Armand Heitz le millésime 2022

The 2022 vintage

Posted by Armand Heitz on

The trend in recent years has been towards sunny vintages with heatwave periods; 2022 is an example. Global warming standardizes wines, erases the talent of the winemaker and produces wines that are rounder but at the same time less fine. One of the challenges for this type of vintage is to maintain finesse and freshness. Although the vine is one of the crops most resistant to drought and heat, I work daily to anticipate the impact of global warming on crops.

Plot of Meursault 1er Cru Perrières vintage 2022 Armand Heitz

Let's take a closer look at the progress of this vintage and how I adapted my work with Mother Nature. First of all, the frost spared our vines in spring. This was a significant relief after the colossal losses of 2021. At the estate, I organized the winter pruning projects in order to carry it out in two stages. The first part was done from November to February. Then the second part was carried out closest to the spring frosts and even after for the most sensitive vines. Thus, we delayed the budburst of the fruiting buds by a few days. A few days may seem insignificant but in the face of spring frosts, this saves precious hectoliters of wine.

Over the growing period, from April 1 to September 30, 2022, we had an average of 19.2°C compared to a normal in Burgundy of 16.4°C. The difference of 2.8°C is enormous and clearly illustrates the impact of global warming. My philosophy is to always try to find the positive in a situation. This Mediterranean weather allowed the vines to grow very quickly to the stages where they are very susceptible to disease. So I only needed very few treatments. Even with a vintage like this, I remain a fervent defender of hybrid and resistant grape varieties which could allow our vineyards to drastically reduce their dependence on inputs.

Talking is good, acting is better! Diversity is life! At the estate, to produce my different white vintages, I grow Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Voltis, Souvignier Gris, Sauvignon, Melon de Bourgogne, Chardonnay and Aligoté. To follow this philosophy to its limits, I even made a strictly forbidden vintage with Noah. In red, the specifications allow less flexibility, so I only grow two grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Gamay.

Noah vintage 2022, vintage with a prohibited grape variety Armand Heitz

In terms of precipitation, from January 1 to September 30, we only had 364 mm; i.e. 160 mm less than the Burgundian standard. Water is life ! Without water, nothing grows and the water cycle is broken. Many people imagine that water comes from the sky. It's wrong ! The rain comes from the ground. Just look at the water cycle diagram we learned in elementary school.

In the 1960s, we destroyed enormous areas of wooded or wild land for the benefit of intensive agriculture. Hedges, forests and wastelands were important sources of moisture beneficial to evapotranspiration. In order to combat this drying out of the soil, I invested in a mixed crop and livestock farm. Whether we like it or not, the mixed crop and livestock farm is an agronomic model. From a diversity, autonomy and resilience point of view, this agriculture has proven itself for thousands of years while intensive agriculture has destroyed our planet in 60 years.

In my vineyards, I work to bring as much diversity and autonomy as on my farm. I plant trees, maintain hedges and sow fava beans, clover, rapeseed, radishes, mustard, alfalfa, rye, sorghum and even hemp. In 2022, in order to compensate for the lack of rain and the high summer heat, I had to remove the permanent grass in certain plots in order to preserve the vines. I reintroduced these plant covers in the fall.

Plant cover in the plot of Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot by Armand Heitz in Burgundy vintage 2022

This vintage confirms that my test of mulching with wood bark gives excellent results on hillsides or shallow soils. My plot of Chevalier-Montrachet, until 2019, was the one that suffered the most from water stress. This stress resulted in low vigor, very early maturity and too low yields. A single year was enough for the vine to regain vigor thanks to mulching with bark. It was the earliest plot on the estate, today I harvest it a week after the start of the harvest.

After a hot and dry summer, you have to be vigilant to know when to start harvesting. I don't like taking vacations in August. It's like I'm leaving the kitchen while I'm cooking a piece of mutton. I have plots that ripen quickly and others less so. Thanks to a lot of organizational work, we managed to harvest the Chardonnays and other white grape varieties over 3 weeks, then the Pinots, then the Gamays to finish with the Aligotés and Sauvignons. Thanks to this work, we are able to bring in healthy and balanced grapes.

In the vat room, the philosophy has been the same since my first vintage. The terroir must be expressed with as little intervention and makeup as possible. For the whites, no sulphite, settling after 12 hours, start of FA in vats then at mid FA, barreling. With low levels of malic acid, no sulphites and summer ambient temperatures, MLF occurs quickly. This natural route allows me to take advantage of the winter cold to tartally stabilize the wines.

Armand Heitz in the vat room tastes the wines of the 2022 vintage

For reds, my credo is that of the whole harvest. I have a scraper but I think I'm going to sell it because I've almost never used it. Optical sorters and the like are worth a fortune and make me nauseous. Emmanuel Reynaud vats his Grenache with a harvest pump from the 80s and makes some of the most sought-after wines in the world. After vatting, the rule is very little punching down, very little pumping over, very little heat, very little cold, I let the vat ferment at room temperature. Only the most elegant tannins should be extracted. This route allows you to obtain fine, elegant, complex wines, with good aging potential but above all ultra authentic.

At the time of the presentation to journalists and our clients, I am very proud of the work accomplished in 2022. I find the wines very high quality, all the more so since I respected a committed ethic. Whites and reds are balanced, the aromatic intensity is precise and complex. In the mouth, the volume is incredible and the extraction controlled with great precision.

Good tasting

Armand Heitz

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