Rudi Pichler Federspiel Gruner Vetliner 2021
Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria and produces a dry white wine with savory aromas, spicy flavors, and good acidity. Grüner Veltliner Federspiel from the Wachau is a medium-weight wine and is fresh in style with notes of green apple, lemon, radish, and arugula.
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Rudi Pichler is among the elite growers of the Wachau producing wines of precision, power, and longevity. The cellar is based in the village of Wösendorf where generations of Pichlers have tended vines since 1731. Rudolph Pichler, III took over the winery in 1997 and has since expanded the vineyards and constructed a modern cellar in 2004. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling make up 95% of the production with the remaining 5% shared between Weißburgunder and Roter Veltliner. Rudi Pichler belongs to the prestigious Vinea Wachau and vinifies under the strict parameters of their codex. He was awarded Falstaff’s Vintner of the Year in 2010. Weingut Rudi Pichler consists of 37 acres spread between Wösendorf, Joching, Weißenkirchen, and Mautern. Wösendorf and Joching lie in the heart of the Wachau Valley where south-facing terraces look down at the Danube River. Here, rieden such as Kirchweg, Hochrain, and Kollmütz are marked by occasional deposits of loess over base rock. Rudi produces crystal-clear expressions of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Weißburgunder from these sites. Directly east of Joching is Weißenkirchen, home to the famous rieden of Steinriegl and Achleithen, two distinctive Riesling sites with calcareous and weathered gneiss, respectively. Rudi also maintains a small vineyard of Roter Veltliner across the river in Mautern. “I’m a wine caretaker not a winemaker,” is Rudi’s credo, placing the intensity of work in the vineyards at the foundation of his philosophy. Rudi wants vineyard and varietal expression to be as clear as possible so yields are kept low between 30 and 35 hectoliters per hectare with harvest and botrytis carefully removed by hand. Grapes are crushed by foot and receive between three and 36 hours of maceration on the skins depending on the vintage and style. “The skin has information about the specific place where it is from,” says Rudi. Vinification is entirely in stainless-steel tanks and malolactic fermentation is avoided. The resulting wines are pure, dense, and taut with energy.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of any curious wine drinker. A rather cool and dry wine growing region, this country produces wine that is quintessentially European in style: food-friendly with racy acidity, moderate alcohol and fresh fruit flavors.
Austria’s viticultural history is rich and vast, dating back to Celtic tribes with first written record of winemaking starting with the Romans. But the 20th century brought Austria a series of winemaking obstacles, namely the plunder of both world wars, as well as its own self-imposed quality breach. In the mid 1980s, after a handful of shameless vintners were found to have added diethylene glycol (a toxic substance) to their sweet wines to imitate the unctuous qualities imparted by botrytis, Austria’s credibility as a wine-producing country was compromised. While no one was harmed, the incident forced the country to rebound and recover stronger than ever. By the 1990s, Austria was back on the playing field with exports and today is prized globally for its quality standards and dedication to purity and excellence.
Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and herbal, peppery aromatics, is Austria's most important white variety, comprising nearly a third of Austrian plantings. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry and are full of bright citrus flavors and good acidity. Red varietal wines include the tart and peppery Zweigelt, spicy and dense Blaufränkisch and juicy Saint Laurent. These red varieties are also sometimes blended.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner calls Austria its homeland. While some easily quaffable Grüners come in a one-liter—a convenient size—many high caliber single vineyard bottlings can benefit from cellar aging. Somm Secret—About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.