In my Provence wine books there is a chapter with vintage assessments of the wines and the book “The Wines of Provence – Tricolour” reports a preliminary assessment up to vintage 2018 which received 14/20, based on samples of young wines, and which later increased to 15/20 points. Converted to a “five-point star scale”, this is around 3.5 stars
But how have the later vintages been? Vintage 2022 is very promising and will likely land at 4 stars, i.e., a great vintage. Assessments for other years can be found below, all so that you as a book buyer can stay up to date.
How much can such assessments be trusted? It will be a sort of average value for the entire Provence wine regions/appellations/climate zones and the average value will also be an average for the ambitious winemakers who put quality absolutely first and for those who aim for volume. Even a difficult vintage can produce very good wines through serious vineyard work and careful sorting at harvest.
Preliminary assessment: The hot and extremely dry weather has produced very healthy and concentrated grapes without attack by leaf mould. Extra important for 2022 is to harvest at the right time before the acid level drops and that the vineyard has not suffered too much from the water stress so that the grape ripening is uneven. Among other areas Côtes de Provence was exempted from the irrigation ban until August 15, but then the vine farmer had to water before there was a general irrigation ban in the area!
The devastating frost a week into April, after a warm period, caused devastating damage to the vine’s buds, especially the early blooming Grenache. Areas near the coast and the colder northern areas fared better. The summer was very dry but not too hot, apart from a heat wave in August when the central part of the Côtes de Provence was hit by the biggest forest fire since 2003.
The hot but above all very dry summer produced healthy concentrated grapes where leaf mold attacks were largely absent. But it is the frost that causes the problem, the second generation bunches of grapes on the vine (so-called grappillons) compensate to some extent for the lost due to the frost, but these grapes have not had as much time to ripen as the first generation grapes.
So, neither the so-called skin ripening nor the grape ripening, when the sugar is formed, are ready so the taste of such a grape is both sour and bitter when the other grapes are ripe and good. As mentioned above, it is possible to make quality wines, but then it is necessary that a careful sorting is done during the harvest.
In the rosé wines I lack fruit and body, few reach their normal best level, probably due to the uneven grape ripening of the “workhorse” of the rosé wines i.e., the Grenche grape, so the rosé wines lower the rating.
The year began with a warm winter and with frost in the last week of March which caused damage. It was then followed by a wet spring which led to leaf mold. But then the summer finally came with pleasant warmth and without strong heat waves and, moreover, the nights were cold, which preserves the acidity in the grapes and produces fresh wines.
A sunny vintage with good concentration that is balanced by good acidity, i.e., fresh wines. Good ageability.
The 2019 season was favourable with a relatively dry and hot summer but with three strong heat waves which, however, did not hit Provence as hard as in Languedoc. The grapes were in perfect condition with good concentration and a good balance between fruit and acidity, a “sunny vintage” but with wines that are still healthy and fresh. Good ageability.
The average rating is because the spring and summer were extremely wet and that the drying Mistral wind was less frequent, causing problems with leaf mold.
The wines then tend to be a little less full-bodied and run the risk of being “watery”. Should be drunk quite young. The rosé wines are good though.
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Provence expert Göran Boman, Author of the books “Provence – Vita, röda och även roséviner” and “The Wines of Provence – Tricolour”.