Read what the growers and winemakers are saying about 2022
The 2022 English vintage will be a “wow” vintage with the “potential to produce more still wines, including red wine.” That’s according to Vinescapes, a wine consultancy service that works with dozens of growers and winemakers across the UK. In their report released on 13th October 2022, Vinescapes identified a number of factors to make 2022 such a good vintage for English wine. They include “perfect weather for flowering and fruit set, heavy bunches, enviable quality of grapes and excellent yields.”
The 2022 vintage is a great opportunity for producers
The 2022 vintage gives producers a massive opportunity to make wine of great diversity and quality. Charles Palmer, of Charles Palmer Vineyard told us “the sugars and acidity are spot on, we are really pleased”.
Owner of Oxney Organic estate in East Sussex, Kristen Syltevik, echoed this view when she spoke to us earlier this week. “Yields were good and the fruit lovely and ripe and clean so we are very happy. A good vintage. The disease pressure was low this year (always a preoccupation when you’re organic) with so little rain. The Pinot Meunier was especially lovely and we’re on target to make some more of the Blanc de Noir we made in 2017. Happy that we are having a nice and warm October so the leaves stay on the vines for as long as possible so they can refill their energy stores. Now we’re starting to think winter pruning and working on our massive and delicious compost pile which we will spread in the Spring.”
It’s a story we are hearing from producers and vineyard owners across the country and it is all terrific news for an ever expanding English and Welsh wine industry and of course for all of us who love to drink it.
There are some challenges with the 2022 vintage
You’ll remember that the summer of 2022 was very hot and dry. Grapes normally like it dry, as our resident wine geek Simon Huntington explains “damp weather can cause disease like mildew and too much rain can swell the grapes which can make them look big and juicy, but they don’t have much concentration of flavour. However, unusually this year, some English grapes suffered from water stress. In small amounts this can be good as it can force the roots to dig deeper, through layers of soil, which can lead towards more complexity in the finished wine. But on a short-term basis this can force the vine to shut down, which means the grapes might not ripen fully.”
The hot dry weather will for sure be a factor in the UK 2022 harvest, but as it draws to an end, there is much optimism that 2022 will be one of the great English vintages.
Will 2022 be better than the 2018 English Vintage?
For those of you that have been following the English wine scene for a few years, you’ll be familiar with the “golden vintage” of 2018. Considered to be one of the best, if not the best vintage ever for English wine, growing conditions were ideal and it was the first year we saw a wide range of quality English still wine on the market.
The Vinescape report notes that there were a similar number of growing degree days in 2018 and 2022 which suggest that 2022 could be as good. But the timing of those warm days is also key. English Wine Expert and Viticulture Consultant Stephen Skelton MW told us:” What was unique in 2018 was the very warm weather around flowering which we didn’t have quite so much in 2022. We had the exceptionally hot period in mid July which was possibly too hot and there was some sunburn.” Winemaking is a patient game, and it will be some years yet before we know how well the wines from the 2018 and 2022 English vintages will age. What we do know is that 2018 produced some exceptional wine from the outset and that 2022 has the potential to do the same.
When will the 2022 wines be ready to buy and drink?
As a wine lover it helps if you get pleasure from delayed gratification. The earliest 2022 English vintage wines are likely to be released in the spring of 2023. These will tend towards the lighter, more floral grape varietals such as Bacchus or blends using other early ripening German varietals. Some still red wines, particularly Pinot Precoce, which is an early ripening Pinot Noir, may be released by some producers in the autumn of 2023.
However, as Simon Huntington, explains, “this is a year when the grapes are likely to have the richness, intensity and body to stand up to extended oak aging.” As these conditions don’t come around very often it means that producers may wish to wait a little longer before they release their wines.
It will be some years yet before you get to buy Traditional Method English Sparkling Wine – anything from 18 months to 7 years depending on the wine and the producer. If you want something bubbly from the 2022 vintage sooner, look for a sparkling wine made with the charmat method which could well hit the shelves in time for summer 2023.