Vintage 2023 - Vini Alto Adige

Vintage 2023

Great challenges, great wines

Challenging weather brings out powerful reds and fruity whites

The 2023 vintage seems to corroborate one of Alto Adige’s wine legends: years of great challenges are years of great wines. Out in the vineyards, 2023 was a year of major challenges, but winemakers expect strong reds with rich fruit flavors and intense colors as well as fresh and even fruitier whites than past vintages.
Last year, Alto Adige’s winegrowers were often faced with adverse weather conditions: While the first couple of months were too dry, spring turned out cold and wet. The summer was very hot, but the weather started to get rainy once harvest had started. “For the winegrowers, last year’s weather required much more effort,” says Gerhard Kofler, winemaker at the Cantina Girlan winery. Untimely rains and excessive growth proved challenging for winegrowers, and the harvested grapes demanded thorough sorting. “Winegrowers in Alto Adige are experienced in handling the most difficult weather conditions, so they know exactly what to do and where to put effort into” states Kofler. “In challenging years such as the past one, the ability to achieve the highest quality in adverse circumstances sets apart the best.”

Stephan Filippi, winemaker at Cantina Bolzano and President of the Alto Adige Chapter of Assoenologi, attributes the premium yield in spite of all adversities to a unique quality of Alto Adige winegrowers: “Our growers have developed a genuine passion for wine, and they act accordingly,” says Filippi and points out the useful network of organizations to support the farmers with expertise and advice.

Warm days in fall proved favorable

According to Filippi, certain weather conditions even proved favorable for the 2023 vintage. “Unusually high temperatures during the harvest were extremely favorable for all locations with varieties that ripen later in the year,” explains the enologist from Bolzano. “The warm temperatures definitely had a positive impact on the harvest and boosted the quality of the wines because the grapes were fully ripe when picked.” The 2023 vintage of red wines from Alto Adige in particular is a clear testament to that: strong, intense in color, pronounced fruit, and fully developed tannins. “The 2023 vintage is marked by incredible, highly elegant reds,” states Filippi.

And the experts agree that the whites are equally interesting. “The vintage is characterized by its intense fruitiness,” says Filippi. And his colleague from Cantina Girlan adds: “The white wines are elegant with a nice fresh touch, which makes them even more enjoyable.”

Lagrein, Schiava, Pinot Noir, and more

According to Stephan Filippi, Lagrein stands out among the 2023 red wines. As he says, thanks to very ripe grapes, wine lovers can look forward to “a great vintage.” “Ripe grapes produce fine, nicely rounded tannins,” Filippi says. In his opinion, the same is true for Cabernet and Merlot, and he also expects Pinot Noir to turn out quite favorably. Gerhard Kofler confirms: “The 2023 Pinot Noir is not quite as strong as last year’s vintage but offers plenty of fruit and elegance at slightly lower alcohol contents.”

According to the experts, Schiava—Santa Maddalena in Filippi’s case–will come out well, too. Again, warm temperatures in fall were responsible for that: “The berries started to dry a little, which makes them smaller and more concentrated. This results in stronger fruitiness and bolder colors,” explains Filippi, who recently started filling the first bottles with 2023 Santa Maddalena at Cantina Bolzano.

Winners and trials of patience

Fruitiness is a key characteristic of the 2023 whites, the winemakers declare. While 2022 was quite heavy due to the heat, consumers can expect lighter, fresher wines for 2023. Sauvignon, for example, makes a slightly fresher impression, and Pinot Blanc turns out very nicely. “With Gewürztraminer, however, a lot of patience was required in 2023,” says Gerhard Kofler. The grapes took a very long time to ripen properly. In general, the 2023 vintage of Gewürztraminer is slightly lighter, but “in locations with just the right conditions and output, the grapes are perfect for fruity, elegant wines,” adds Kofler.

But the 2023 vintage has a clear winner. Or in other words: Both Filippi and Kofler agree that this vintage confirms that Chardonnay is one of the most interesting white varieties in Alto Adige. According to Kofler, Chardonnay is resistant to high temperatures, retains its acidity in hot years very well, and is hardly ever affected by rot, which means that the grapes can be left on the vines until they are fully ripened even when there is a lot of rain in fall.

The bottom line?

2023 was a year full of challenges for Alto Adige winegrowers but also a year of great wines. This is especially true for all varieties and locations where the grapes ripen late in the fall. “Warmer locations at lower altitudes were at a disadvantage last year because grape picking—especially of the white varieties—took place at a time when it was way too warm and moist,” declare both experts. Locations at higher altitudes, on the other hand, benefited from the sunny, warm days and cool nights that followed the rain. Overall, 2023 reflects the changing conditions brought about by climate change.

“In summary, the 2023 vintage offers delightful signature wines with great aging qualities,” comments Stephan Filippi. For Gerhard Kofler, 2023 might even prove to compare to the great vintages of 2016 and 2019. Comparing 2023 to the previous year, his opinion is: “2023 is bold and edgy, so we look forward to truly exciting wines.”
Vintage 2023 - Vini Alto Adige
Vintage 2023 - Vini Alto Adige
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