Neuburger, a little known and now little grown autochthonous Austrian grape variety, is a crossing of Roter Veltliner and Sylvaner. The conventional view is that it ought to be drunk young and certainly not aged beyond ten years. I might have to disagree due to the second flight of tonight's tasting.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We started with a blind wine, a Tement Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg 2006 from Südsteiermark. This is a weird wine: if I understood the explanation of how it is made, it is kind of a carbonic maceration at first until about 4% abv and then it is vinified normally in barriques. Very oaky, very tropical fruit, quite perfumed; dry and highish acidity, a bit harsh and woody. Not really my kind of thing. My guesses were badly off the mark - I was thinking of Morillon/Chardonnay.
Then we had our first flight of Neuburgers, not blind.
Feiler-Artinger Neuburger 2010 from Rust, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland. This was quite reductive and sulphurous at first with some wet wool scents. It did clear up and became very attractive with some savoury, apricot fruit and a clean, moderate to high level of acidity that nicely countered the richness of the grape. Very nice.
Feiler-Artinger Neuburger 2011 was a favourite of almost everyone else at the tasting but I found it a touch too ripe, a touch too heavy and even a touch too alcoholic (though it was only 12,5% as were most other wines this evening). Sweet and relatively low in acidity. Nice enough, but I do prefer more cut.
Feiler-Artinger Neuburger 2012 was strongly sulphurous but was once again in a relatively leaner style with good cut and precision. Nice citrus and spice scents. Attractive but needs air and or time.
Weingut derFuhrmann Neuburger 2012 is from Weidem am See, Neusiedlersee. I did not like this one at all. It was all just cool-ferment pear aromas and monotonous fruitiness. Ho hum.
Weingut Stadlmann Neuburger 2012 is from Traiskirchen, Thermenregion. This was my favourite of the youngsters: a very spicy and Riesling-like aroma with citrus and petrol. It had a Riesling-like sourness on the palate and higher acidity than most other Neuburgers tonight but certainly didn't lack fruit either. I just felt that the components were more weighted to such sensations (like acidity) that I prefer. Lovely.
Domäne Wachau Neuburger Federspiel Terrassen 2012 from Dürnstein, Wachau. A bit of the cool-ferment pear aromas that I dislike, but otherwise a very worthy Neuburger with spicy, apricot aromas. I really enjoyed the relative leanness and raciness of this wine. Nice!
But the second flight was the truly fascinating one. Weingut Osberger from Kremstal was much appreciated for his extremely long-lived wines but apparently Mr. Osberger murdered his wife by poisoning her and therefore he stopped making wine in 1985 since his mobility was severely restricted. The wines were just as interesting as his biography (but gladly not as morbid).
Osberger Neuburger Auslese 1927 had lovely scents of apricot and honey. This is an "old wine" scent instead of something that I could call typical Neuburger but it is still alive and pleasant. Good acidity, quite spicy and rich on the palate but seems fully dry despite the Auslese level of ripeness. It starts to smell of dill and malt once it is open long. I hate dill, so on the off chance you have any, drink quickly after opening.
Osberger Neuburger Auslese 1928 smelled weird: toffee and rancid butter. But it tasted ok: more oxidized than the 1927 despite a lighter colour, high acidity, fully dry tasting, persistent. A shame about the scent as this was fun to drink.
Osberger Neuburger Spätlese 1935 was my favourite of these old ones. It smelled of old Champagne! Toast and orange marmalade - yum! Fresh(!) and lively palate, dried up, of course, so there's no sign of Spätlese levels of sugar, but lovely harmony and raciness. Great wine.
Osberger Neuburger Auslese 1940 smelled of copper kettles, herbs and honey. Some nice tartness and a touch of sweetness; with air it began to smell of a Bloody Mary. Nice!
Osberger Neuburger Auslese 1946 was from a magnum. It smelled a bit musty but was not corked. With a bit of air and vigorous swirling it cleared up and started to smell of mead. Very fresh acidity, nice aged sweetness, some slight tartness on the finish, but a really lovely old wine.
Osberger Neuburger Spätlese "Jahrgangswein" 1947 - this is from the most highly thought of vintage of last century. But I must admit I wasn't so keen on this one: it smelled slightly of lychees and quite strongly of something minty in a not so pleasant way (think toothpaste!); dry and moderate acidity but no real body. Some thought it was mildly corked. Could be, but a disappointing wine after those other lovely old ones.
To finish we had a sweetie, a Stift Klosterneuburg Neuburger Trockenbeerenauslese 1967 which was so strongly botrytized that I had trouble smelling much else. Still unctuous, still concentrated and super-sweet. Fun to drink, but I must confess I don't ever really understand why these TBAs (or even BAs) are considered so outstanding - the more botrytis, the less I sense grape or place. So they do become a bit monotonous. But I guess I must be very lonely with this view.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.