winery in burgundy with sunset in the background

Surfing the Solar Waves


4 January 2024

Jules Campbell

View brochure

View offer

A year that made producers smile

Big grins greeted us at every address we visited in November 2023. “If I could have a year like this every year, I’d take it!” Sebastian Cathiard remarked. “It was a happy harvest” beamed Cecile Tremblay. “This is the ‘new’ classic” echoed Benoit Riffault of Sauzet. 

And truth be told, their grins were met with grins of our own. This is a superb vintage, at times even a “great” one.  It is rare in that it offers both quality and quantity combined with genuine terroir definition and a proper a respect for the hierarchies of appellation. 

It was a year in which “surprise” was a word on everyone’s lips. Surprise at the freshness in the wines, surprise at the moderate alcohols, surprise at the transparency and aromatic register that characterises the wines of 2022. 

It was a solaire and at times very dry year, one that saw most producers begin their harvest in August – yet the wines have a breezy joie de vivre about them that is impossible not to be charmed by. 

For all the sunshine this vintage received, we simply did not encounter any ‘hot’ flavours in two weeks of tastings. There was nothing cooked, baked or shrivelled – nothing tropical, nothing caramelised. Indeed the general tone of the reds was florality, red fruits, and salinity, while the whites ranged from citrus to white fleshed orchard fruits, salt and occasionally roasted nut notes. 

The textures have a gloss to them, one that can only come from the sun’s warm rays, matched to tannins at the silkier end of the spectrum; the product of skins made pliant by timely rains. 

Over the course of two weeks of tasting at over 40 domaines, we found quality up and down the Côte, into the Hautes Côtes and down into the Côte Chalonnaise. It is a vintage that seems to offer equal excitement in both reds and whites.

“The wines have a breezy joie de vivre about them that is impossible not to be charmed by. ”

Jules Campbell

Burgundy Buyer

The weather

Looking at the weather data, the vintage is one of unique and exceptional conditions – the second hottest since 1947 after 2003; one of the driest, with a deficit in every month except June, (which saw over double the normal rate), and a harvest that might have been the earliest on record were it not for 2020.  

And yet somehow, through a combination of experience, short lived yet mitigating weather events, crop size, and perhaps the natural adaptation of the ingenious vitis vinifera, we appear to have on our hands a newly imagined vision of what a warm vintage can look like.

Prescient facts:

  • 2022 is the driest and sunniest year since the start of the Century: +285 hours of sunshine, +1.4% temperatures and rainfall -16% (versus the long-term average)*(source: BIVB)
  • A warm March is followed by a cold start to April, raising the spectre of frost. To everyone’s great relief, damage is minimal.
  • A very warm May propels the vines to a flowering that is the 4th earliest since the start of the 20th Century. 
  • June sees vastly above average rainfall, concentrated in a few deluges – charging the vineyards with water but also causing flooding in parts of the northern Côte de Nuits
  • July and August are hot and dry, though with virtually no extreme heatwaves over 35 degrees and nighttime temperatures that are generally cool and comfortable.
  • A few unlucky communes get hit with hail – amongst them Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-St-Georges
  • Early August is warm and dry, providing excellent ripening conditions. Perfectly timed rains arrive on the 14th and 20th of August relaxing the grapes prior to harvest.
  • Almost all growers reported sugar and acidity levels progressing in a linear fashion towards harvest, making for a happy and calm vendange, carried out under blue skies. The health of the crop is excellent, meaning sorting tables only need to be used sparingly. 
  • Harvest commences as early as the 23rd August. 
  • Yields are for the most part ‘correct’, or in other words, rather good compared to recent averages. These yields are one of the keys to the freshness felt in the wines. 
  • Potential alcohols are moderate – mostly falling between 12.5 and 13.5%. 

Surfing the solar waves: the skill of the Vigneron

One of the things about surfing is that no two waves are the same. The same goes for vintages. The vagaries of a season are infinitesimally complex and detailed. The requirement to predict and react means winemakers and vignerons need to be diligent servants to the weather one day, and visionary seers the next. Of course, reading the runes for clues to the weather ahead is an inexact science, so what makes this task more feasible is experience. And the one type of season growers are becoming more practiced at is the warm one. 

