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With each passing vintage we continue to delight in the precise and elegant Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from Weingut Alzinger in the Wachau. An unwavering dedication to quality in the vineyards and focus on harvesting at perfect phenolic ripeness leads to the kind of Wachau wines we can get behind and get excited about. These wines can age (as some of you already know from experience), but many can be thoroughly enjoyed in the now. We encourage you to check out last vintage's article, for some basic information about the winery.
Although each year brings more challenges and temperatures keep toppling annual records, 2017 was a relatively easier go 'round in this part of the Wachau compared to elsewhere in Europe, where devastating frosts, hail, and rot pressures forced some winemakers to make drastic, eleventh-hour selections to their already dwindling supply of grapes. When we were able to speak in brief this past June, Leo Jr. expressed a sigh of relief that both quantity and quality stayed high in 2017; and although we don't have tons to offer*, we are indeed grateful to have the following wines along with some stragglers from the 2016 vintage, worth snatching up as well! Cari Bernard
*Most wines are currently in stock, a few arrive Monday, 10/29.
Höhereck (found between Kellerberg and Loibenberg), is southwest to southeast in exposition, with Gföhler gneiss laced with feldspar and quartz. One thing that is quite conspicuous upon visiting is that this is a vineyard in which a large portion is dedicated to just lying fallow as a nature preserve. Wild grasses and flowers stand untouched; the rest is terraced to vines. This is unfortunately the only wine in the line-up I was unable to taste. Let us know how it is! Cari Bernard
Hollerin has fairly large terraces, with loam and Gföhler gneiss soil. Sometimes thought to be the softer counterpart to nearby Höhereck, this vintage the Hollerin really shines! Sweet mint and ginger on the nose, the palate is zippy and bracing with a mélange of stone fruit and citrus: ripe peach, nectarine, orange and tangerine juice, tart kumquat zest—mouthwatering! Cari Bernard
Riesling vines for the Smaragd bottling grow in meager soils in a high altitude, amphitheater-shaped vineyard where most of the sun-exposure ends at around 3 in the afternoon, making for a cooler microclimate in contrast to some of the other south-facing sites on the Loibenberg, where a more Pannonian (warmer) climate prevails. The cooling influence is reflected in the high minerality of the wine. Tasted first as a tank sample, the Loibenberg was floral and fresh, with green strawberries and electric acidity. Tasted a few months after bottling, the green has evolved into orange--orange oil, tangerine, underripe apricot with juicy Fuji apple on the finish. Cari Bernard
Sourced from vineyards around the town of Dürnstein, on more gravelly, sandy, alluvial soils in contrast to the more stony meager soils further up slope. Light hints of white florals on the nose, with bright white cherries, and fresh green pear on the medium-weight, lively palate. Grüner Veltliner is known for being very food-friendly, and this could clearly hold up to difficult pairings like steamed artichokes or ham-studded pea soup and would be fantastic with practically anything from Wiener schnitzel to Thai food to fresh salads. Cari Bernard
Mühlpoint is located on the gentle slope below Steinertal, with higher levels of loess and loam, more suited to growing Grüner Veltliner. Scents of green hay and cereal grains give way to a silky, herbal Grüner, with green orchard fruit, apricot, marjoram, and white cherries on the finish—delightful! Cari Bernard
Loibenberg is fairly large, at just over 31 hectares of vines, and there are many microclimates and soil types that exist on the terraced slopes. Alzinger's parcels of Grüner Veltliner on the Loibenberg are warmer than where the Riesling is. This extra warmth manifests as a dense, fruity and creamy Grüner balanced by young ginger spice, nectarine, Anjou pear, and fresh strawberry acidity. Cari Bernard
The Riesling from Alzinger's Steinertal parcel often sells out the moment it arrives from Austria; the steep, higher reaches of the vineyard have a sparse layer of soil over the primary rock of Gföhler gneiss which lends itself well to growing Riesling with intense minerality and power. The vineyard is located at the end of two valleys, where cool air intensifies in the autumn, providing ideal diurnal range to preserve acidity, ripeness, and aromas in the grapes. Luckily for us, this year there's enough available to make it to the email! Vibrant energy, elegant structure, age-worthy concentration, these are the attributes that make this wine so sought after! 2017 is right on target, with the textbook balance of density and lift: notes of ripe apricot, lemon oil, peach and the slightest touch of green melon freshness drift over a mineral core. Cari Bernard
Hollerin has larger terraces, with loam and Gfoehler gneiss; Leo Jr. calls the wines from this vineyard "charming" with good fruit and structure, a contrast from the more intense mineral cut on the wines from the Höhereck vineyard just on the other side of the hill. Delicate aromas of white strawberries and flowers on the nose, the palate boasts great texture and lift with notes of peach candy, green strawberry tops, and white grapefruit. Cari Bernard
Riesling vines for the Smaragd bottling grow in meager soils in a high altitude, amphitheater-shaped vineyard where most of the sun-exposure ends at around 3 in the afternoon, making for a cooler microclimate in contrast to some of the other south-facing sites on the Loibenberg, where a more Pannonian (warmer) climate prevails. The cooling influence is reflected in the high minerality in balance with a creaminess and clarity of fruit--peach blossom and stone on the nose gives way to stone fruit and just-ripe mango with a spicy intensity and long, saline stony finish on the palate. Cari Bernard