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The Year in Review: 2022

The Year in Review: 2022

Readers with long memories will recall previous attempts to mark the end of the year on Winedoctor. For quite a few years I published an Annual Disclosure statement, a look at the year’s expenditure and benefits, light-hearted but with a serious message. Before that there was Wine in Context, a look back at the year’s best bottles but with an emphasis on setting; birthday bottles, fine meals, wines on holiday, wines in your local three-star restaurant (I live in a country with no three-star restaurants, but I eagerly anticipate dinner in Scotland’s only two-star restaurant just a few weeks from now), and so on. The true dinosaurs, however, will remember The Year in Review, a canter through the year month-by-month, with occasional reference to wine.

Having failed to publish anything to mark the passing of 2021, and 2020, and 2019 (and…. and…. I could go on), this year I have made an effort to do so. So welcome to the reborn Year in Review, a format chosen because hopefully I will find it cathartic to write, and because my psychoanalyst said it could save me some money if it reduces the number of counselling sessions I need to deal with my obsessive compulsive wine disorder. And how else am I going to afford the latest releases from Clos Rougeard?

January

The New Year arrives with more of a fizzle than a bang, as the spectre of Covid-19, in particular the Omicron variant, looms large. Only a few weeks before, in December 2021, I had been in Bordeaux retasting the 2019 vintage, during which travel rules changed, forcing the rescheduling of appointments as I squeezed in the necessary pre-flight Covid-19 tests. Life still feels a little chaotic and uncertain. But, even after close to two years of disruption, there is a tiny spark of hope that things will eventually return to normal, and the familiar calendar of tastings will resume.

The first tasting of the year is always the Charles Sydney Wines annual Loire Valley Portfolio tasting in London, held each January.

It is cancelled.

Oh well, there is always the Salon des Vins de Loire, usually scheduled for late-January/early-February, but this year optimistically postponed until March (like four weeks is going to make a difference).

It is cancelled.

Things are obviously going to take a little longer to get back to normal than I had hoped. One constant remains though; the continuing controversy over the St Emilion classification, rumbling on since 2012, and refreshed by the forthcoming 2022 iteration. Château Angélus announces it is withdrawing from the classification, following Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc out the back door. In essence this leaves, for a while at least, Château Pavie as the only property on the top rung of the classification. I make a point of stopping off during the primeurs later in the year to check there has been no change to the classification engraving on the walls of the château. There isn’t; kudos to Gérard Perse and team for sticking with it.

The Year in Review: 2022

Top Wines: A 1990 François Pinon Vouvray Sec is memorable, as is a 1991 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port, a decent ‘winter warmer’ as the newspaper columnists would say. I continue to dip into the wines of Richard Leroy from my cellar, with a particularly good 2006 Anjou Les Noëls de Montbenault, and console myself about being unable to (a) find and (b) afford any Leroy releases since the 2015 vintage. Apparently they are all now on allocation to a select band of Instagram influencers. A slew of other wines from this vintage also pass my lips, including the 2006 Le Clos and 2006 Les Poyeux from Clos Rougeard (what was I saying about unaffordable wines?), and the 2006 François Cotat Les Culs de Beaujeu, all of which impress, in one way or another. A 2011 Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes also hits the spot. I also discover several bottles of 1988 Château Bellerive Quarts de Chaume hidden at the back of the cellar; this proves to still be drinking well. And a rather brilliant 2011 Château Pierre-Bise Quarts de Chaume sneaks in at the end of the month.

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