2022 is undoubtedly a solaire vintage. To suggest otherwise would be simply untrue. A vintage like this experienced in the last century would have gone down as a rare occurrence. It would probably have been lauded and would almost certain have resulted in extreme wines; the sorts of singular wines that, when done well, continue to provide pleasure beyond their 50th birthdays. The likes of 1923, 1947, 1959, 1966 were all hot vintages that yielded true vins de garde. These were years that gave great ripeness in an era when true ripeness was never a given (the constant battle against rot was what generally forced the hand of the vigneron and determined the harvest date.)

Today, vignerons have different challenges. Rot is much less common, but sunburn and excessive sugar accumulation ask other questions of those tending Burgundian vines. The 21st Century’s run of warmer vintages, starting at 2003 and reaching a crescendo in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 has forced wine growers to address the question of how to achieve balance and maintain elegance in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while producing wines that can be enjoyed at 5, 10 and 20 years old. 

In some cases mother nature produces wines whose concentration and density are unavoidable, wines that demand extended ageing in the cellar.  2020 is one such vintage. They’ll be very good with age, but patience is going to be key as they are likely to remain impenetrable for years. 

In other cases, like 2022, we find deep and multi-dimensional wines that appear to have harvested all of the beneficial rays of the sun while simultaneously managing to offer a measure of immediacy. With their dreamy textures and engaging vivacity, they don’t require a crystal ball, yet they also have all the requirements to age. 

As we’ve mentioned, yields are certainly a defining factor – one that’s all too often taken out of vignerons’ hands.  But so too we also found many growers talking about their new higher canopies – providing shade while allowing for earlier ripening. We spoke to many who are happy to harvest on acidity as much as anything else, chaptalising if needs be.  And of course, growers are now far more prepared for the previously unimaginable – with August harvests now occurring with regularity, preparedness has taken on a new level of meaning by mid-August. 

One of the features of the 2022s that appealed to us most was the way they appear to be entirely happy in their own skin. These do not feel like wines that have been brought into being via combat with the sun’s rays and aggressive, evasive measures. Seldom did we encounter wines that felt like they had been harvested earlier than they should have been, picked on the run from the sun, or wines that had sacrificed their aromatic purity in the wait for physiological ripeness.  Vine and Vigneron appear to have played their hands calmly in 2022


There’s not a great deal to say about vinification in 2022. “Easy” was the word most winemakers used when asked how things had progressed in the cellar.   Very few had to resort to much sorting, such was the health of the crop; stems were ripe and allowed generous amounts of whole bunch fermentations for those so inclined. There are thrilling examples of wines fermented both with and without stems in 2022.  Most growers reported easy extractions, many favouring a gentle approach, while the natural juice to skin ratio of the grapes allowed for easy to work tanks. Malo-lactic fermentations generally went through at pace. Few talked about much of a change to élevage, with the majority of growers following their natural rhythms – be that giving the wines a second winter in barrel or tank, or bottling earlier to preserve freshness.  

Red wines of 2022

Most used tasting notes: aromatic, supple, luminous, red fruited, dark fruited, spicy, suave, salty, fresh, deep, long, translucent, persistent, layered and glowing.

The Pinot Noirs of 2022 are captivating. To continue with our surfing analogy, they have an effortless energy to them with textures and tannins that glide across the palate leaving trails of flavour in their wake. They almost never seem heavy. Growers and vines are clearly adapting to the newfound conditions – through canopy management techniques, approaches to soil health and picking dates – and yet what really sets this vintage apart is the yields people reported. A full crop ripening under exceptionally sunny weather is in many respects, the dream scenario. Yes there were challenges; to young vines; to those planted on the drought susceptible rootstocks of 161 and 189; and to certain vineyards on the poorest shallowest soils. But for the most part, the vines took 2022 in their stride. Countless growers reported healthy green canopies at harvest, relaxed skins, plenty of juice in the berries, and stable acidities. Malic acids, as is so often the case after a sunny season, were low, and as a result most reported easy malo-lactic fermentations, that in some cases were done before Christmas. 

