it will ‘give the same satisfaction as when you finish reading a literary masterpiece’.
Another potential perfect wine, Léoville Las-Cases, is described as ‘a tour de force’ that is ‘lavish and audacious’. L’Eglise-Clinet has a ‘breathtaking focus’ and ‘may leave you spellbound’.
Among the wines awarded 97-99 points by the critic, Château Montrose ‘could be the finest Saint-Estèphe in 2022’ and La Mission Haut-Brion is ‘one of the standouts of the 2022 vintage’.
Liv-ex members on Silver packages and above can now see Neal Martin’s scores on the Fair Value tool and use them to assess past releases such as Cheval Blanc, Léoville Barton, Angélus and more. Members can also bring critic scores and notes from Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin directly into their systems using our Critic Data API.
Liv-ex Bordeaux 2022 En Primeur coverage
Liv-ex will be publishing release posts during En Primeur and has a range of tools and insights to help navigate the campaign. Our Bordeaux 2022 page contains links to key prices, critic scores, and reports and release blogs.
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Liv-ex analysis is drawn from the world’s most comprehensive database of fine wine prices. The data reflects the real time activity of Liv-ex’s 630+ merchant members from across the globe. Together they represent the largest pool of liquidity in the world – currently £100m of bids and offers across 16,000 wines.