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s p a r k l i n g

Bründlmayer 1996 Brut (Langenlois) – Slurpy celery soup with a long finish of, yes, celery. Tell me there’s not grüner in this. (NB: there isn’t, but geez…) (8/04)

w h i t e

Sepp Moser 2004 Grüner Veltliner (Kremstal) – The basic bottling, full of zesty white pepper, white asparagus and celery salt. Fun – albeit a very Teutonic sort of fun – and highly agreeable with food. (11/06)

Prager 1996 Weissenkirchner Steinriegl Riesling Smaragd (Wachau) – Firm and stern to the point of being sour (more in mood than in structure), with dried greengage plum and wind-whipped limestone. Complex and interesting, but not – at this moment – pleasurable. It would appear to need time, since there’s an awful lot of “here” here. Or “there” there. Whatever. It’s a stupid turn of phrase anyway. (9/06)

Schrock 2005 Ried Vogelsang (Neusiedlersee) – A blend that’s a bit at war with itself, showing lots of interesting characteristics that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with each other: crisp acidity, juicy/lemony sprightliness, herbal grassiness, spicy headiness…it’s a bunch of smart people, all talking past each other. (9/06)

Bründlmayer 2004 Grüner Veltliner Langenloiser Berg Vogelsang (Kamptal) – Celery root and ripe Meyer lemon with good, grapefruit-like acidity. Perhaps the dominating crispness attenuates this wine a bit, but the finish feels shorter than it should. (4/06)

Nigl 2004 Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit (Kremstal) – This wine undergoes a fascinating transformation from nose to finish. It starts out very salty, while showing classic celery and green, grassy acidity. From there, it proceeds to sweeter melon rind, green kiwifruit and floral aspects. Finally, it finishes almost fat, with orange blossoms, raw cashew oil and hazelnut. Such a procession from light and nervy to full and flavorful is one of the delightful surprises of good grüner, though it’s not usually experienced quite to this extent. It would be nice if the nose were a little more enticing, but I suspect that will come in time, as its center of gravity shifts forward. (4/06)

Bründlmayer 2004 Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terassen (Kamptal) – White pepper, ripe apple blossom and white rice-encrusted apple and green plum form a ripe, vivid whip-snap, albeit one encased in silk. Skin bitterness adds structure and counterbalance to the fruitier aspects, which edges very slightly towards being a bit warmer (that is, more alcoholic) than ideal. That’s nitpicking, though, for this is a very good wine. (4/06)

Donabaum 2003 Grüner Veltliner Atzberg Smaragd (Wachau) – A ripe, fat nose of rum-soaked banana skin doesn’t improve much on the palate, where alcohol adds a harsh burn. Things are a little better once one becomes accustomed to the heat, and creamy celery and cauliflower with ripe white asparagus steer the wine towards the silkier, more dairy-like aspects of high-test grüner. Still, as the wine fades, one is once more left with that buzzing, numbing alcoholic fire. (4/06)

Hirsch 2003 Grüner Veltliner Heiligenstein (Kamptal) – A smoky nose full of mineral dust, ripe celery and heavy red cherries precedes a smooth, balanced palate and long finish that provide more of the same. Unfortunately, the wine also carries a throbbing, fiery burn from out-of-balance alcohol. (4/06)

Nikolaihof 1997 Vom Stein Riesling Smaragd (Wachau) – Still difficult, showing chalky minerality, but otherwise tighter than a drum. Hmmm. (4/06)

Hiedler 1997 Langenloiser Schenkenbichl Weissburgunder “Maximum” (Kamptal) – Creamy apricot seed with a drying, leafy and somewhat shortish finish. Nice, but only just. (4/06)

Jamek 2002 Ried Klaus Riesling Spätlese Smaragd (Wachau) – Intense, ripe, sweet apple (complete with blossoms and leaves attached), spiced powdered sugar, and a finish that builds towards the huge. There’s no hurry here. (4/06)

