Liv-ex members represent the largest pool of professional fine wine traders in the world and are estimated to account for 90% of fine wine turnover globally. There are currently over 630+ members of Liv-ex across 44 countries that range from start-ups to centuries old, established merchants.
Each year, Livex asks the members that attended the En Primeur tastings for their thoughts and predictions on this year’s campaign in the form of a short survey upon their return from Bordeaux. The survey is designed to track the consensus among the best professional tasters of young Bordeaux.
In summary, here are the findings of the Liv-ex 2022 En Primeur survey:
- Château Cheval Blanc is the wine of the vintage.
- Château Brane Cantenac tops the value for money category.
- 30% of respondents voted Saint-Émilion as the most impressive region in 2022.
- Merchants expect ex-négociant release prices to be 7.7% higher than last year on average, and 4.9% higher than 2020.
- 77% of merchants predict demand will be higher than last year.
- Neal Martin remains the most influential Bordeaux En Primeur critic.
The following report takes a closer look at what the global wine trade thinks of this year’s campaign.
The survey was sent to members on Thursday 27th April and closed on Friday 5th May (before Cheval Blanc’s release on Tuesday 9th May).
Wines of the vintage
Liv-ex members were asked to list in order of their preference their top five wines of Bordeaux 2022 irrespective of their price. Wines ranked number one by respondents were awarded 10 points, second were given five points, third three, fourth two and fifth one.
Overall, Château Cheval Blanc 2022 received the highest score. The wine was released on Tuesday 9th May. Château Lafite Rothschild ranked second. Fellow First Growths, Château Margaux and Château Mouton Rothschild ranked 5th and 9th respectively.
In recent En Primeur reports, it has been noted that there is a general sense amongst the trade that certain châteaux have become increasingly popular in recent campaigns due to their successful release pricing and were listed as ‘strong sellers every year’.
This list included (but was not limited to) estates such as Canon, Figeac, Carmes Haut Brion, Calon Segur and Beychevelle.
Interestingly, three of these estates featured in Liv-ex members’ top ten wines of 2022. Château Figeac, Châteaux Carmes Haut Brion, and Château Canon ranked 3rd, 4th and 7th respectively.
Top value wines
The merchants’ favourite value wines can be seen in the table above.
Overall, Château Brane Cantenac 2022 topped the value for money category. In previous years, Langoa Barton, Branaire Ducru and Grand Puy Lacoste have led the rankings.
Carmes Haut Brion ranked 6th and interestingly featured on both the top value wines along with Liv-ex members’ top wines of the vintage.
In total, 110 different wines were mentioned in answer to this question.
Most disappointing wines
The trade listed 120 different wines they found disappointing. By way of comparison, 43 different wines were mentioned in our last En Primeur survey of the 2021 vintage and 179 in the 2018 survey (the last survey before that one).
Unlike previous years, this year Liv-ex members were asked to rank the most impressive appellations for the 2022 vintage. Saint-Émilion was voted as the most impressive region, with 30% of respondents listing it as their number one choice. It was followed by Pomerol and Saint Julien.
Average vintage score
On average, Liv-ex members awarded the 2022 vintage 96.2 points (out of 100). This makes it the highest-scoring vintage since our first survey of 2007 (note – there was no survey conducted for the 2019 and 2020 vintages due to Covid).
2010 and 2009 were the next best vintages, with 96 points.
Comparison to previous vintages
The majority of respondents (25%), said the vintage did not compare to any of the previous vintages they had tasted.
The next closest vintage comparisons were the 2018, 2016 and 2010 vintages (with 11.5% each).
The 2020 vintage also came up in 8.9% of the answers, while 2005 featured in 7.6%.
One respondent commented that ‘a lot of wines had the heat associated with 09, 15, and 18. Others had the structure and elegance like 10 and 16.’
Ranking recent vintages for First Growth quality
Liv-ex members were also asked to rank the quality of the last five vintages considering only the First Growths.
40% of Liv-ex members ranked the 2019 vintage as the best quality vintage for the First Growths.
However, 38.2% ranked 2022 as their number one choice and a further 34.5% ranked it second.