What fascinated us in our tastings was that despite the sunny nature of the vintage, these wines wear their terroir on their sleeves. You can taste the vineyards – clearly marked. If there’s a vintage stamp, you feel it in the textures, the tannic profiles and the overall charm of the wines – but beyond that, the markers of site are writ large. 

Pleasingly too, the hierarchies are properly demarcated. Complexity, dimension, precision, elegant intensity, weightless impact; all the things that set Pinot Noir apart become magnified the deeper you delve into the Côte’s greatest terroirs. 

Are these wines to be laid down? At the top end, unquestionably yes. But will we be able to approach them young? Unquestionably yes. The finest wines of the vintage will be profound examples of their type in years to come. For the Bourgognes and village wines, we tend to agree with Etienne Grivot – these are more serious than they at first appear, and yet, will also probably repay drinking a little too early rather than a little too late. 

White wines of 2022

Most used tasting notes: white fruited, citrus, saline, layered, deep, fine, building, long, textured, polished, nutty, calm and persistent.

If the reds carve their flavours across your palate, the whites seem to be a calmer proposition – languid long boarders delivering lengthy waves of lush flavour perhaps? They’re not explosive, nor are they heavy, but they have a sense of persistence and volume that makes them hugely compelling. There’s shapeliness to many of the whites in 2022, one that brings to mind the whites of 2020, though the younger vintage seems to be a more relaxed and less concentrated offering. There is a similar fresh juiciness to the 2022 whites as in the reds this year. Yields again played a vital part in the final balance of the wines. 

With a healthy crop, there’s great purity to the whites in 2022. Top line flavours tend to occupy the white fruit, citrus and salt end of the spectrum, while their silky textures suggest a natural creaminess that should appear with a few years in bottle. Just as with the reds, terroir is clearly defined; the stonier terroirs offer up plenty of cleansing minerality, while those on richer soils are not weighed down, but have instead clearly profited from the extra access to water their deeper soils provide. 

Time and again we found ourselves contemplating the whites long after the wine had left our mouths. There’s plenty of potential for length in the 2022s; a gentle persistence that allows the best wines to haunt the palate with an unfolding range of flavours – a facet that we’re excited to follow as they develop in bottle.

Ageing of whites is a more baggage laden subject. In short, in the current Burgundian purview, these ought to offer plenty of capacity for ageing. Their depth and persistence is impossible to ignore and should allow for plenty of improvement in bottle.

“That producers can retain levity and precision, not to mention complexity and individuality, in a year like 2022 is a positive indicator for the challenges of future heat. ”

Jules Campbell

Burgundy Buyer

To conclude, there are perhaps two ways of looking at vintage such as 2022. For the pessimist, this is yet another August harvest; a sign that the growing seasons in Burgundy are changing, with hotter, drier conditions becoming the norm, with growers having to confront the fact that 100 days between flowering and harvest is perhaps an out-of-date model. These shorter, drier seasons, particularly those which culminate in August harvests, are a challenge both for the winemakers and the vines themselves. Early starts put the vines at risk of frost damage, while for the growers, harvesting in August is a game of skill that involves fast moving metrics and correspondingly smaller harvest windows, not to mention a much greater chance of challenging and potentially dangerous heat events during harvest. For the vines, the dry weather is an existential threat – particularly for those planted on non-drought resistant rootstocks.

On the other hand, the optimistic view is that if these vintages are to become the norm, the new classic if you will, then we should be delighted that wines like those produced in 2022 are possible. That producers can retain levity and precision, not to mention complexity and individuality, in a year like 2022 is a positive indicator for the challenges of future heat. Furthermore, all of this done at moderate (in modern terms) levels of alcohol. The combination of a natural adaptation of both vines and humans has led to a vintage characterised by wines with a natural poise and confidence to them. They’ve graduated from the school of sun and found a way to be at ease with a warmer breeze. We left our tastings very much on the optimistic side, confident that we have here a vintage that is going to offer enormous amounts of enjoyment to anyone pulling corks in years to come. 

barrel in the middle of a vineyard

Discover this year's vintage

Learn more about our Burgundy 2022 wines on offer including our favourite producers, notable appellations and more.