Prager 1998 Grüner Veltliner Weissenkirchner Achleiten Smaragd (Wachau) – Wet white pepper juice and ripe celery salt; firm with a gelatinous minerality. A very “white” wine (or at least very pale green), and a bit tight overall, but showing good development in the bottle and in the glass. (11/05)

Salomon 1997 Kremser Kögl Riesling “Reserve” (Kremstal) – Soft chalk dust and dried apple – itself quite dusty – on a cold Germanic late fall breeze. Juicy, stony apple on the finish, but very, very firm and dry to the point of parched. Very striking, and not yet fully mature. (11/05)

Bründlmayer 2003 Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen (Kremstal) – Pepper and spritz, with wet leaves, dried rose petals, and some thin sheets of aluminum and steel with a flat, papery finish. There’s more weight and balance here than in the previous two wines, and thus more hope for age to turn this into something a little more conventional, but what is up with these wines? Yes, yes, I know: 2003. (4/05)

Nigl 2003 Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit (Kremstal) – Ripe artichoke and asparagus dusted with white pepper on the nose, turning to dried apple, watermelon, and soft banana skin on the palate, then hollowing out on the finish. Really bizarre, like that strange guy at the subway station who’s clearly not homeless but who nevertheless drools on himself with shocking regularity. I’d probably avoid it in favor of a different vintage. (4/05)

Proidl 2003 Grüner Veltliner Rameln (Kremstal) – Celery and lightly dusted wax with an acrid armpit sweat character, grapefruit-dosed tonic/soda water, quinine, and a frothy finish. A throwback to a more casual style of grüner, and while this sort of wine has its place, it’s probably not among the wines that are about to follow. (4/05)

Sighardt Donabaum 2003 Grüner Veltliner Atzberg “Smaragd” (Wachau) – Huge, ripe grass, melon rind, and kiwifruit with big, oily nut characters. Ah, this is better. There’s a worrisome midpalate hole, but then things kick back in, with a broadening complexity and an extended-play finish, showing mixed stone fruit essences and a hint of un-dryness from a floral, thick mineral/fruit stew. Almost excellent, though there’s that hole; I’d bet on it aging, but I’d go back for occasional checks. (4/05)

Alzinger 2000 Loibner Steinertal Riesling “Smaragd” (Wachau) – Cured orange peel, dried potato skin, spice, and starch in a dense, full-bodied wine with a long, thick finish. It’s playing a terrific melody, though it’s playing it a bit too loudly. Still, it’s an enjoyable listen, and it certainly has the potential to grow into it’s artistic potential. (4/05)

Bründlmayer 1997 Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein “Alte Reben” (Kamptal) – Bright banana dusted with light chalk, and intertwined with sour corn silk and starchy tendrils. Is there a light touch of botrytis in this wine? It’s big, anyway, with a touch of alcohol on the salt and pepper finish, and still has a lot of time yet to go before maturity. (4/05)

Bründlmayer 1985 Zöbinger Heiligenstein Riesling (Langenlois) – Thick but lemony, with slabs o’ slate and intense acidity. I keep waiting for…well, more…but it never arrives. (8/04)

Machherndl 2003 Riesling Kollmütz von der Steinterrassen “Smaragd” (Wachau) – I search for some way to mark the occasion wherein I can finally type “hh” in a word and not have it be a spelling error. It’s a vain search. Anyhoo, what we have here is Juicy Fruit gum, ripe banana, apple, and creamed orange juice with medium-low acidity. Thick and mouth-coating. I ain’t sure I likes it. No, I ain’t sure I likes it at all, precious. (8/04)

Türk 2002 Grüner Veltliner Vom Urgestein (Kremstal) – Crushed mosquitoes, flowery and rich apples, and a slightly tropical note reminiscent of pineapple. I enjoy it, but it’s hard to pry it away from my grüner-adoring wife. (8/04)

