A Cellar of (Mostly) Early Aughts Wachau + Nineties Germans

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Melk                                                                                                        

This is St. Urban, as depicted on labels from Weingut Knoll. Seen here clutching his grapes, Urban is (at least one of) the patron saints of wine and grape growers. Austria is, of course, a historically Catholic country, and Knoll is a short drive downstream from the famous baroque Abbey at Melk.

 

 

 

 

 

The Danube valley in the Wachau was inhabited much before Christianity, going back at least as far as the culture that produced the famous “Venus” of Willendorf around 32,000 years ago. You can see the original statue in the Naturhistoriches Museum in Vienna; it’s about 4 inches high, and it's a powerful object that has the presence of something much, much larger. If you’re in the Wachau there is a 4-5 foot high cement version on the site in Willendorf (about 12 miles upriver from Knoll) where the statue was discovered. Despite the kind-of-funny reproduction, it’s an atmospheric spot, and it makes a strong impression of the antiquity of the Wachau - at least on the impressionable, like me.

Willendorf                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More to the point: in the not so recent past, we frequently had boatloads of older Wachau wines. They were glorious. I had some bottles at home; few wines hit as many food-matching targets at our house as Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, and given the choice I’ll take my Grüner and Riesling 10-20 years old, please, so those bottles are all gone now. Thankfully we have just received a small but nice group of mature Grüner and Riesling. I’m buying some, but there’s enough to share…btw, imho good Federspiel, like good Kabinett, can be fantastic with some real age. Jamie Wolff

Alzinger 2003 Wachau Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Reserve

The worm has turned on the initial judgment of the 2003 vintage. Good farming and selective harvesting have held so many wines, from this underrated vintage, in good stead over the years. This was one of the most exuberantly playful noses in our tasting. Aromas of tuberose, chestnuts, and bananas foster leave give way to more herbal tones of spearmint and sage. The palate shows tropical fruits that never become cloying thanks to layer upon layer of minerality. Complex and delicious!

  • white
  • 2 in stock
  • $79.99

Alzinger 2003 Wachau Smaragd Gruner Veltliner Steinertal

This is certainly the most robust and opulent wine I've ever come across from Alzinger, yet all the hallmarks of the estate and its signature vineyard, Steinertal, remain in place, including balance, minerality and bold herbal tones. If our recent dinners of Knoll and Alzinger wines taught us anything, it's that blanket dismissals of the 2003 vintage are not helpful or accurate, as the wines certainly have bountiful attributes even without the acid one would normally expect. Austrian 2003s such as this are for people who can enjoy whites from southern France and similar climes: bold, characterful wines whose compelling flavors and density overcome the wines lack of acidic cut. John Ritchie

  • white
  • 2 in stock
  • $74.99

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  • 14 in stock
  • $64.99

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  • 16 in stock
  • $119.99

Knoll 2001 Wachau Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Loibenberg

White pepper and black fruit – what a combo! And distinctly nutty/grainy aromas as well. A rich, peachy, totally dry white wine, with creamy texture and great length. Fascinating and delicious wine that goes well with a great many foods – a great match for Asian spices, for instance. JW Nearly 15 years on from the vintage, Knoll's 2001 Loibenberg GV is a quite impressive wine, with the peachy flavors Jamie first wrote about years ago having mostly receded, leaving in their place a citric, herbaceous Grüner with telltale aromas and flavors of nuts, grains and lentils. Knoll's wines age wonderfully, retaining freshness and loads of character, even after their obvious, forward fruit has faded. Still youthful but showing quite well and promises to unfold more over the next 5-10 years. John Ritchie

  • white
  • 33 in stock
  • $119.99

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  • 16 in stock
  • $119.99

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  • 27 in stock
  • $119.99

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  • 4 in stock
  • $119.99

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