Alder Yarrow started his wine blog Vinography back in 2004 when the concept of a blog, let alone a wine blog, was still very unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that he quickly became the biggest wine blogger in the U.S.A. and remains so to this day, he still does it for passion and not as his primary source of income. Based in San Francisco, Alder not only receives samples of wines from all over the world but has had the opportunity to travel as well. In 2014 he ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch his book The Essence of Wine, which breaks down various characters of wine through a combination of words and images. He joins me on this episode of The Vincast to talk about his journey and passions.
Tag Archives: Wachau
Several important wine critics have indicated that the Austrian white grape variety gruner veltliner presents amazing potential for cultivation in Australia. My sommelier friend James Dossan and I sit down to chat about the origin of the grape, the classic styles made in Austria, and then proceed to taste through a range of different wines from Austria, New Zealand and Australia.
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Loibenberg Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2011
Very delicate tropical notes and mid-palate depth
Kollmitz Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2011
Riper and more floral candied nose with softer and fuller fruit on the palate coupled with a nutty complexity.
Pichlpoint Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2011
Unique earthy ripe orchard fruit character, with some warmth and texture on the palate.
Achleiten Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2011
Sweet floral berry character with better balance and integration, but was really showing too much youth.
Kellerberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2000
Much richer deeper golden colour, was slightly oxidative and oily on the nose, a smoky and salty complexity on the palate and hints of ginger and spice.
Ried Schutt Gruner Veltliner 2010
A very bright and juicy floral nose with high minerality but also delicacy. The palate is very textural and concentrated, showing a flinty element with great line and length.
Loibenberg Gruner Veltliner 2010
Much earthier and more brooding, with intense berry notes on the nose. There is more volume and depth of ripeness on the palate, with a more savoury texture but no less vibrant.
Loibenberg Riesling 2010
Very delicate nose of citrus blossom and a slightly sweet sap and toast complexity. It is opulent and rich on the palate, quite broad and yet bright and delicate at the same time.
Schutt Riesling 2010
A much zestier citrus spritz to it, coupled with that same reductive freshly boiled pasta nose I had seen previously. There is volume and texture in this wine, but it is all about the concentrated fresh tropical citrus fruits and bracing acidity. Wines of purity, elegance and depth, and well worth the investment in cellaring.
There are two federspiel quality wines – the Hinter der Burg Gruner Veltliner and the Steinriegl Riesling – which are sourced from the two largest single vineyards. The quality of these wines is as good as any smaragd wine I have tasted from other producers, showing depth concentration and personality.
There are three particular gruner veltliner wines which are made from specific parcels within the Achleiten vineyard, and amazingly all have their own unique personality.
Very bright and floral, full of heady inspiration.
Wachstum Bodenstein 2011
More concentrated in the earthy savoury minerality, showing a slightly salty white meat complexity with quince and grapefruit elements.
Achleiten Stock Kulture 2011
An intense and rich fruit nose of white berries and interestingly tomato juice.
The smaragd riesling wines are all of purity and intensity, with the most developed and yet balanced fruit of all the rieslings I have tasted in Austria.
The Klaus in particular was very closed in its smoked meat and earthy texture and viscosity, in an almost Spartan-like stoicism.
Rotes Tor Federspiel Gruner Veltliner 2011
A deep berried spice nose, very subtle but with bright flinty minerality.
Rotes Tor Smaragd Gruner Veltliner 2011
Much more texture and volume, and was rich in a stone fruit earthy style.
Significantly more closed than the others, and showed more pear fruit and opulence, and more integrated alcohol than the Rotes Tor.
Steinterrassen Federspiel Riesling 2011
Suffering from bottle shock having only been bottled a few weeks before, and so was a little closed and reductive on the nose. There were some nice floral citrus notes, and was very tight and fresh on the palate.
Hochrain Smaragd Riesling 2011
Lovely cherry blossom sherbet concentration on the nose, and on the palate had good weight and balance with a stone fruit delicacy.
It is difficult enough trying to find time to visit each region and spend enough of it to really get to know the producers, varieties and styles. There are so many regions in Europe alone that I am having to compromise in missing so that I can spend enough time in other regions. Further difficulties have come up recently as I have been attempting to get a working-holiday visa for Germany so that I can join such producers as Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in the Mosel and Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen. It’s also important for me to be able to travel in Europe for the remainder of the year. This has meant I have had to return to my local Aliens Authority office in Neuss where a friend lives three times, the most recent time driving back for nine hours to provide fingerprints and my signature. I’m also not so happy with my car so I’m trying to find a mechanic who can have a look at it, but it’s not so easy. Thus I had to cut my Austrian journey short and I didn’t get to visit Burgenland as I planned.
|The “Rotes Tor” (Red Door) entrance to the vineyards above Hirtzberger|
There is something quite magical about Vienna. Not only is it a beautiful and historic city but it is also a thriving metropolis, home to 2. 4 million people. Walking around the central part of the city there are any number of tourist sites; the cathedral, the Belvedere Palace, the numerous museums and theatres. You would hardly believe there are operating vineyards and wineries within Vienna, which unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to visit. By all accounts they are very traditional, making field blend wines from any number of native varieties. Vienna is a very multicultural city, which is not hard to understand when you consider that it is the gateway to the East. Something I found very interesting was the high concentration of Japanese restaurants in the city centre, even more than in Dusseldorf which has the highest concentration of Japanese people in Europe. Vienna is famous for its music, as celebrated composers like Mozart and Strauss lived here. For as little as €3 you can see one of the daily performances at the historic Opera House. Having been to a number of performances of Opera Australia back in Melbourne, one of the things I wanted to do was to see some opera in Europe, and I was thrilled to enjoy Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” over the weekend before returning to Niederosterreich to visit some more wineries.
|Ruins above Weingut Nigl in Kremstal|
Niederosterreich is Austria’s largest and most important wine-producing area, covering just over 27,000 hectares of vineyards across eight distinct regions from the Wachau until Carnuntum. The majority of the premium wine comes from three of these regions along the Danube River; Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, with the top wines being made from fruit grown on steep and terraced vineyards. There are over 4,000 different producers in Niederosterreich, but the average vineyard owner only holds a few hectares of vines. The largest producers are often cooperatives or wineries owned by the state, and many of these produce large volume wines for the Austrian market. The wine consumer in Austria is very patriotic, consuming 80% of domestic production at a level of 30 L per capita per year. Austrians actually consume as much as they produce, so the 20% of production that is exported is replaced by imported wine, mostly German.
|Modern art along terraced vineyards above Unterloiben|
Although it’s nowhere near as luxurious as some of the rental cars I’ve been driving on my trip so far, it is so nice to have my own car and not worry about the daily costs involved. The 1995 Volkswagon Golf I bought for €500 was in reasonable condition but through a friend I had someone take a look and replace a few things. Otherwise it wouldn’t have even survived the eight-hour drive down to Wachau, let alone all around Europe this year. It is also great being in another new country, far away from the previous place so that the scenery looks very different. I will say that the Niederosterreich region on the banks of the Danube River reminds me a little bit of the Rheingau region of Germany, but the people and most importantly the wines are quite different. About a third of the vineyards are planted on flatter slopes, and the rest is planted on the steeper terraced slopes where you find the better parcels on primary rock with less loam. There are two major varieties; riesling and gruner veltliner, and I am here to find out more about them.
|Domäne Wachau in Durnstein|