The 2020 vintage was universally ranked third best, while 2018 and 2021 ranked 4th and 5th respectively.
Expected level of demand
77% of merchants are anticipating more demand for the 2022 vintage than the 2021 campaign. However, almost all merchants qualified this by commenting that their answer very much depends on prices.
Some noted that demand will increase because ‘last year was pretty dreadful’ and ‘very poor for En Primeur sales’.
Others thought demand would increase because ‘it is a far better vintage’ and ‘a lot of appetite has been expressed by customers during the EP tastings’.
Most influential Bordeaux critics
Liv-ex members were also asked to list in order of preference the critics that will impact their Bordeaux En Primeur buying decisions this year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results remained the same as last year. Neal Martin (Vinous) topped the rankings as the most trusted Bordeaux En Primeur critic. The second spot was taken by William Kelley, who wrote his first Bordeaux En Primeur report for the Wine Advocate in 2022 after Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (the Wine Advocate’s previous Bordeaux reviewer and Editor-in-Chief) moved to her new venture, The Wine Independent.
Antonio Galloni (founder of Vinous and previously at the Wine Advocate) ranked third, while Lisa Perrotti Brown MW ranked fourth. Another newly-independent critic, Jane Anson (previously at Decanter), took the fifth spot.
Expected release prices
The most pertinent question every year is about the pricing of the new releases. Merchants gave estimates of the ex-négociant prices for the basket of wines listed above, which is the same every year.
Their predictions showed that, on average, merchants expect (not want) 2022 release prices to be 7.8% higher than for the 2021 vintage, and up 4.9% on 2020.
Key vintage characteristics
The final question in the survey asked merchants how they would describe the vintage. In the question, Livex suggested responses that covered the overall characteristics of the vintage, its strengths and weaknesses, along with what is exciting and of concern.
Interestingly, there was little consensus among members’ descriptions of the vintage. However, some of the key themes are highlighted below.
A new era for Bordeaux
Several merchants were effusive with their praise for the vintage. One commented that it was ‘extremely exciting’ and added that it was ‘a new era for Bordeaux’.
‘Believe the Hype. We all know the trade and the bordelaise like to laud a vintage…. but this time it’s true. These wines are some of the finest examples of en primeur I’ve personally tasted. And that includes vintages such as 2009, 2010, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Genuinely unique.’
High alcohol was common among respondents’ answers. One noted that this led to ‘big blue fruit driven wines’ and added that ‘the Americans will love this vintage but the more traditional purists will not’.
Others were less forgiving in their responses, with one noting that it was a ‘very warm vintage, too powerful and high alcohol levels’. Another simply said that it was ‘inconsistent’ and ‘frustrating’.
One respondent said that ‘despite the rhetoric of the producers, the reality is 2022 wines are high in alcohol and lack finesse’.
That being said, several respondents commented on the vintage’s ‘surprising freshness’. One merchant commented that it was a ‘unique vintage as when you get fruit concentration like 2022 you tend to lose freshness. This isn’t the case. Wines are quite remarkable’.
Impact of winemakers
Others applauded the impact of the winemakers given the difficult growing season. One said ‘the quality of the wine making across the board has made for very good wines’. Another noted ‘where chateaux have managed to control the tannin they have made incredible wine. The right bank shone’.
‘Very hot vintage, impressive learning curve by vignerons across Bordeaux to deal with such a hot vintage; also the vines themselves seem to have adapted to hotter weather patterns; yet, old vines that were not pushed and terroir with clay were a significant contributor to craft great wines. A lot of powerful wines (high anthocyanes!); but some risked over-extractions and too much oak.’
However, one respondent noted some that got it wrong and commented:
‘The best wines are superbly balanced with amazingly fine tannins for structured wines which are charming in their youth but with so much density of fruit. However, many others seemed to get carried away by the power of the vintage and were tannic monsters. Others did not extract enough so had little fruit on the mid palate. Very heterogeneous overall.’
Price will be the X factor
Pricing also featured in several responses, with one noting that ‘the price will be the X factor’. Several commented that the vintage would be ‘expensive’ and prices ‘most likely to be high’.
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