Vintage 2022

Vintage 2022

Great reds and astonishing whites

A hot summer yields a “gigantic red wine vintage” and extraordinary whites

The wine experts of Alto Adige agree: 2022 will be a great vintage for full-bodied red wines in particular, which benefited from the exceptionally high temperatures last summer. But white wines, too, are doing surprisingly well in all areas of cultivation, turning out unusually powerful but still fresh and fruity. 
The wine experts of Alto Adige agree: 2022 will be a great vintage for full-bodied red wines in particular, which benefited from the exceptionally high temperatures last summer. But white wines, too, are doing surprisingly well in all areas of cultivation, turning out unusually powerful but still fresh and fruity.

Record temperatures were recorded as early as May 2022, causing fast and early blossoming even at higher altitudes. And with the summer months of June, July, and August being equally hot and dry, the head start in vegetation kept up, leading to harvesting starting two or even three weeks earlier than the usual yearly average in most areas. “The viticultural year began with a relatively late budding season, but due to the hot weather, it ended up being a very early year after all,” explains Hansjörg Hafner, head of the wine growing division at the Centro di Consulenza per la fruttiviticoltura (consulting center for fruit and wine growing).

Red wines benefit more than white ones from heat, drought, and the opportunity for the grapes to ripen to ideal maturity. “On the whole, 2022 is a very good red wine vintage,” explains Hafner, taking into consideration all areas of cultivation. The expert particularly highlights the Merlot and Cabernet varieties, for which he predicts “an above-average vintage.”

In terms of white varieties, Hafner lists “good sugar content, below-average acidity, and a very healthy grape harvest” as the characterizing keywords for the 2022 vintage. “Despite the hot summer and the early harvest, it is a good white wine vintage,” says he. As an expert from the consulting center, he expects the classic characteristic features of Alto Adige white wines to be preserved even in such an exceptional year.

Bolzano: A “gigantic red wine vintage” and astonishing whites

 Stephan Filippi, cellarer of the Cantina Bolzano, waxes ecstatic about the “storybook grapes” yielded by the harvest. And he is no less enthusiastic when describing the 2022 vintage – particularly the red wines. “2022 will be a gigantic vintage,” prophesies the Bolzano cellarer.

The 2022 Pinot Noir, for example, promises to become a vigorous, fruity, highly interesting wine, and he is expecting great things from the Lagrein, Merlot, and Cabernet varieties, too. “They are intense in color, dense, compact, large, and long,” says Filippi. On top of that, beautiful, mature tannins lend them subtlety. His only problem child, at least at first, was the Schiava (Vernatsch) variety. “It had little coloring and we were worried it would not develop much fruit,” says Filippi, “but we were disabused of that notion: 2022 is a very good vintage for Schiava and Santa Maddalena.”

People at the Cantina Bolzano were also surprised by how the 2022 whites turned out. At first they were concerned about a lack of acidity in the wines brought about by the high sugar content. “We were worried that the white wines would turn out to be sticky and plump,” admits Filippi, but goes on to concede that “while they do have a little less acidity, they are still very enjoyable.”

The most interesting development can be observed in Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Gewürztraminer is very fruity and promises to be an exciting vintage, and also Sauvignon surprised the experts. Müller-Thurgau shows all the hallmarks of becoming a storybook vintage. “Generally, we can say that all wines of the 2022 vintage are consistently developing at a very, very high level,” concludes Filippi. “We are definitely looking forward to them.”

Oltradige: “It all just came together really neatly.”

 Matthias Hauser, cellarer of the Castel Sallegg wine estate in Caldaro, does not have to think twice about his verdict of the 2022 vintage, either: “A great vintage,” says Hauser. In Oltradige, the reds in particular benefited from full maturity thanks to the hot summer. “There are no more green accents but the grapes are all the more extractive, have more goodness, a distinct character, and good storability,” says the cellarer of Castel Sallegg. The whites, on the other hand, stand out due to a beautiful fruit. “They are medium plump but not as dense as in the years before,” Hauser explains, “but I think it is very exciting to bring out these facets in the different vintages.”

The 2022 Kalterersee, which the cellarer describes as “a terrific vintage,” is expressive, dense, and subtle. Similar things may be said about Pinot Noir, whose perfect maturity allowed the winemakers to “play with the natural elegance of this grape variety,” says Hauser, who cannot help but smile when asked about Merlot and Cabernet 2022. “It all just came together really neatly. The profile of these two varieties was practically perfect in 2022.”
Regarding the whites, the cellarer highlights Gewürztraminer (“It is poised to become not full-bodied but subtle, intricate, and fruity”), but above all, Sauvignon. “The 2022 Sauvignon is a very beautiful and exciting vintage with a spotless fruit,” explains Hauser. “It is pretty much my favorite among all the whites.”

Bassa Atesina: First concerned, then surprised by extraordinary wines

 2022 has been quite a turbulent year for viticulture in Bassa Atesina. “The heat in summer really had us worried,” says Willi Stürz, cellarer of the Cantina Tramin winery. But the grapes turned out to be exceptionally healthy and came to optimum maturity; the young wines developed very well in the cellar.

