Gr%c3%bcner veltliner vines on the alluvial flatlands close to the danube in the wachau copy

2023 Wachau and Lower Austria: Mercurial Weather Gods Smiled in the End

Austria, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Jul 2024

In 2023, all the signs pointed to a long growing season with a late harvest, but rains after a hot summer with record temperatures sped everything up. These August rains provided some relief from dry stress but also turned into devastating hailstorms in places. Coolish and sunny weather allowed hail-damaged grapes to dry, preventing what could have been a complete rot-fest. In the end, growers could harvest ripe grapes. Overall, Lower Austria and Vienna delivered exquisitely clean wines with vivid fruit expression and welcome crunch and contour. If recent comparisons serve, 2023 tops 2022 but does not quite reach the level of 2021 in all respects – even though some wines get there.

The clos de la faille planted by domaine albert mann above the grand cru hengst where limestone meets triassic sandstone copy

Alsace 2022 Reds: Continuing Their Trajectory

France: Alsace, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, May 2024

Alsace Pinot Noir continues to show its mettle. Most of the wines I tasted for this report are from the warm 2022 vintage, so sumptuous black cherry flavors abound, but happily free from the sins of over-oaking and over-extraction. The limestone-based wines are the clear winners. While the entry-level reds provide immense fresh-faced joy with their juiciness, the top wines need not shy away from the global limelight. The 2021 Pinot Noirs are trickier, but the best come with seductive slenderness and red-fruited brightness.

The steep slopes of grand cru sommerberg looking down onto niedermorschwihr copy

Alsace 2022 Whites – A Lucky Escape

France: Alsace, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Apr 2024

For the most part, vintage 2022 in Alsace was both warm and dry. The region was lucky to escape the extreme heat and drought that plagued much of the rest of France. Rain arrived, sometimes “in extremis,” and saved the crop from losses that could have been worse. Wineries harvested concentrated, luminous Riesling despite some hail, and producers made Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer in a range of styles, resulting in plush wines. Even Sylvaners exhibit uncommon fruitiness. Beyond vineyards and cellars, ongoing consolidation within Alsace’s already polarized wine industry is of increasing concern to independent growers. The latter value quality over quantity while the drive for quantity by ever bigger behemoths explains the sea of vineyards across the plains along the autoroute.

German and austrian sekt potential cover

Evoe! German and Austrian Sekt Report

Austria, Germany, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Mar 2024

The landscape of Austrian and German sparkling wine, or Sekt, has changed beyond recognition – at long last. What began with the heroic and often lone efforts of a handful of determined individuals in the 1970s and 1980s is finally in full fizz. It took decades of legal changes and challenges to create this new category, but even more so, it took years of cultural re-assessment to rehabilitate the historical term “Sekt”. Traditional method Sekt is now a serious, exciting and growing category in both countries. The ambition is palpable. This inaugural Sekt report covers bottle-fermented Sekts from Styria to the Weinviertel in Austria and Baden to Saxony in Germany. The revival was slow, but today, you can hear corks popping everywhere.

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2022 Burgenland and Austria’s East – A Heaven for Unsung but Compelling Reds

Austria, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Feb 2024

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.

Winter sunset in the wachau copy

2022 Wachau and Lower Austria: An Overshadowed Vintage Worth Exploring

Austria, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Feb 2024

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.

The famously steep vineyards of the mittelrhein  here with a view of bacharach on a glorious septembr day. copycover

2022 Rheingau, Pfalz and Mittelrhein: Before, During and After the Rain

Germany, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Dec 2023

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.

Looking downstream towards graach from high up in teh bernkastel vineyards copy

2022 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Old Vines and Steep Challenges

Germany, germany: Mosel, Germany: Saar, Germany: Ruwer, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Oct 2023

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.

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2022 Rheinhessen & Nahe: Rain in the Nick of Time

Germany, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Sep 2023

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.

Paradigms of style   the two inaugural rieslings from dom%c3%a4ne serrig by markus molitor copy2 %281%29

Markus Molitor Debuts Inaugural Rieslings from Domäne Serrig

Germany, featured

Anne Krebiehl MW, Sep 2023

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.