Private Collection: Riesling and More

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Hirtzberger 2011 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Singerriedl

Singerriedl is Hirtzberger's signature vineyard; furthest east in Spitz, and planted to Riesling, it creates the most stunning examples of deep, complex, lush Austrian wines. The wines show their best with age and are becoming increasingly difficult to find on the secondary market, so bury some of these in your cellar for 10 years then revisit them. It will be worth it... -jfr

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Hirtzberger 2012 Wachau Smaragd Grüner Veltliner Honivogl

Honivogl (the Honey Bird) is Hirtzberger's premier site for Grüner Veltliner, and, according to David Schildknecht, this is one of the greatest Grüners of the entire vintage. Apparently Franz Hirtzberger Jr. is planning to rely less on botrytis-affected grapes than his father (what may be a very, very wise decision in the age of climate change) and it looks like things are only set to improve at this venerable, leading Wachau estate. -jfr

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Knoll 1999 Wachau Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner Smaragd

We recently tasted a curious bottle that was perhaps a bit off, but compelling enough that I feel the need to offer a description here anyway. While darker in color than many contemporaneous wines opened at the same dinner, and marked by mildly lower level of acidity (usually enough to make me move on to the next wine in such settings), the 1999 Loibenberg GV also displayed one of the most potent, screaming expressions of minerality I've encountered in a wine in quite some time. This is Grüner Veltliner for fans of beautiful, aged white Rhones – those ones where old vines and intense sun combine to bring forth a wine that is texturally impressive, fabulously mineral, and surprisingly delicious. John Ritchie

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Dönnhoff 2011 Nahe Hermannshöhle Riesling Grosses Gewächs

Ferments in stainless steel then matures in stück on the fine lees for two months, then a month back in steel before bottling. Helmutt Dönnhoff told me that his idea of Riesling is like "Mountain Spring Water — Clarity is the most important thing." This has the most complex aromatics of the three GGs. Intensely mineral with some CO2 still showing, along with light, white crisp stony notes. Very poised and the longest and most colorful of the three GGs. -jfr

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Kramp, Hans 1989 Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling Spätlese

This is Spätlese as it once was; 9.4% alcohol and 36 g/l residual sugar. Compare this to the Lauer 2012 Ayler Kupp Spätlese (which is an excellent and delicious wine, by the way; this isn't a qualitative comparison), which carries 85 g/l residual sugar, and it's very clear that we're in a completely different ballpark, weight-wise and flavor-wise. This is exquisite Spätlese with cut, definition, generous but delicate peach and citrus fruit notes and Saar-y flavors of bright herbs and spices. Of the three Kramp wines on offer it has the most intensity and length, but on an exceedingly delicate and filigree frame. I almost wrote something like "this is Spätlese that a modern grower would call a Kabinett" and then thought better of it; modern growers just don't make wines like this anymore! -jfr

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