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If you had to summarise the 2022 vintage, it would sound like this: first it was far too dry for months, then far too wet at the wrong time. The vintage was anything but easy. The fact that a lot of good wine was nevertheless produced has to do with the first of two paradoxes of this vintage.

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Although rain during or shortly before the harvest is never welcome, it may have saved the Riesling vintage. After the dry period, which basically lasted from March to August, the Riesling grapes were mostly not yet ripe, but mainly had small, half-dried berries in which flavour and sugar were concentrated. A year of thick, high-alcohol wines without finesse and aromatic ripeness was imminent.

The rain caused the berries to fill up again, the sugar levels normalised, but the rot pressure also increased rapidly. Now it was important to react quickly and prudently. Those who carefully sorted out the grapes in the vineyard and gave the healthy berries enough time could bring the vintage to a conciliatory close; those who had old vines, possibly in cool locations or those that still had water in the subsoil even during long periods of drought, could even hope for excellent quality.

However, this is where the second paradox of the vintage comes into play: it was the great single vineyards that sometimes suffered the most from the conditions. While many basic and mid-range Rieslings fulfil all realistic expectations of them, the top wines are often unable to clearly distinguish themselves in terms of quality. Not infrequently, even the smaller wines are more enjoyable to drink, simply because they are often more harmonious and you don't get the impression that the winemaker perhaps wanted more here than was ultimately possible.

And this picture is unlikely to change much with maturity. With a few exceptions, 2022 is not a vintage that should be forgotten in the cellar for long. This is not only due to the acidity, as is so often rumoured, but also to the general structure and composition of the wines, which rarely exhibit the tension, concentration, complexity and depth of truly first-class or even great Rieslings. Anyone who waits too long with the 22s, trusting in the usual storability of top German Rieslings, is likely to experience some disappointment later on. And "too long" probably doesn't really mean too long this year. If we are not mistaken, the 22s will develop faster than any other vintage in the last two decades. At the top, mind you, not across the board; 2010 probably set a lonely record in that respect.

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But let's move on to the exceptions. Because under ideal conditions (see above) and in the hands of producers who are uncompromisingly obsessed with quality, outstanding, sometimes even great wines could also be produced in 2022. Although the best wines of the vintage usually also have that special yellow aroma, often reminiscent of fennel and aniseed, of particularly warm and dry years, which we will probably have to get used to, they still offer substance, depth, tension and finesse. The absolute top wines are probably rarer in 2022 than they have been since 2010, but it is all the more worth keeping an eye out for them.

And then there are the many very successful wines in all quality levels that are simply fun to drink, and most of them already are. Yes, they may not be long-runners, but at least below single vineyards, hardly anyone expects that. At the same time, the single vineyards wines from the good producers are usually anything but disappointing, just not quite as strong as usual in many places. Above all, we can drink them without worrying while we wait for the excellent vintages to mature. And the vintage should also be very welcome in the catering trade, where the better Rieslings are often (or have to be) offered far too early.

We have tasted almost 800 Rieslings from 2022 and well over 400 from older vintages over the past few months. We present the best ones here. Links to all the results and the producers can be found at the end of the best lists.

Riesling Dry, vintage 2022