Alzinger Muhlpoint Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2017
“You wouldn’t be surprised if the cellar master was the Dali Lama.”
“I see Alzinger as spirit-kin to people such as Dönnhoff and Raveneau, wines that are endlessly complex and mysterious but seldom explicit.” – Terry Theise
And that, my friends, is how I appreciate Alzinger.
I must admit, when I first opened Waterford the likes of Donnhoff and Raveneau mystified me for exactly this reason. To be complex yet bold. To be a “quiet” wine and yet stunning.
Drinking these wines taught my palate, and my brain, much about just how complex a wine can be. And I must admit that now these are some of my absolute favorites.
Alzinger came a bit later in my experience. I had “tasted” the wines at trade shows. And I was nonplussed. But these are not wines simply to taste, these are wines to be with, to explore, to let them reveal themselves as they open – whether that be in the glass, or in the bottle over years of cellar time.
Unlike Raveneau, Alzinger is still available and at reasonable prices. We have two of their wines on offer today:
Muhlpoint is one of the top sites for Gruner Veltliner and a mix of clay and gneiss. It produces Gruner Veltliners of compact density, strong minerality, white stone, wild garrigue and savory attitude. To me it is a Gruner Veltliner to lay down – give it two to three extra years in bottle and then it will truly express its Grand Cru stature. There is much grace and beauty here, but with an unfolding muscular richness that rewards with time.
Its counterpoint is Loibenberg Riesling, a steeply sloped schist site. The young Leo Alzinger, Jr. trained at Muller Catoir in Pfalz, Germany, for several stages and you can deeply taste the “Gross Gewachs” influence in this wine. To me this is all green flowers, ginger and white peaches, but more so—over all of it—a schist minerality and divine cut of energy that lasts for minutes on the palate. Simply amazing to drink right now.
Just like Raveneau and Donnhoff, I used to not understand Alzinger.
And then the seminal moment came. Before a Riesling tasting at the old Brady store in the back room downstairs, we were popping open the wines. For some reason we had a back vintage (2005 at the time) of Alzinger Loibenberg Riesling. We opened it and it blew the room away. I’ve been collecting them ever since! You should, too.