Handwerk : Alzinger 2016ers

3/2/18 -


In the northwest reaches of Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) one finds the Wachau, a region located about an hour's drive from Vienna. A brisk journey along the Danube river takes you past epic vistas of undulating mountains and hills striated with stone terraces lined with vines on both banks. Side valleys cut swaths through the mountains and massive forests descend in and around the vineyards. Cellars can be found in the side streets of quiet towns, in monasteries, connected to family estates dating back centuries, or at times newly constructed, almost foreign bodies in the landscape. A great deal of towns hold UNESCO heritage site status, and wandering about one can sometimes feel that time has indeed stood still for centuries. A region rich both in history and wine, there are certain names that come to mind when thinking of the beautifully terroir-expressive, age-worthy white wines of the Wachau, and today we are pleased to offer selections from the 2016 vintage from one of our favorites, Weingut Alzinger!

A firm believer in quality coming from the vineyard, Leo Alzinger Jr. has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Wachau and its unique and varied terroir, which is crucial when you take into consideration that he's farming over 50 separate parcels along a 2.5 kilometer stretch of the Danube river valley. For Leo (and his father, who at the age of 71 is still actively involved), physiological ripeness and balance is far more important than sugar levels, and botrytis is avoided. Farming is without chemicals, with focus always on the health of the vines. Grapes are hand-harvested; those destined for Federspiel wines age in stainless steel tanks, whereas Smaragd-bound grapes will spend more time in contact with the skins, and most will age in large old casks with at least one month on the full lees, then kept on the fine lees until a month before bottling. The wines of the 2016 vintage have a quiet elegance and lift; Leo compared the coolness and late harvesting of the vintage to 2013 and 2010. Some wines when tasted were a touch tight, but clearly telegraphing their promising future ahead. That being said, many of the wines were showing really well: cooler, fresher, more charming counterparts to the ripe and powerful 2015s. We hope you enjoy!

-Cari Bernard

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