2012 F.X. Pichler MAGS: Kellerberg, "M", Unendlich & Steinertal

Posted by Joe Salamone

2012 F.X. Pichler MAGS:
Kellerberg, "M", Unendlich & Steinertal

F.X. Pichler casts a very big shadow. Today, we focus on the top bottlings from 2012 in magnum.

2012 is likely our favorite F.X. Pichler vintage since 2007. There's a freshness and cool balance to the wines that we love.

There's an undeniable magic to Pichler's wines: there's a crystalline, glossy, sexy presentation of fruit, a sort of over-the-top swagger and glide, yet for all of this show, the wines are ruthlessly clear, pristine, and transparent.

Today, I'm happy to offer the five wines that represent the pinnacle of F.X. Pichler's range - Riesling and Grüner from Kellerberg, Grüner "M" and Rieslings Steinertal and Undendlich.

Magnums of Pichler are extremely rare. Whenever we see them offered, we jump all over them. Still, when it's all settled, we're looking at tiny, tiny quantities. We've tasted stunning Pichlers from the 70s and 80s, and cellaring a bunch of magnums seems irresistible to us. The aging potential is impressive and the magnum format provides the ideal format for aging.

The 2012 vintage in Austria is one that we're really happy with and grow more fond of with each passing week. The vintage combines fairly lavish textures with a sleek acid backbone. There's a weight to the wines, but also an elegance and drive. It's a beautiful, impressive marriage.

Steinertal is Pichler's quietest wine and one that we're really big fans of. It's one of the most underrated sites/wines in the F.X. Pichler arsenal. Pichler's Steinertal is extremely focused, with great delineation of mineral and stone fruits. This is one of those insider bottlings and it's capable of aging.

Kellerberg is one of Austria's greatest sites - many would place it at the very top. And when you taste Kellerberg, it's obvious why this is. The wines are simply so complete - they are everything. They are luxurious and long and detailed and incredibly finessed. Whether Riesling or Grüner, Kellerberg is statuesque, commanding, muscular and ultra-fine.

Turning to the Grüner "M," the "M" stands for monumental and this is an epic wine. Grüner "M" is just colossal in its architecture, its saturating complexity. Keeping with the Pichler style, "M" walks the edge of extremity with expert judgment. This is to say that it's intense, concentrated and somehow remains agile.

Finally, there's Unendlich. "Unendlich" translates to "never-ending" - a reference to the unimaginable length of this wine, and certainly not the quantity available. Indeed this is among the rarest Austrian Rieslings - these are the only bottles available in the country. If F.X. Pichler's Riesling Kellerberg is the most finessed, most mineral expression in the stable, the "Unendlich" adds flesh and depth while retaining the same focus and pristine elegance. Razor-thin layer after razor-thin layer of crystalline fruit, glossy shards of green apple, pear, apricot, peach, mango and more.

There are very limited quantities available, which leaves us in the difficult situation of being really excited about these large formats and fearful about them selling out in a flash. Please give us your ideal order and we're do our best.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

Grüner Veltliner Kellerberg Smaragd (5 mags available)

David Schildknecht: "The Pichlers’ 2012 Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Kellerberg boasts a luscious pear and apple fruit fundament backed by a lush, glycerol-rich texture, with complementary overtones of honeysuckle and lily of the valley perfume. Yet for all of the richness my aforementioned description implies, this also boasts a remarkable sense of primary juiciness as well as lift, leading to a finish of refined, polished, succulent length, stimulatingly suffused with crushed stone and pungent Szechuan pepper. As another demonstration of how important is the character of an individual vineyard in ways that can’t be captured analytically, this wine is well over 14% in alcohol despite its buoyancy, whereas the corresponding Liebenberg at 13.5% reminds you of its alcohol and lacks levity. "One factor," observes Lucas Pichler "is that Kellerberg is in the shadow after mid-afternoon while Liebenberg gets sun well into the evening." Plan to follow this Kellerberg through at least 2025."

Grüner Veltliner "M" Smaragd

David Schildknecht: "Pichlers’ 2012 Gruner Veltliner Smaragd M – mainly from Loibenberg, plus bits of Kellerberg, Liebenberg, Kollmutz and Muhlpoint – definitely shows the effect of Lucas Pichler’s decision to harvest earlier in recent years than his father usually did, particularly for this bottling. "I think the result is a bit more elegant," he suggests, and I agree, however conceptually slippery or overused that word is. "I want something similar in style and quality to the Kellerberg," he adds, "only not showcasing the character of an individual site but instead the grape variety," and arguably, I’d add – albeit rather obviously – the synergy possible among various vineyards. Diverse floral perfumes – which then reprise inner-mouth; distilled pit fruits; and intimations of ripe pear and musk melon, all anticipate the silken-textured, lush yet remarkably buoyant and vibrantly interactive palate impression, brown spice-tinged and mingled with crushed stone, piquant fruit pit and white pepper. This misses quite the sheer length and penetration of the Kellerberg, but projects a superbly colorful and dynamic, near-kaleidoscopic complexity seldom equaled among Gruner Veltliners. (If memory serves, this is the first time I’ve rated an "M" Gruner Veltliner superior to the corresponding Kellerberg.) Plan to follow this "M" through at least 2022."

Riesling Steinertal Smaragd (3 mags available)

David Schildknecht: "Pichlers’2012 Riesling Smaragd Steinertal suggests chili as well as Szechuan pepper bite and pungency, allied to rhubarb-like tartness and mouthwatering savor, all enrobed in lusciously ripe, white peach and apple on a plush palate. "This site has an effect a lot like Schutt," explains Lucas Pichler, "because the eroded stone that form its basis followed the creases and crevices in the hillside that are precisely what conduct cool air down from the woods above the vineyards." Wafting hints of chamomile and suffusion of crushed stone add to the interest and allure of this refined, long-finishing Riesling that should prove worth following through at least 2022."

Riesling Kellerberg Smaragd

David Schildknecht: "The Pichlers’ 2012 Riesling Smaragd Kellerberg delivers an enormous concentration of lusciously rich, sweetly ripe white peach, Persian melon, grapefruit and pineapple, mingled with almond cream, blond tobacco and Szechuan pepper. Bittersweet iris perfume wafts throughout this magnificent performance, while the superbly sustained finish introduces a cyanic intensity of fruit pit whose bitterness is tamed and stimulatingly integrated thanks to sheer generosity of fruit and inner-mouth perfume. There were some shriveled berries here, notes Lucas Pichler, which no doubt contribute to the sense of opulence not to mention of sheer ripeness; yet there is only 13.5% alcohol. Plan to follow this beauty through at least 2025."

Riesling Unendlich (3 mags available)

David Schildknecht: "Representing roughly 75% Kellerberg, 20% Hollerin and 5% Steinertal, and weighing-in at 14% alcohol, the Pichler 2012 Riesling Smaragd Unendlich projects lusciously ripe, brown-spiced peach mingled with both the sweet marzipan-like and the bitterly cyanic sides of almond, as well as with pistachio extract, smoky black tea, and a sweet-saline, iodine-tinged, salivary gland-milking savor akin to lobster shell reduction. Living up to its name while managing to convey animation as well as soothing richness, this reveals a subtly different emphasis with each compulsive sip and wave of finishing flavor. A beautiful tribute to its vintage and cepage, this should reward attention through at least 2028."