Spread the Word - Austrian Intro Tasting (Sept. 15, 2011)

Revolution number eight

I came back from the first tasting of Eldad Levy's new Austrian portfolio with two conclusions. One: I need to get deeper intro these lovely whites (not my fault, I'd bought a few while abroad, but little was available locally until now, hence the urgency of the title).

Two: Hirsch rocks! I mean, Berger is a very good dark horse, but Hirsch knocked me out.


Kremstal, Lossterassen, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The fruit profile of Berger's Gruners, on both nose and palate, display a green-ness that I've spotted in the handful of GV's that I've had in the past, and which doesn't come across as an indication of under-ripeness, but rather of freshness. Which I think is what the experts describe as snap peas, green beans, stuff like that. Beyond that, here I get reserved, gentle fruit on the nose, lime/lemon at first, hints of oranges later, subtle minerals and pepper. The palate is drawn in soft, yet bold flavors, framed by balanced acidity. No great length, but this does offer simple, tasty charms.

99 NIS.

Kremstal, Gebling, Reserve, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The Austrian wine system is very strict about the use of the "Reserve" moniker, so it's no surprise that this offers greater complexity and depth than the Lossterassen, without increasing the volume, just more of the same, and better: greater power and a longer, spicier finish.

159 NIS.

Spiegel, Riesling, 2010

The debut of the first Riesling of the tasting provides a sharp contract, as the shift in aromatic profile is almost jarring. It's more mineral-laden, in a chalky vein and the fruit is more about (yellow?) apples, topped off by a pretty herbal streak. Like its entry-level GV counterpart, the Lossterassen, it is refreshing and friendly, but, naturally, there is a greater abundance of acidity here; it is Riesling, after all.

109 NIS.

Steingraben, Riesling, 2010

I think this is a Reserve, but Eldad's catalog doesn't say anything about that and I didn't get a look at the label at the tasting. But it's a step up in quality from the Spiegel, as well as off on a different tangent style-wise. The nose has pears and intense minerals that veer into an icy slate feel that I love in Rieslings, while the palate offers great purity and length and is more obviously immature than the Gebling.

149 NIS.


Kamptal, Trinkvergnugen, Gruner Veltliner, #8, 2009

From the first sniff, I like it more than the equivalent entry-level at Berger. Hirsch seems to stress the minerals aspect of his wines (at least, those that we tasted), and here there is an abundance of flint and gunpowder. The palate has a denser feel than the Lossterassen, with no loss of freshness. A wild child.

85 NIS. Terrific value.

Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

With this wine, we crossed the line into Excitment-ville. The mineral aromas are lovely, gruff, challenging, and unfathomable. It's as though I've encountered a new rock specimen, never seen before. Beneath that is the usual Gruner Veltliner stuff, though, and the palate is as lively and friendly as an entry-level wine, while offering the depths of a 1er Lage. For me, the most delicious wine of the evening.

129 NIS. A no-brainer buy.

Kammerner Lamm, 1er Lage, Gruner Veltliner, 2009

Somebody must have given the "minerals" dial a few turns, because this smells like a looser, slimmer Le Clos, chock-full of marine minerals. The palate continues this aesthetic, its sweetness of fruit and acidity combining for a dry effect. Grand indeed!

225 NIS.

Zobing, Riesling, 2009

This proves that Hirsch is a much better winemaker than Berger, because this is much better than its counterpart, the Spiegel. The nose displays a laser-sharp essence of icy slate and frozen sherbet, while the palate is bone dry without inducing any fatigue.

119 NIS. A good buy.

Zobinger Heiligenstein, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

Terroir. There is a very obvious family resemblance to the Gruner from this vineyard, with the Riesling character showing as an added dimension of steeliness and more grapefruit on the palate. Complexity, structure, presence as well as an orchestrated massage of the taste buds - the Heiligenstein has it all.

225 NIS.

Zobinger Gaisberg, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

This is the only wine in the tasting that is obviously closed down. What I do get is mint on the nose and less minerals than the other GC's, and an inkling of its light, elegant, reserved breed.

225 NIS.

Priced like good Bourgogne village whites, drinking like a Premier Crus at least, all the 1er Lages are highly recommended.