Teutonic Treats

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Frohe Feiertage! Below is a collection of German and Austrian back vintages. Of note is the 1998 Knoll Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, a recent arrival of which we have plenty to share. Piquant and complex, some of us sampled a bottle last night at a fondue party and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Also up for grabs are some of the recent releases from Schaefer and Alzinger. Though weather in the Mosel was frightful in 2013, Schaefer’s pedigreed vines (along with residual sugars) are of significant help in creating thrilling wines despite the challenges. Austria’s Wachau, on the other hand, had marvelous results and Alzinger’s offerings will be serious stunners - not quite yet for some of the wines higher up the food chain, of course, but more likely in 5-10 years when their trademark reductive density unwinds. Jonathan Kemp

*Unfortunately at this stage in the holidays, we cannot guarantee any deliveries before Christmas outside of New York City. We would recommend waiting until after January 1st for deliveries outside the city.

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Christoffel Erben 2006 Mosel Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese**

The Auslesen is where its at at this estate and they excelled in 2006. This has all the spice you could want out of Wurzgarten with lovely pungent botrytis, deep minerality and impresive concentration. A baby now but sure to improve over 20-30 years. Another great Auslese from one of the greatest Auslese vintages ever! LF

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Knoll 1998 Wachau Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner Federspiel

Very much alive and vibrant, with the acidity and focus needed to survive even longer aging, but very enjoyable right now. The secondary notes that have developed have added salt and umami, giving depth and complexity to the fresh, piquant structure. The balance is excellent, and the wine should prove to be quite versatile, able to stand up to hearty winter fare but graceful enough to not overpower seafood or vegetables. There are a lot of things to like about this, thoroughly worth checking out. Jonathan Kemp

Grüner Veltliner at its most savory – vibrant acidity, a bright sensibility and a featherweight texture all confusingly combine with a flavor palate that seems to have discarded all sense of fruit. The vegetal, earthy notes are intoxicating, though, and this is a marvelous aged Grüner Veltliner for those who don't worship ripeness above all else. John Ritchie

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Mantlerhof 1983 Kremstal Roter Veltliner Ausbruch 500 ml

The label doesn't say so, but Mantlerhof's Roter Veltliner is planted in Reisenthal, a southeast facing loess-based slope in Gedersdorf. Ausbruch is a type of dessert wine, rarely labeled as such outside of the tiny, stork-filled town of Rust on the Neusiedlersee. It is a botrytised wine that falls between BA and TBA in minimum must weight and this is the only one we've ever seen from the Kremstal. Stock up on some blue cheese or marinated peaches and finish off a great meal with a 30-year old Ausbruch from the undisputed master of Roter Veltliner. -jfr

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Mantlerhof 1985 Kremstal Roter Veltliner Spätlese Reisenthal

Despite the term Spätlese on the label, this is a dry Roter Veltliner from Austria's great master of the grape, Sepp Mantler. Reisenthal is rich in loess soil that is up to 30 feet deep in some spots. When we offered this large tranche of old Austrians recently, Sepp wrote in with his thoughts on some of his wines that we had in stock. Regarding the '85 Reisenthal he described it as "gold, even fruit with slight green moments, straight acidity, comparatively light 12.5%, great for a light dry white with 28 years on it." -jfr

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Mantlerhof 1992 Kremstal Riesling Wieland Spätlese

Wieland is one of the best sites in the village of Gedersdorf because in addition to the area's ubiquitious loess soils, there's an outcropping of conglomerate that juts out from the loess and brings great complexity to the Rieslings grown here. It's conventional wisdom in Austria that loess soil is best reserved for the Veltliners and rocky soils are well suited to Riesling. 1992 was a hot, dry year and this is a round, powerful wine as a result. -jfr

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Mantlerhof 1993 Kremstal Riesling Tiefenthal

Tiefenthal is another site on Gedersdorf's loess (in some places up to 30 feet deep!) that faces southeast and is shielded from the western wind. Tiefenthal tends to be the more floral and delicate of the estate's Rieslings, and the great acidity from the 1993 vintage cuts through well. According to Sepp Mantler, "I tasted it one time in 2007; round and full-bodied, 1993 was the best year of three very dry years 1992-1994" -jfr

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Prager 1997 Wachau Chardonnay Selection Weissenkirchen Trck

A fascinating and intriguing treat. Sultry and warm, with mushrooms, stock, and a ton of depth. JK

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Prager 1999 Wachau Weissenkirchen Chardonnay Smaragd

Prager's Chardonnay vines are now long-gone. As far as we know the estate hasn't produced this variety since 2001, so these two are somewhat rare artifacts of a very different time in the Wachau. We can't really say we want to return to a time when winegrowers the world over felt they had to produce Chardonnay to remain commercially viable, but we also have to admit that we really like these wines. Neither saw any oak, and they're focused, interesting expressions of the grape that really do reflect their terroir; one would never confuse this with a White Burgundy or a Californian Chardonnay as its essential Wachau-ness (stony cut, mid-level weight and herbal savorines) permeates through the wine. The 1997 is broader, creamier and shows a bit more influence of botrytis. The 1999 is leaner and a bit higher in acidity. We've had excellent botles of both, though, and can confidently recommend these somewhat bizarre wines! -jfr

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Prager 2001 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Klaus

Few pleasures compare to that of aged Prager. The 2001 Klaus is pure magic, and drinking quite, quite well at the moment. Is it at its peak? It very possibly has a few more years to go and a bit more fat to shed, so we happily encourage you to both drink and hold. This beauty isn't going downhill anytime soon, and we plan to still be checking in on this well into the 2020s. Klaus is holy ground for Riesling and is perhaps the greatest site in the Wachau. 2001 is a terrific vintage, the best Austria has seen since 1997, and this wine is absolutely seamless. Broad-shouldered and muscular, yet well-defined and brimming with energy and freshness. -jfr

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Schäfer-Fröhlich 2005 Nahe Riesling Bockeneauer Felseneck Auslese 375ml

Bombastic Auslese from a superb vintage and one of Germany's most talked-about producers. These bottles are ones to forget in the cellar until at least 2020, at which point they will really be singing. -jfr

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Schaefer, Willi 2012 Mosel Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese #11

The Domprobst Auslese #11 has richer, more typical Mosel aromas than many of the soft-spoken wines in this year's collection and it's again delicate and poised. Elegant and mineral-laden with just about perfect balance and gentle concentration. This is when Willi says he's looking for "not increased sweetness, increased complexity and sustained balanced." The latter is certainly an understatement here. There was a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of botrytis-affected grapes included in this Auslese, but, in keeping with the house style, its purity and freshness comes from the perfectly ripe, tiny, golden berries they normally reserve for Auslese and that were in abundance this vintage.  -jfr

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von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser 2006 Ruwer Abtsberg Riesling Spätlese

2006 was very strong in the Ruwer and this wine was absolutely delectable. Nose of minerals, lemon/lime, apricot, peach skin and some earth. Great piquant acidity livens up your mouth as the fruit skin attack intensifies. Really lovely stuff. Long finish. No shortage of acidity here. LF

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