While the region endured a never-ending summer, the second hottest ever recorded, the vines taught our vineyard team a masterful lesson in resilience. The vines didn’t just adapt, they gave their best in the face of adversity, offering a vintage of stunning balance.
The sunny, precocious nature of the vintage was unmistakable throughout the year, from a water deficit that was evident in winter to an early, albeit qualitative, flowering from mid-May. The only exception was the last week of June, when thunderstorms brought 56mm of rain. The cumulated 136mm of rainfall during the month allowed the vines to build up sufficient water reserves to survive a scorching summer.
The expertise of our teams in viticultural practices was a determining factor in guiding the vines into this new era. According to Bruno Clenet, our Vineyard Manager, these methods are “respectful of living organisms”. He advocates adapting leaf thinning to the vigor of each plot. Deep ploughing of the topsoil has been replaced by surface tilling in order to limit evaporation while protecting the root system. Cover crops were sown again this year to encourage microbial life in the soil.
Despite the intensity and duration of the sunshine, we cannot say that these were heatwave conditions. Diurnal temperatures, which rose to nearly 40° C during the day, went down to 20°C at nightfall, offering a valuable morning dew.
After tasting the grapes, the decision was made to start the harvest on September 8th. “There was no need to be apprehensive”, admitted Bruno Clenet, who was confronted with the variation between acidity levels and the reality of the tastings in the plots. The harvest, among the longest and most serene on the estate, was spread over 20 days.
Small berries with colossal potential entered through the door of the vat room. “This is an extraordinary harvest in terms of density with extremely healthy grapes. We really didn’t know what to expect, because we didn’t have the usual balance”, confides our Cellar Master, Didier Thomann, who had “never seen anything like this” since his first vinifications in 1982!
The entire team at the Château praised the incredible concentration of the musts and their intense color as soon as they entered the vats. Gentle pump-overs exalted this vintage, which is both “powerful and velvety”, according to our Oenologist, Isabelle Davin. She also pointed out that “the quality of the press wines mirrors the quality of the berries and pips when tasted at the beginning of the harvest. It is often by this detail that great vintages can be recognized”.
We have before us an unprecedented vintage with imposing tannic structure accompanied by incredible smoothness. Such infinite softness heralds the potential of this Léoville Poyferré 2022 to last through decades.