Wimmer-Czerny 2002 Grüner Veltliner Felser Berg “Reserve” (Donauland) – Hot pineapple with ripe and sweet apple, possessive of striking acidity and fine overall intensity. Long, long, long…but still slightly hot. Dial down the temp just a titch, and we’re all good. (8/04)

r e d

Heinrich 2001 Blaufränkisch (Burgenland) – Dark violet aromatics, decayed leaves and slightly bitter plum coalesce around a hard, somewhat sharp core. This still has some of the fantastic nose of its youth, but the fruit has started to decay in deference to the structure, and it was unquestionably better in its youth. It’s film noir on a scratchy, brittle old print. (6/06)

Umathum/Peck “Zantho” 2001 Zweigelt (Burgenland) – Dusty and dry, with elegant pencil shavings and a high-toned blackberry juice character. It’s fairly restrained, and can be easily overwhelmed by aggressive food. (5/06)

Heinrich 2001 Blaufränkisch (Burgenland) – Still holding nicely, with close-to-mature leafy red fruit and perfumed aromatics, very slightly drying structural elements, and a fine balance. (3/06)

Heinrich 2001 Blaufränkisch (Burgenland) – Corked. (12/05)

Umanthum/Peck “Zantho” 2002 Zweigelt (Burgenland) – To the many reasons to despise the vagaries of natural cork, let’s add another: the uncertainly it causes among careful wine drinkers. Upon first opening, Bill and I both declare this wine corked (by virtue of absent nose and dead finish), Larry agrees that something’s wrong but isn’t willing to vote for TCA, and Stuart (who should know) insists that it’s definitely not corked, but allows that it’s off. We sip and sniff away at it, and eventually Bill and I change our minds: not corked, just closed tighter than a…well, all the analogies that spring to mind are disgusting, so this one is left as an exercise for the reader…and not really all that much fun until the very last sips, over an hour later. What it does show: dense dark plum, dried Brazil nut, stale licorice, and blackberry liqueur, but all is muted, short and angry. Later in the afternoon, wine stud and Slanted Door list guru Mark Ellenbogen stops by the table and agrees that it’s not corked, but also says that it’s never shown particularly closed before. If I owned any, I’d be wary of a repeat performance, and think about holding it until it wakes up again. (4/05)

Krug 2002 “Temptation Red” Gumpoldskirchen (Thermenregion) – OK, how many damn wineries named Krug are there, anyway? I think this is the fourth of which I’m aware. And what, exactly, does “temptation” mean to your average Austrian, anyway? Well, it doesn’t much matter, because the wine is gorgeous: cassis and vanilla in a big, rich, lovely package of simultaneous drinkability and potential. Even if it does sound like a bad reality show. (8/04)

s w e e t  ,  f o r t i f i e d  &  u n u s u a l

Knoll 2000 Loibner Grüner Veltliner Beerenauslese (Wachau) – A bit of an asymptotic sugar-bomb (that is, the kind of powerfully sweet wine that tastes much like another sweet wine), though there are some defining elements: sour white asparagus cream, a hollow (in a good way) metallic edge, and a late-palate dusting of some sort of drying, powdery substance (not white pepper…maybe flour?) that adds some necessary definition to an otherwise opaque wall of dessertdom. I should also note that the wine appears virtually unoxidizeable; four days in an open glass don’t diminish it a whit. Very good, but note the caveats behind that assessment. (2/07)

Peter Schandl 1995 Ruster Ausbruch (Neusiedlersee) – Apricot jam on dried straw, building in layers of incredibly sweet yet sun-baked deliciousness. Just stunning, with years ahead of it. (8/04)

Schrock 2002 Ruster Ausbruch (Neusiedlersee-Huggenland) – Very thin at first, with clean but obvious crystallized citrus aromas. With air, however, it fills out to show lovely, fuller-bodied spice and sorbet characteristics with a succulent peach-candy finish. (12/05)

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