Weingut Alzinger Steinertal Smaragd Gruner Veltliner 2018
Complex aroma profile, dominated by spicy and cool herbal aromas; precise body, compact and salty to the palate and beyond; long and durable.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Slight reduction still mixes with the wonderfully fleshy notions of Mirabelle plum and ripe pear on the nose. The palate continues to portray almost boundless, generous juiciness. A touch of citrus zest and pith contains this fruitfulness and adds an edge of grapefruit spice and salty, pithy, slightly bitter yeast. The finish reverberates with warmth and spice.
From the parcels below the Riesling, grown on weathered bedrock (iron-rich gneiss) and benefiting from descending air currents of the creek, the 2018 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Steinertal offers a coolish, fascinating, precise and flinty bouquet of white fruits. Lush and intense on the palate, this is a very intense and mineral but also sensual Veltliner that pleases hedonists as well as intellectuals. The wine has vivacious acidity, remarkable finesse and a long and sustainable finish with a lot of salt and tension. One of the finest Veltliners that has been produced in Lower Austria in 2018.
This shows impressive range, featuring hints of mango and apple, framed by sage, clove and white chocolate notes. The texture caresses the palate, while piercing acidity gives this focus and precision. Long and mouthwatering on the richly spiced finish. Drink now through 2031
Leo Alzinger is located in Unterloiben, just across the street from Knoll. Leo owns parcels in two of the great vineyards in this part of the river valley: Loibenberg and Steinertal. Loibenberg is a towering, terraced hillside, while the diminutive (5.5 hectare) Steinertal is hidden and maintains a cooler micro-climate. On the terraced vineyards of both sites, riesling is cultivated on the higher, more primary rock rich parcels while grüner veltliner is cultivated on the lower, silty, loess based parcels. Harvest at Alzinger happens later than some of Leo’s neighbors in Unterloiben, something he attributes to old vines and the specific exposition of his parcels. The extra time on the vine doesn’t increase sugar levels, Leo says, but rather pushes physiological ripeness to greater balance. Alzinger crushes whole cluster with a short maceration, then allows the must to settle for 24 hours, dropping any green tannins out. Tasting the wines next to some of the other Wachau greats, it becomes apparent that elegance and pristine fruit is what Leo looks for in winemaking, rather than opulence. Alzinger’s wines are never forceful or assertive; they are instead amazingly sanguine and calmly transparent.
As Austria’s most prestigious wine growing region, the landscape of the Wachau is—not surprisingly—one of its most dramatic. Millions of years ago, the Danube River chiseled its way through the earth, creating steep terraces of decomposed volcanic and metamorphic rock. Harsh Ice Age winds brought deposits of ancient glacial dust and loess to the terrace’s eastern faces. Today these steep surfaces of nutrient-poor and fast draining soil are home to some of Austria’s very best sites for both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.
Wachau is small, comprising a mere three percent of Austria’s vine surface and, considering relatively low yields, represents a miniscule proportion of total wine production. Diurnal temperature shifts in Wachau facilitate great balance of sugar and phenolic ripeness in its grapes. At night cold air from the Alps and forests in the northwest displace warm afternoon air, which gets sucked upstream along the Danube.
Its sites are actually so varied and distinct that more emphasis is going into vineyard-designated offerings even despite grape variety. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are most prominent, but the region produces Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Zweigelt among other local variants.
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.