Monday, March 12, 2018

Gods of the Wachau: Pichler and Hirtzberger

I have been obsessed with the Rieslings and Gruner Veltliners from F.X. Pichler and Franz Hirtzberger for a solid decade now. And with each tasting of their wines, I’m constantly impressed and refreshed. The quality, depth, and focus of the wines is consistent across vintages, and with such site-specific nuances, the wines offer a master class in Wachau terroir. These are the kinds of wines that translate their site with clarity.

And they’re just so damned delicious. Not to mention age-worthy. I have a bunch of Pichlers and Hirtzbergers buried that I’m pretending I don’t know exist, at least for another five or six years. The wines age beautifully, but they’re also ready to drink young, because they offer such freshness and fruit.

I recently tasted three wines apiece from Pichler and Hirtzberger at Weygandt Wines, which imports these wines. As always, their offerings are well-priced for the high quality, and the knowledge of the staff (should you have any Austria or other wine-related questions) is top notch.

Here are my notes on the wines I tasted…

2014 Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Federspiel Steinterrassen - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Lots of lemon, grapefruit and minerals on the nose. Stony and dusty and mineral-driven on the palate, dry and brisk and doused in lemon and slate and sea salt. Delicious stuff that should evolve so nicely. (91 points)

2015 Franz Hirtzberger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Kirchweg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau 

Loving the spicy complexity on the nose (white pepper, nettle, tobacco) with tropical juices mixed in. Peachy and rich on the palate, almost waxy, but also precise acidity and lots of zesty fruit. Tropical, too, and honeyed tea, but it stays elegant and spicy and complex. Wow this should age beautifully. (93 points)

2014 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Steinertal - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Gorgeous aromatics of spiced honeyed tea, peach nectar, mineral and limestone dust. Rich and waxy texture on the palate, with plump, tropical fruits. But the zesty acidity and complex floral, soap, incense sticks, nettle and perfume elements make for a seriously complex wine. As with all of these wines, I want to re-taste it in five years. (93 points)

2015 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Oberhauser - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau

F.X. (left) and the next generation (Lucas) Pichler craft exquisite
wines, easily some of the best Rieslings and Gruners in Austria.
Love the aromas of apricot, key lime, honey and salty, mineral notes. So precise and crisp on the palate, lush texture combines with crusty minerals and sea salt. Apricot and lime glazed in honey and white tea. Complex, long, elegant, age-worthy. (93 points) 

2014 Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Hochrain - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau 

Aromas of green apples, peaches, ripe but fresh with floral perfume and chalk dust notes. Such precision on the palate, an elegant and stony wine, but plenty of texture. Lime and peach laced with seashells, mineral dust, saline, cut floral stems. Delicious, deep, deserves lots of time, but a total beauty. (94 points)

2013 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Liebenberg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Aromas of rich apricot, lemon curd, with spicy tobacco and minerals. Waxy and plump but zesty acidity, I like the combo of honey, tropical fruit with spicy ginger, white pepper, spiced tea, mineral, dusty earth. A layered, fascinating, delicious wine. (93 points)

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