Browse using the new Vinous website now. Launch →
Austria’s central and eastern wine regions produced as much red wine as white. Tasting and thinking about the wines I encountered, it is clearer than ever to me that Blaufränkisch deserves a much wider audience. Moreover, it deserves to be planted far and wide in various corners of the globe. It is one of the last red sleepers out there. My estate visits in November 2023 yielded more tasting notes from the stunning 2021 vintage than from 2022. Because many wineries release wines with delay, this report also includes notes for a sizeable amount of 2020s, 2019s and 2018s – all of them current releases.
Two thousand twenty-two in Austria is a vintage that had the misfortune of following a stellar year. With the spectacular 2021 vintage still fresh in producers’ memories, nobody was waxing lyrical about 2022. It is one of those years that will live in the shadows and eventually be quietly reassessed, especially since the combination of slightly more moderate alcohol levels, with not-quite-as-much stuffing provides surprising drinking pleasure. But, talking about stuffing, there is plenty of that in the best wines.
After the unprecedentedly dry summer of 2022, heavy rain finally arrived in Rheingau and Pfalz. Sometimes, rain coincided with harvest, interrupted it or prompted some producers to wait it out. It is a mixed picture in which estates with exemplary farming and logistics triumphed. Some producers were helped by privileged, water-retentive sites or ventilated altitudes that prevented rot during and after the rain. This means general statements simply don’t apply in 2022 – but the vintage has some stunners nonetheless.
germany: Mosel, Germany: Saar, Germany: Ruwer, featured, Germany
Despite a hot and dry summer that brought record water deficits, the “challenging” Mosel vintage of 2022 delivered elegant wines. The best estates were able to make very good and even outstanding wines marked by moderate alcohol levels and freshness. This came down to three things: the resilience of deep-rooting old Riesling vines, the ingenuity of Riesling’s ability to self-regulate its metabolism and sorting at harvest.
Relief and surprise were the primary emotions for winemakers across Rheinhessen and Nahe for the 2022 vintage, the driest and sunniest year since records began in 1881. Many expected opulence in their wines. Then rain arrived just in time. The relative slenderness of the wines and their moderate alcohol levels, however, are down to Riesling’s ingenious ability to self-regulate.
After having purchased the former royal Prussian state domain in the Saar Valley in 2016, German winemaker and Riesling supremo Markus Molitor now debuts the first two wines from the historic Serriger Vogelsang vineyard and the Domäne Serrig label: one dry Riesling, one Kabinett.
The VDP’s two regional auctions in Trier and Bad Kreuznach in September are key dates for Riesling collectors. I was invited to attend pre-auction tastings held by the producers over the summer ahead of the auctions themselves. This article explains how these auctions work, but far more detail on the vintage and wineries will be in the respective regional reports covering Rheinhessen & Nahe and Mosel, Saar & Ruwer.
Cellar Favorite: Famille Hugel - The 2015 Riesling Séléctions de Grains Nobles S and 2014 Riesling Grossi Laüe
France: Alsace, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites
Jean-Frédéric Hugel paid a brief visit to London to launch a brace of late-release Rieslings. One from the 2014 vintage, from their top site Grand Cru Schoenenbourg. While the 2015 has already been released, this is the first vintage in which Hugel finally uses the grand cru designation rather than their Alsatian dialect term Grossi Laüe.
germany: Mosel, Germany: Saar, featured
The best dry 2021s from Mosel and Saar offer incredible clarity, poise and longevity. The top off-dry and sweet wines are analytics-defying tightrope acts, teetering between electric sharpness and fruity allure drawn mostly across the entire citrus spectrum. A long, cool growing season meant full aromatic development alongside pine-tingling acidity. It is a vintage for true Riesling hounds and those who delight in the deliciously bracing drama on the palate that only Riesling can offer.
France: Alsace, featured
At long last, Alsace Pinot Noirs are coming to the fore. Hectares under vine are steadily increasing, and so is grower expertise. Some producers are veterans in teasing complex, elegant and expressive wines from this much-loved grape variety. Others are just starting. Pinot Noir is one of the most exciting developments in Alsace, and there are other varietal experiments, too.