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As any lover of Austrian white wines knows, the most heralded region for Riesling and Gruner Veltliner hails from the Wachau along the terraced vineyards above the snaking Danube river. And amongst the many wineries that bottle this magical juice, the label of perfection undoubtedly goes to Prager: Vinous sums it up best: “Toni Bodenstein elevated the stature of his father-in-law Franz Prager’s estate to international notoriety with wines that consistently continue to be among the most complex, intriguing and subtle of any of the world’s Rieslings or Grüner Veltliners.” Master Sommelier Sur Lucero claims that the best of Austria can mirror the density and almost tactile concentration of the greatest German producers, while harkening to the mineral tension of Burgundy stalwarts like Montrachet as evidenced in Prager's magnificent whites. He cites their uncanny ability to balance power, tension, and zesty vibrancy with ethereal, herbal aromatics. We at Chambers wholeheartedly concur; Toni Bodenstein, otherwise known as the Wachau soil-whisperer and the foremost authority on the area’s geology and various microclimates, always manages to produce wines that balance a weight of mineral-driven concentration with a laser sharp focus. Based in the cooler westermost part of the Wachau in Weissenkirchen ( of which Toni is also the mayor!), the vineyards are mostly on extremely steep terraces planted at very high densities, some at very high altitude. Toni's motto is Vom Stein zum Wein (from rocks to wine) and it really shows in the unique sedimentary soils composed of stones from the Danube river: gneiss, granite, and schist.
The sad news is that this perfection comes at a price for it's admirers: the dreaded word "allocation". Chambers just got offered it's annual allocation of the 2021 vintage and quantities are miniscule for the New York City market; only a dozen or so cases of each cuvee. We are lucky to offer you 4 wines, 2 Gruners and 2 Rieslings, one Federspiel and one Smaragd each. I highly recomment that you pick up all 4 and open them for the Holidays. I can't think of better wines to pair with roast turkey, goose or ham! Or better yet, get 3 of each and lay some away as the 2021 vintage is extremely age worthy with it's higher acids, these beauties can easily go another decade! Giselle Hamburg
The wines are prearrival and will be in store Thursday 10/13
According to the distributor, Ried Hinter der Burg, meaning “behind the old castle” of Weissenkirchen, is a southeast-facing site with sedimentary soils, rich in humus and containing “shotte” stones from the old Danube. The vineyard benefits from sitting just below the Hinter Seiber and its deep soils are especially well-suited to Grüner Veltliner. Prager produces only Grüner Veltliner Federspiel from this site. Being a Federspiel with a maximum ripenes of 12.5% alcohol, the wine is elegant and racy. From 66-year-old vines cultivated on gravel topped by a large dark earth layer. Very clear and intensely fruity on the elegant and spicy nose, this is a medium-bodied, round and juicy Veltliner with grippy minerality and a piquant, saline finish.
As per the distributor, Steinriegl is planted to Riesling and is Prager’s only vineyard west of Weissenkirchen. The exceptionally steep, southwest-facing site has a cool mesoclimate due to its proximity to the forest, and its soil is a unique “kalksilikatmarmor,” a limestone silicate marble rarely found elsewhere in the Wachau. Steinriegl’s uniquely cool microclimate results in wines of high aroma and focused acidity and its limestone soil provide compact structure and a flavor that is full of cool herbaceousness, mint, lime zest, lemon, green apples and chalk with a long saline finish.
Sourced from a .3 hectare plot with 84-year-old vines, quite high within the Achleiten. Toni Bodenstein says this tiny parcel is 25 terraces up, to be exact, so even though everything must be done by hand up here, you're exhausted by the time you get there. Bodenstein has a funny quote regarding being up in this section of the vineyard, writing that because you're so high up, "...your thinking and feeling is near heaven!" The word "Stockkultur" refers to the way the vines are trained, a single vine with four shoots. This is the traditional way vines were cultivated before the 1950s and it results in incredible vineyard densities. The vines planted in 1938 are among the oldest in the Wachau. The resulting wine, per the distributor, is extremely concentrated and mineral with breath taking aromatics of grasses, herbs, and wildflowers with mouthwatering citrus oil and apricot on the muscular, full bodied palate. Truly stupendous!
As per the distributor, Klaus sits adjacent to Achleiten and is one of the Wachau’s most famous vineyards for Riesling. The vineyard is incredibly steep with a gradient of 77% at its steepest point. The southeast-facing terraced vineyard of dark migmatite-amphibolite and paragneiss produces a tightly wound and powerful wine. The parcel belonging to Toni Bodenstein was planted in 1952. Klaus is considered to be the Austrian equivalent of Montrachet - it tends to producer richer, more voluptuous wines, luscious and enveloping though of course with great minerality. Darker melons and citrus oils provide a mammoth foundation for this very long, very impressive wine.