A Look at the 2022 Vintage Through the Lens of Premiere Napa Valley


Regular readers will doubtless be aware that one of my yearly… efforts involves spending most of the day tasting barrel samples in advance of the annual Premiere Napa Valley wine auction.

I look forward to the wine-tasting equivalent of running the Boston Marathon each year, but unfortunately as the PNV event has evolved, its timeline has shifted to conflict with the week of vacation that our school district takes in February. While I loves me some Cabernet barrel tasting, I’m not yet prepared to cut a family vacation 3 days short to do it.

I get a consolation prize, however, in that there are a couple of other occasions to taste the wines made for Premiere Napa Valley in advance. The Napa Vintners have been kind enough to allow me to take advantage of those opportunities, so I am still able to offer you a little mini version of my annual tasting extravaganza and some perspective on the 2022 vintage in Napa.

The Napa Valley Bake Sale

For those unfamiliar with Premiere Napa Valley, it has become the main annual fundraiser for the Napa Valley Vintner’s Association. Unlike most of their other auction efforts which fund the organization’s philanthropic work, Premiere is a fundraiser for the association itself. Member wineries create unique batches of wine, ranging from 5 cases up to 20 cases, and then those lots are auctioned off to raise money.

One of the reasons I love tasting these wines is that they generally represent the winery’s very best efforts for the year. They’re made from a special vineyard block, or they are pulled from the winemaker’s favorite barrel, or they’re a blend that the winery usually never produces. Regardless, they are the creme-de-la-creme of Napa wines, and therefore an excellent barometer of the vintage as a whole.

Most of the wines on offer this year were from the 2022 vintage, which by all accounts was a pretty excellent year. Of course, it seems like these days, any year in which wine country isn’t going up in flames is a pretty excellent year.

A Vintage of Ups and Downs

But 2022 featured a week-long heat spike in early September that sent some producers scrambling to harvest red grapes even as they were finishing up with their white grapes. Things cooled off after that, and then there was a bit of a nail-biter as rain swept in. Many producers waited through both the heat and the moisture as things leveled off into October, resulting in a relatively unhurried harvest for the latest ripening varieties and vineyard sites.

My tasting suggests that the ups and downs towards the end of harvest produced mixed outcomes when it comes to the resulting wines. I see some variations in the tannins of this vintage, some quite smooth and supple, and not that different from the 2021s, which were some of the best Napa wines I’ve tasted in a decade.

More than a few wines featured pretty blocky or aggressive tannins that seem like they will require some more time to soften than usual, or may just end up being a bit more aggressive through the life of these wines.

The best wines, however, feature excellent acidity, wonderfully bright fruit, and demonstrate that it was certainly possible to make excellent wines in 2022. I fear that these wines will quickly be overshadowed by the so-called “vintage of a lifetime,” which is what Napa Vintners is calling 2023, but I will be very happy to drink the best of 2022 for many years to come.

This year, there seemed to be an emphasis by the Vintners on collaborative wines. Quite a few wines were the product of multiple producers working together to create a unique blend, adding to the “once in a lifetime” quality that some of these wines possess.

Tasting Notes

As usual with most walk-around tastings, I only record scores and some brief comments, not full tasting notes. While I usually taste 200+ of these wines each year, this year for reasons outlined above I was only afforded the opportunity to taste…

Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/02/a-look-at-the-2022-napa-vintage-through-the-lens-of-premiere-napa-valley