Our U.K. 2022 Vintage begins, appropriately this week in …

The Windsor vineyard … where all concerned agree that we have never seen such a splendid crop. Henry and Matt say it’s down to their efforts (and it’s true Matt has been working literally day and night to keep the crop healthy), but I think some divine intervention has helped. 

Veraison at Windsor (when the grapes change colour)

By the way, I was as surprised as anyone to see myself – and Anne – on Sunday’s Countryfile, standing in and talking about the Windsor vineyard and how grateful we were to Her Late Majesty for allowing us to plant vines on her land. The BBC filmed that a few years ago.

Henry’s own Harrow & Hope will follow next week, then Barbara’s Wyfold comes a bit later. Our English wine buyer, Becca, tells me that across the country, winemakers are pretty happy.

Over in California“Hotter than Hades” recently … like 110 Fahrenheit or 43 Centigrade!

Not unheard of over there, but still … the result is tiny, very ripe grapes, so the crop will be down … but the quality is up.

And Bordeaux – After days of 40 degrees in June, July, August and September, we are bringing in very rich reds. Unlikely to be subtle but will certainly be big crowd-pleasers. 

Hot hot hot means small quantities with little juice in berries, giving us rich, high-alcohol reds … most of our own Merlot is in at 15 degrees and 15+. Black and rich. Cab Franc and Cab Sauv are still in the vineyard but looking good so far.

Bordeaux whites are all in small quantities but they are rich too.

Gascony whites … very small quantities (frost and hail) so there will be a volume problem on whites in 2022 … (stock up now).

From Jean-Marc’s ‘Altos’ in Rioja – “We harvested the whites between yesterday and today …  looking very good … first reds at the end of the week … then we will wait because we might receive some well needed rain over the weekend”.

In the Rhône, harvest dates are varied, some domaines finished two weeks ago, others have only just started. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing: they are, in general, relaxed. Yields are generally good, slightly down because of dry grapes, but localised hail in Châteauneuf du Pape means some domaines there have lost most of the crop (Vieux Télégraphe) or part (Beaucastel).

In Southern Italy where it must have been truly hot our friends at Due Palme nonetheless reckon it could be a great year. The lack of rain has allowed Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes to reach the over-mature slightly shrivelled state without any botrytis … healthy raisins! Just what they need for their super-rich wines like Selvarossa … says a rejuvenated Angelo Maci … retirement must suit him. 

Angelo Maci

Generally speaking Europe and the US, it’s a mixed bag; good and bad. Grapes with not much juice. It’s what we call a ‘Winemakers’ Vintage’… a challenge … talent is vital this year… things should be put right – or even great – if people are quick and clever. This vintage will not make itself.

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!

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