An overview of the Gérard Bertrand Châteaux & Domaines 2022 vintage
- One of the best vintages of the last 40 years
- One of the hottest summers recorded for 30 years
- A profoundly Mediterranean vintage
- 69 days of picking between August 11 and October 19, the longest harvest period ever experienced at Gérard Bertrand
- 1,040 hectares picked by hand
- Complementary grape profiles perfect for creating great blends
AN EARLY RIPENING YEAR
Thanks to a mild winter, the vines’ growth cycle began early in the season, with buds already making their appearance (budbreak) in March.
Our vineyards escaped the spring frosts and were therefore able to maintain regular growth without any major pressures, such as hydric stress or pest damage, right up to flowering. This took place some two weeks earlier than normal in excellent conditions, enabling a high level of fruit set (formation of berries) even in varieties that are known to be susceptible to poor fruit set, such as Grenache and Merlot. The number of clusters per vine was quite generous overall. The work of disbudding and thinning out in the run up to the harvest was therefore essential in order to obtain the balance necessary for making our fine wines.
This head start on the calendar was later reduced, principally due to water restrictions, with the grapes reaching maturity and manual harvesting beginning for the whites and the early ripening reds (Pinot Noir) 10 days earlier than in 2021. This precocity was also evident in the varieties with a short vegetative cycle (principally whites), although it had totally disappeared for the later varieties which benefitted from incredibly fine end-of-season weather, perfect for slow, high-quality ripening.
A SUN-DRENCHED VINTAGE WITH A DISTINCTLY MEDITERRANEAN CHARACTER
After a cool start to spring, from May onwards temperatures were much higher than usual, making 2022 one of the three hottest years in the last three decades.
Rainfall levels were typical of our Mediterranean climate. A fairly wet winter, including the notorious March sleet showers, and a dry spring finishing with a storm at the end of June, meant that we were able to get through the summer “drought” calmly.
In spite of the thermometer hitting some unprecedented highs over the summer, the thermal regulation of the Mediterranean and good groundwater reserves enabled the vines to attain maturity in a state of excellent vegetative balance. This allowed them to naturally regulate hydric resources, remain in excellent health, and ensure the controlled, qualitative swelling of the berries.
The vine stocks withstood these successive heatwaves thanks to:
- the biodynamic farming we have practiced for more than 20 years
- a choice of grape varieties adapted to each terroir
- early disbudding
- close monitoring of the vegetation’s nutrition
- the rotation of cover crops (green fertilizer)
- working the soil
A few storms and some damp sea winds at the beginning of September cooled the atmosphere and brought moisture. This was the critical moment for the vintage. Rather than rushing to pick, we took great care of the grapes, enabling them to traverse this period in excellent health, and to attain full and complete maturity (skin, pulp, and pips).
aN EPIC vintage
All the planets aligned to make this an exceptional vintage, amongst the very best of the last 40 years. We need to go back to the 2011 vintage to find something comparable. Thanks to our patience in the vineyard, the grapes accumulated all the elements needed to produce a very great wine: controlled yields, moderate loading on the bush, small berries, and soft tannins.
After 2021, which produced low volumes mainly because of spring frost damage, the generosity and promise of 2022 was evident by the end of spring. And it was in the course of a sweltering summer that the harvest began.
Nine weeks of picking: an unprecedented harvest
The harvest began early with the first parcel of Sauvignon Blanc being picked on August 11, followed by our Chardonnay and Viognier, with superb notes of citrus, pineapple, apricot, and white peach.
Then came the Pinot Noirs, rich and with silky tannins, the Syrah, and the Grenache. The harvest continued until October 19 - a total of 69 days of picking. An extraordinary year!
Being able to understand and interpret the development of each grape variety, the nature of each terroir, and the different meteorological conditions was the key to drawing up the harvesting schedule this year. A sequence of events that would result in what will undoubtedly be considered the best vintage of this early part of the 21st century.
A diversity of exceptional terroirs, the potential to create great blends
Blending is a crucial stage in the making of our fine wines. After all the care that we lavish on our grapes and our vines, it is at the blending stage that we call on the exceptional skill of Gérard Bertrand.
The same grape variety can have several different expressions in our various terroirs. Our outstanding vineyards, cultivated using biodynamic methods, are situated on terroirs in the finest crus in the South of France: Corbières-Boutenac, Terrasses du Larzac, Minervois La Livinière, La Clape, Limoux, and Cabrières, to name just a few. When tasting, it is striking how wines made from the same grape variety can be very different depending on which vineyard they come from. This is a great advantage for us when blending, since it allows us to create wines that are complex, expressive, and extremely diverse.
The wines from the south of the Languedoc will tend to be smoother and richer, whilst those from the north and the west will be fresher and fruitier. The rosés are fresh, fruity, and have depth. The reds are already showing themselves to be very expressive, with good polyphenolic structures and elegant tannins.
Once again this year extractions were very gentle. The tannic structures developed rapidly, and perfect control of the timing of the period in vat ensured that the wines were fruity and spicy, without any over-ripe characters. We are currently impatiently awaiting the onset of the second, or malolactic, fermentation and are looking forward with enthusiasm to starting blending in January.