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Salil

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WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Salil » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:10 pm

Keith L. recently set up a dinner of Rieslings and GVs from the Loibner Steinertal vineyard at Seasonal in NYC. One of the most memorable dinners I've been a part of, with the food absolutely incredible (and perhaps the best veal sweetbreads I've ever encountered) and a stellar lineup of wine with the majority of the bottles showing stunningly well. I'm convinced Alzinger Steinertal is one of the world's great wines, and for me benchmark dry Riesling.

2009 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
A wow from the first sip, and it only gets better with air, conveying pale fruit seasoned by fresh minty and herbal elements and a powerful stoniness beneath that builds with air. There's a sense of incredible freshness, purity and clarity to the flavours, remarkable depth of flavour and an incredible lightness of touch that's a huge contrast with the more heavy-handed Pichler.
2009 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Incredibly ripe and powerful, a striking contrast with the Alzinger which is much more linear and precise. This is packed with dense, ripe peachy and tropical fruit with spicy accents and a stony minerality that builds with air; this feels rather heavy in contrast to the Alzinger but it's still very well balanced.
2008 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Starts out with some sulfury funk, but it blows off with some air to reveal surprisingly lush, bright orchard fruit flavours accented with honeyed and spicy elements hinting at some botrytis. There's a textural creaminess and density here that sets it apart from most of the other Steinertals, but still really bright acidity beneath that keeps it very precise and fresh.

2007 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Comes across rather closed and reticent, offering little aromatically but it's much more expressive in the mouth with pure, pale complexioned fruit that seems to be sculpted from stone and ice. Becomes more accessible with air, but seems more about promise right now.
2007 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
More giving and accessible than the '07 Alzinger; this is a powerhouse with layers of dense golden fruit, peppery spice and minerality that keeps developing and unravelling with air and showing more and more with time.

2006 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Remarkably fresh and light for an '06; there's a ton of material here with more concentration and power than other vintages, yet it conveys flavour with remarkable elegance and freshness.
2006 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Darker in colour than the '06 Alzinger with a bright gold hue; powerful, spicy and packed with ripe golden orchard fruits yet remarkably streamlined and precise for the vintage.

2004 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
An amazing showing, and I'm annoyed I drank all my bottles last summer with zero willpower to hold any for later (must not - MUST NOT - make the same mistake with my 09s and 2010s). This is developing superbly, a confluence of green herbs, spice, mineral and fresh fruit in a seamless package with just the start of developing smoky flavours. Still young, but so, so good.
2001 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
This is remarkably mature for an '01 with the fruit quite developed and tinged by orange peel, butterscotchy and honeyed flavours. This doesn't have the same vivid minerality or the sense of clarity and freshness as most of the other Steinertals, certainly enjoyable but a little disappointing given expectations.

1999 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Remarkably spicy in its flavour profile compared to the other Steinertals, this still has the same bright fruit and powerful stony minerality, but here it's framed by clove spice and a pungent pepperiness. There's a sense of overt power here and a real density to the fruit, although it comes across less precise and focused than some of the other wines. Still damn good.
1995 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Jawdroppingly awesome. I'm not even going to try and begin describing this (for descriptors, read Keith's comment, but holy shit, WOW.
1992 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Starts out a little muddled initially with developed smoky and fusel notes on top of mature Riesling fruit, though the flavours seem a little blurred and tired. With time it really freshens up as the fruit brightens and gains depth, and that powerful Steinertal minerality emerges and the last few sips are quite spectacular, a cathedral of stone and fruit building in the mouth.

2007 M. Jagini Blaufränkisch Zagersdorf
Quick interlude for a red wine that Robert wanted to pull off the Seasonal list. Rich black cherry and berried fruit tinged with floral elements and gentle touches of oak; quite primary now but nicely balanced with a sense of polish and gloss to the flavours, fine grained tannins and bright acids beneath keeping it fresh and light on its feet. Yum.

