2017 Hirtzberger Rotes Tor Gruner Veltliner Smaragd
Have you ever felt the POWER of the Wachau?
This was the question put to me way back in the misty dawn of Waterford, somewhere around 2006. At that time, the question was as evocative as it was provocative: Gruner Veltliner was then being marketed in the U.S. as a Sauvignon Blanc replacement that went well with asparagus. These were wines between 6 and 9 dollars, fresh and light, and absolutely nothing like what was renowned in Austria for being Gruner Veltliner.
The question was put to me by a man who had just returned from a wine trip to Austria and his palate couldn’t have been more moved. He asked the question, and then backed it up with samples, specifically of Hirztberger’s Axpoint Smaragd Gruner Veltliner. And my impressionable young palate has never been the same:
I have tasted the power of the Wachau in these wines. And you should, too—they’re Hirtzberger’s Rotes Tor and Axpoint Gruner Veltliners.
To say these are powerful, or great, or delicious, doesn’t quite sum them up. The wines will change you, change your opinion about Gruner Veltliner, and completely change your palate – as they have mine. Such is the power of the Wachau: massive fruit teamed with mineral elegance.
Just like in Burgundy they are named after, and taste like, their vineyard sites:
According to myth, Rotes Tor (“the Red Gate”) vineyard gets its name from the surrounding old town wall, which was saturated with blood during the Swedish wars. The soil is gneiss, mica and schist, the slope is southeast, and the wine is prodigious: green apple, red currant, cinnamon spice, mango, papaya, and curry fill the palate with satisfyingly lush fruit. But it isn’t sloppy – the finish is all structure, spice and minerals.
Axpoint (pronounced axe-point) sits on clay soils. Here, Gruner gains power. Years ago, when I was first introduced to this kind of Gruner Veltliner, it was from this vineyard. I still remember that first taste of Axpoint from so many years ago. There is so much might to this wine—power beyond what I could fathom. Can a white wine be even more robust and structural than white Burgundy? Yes – at Axpoint.
I’ve written too much and said too little. Hirtzberger’s Gruners changed my palate forever. They will yours. They are expensive, but in the grander scheme of what I believe you to be drinking, they are a steal.
I sold these wines in the 2006, 2011, and 2012 vintage, and not since. We get them very rarely so I must encourage you to jump on them now.