Behind the eponymous white church of Weissenkirchen

Austrian Treasures Part 3: Wachau

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This part of the Austrian collection includes a terrific list of lauded Wachau names. There is a broad range of styles, as the densely structured, mineral Pragers contrast greatly with the flashy decadence of FX Pichler. All of these are wines built for lifetimes that will span several decades, and most are youthful enough to warrant plenty more cellaring, especially Prager and Hirtzberger. Yet all of them speak to the Wachau’s ability to express not just power, but depth and mystery, unique in the profound way in which the wines develop. Jonathan Kemp

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Hirtzberger 2000 Wachau Smaragd Grüner Veltliner Honivogl

Germany had a pretty terrible vintage in 2000. Austria did not. People must be confusing these two, which is one of the only explanations why we have not yet sold the 2000s we have in stock from Hirtzberger, even though all other vintages we had of Honivogl flew out the door. This wine is drinking absolutely beautifully right now, it's wonderfully mature, sappy, dense but lithe and full of classic Hirtzberger intensity. It's going to keep developing for at least another decade, and we're definitely laying some down. -jfr

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Högl 2000 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Loibner Visionen

Aromas of tropical and temperate climes mingle in this expressive Riesling. Tones of starfruit, honeysuckle, and lemon verbena that remarkably vibrant and have kept this an energetic and finely-aged Riesling. The palate is equally alive with hi-toned minerality and notes of green and yellow plums before a deliciously herbal finish.

- David Salinas

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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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Pichler, FX 2002 Wachau Smaragd Loibnerberg Gruner Veltliiner

A rich, peppery Gruner Veltliner, which wears its higher ripeness and larger frame lightly. Notes of coriander, red pepper, tumeric, and greengage rise from the glass, while the palate is concentrated, full-bodied, but not lacking in finesse, balance or minerality. This is a opulently filigreed Gruner.

- David Salinas

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Prager 2005 Wachau Riesling Klaus

A Smaragd in everything but name, this is Prager at its most ornate and heady -- going into the stylistic realm of some of his neighbors, especially FX Pichler or Hirtzberger. Fear not though, as rather than translate all that ripeness into an unwieldy amount of alcohol, Toni Bodenstein opted to stop fermentation before it was totally complete, leading to a perfectly balanced wine they would call "Feinherb" across the border in Germany. Bodenstein likens it to the 1990 Klaus, which is no faint praise, to be sure. Built to last in the cellar for many, many years. -jfr

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