Leo, Jr. and Leo, Sr.

Austrian Treasures Part 4: Alzinger

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Precision is possibly the most oft-used term used to describe the wines of the Alzinger estate. Of course, the corollary to this is an extraordinary work ethic and committment to their vision. Since Leo Alzinger Sr. began bottling his family's wines in 1983 instead of selling off the grapes, he has sought out extreme clarity, a direction his son, Leo, Jr., has now taken up. From the warmer, south-facing Loibenberg to the terraced Steinertal, where cool mountain winds create a massive temperature shift from day to night, the wines thrillingly communicate all the nuance of their origins. Botryitis is low to non-existant, elegance and cut are always favored over power and richness, and though they are a bit intimidating in youth, we're thrilled to have a large collection that have passed through their austere infancy and onto deeper, more rewarding development. Jonathan Kemp

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Alzinger 2002 Wachau Smaragd Gruner Veltliner Steinertal

We had a lovely bottle of this at dinner at Racines on Monday, with pretty mint- and lime-laden aromas rising from the glass followed by superb balance on the palate, chalky minerality and just a hint of maturity. Alzinger handled 2002, the famous flood vintage, beautifully, and this wine is drinking at it's peak right now. Enjoy now or over the next few years as an example of delicate, finessed and pretty mature Grüner Veltliner. John Ritchie

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Alzinger 2003 Wachau Loibenberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

A live-wire of Gruner from a misunderstood vintage, aromas of fresh blackberries, honeydew, coriander, and fresh mint float from the glass. The palate is multi-layered with green plums and fresh mint held aloft by a fine minerality, which holds true to an admirably long finish.

- David Salinas 

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Alzinger 2003 Wachau Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Reserve

The worm has turned on the initial judgment of the 2003 vintage. Good farming and selective harvesting have held so many wines, from this underrated vintage, in good stead over the years. This was one of the most exuberantly playful noses in our tasting. Aromas of tuberose, chestnuts, and bananas foster leave give way to more herbal tones of spearmint and sage. The palate shows tropical fruits that never become cloying thanks to layer upon layer of minerality. Complex and delicious!

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Alzinger 2003 Wachau Smaragd Gruner Veltliner Steinertal

This is certainly the most robust and opulent wine I've ever come across from Alzinger, yet all the hallmarks of the estate and its signature vineyard, Steinertal, remain in place, including balance, minerality and bold herbal tones. If our recent dinners of Knoll and Alzinger wines taught us anything, it's that blanket dismissals of the 2003 vintage are not helpful or accurate, as the wines certainly have bountiful attributes even without the acid one would normally expect. Austrian 2003s such as this are for people who can enjoy whites from southern France and similar climes: bold, characterful wines whose compelling flavors and density overcome the wines lack of acidic cut. John Ritchie

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Alzinger 2003 Wachau Loibner Steinertal Riesling Smaragd

Leaner than the corresponding 2003 Grüner Veltliner from this site, but the analysis remains basically the same. Even though it's not what one would normally expect from Alzinger, it's still terrific wine from old vines in a top vineyard site and the estate's trademark balance and brightness remains in place. This would be most appropriately enjoyed in a context in which the food accompanying it doesn't require much acidity, and the wine's density, aromatics and unique flavors make this a fascinating and delicious bottle to enjoy in the near term. Fans of white Rhones, the best Spanish whites should take note! John Ritchie

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Alzinger 2008 Wachau Liebenberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

The Liebenberg site holds soils of gneiss, schist, and glimmerschiefer, which yield supremely delicate, yet concentrated, Gruners. The 2008 vintage is no disappointment; offering notes of spruce, juniper, and fir. Allied with a palate framed by a fine minerality and lengthy finish, the Liebenberg is a wine of precision and clarity.

 

- David Salinas

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Alzinger 2008 Wachau Steinertal Grüner Veltliner Smaragd

Steinertal is only 5 hectares and Alzinger's portion is painfully small, but the Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings produced here are among the top in all of Austria. The 2008 is just starting to show some signs of maturity and retains the classic Alzinger sense of cut, tactile minerality and bracing focus. And yes, we have this one bottle in stock! -jfr

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Alzinger 2008 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Reserve

Sourced from a combination of all of Alzinger's terraces, the 2008 Riesling Reserve combines tropical fruit notes, floral and minty tones, and a powerfully mineral palate to make a poised and polished Riesling.

- David Salinas

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