The Pinot Blanc grapes on the hotter exposed slopes were most affected by the high day temperatures, whereas they did splendidly in the cooler areas. The quality of Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, was consistently high. “More aromatic varieties such as Sauvignon were able to handle the hotter temperatures and to retain their characteristic fruity components,” the cellarer explains. Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer were particularly well-suited for the higher day temperatures. “Chardonnay was able to come into its full elegance and sophistication; Gewürztraminer not only retained its fine floral components but also developed really exciting spicy notes, which are typical for Bassa Atesina, anyway.”

Regarding the red varieties, Pinot Noir is extract-rich, fresh, and harmonious. The 2022 Schiava vintage is outstanding, with subtle tannins and a fruit characteristic which, the cellarer elaborates, “has hints of animating cherry fruit notes.” For the vigorous late-maturity red wines, it was even “one of the best vintages of the last ten years,” according to Stürz. “For Lagrein, Merlot, and Cabernet in particular, conditions were optimum, which is now reflected in their density, expression, and ripe tannins.” And the Tramin cellarer continues, “On the whole, the 2022 vintage is impressive and has yielded some extraordinary top-quality results.”

Burgraviato: Reds to go down in history and interesting whites

 A vintage to go down in history, no less, above all regarding the reds – that is the prognosis of Stefan Kapfinger, cellarer of the Winery Cantina Merano. “I have never seen a year like this,” says Kapfinger, everything just came together: “The maturity was there, so was the sugar content, and we were able to leave the grapes hanging until the ideal time for harvesting,” says the Merano cellarer.

Pinot Noir, for example, was met with ideal conditions. It will be a little bit darker and denser in the bottle this year. “Its structure, body, and maturity will also give it great longevity,” adds Kapfinger. His verdict of Cabernet, but above all Lagrein, is similar: “Rarely have I seen such a deep, powerful Lagrein with such great structure,” the cellarer says. “The 2022 Lagrein will certainly go down in history.” Another special Burgraviato vintage of 2022 includes Schiava, which will turn out denser, darker, and very likely more long-lived.

Among the whites, Stefan Kapfinger highlights Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. “Those varieties do not require cool nights the way others do, and they present beautifully plump and mature,” says the Merano cellarer. Gewürztraminer, too, profited from the high temperatures and developed a distinctive fruit character and a high degree of expression. And finally, the 2022 Sauvignon is nothing but extraordinary. “It is developing strongly, with a very distinctive fruit character, playful, and with pronounced hints of exotic fruit,” explains Kapfinger. “That makes it complex and exciting.”

Valle Isarco: A vintage of full-bodied and powerful white wines

 The northernmost area of cultivation in Alto Adige, Valle Isarco, was least affected by the heat and drought of last summer. “Especially in the few days prior to the harvest, the grapes were able to benefit from cooler nights and thus greater temperature differences between day and night,” explains Hannes Munter, cellarer of the Cantina Valle Isarco. And still the harvest season in Valle Isarco began about ten days earlier than usual, which presented an organizational and logistic challenge for the wine growers in particular.

Due to the hot summer and fall, sugar gradation was higher than usual even in Valle Isarco, but the resulting higher alcohol content is well-integrated and the wines go down surprisingly well, explains the cellarer. On the whole, the Valle Isarco white wine vintage is very good, asserts Munter: “The wines have more structure than in other years; they are richer, more powerful, and creamier.”

Regarding the most important Valle Isarco varieties, Munter highlights Veltliner most of all, which profits immensely from an exceptionally creamy structure, elaborates the cellarer of the Cantina Valle Isarco. Kerner, too, has taken an astonishing turn: “Even though the fermenting time is a bit longer, it brings a distinctive fruit characteristic as well as interesting hints of tea and chamomile, and it is very pleasant to drink,” says Munter. A similar fruit characteristic can be found in Sylvaner; remarkably, the 2022 vintage of that variety is dominated by mature rather than green notes.

Val Venosta: A mature and elegant red and white wine vintage

 The exceptionally hot summer of last year is also reflected in the 2022-vintage wines from Val Venosta: the high temperatures have created a mature and elegant vintage, and particularly the red wines are characterized by a lower acidity than in previous years. “Riesling, on the other hand, profited from the cool September, which preserved the degree of acidity really well,” explains Magdalena Pratzer, head of the Falkenstein winery in Naturno. “And the same goes for wines grown at higher altitudes.”

Pratzner’s overall verdict of the red varieties from Val Venosta is accordingly favorable. “2022 is a very good red wine vintage,” says the enologist, “strong in color and with a good acidity structure.” In addition, the 2022 red vintage is characterized by subtle flavors and tannins.

Her assessment of the white Val Venosta 2022 vintage is no less positive. “The white wines turn out to be particularly mineral, with a nice and distinctive fruit character and a good acidity structure,” explains Pratzner, who especially praises Kerner: “It is turning out very good,” she says. When asked for her overall verdict of the 2022 Val Venosta white wines, Magdalena Pratzner replies: “All things considered, 2022 is a very elegant white wine vintage.”
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