Sunday, 1 April 2012
Knoll and FX Pichler at Annual Austrian Tasting
Knoll and FX Pichler, two of the greats of Austrian wine, are both located pretty much next to each other at the (warmer) eastern end of the Wachau.
Both were represented at the Annual Tasting of Austrian Wines in London by Richards Walford and I tasted my way through all the wines on show.
For more on the background to each producer, see my more in-depth reviews from last year on Knoll and FX Pichler.
As many of the wines here were of Smaragd level, the 2010s, with extensive ageing on the lees, are the current vintage; 2010 was a difficult, cool year in the Wachau but the wines are starting to open up now.
All Smaragd-level wines are aged in old oak until September following the vintage. All the wines here were very long on the palate with elegance and balance.
Smaragd Kreutles GV 2010 - peppery hints on the nose, ripe citrus fruit, savoury, balanced and elegant.
Smaragd Loibenberg GV 2010 - peppery toastiness on the nose, more intensity and minerality, a touch of smokiness on the palate and a creamy texture.
Kabinett Pfaffenberg Riesling 2010 - Smaragd-level, but from just outside the Wachau so cannot be labelled as such. Restrained nose, with floral acacia blossom and elderflower on the palate, ripe fruit acidity, the most expressive and approachable wine here.
Smaragd Kellerberg Riesling 2010 - ripe citrus fruit, zippy acidity and full texture.
Smaragd Schütt Riesling 2010 - mouthwatering limey acidity, balanced with ripe citrus fruit sweetness.
Auslese Riesling 2005 - dessert wines from the Wachau are somewhat unusual and are generally lighter and fresher than those from Burgenland. This Auslese has aromas of ripe stone fruits, a fresh, balanced palate with aromas of roasted peaches in butter with a touch of toasty pungency. It feels light yet concentrated.
Federspiel Loibner Burgstall Riesling 2009 - neutral on the nose, it feels somewhat closed up, but has a limey acidity and a full, creamy texture.
Smaragd Loibner Steinertal Riesling 2009 - a concentrated nose with ripe, fleshy peach and nectarine fruit. Mineral and savoury.
Federspiel Loibner Burgstall 2010 Riesling - citrus fruit on the nose, the palate is fleshy yet concentrated with a mineral underpinning and toastiness. It feels ripe and complex.
Smaragd Loibner Steinertal Riesling 2010 - ripe fruit and sweet-sour acidity, complex with savoury depth and a hint of tannic bitterness. Long savoury finish.
Smaragd Loibner Loibenberg GV 2010 - ripe and moutfilling with a toasty leesiness. Savoury, complex and mineral.
Smaragd Duernsteiner Liebenberg GV 2010 - ripe fleshy peach fruit with savoury mineral underpinnings; complex with rounded acidity and toasty-yeastiness.
All the wines here were superb and it is difficult to single out a particular one.
The Knoll Auselese was quite incredible, but is hardly a sensible starting point for exploring the Wachau.
Julia Harding MW writing on JancisRobinson.com rates the Knoll Schütt Riesling Smaragd (scoring it an 18, for its glorious complexity, very rich palate, amazing concentration, piercing acidity ... Lonnggg and wonderful) and the FX Pichler Steinertal Riesling Smaragd 2010 (scoring 18.5 for penetrating freshness through all the rich depth and intensity ... a wine of dazzling intensity and superb length).
Her full review is here, but it is available to Purple Pagers only - http://www.jancisrobinson.com/tasting_articles/ta201202292.html
Weingut Emmerich Knoll - http://www.loibnerhof.at/en/the-winery.html
FX Pichler - http://www.fx-pichler.at/
Richards Walford - http://www.r-w.co.uk/