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This week, we will be offering our annual allocation of FX Pichler's 2020 wines. As with Prager, our allocation is very limited. We will also be offering wines from his daughter's estate: Pichler Krutzler. As this isn't meant to be a father/daughter smackdown, we will be illustrating the different vineyards they cultivate with their best Gruner Veltliner and Riesling sites. As noted in the caption above, the Pichlers recently left the Vinea Wachau Association they helped found in 1983, adopting Austria's terroir-focused DAC regulations in light of climate change.These are similar in principle to France's AOC system, rather than Vinea Wachau's focus on defining wine styles by ripeness levels. The DAC structure consists of three tiers: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein ("village" wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine). "We want to show with our wines the terroir in our best vineyards, no matter how high the sugar level is when we reach the physiological ripeness," said Pichler. They believe that the weather and the vineyard will determine which wine style will be produced, "like in Germany and maybe also in Burgundy." The 2020 vintage is the first to no longer bear the Federspiel and Smaragd designations. For our offering, we've picked their heralded Gruner Veltliner Ried Loibenberg and Riesling Ried Kellerberg.
Loibenberg is one of the most historied vineyards in the Wachau, with mentions of it dating all the way back to 1253. Due to warm air currents, it is often very hot, which is why the Loibenberg is occasionally referred to as the “hearth of the Wachau”. The predominant soil type in Loibenberg is Gföhler gneiss, a hard orthogneiss metamorphic rock. This Gföhler gneiss is quite distinct from the widely-varied paragneisses found elsewhere and the granodiorite Late-Proterozoic era gneiss of Spitz to the west. The lower reaches of Loibenberg have considerably more loess deposits, occasionally more than a meter deep, where Grüner Veltliner is planted. This produces wines of dense, full-body that display refined fruit, intense minerality, and a real sense of power . This is considered FX's warmest site and best Gruner Veltliner.
Kellerberg lies just to the west of Loibeneberg where the Danube bends north. The steep vineyard is located directly behind the baroque cellar palace. Like Loibenberg, the soil is mainly Gföhl gneiss. It's southeast aspect makes it slightly cooler than Loibenberg. As per FX's website, the vineyard is blessed with early morning sunshine and afternoon shade, extremely valuable under the blazing summer sun. Along with the cool air currents that descend from the neighboring woods above, this helps the wines retain aromatic freshness, complex texture and intense minerality. It produces Rieslings with impressive concentration and great ageing potential (the 2021 vintage not yet released just scored 100pts from James Suckling and Falstaff but as per the distributor, 2020 was also a very cool vintage showing many stylistic similarities).
FX's daughter and son in law have their winery just down the road in Durnstein. He hails from a winemaking family in Sudburgenland. Since he inherited the Blaufrankisch vineyard and estate, they aren't allowed to be in the Vinea Wachau. But Erich feels that this gives them the flexibility to do things more naturally. farming organically and using indigenous yeasts, They will be certified organic with the 2022 vintage. For the top wines like Supperin, fermentation occurs in large Stockinger foudres and they rest on the lees for up to a year with very low SO2.
Supperin dates back to 1493, named after the Mother Superior of The Poor Clares. The "clos" gently slopes down the hill from the old city wall to the Danube and the enclosing stone walls act as a natural heat reservoir. The vines are 80 years old; the combination of this and the vinayrd aspect and soil (a mixture of weathered gneiss and fine gravel sediments) shape wines of great complexity and expression.
Dating back to 1314, the tiny site facing west with steep terraces close to the Danube river is only accessible on foot via some 100 stone steps. It yields extreme temperature differences between day and night caused by its western orientation. This in combination with a high amount of Orthogneiss and the shallow topsoil creates extremely minerally and long-lasting wines.
Each of these 4 wines is a wonderful expression of it;s terroir and it is lovely to see how the entire family (father & son, daughter & son in law) are now following the same viticultural and winemaking principles bringing the family history full circle. Naturally, I highly recommend getting one of each! Giselle Hamburg
ALL WINES ARE PREARRIVAL AND WILL BE IN STORE WEDNESDAY 10/19
This is one of the steepest and most austere primitive-rock sites encountered in Loiben. Loibnerberg, one of Wachau's largest coherent single vineyards, is fully exposed to the south and accordingly warm and sunny. Here, opulent, intense and yet subtle wines develop; the Grüner Veltliner is full-bodied with underlying minerality with even slightly smoky and tobacco notes. According to Falstaff, the nose is "mineral, fine herbal spice, nuances of yellow fruit, hints of apricot and mango, with fine honey blossom. Complex, substantial, fine white pear, fine acidity, salty touch on the finish, already well developed, a multi-faceted food wine, good maturity and with definite ageing potential"
The Kellerberg is an internationally critically acclaimed vineyard site par excellence. This vineyard has steep inclines and barren bedrock terraces. The Riesling it yields exudes exotic aromas, with mango, passion fruit, pineapple over ripe yellow peach. The striking mineral characters derive from battered and barren weathered soils. According to the distributor's notes, the 2020 is " Seamless! Slightly tropical, but salty, powerful & fresh!"
According to the distributor: "Tasted as a sample that was ready to be bottled in June 2021, the 2020 Ried Supperin Grüner Veltliner is ripe yet also refined and mineral on the nose. Quite lactic on the palate, this is a round and juicy, finely salty and mineral GV with fine grip".
According to the winemaker: "Awfully focused and mineral with lots of stone fruit aromas and a sublime length – since 2017 we work organic here".