2009 Alzinger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Surprisingly this comes across riper than the '06, showing a slightly overripe banana element amidst bright citrus and peachy fruit with a powerful peppery seasoning. This is a big wine, but remarkably well balanced with tremendous acidity that gives it razor sharp precision and focus, and while it's incredibly primary right now, I reckon this will be something pretty special with time.
2006 Alzinger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
This is a powerhouse. The fruit here isn't as ripe as in the '09, but it seems more packed with material - denser, juicier and thicker texturally, with layers of ripe Grüner fruit, verdant greenery and a pungent white pepper seasoning. There's incredible depth here but fantastic balance as well, and I'd love to revisit this after a few more years.

Hell of a night. Thanks all!
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Bill Hooper » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:48 pm

Damn!
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Rahsaan » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:31 pm

Not bad at all.

So are you moderating some of your previous love for FX?
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Salil » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:14 pm

A little, yes. Some of the FXs were outstanding (the 92 and the 08), but in general I also think that his style seems best suited to Kellerberg (or to his super-cuvees like M and Unendlich). I haven't enjoyed his Steinertal as much as others (certainly preferred Alzinger's version from that vineyard for just about everything, where his calmer, more focused style seems to fit beautifully).

Still, there's plenty of room in the cellar for Alzinger, FX and Hirtzberger. (Not to forget the likes of Prager, Knoll, Jamek, etc... god, we're a spoiled lot :D)
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by ChaimShraga » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:06 am

I found Pichler heavy-handed on the relatively lower end 07's that I've tried. I only really enjoyed the Loiner Berg Smaragds.
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Matthew Latuchie » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:46 pm

Salil wrote:A little, yes. Some of the FXs were outstanding (the 92 and the 08), but in general I also think that his style seems best suited to Kellerberg (or to his super-cuvees like M and Unendlich). I haven't enjoyed his Steinertal as much as others (certainly preferred Alzinger's version from that vineyard for just about everything, where his calmer, more focused style seems to fit beautifully).

Still, there's plenty of room in the cellar for Alzinger, FX and Hirtzberger. (Not to forget the likes of Prager, Knoll, Jamek, etc... god, we're a spoiled lot :D)


My love for FX has also softened a bit too. I opened his 2009 Steinertal a couple months back and it was outrageous - the dense tropical fruit was off the charts and I thought it was almost cartoonish. For a while, Pichler's Steinertal was my favorite designation of his, but recently my tastes have shifted to the riesling and gruner from Kellerberg. The 2007 Kellerberg is astonishing, outpacing the 2007 M and Undendlich at this point. I am interested to taste more 2009s and then the 2010s to see if this shift towards the outrageous is a trend, or merely the result of the 2009 vintage.

(full disclosure - Peter Weygandt is F.X. Pichler's importer and we sell his wines in my shop)
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Bill Hooper » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:34 pm

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit F.X.P in 2006 and left with a bunch of 2005 Riesling from the Steinertal and Kellerberg. Along with Prager, they made my favorite Wachauers in 2005. I went back in 2007 and not surprisingly, I didn't like the 2006 vintage quite as much (though Nikolaihof rocked it that year in my estimation.) I'd like to try the 2010s.

Thanks for the notes. The Steinertal is along with Achleiten, my favorite vineyard in the Wachau.

Cheers,
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Andrew Bair » Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:29 pm

Hi Salil -

Thanks for the great note on what sounds like a really special tasting.

Although it wasn't in your lineup, I have to say that I was quite impressed with the 2004 FX Pichler Steinertal last year, though it is the only Steinertal that I've had from FX.
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by ChaimShraga » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:06 pm

Me, I'm definitely switching allegiance from Pichler to, say, Hirsch or Alzinger. Not that I've ever felt very strongly about Pichler.
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Re: WTN: Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal, Steinertal...

by Ian Fitzsimmons » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:01 am

Thanks for the notes. I've just dabbled in Austrian Rieslings and have mostly Alzinger Steinertal and Nigl Piri Privat. Good, yes; expensive, yes.
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