Alzinger: "You wouldn't be surprised if the cellarmaster were the Dalai Lama."

Posted by CrushWine

Austria in Perfect Clarity
2009 Alzinger Riesling and Grüner Veltliner
The Lovely, Lovely, *LIMITED* 2009 Alzingers

I tasted these in Austria in June and loved them - some of the best of the vintage without a doubt.

So I returned to the U.S. and placed what I thought was a reasonable little order - nothing crazy, but say 10 cases of this, 5 cases of that... just a few Austrian gems that, really, shouldn't be missed.

Alzinger makes wines that are Saar-like in their clarity, finely woven, porcelain creations that softly hum notes of fresh green fruit, mineral. They display an herbal-salt-earth combination that is simultaneously enchanting and awesome.

Seriously, for anyone that has enjoyed the wines of Egon Müller, Lauer, Von Othegraven, Zilliken, etc, the whispering wines of Alzingers are WELL worth trying. Few wines (outside of the Saar), match their combination of intensity with needle-fine detail, with extreme focus.

So anyway, after I placed my order I got an email from the importer saying something like, "your order was more than the entire allocation for the U.S."

OK - well, where do you go from there?

You don't really go anywhere. You take what you can get and shut up. So that's what I did, after all, the tiny Alzinger estate is about 8 hectares in size. They make only 5,000 cases, in good years.

So I bought what I wanted for my cellar, sold the rest off to a few clients and then... THEN I was told there was a bit more. I don't know what happened - Belgium reneged on their allocation; Argentina found out that Grüner doesn't pair as well as they thought with beef.

At the end of the day, who cares - we were offered more and we pounced. The wines are that good and they are that limited. The fact is our pricing, while razor-sharp and the lowest in the nation, is also the only pricing in the nation. This is it - a handful of cases, all ours... er, yours.

Year in and year out, aside from being recognized as one of the greatest estates in Austria, the small family run winery (headed by father Leo Alzinger and son Leo Alzinger) makes what has to be the quietest, purest, most delicate and meditative wines in Austria. Theise has a great anecdote that rings so true. He writes:

"I happened to be sitting next to a buyer for one of Austria's major wine retailers one evening over dinner. We was schmoozin'. I asked him: 'Apart from a professional appraisal, which Wachau wines do you personally most enjoy?' He thought for an instant and answered: 'Alzinger and Prager.'"

Indeed, talk to some Austrian wine fanatics. Hell, ring Aldo Sohm up right now and ask him - I'd be surprised if Alzinger isn't way, way up there in the "most enjoyable" category.

In 2009, as they are in most years, the wines of Leo and Leo Alzinger are shimmering, crystal clear, calm, meditative, intense yet almost dainty, almost delicate...  this is where Theise comes up with his "Dalai Lama" quote, used in the email's subject line. This was not an easy vintage (which is why the wines are so insanely limited this year, more than normal), yet the Alzingers made juicy, crystalline wines.

As stated, the wines are also *SILLY* limited. The Riesling Loibenberg is NOT TO BE MISSED, but all the wines are lovely and Theise's notes are reproduced below - with my own commentary, for better or worse.

Please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to order; give us your maximum order and we'll do our best - you may not be confirmed until Monday so please be patient!


Stephen Bitterolf
Wine Director
Crush Wine & Spirits

2009 Alzinger

Riesling Loibenberg Smaragd

This is Alzinger, extroverted - juicy, damn-near exotic... this is still essentially a calm, meditative wine, but certainly whatever it's whispering is sexy and seductive as all get out. There's a mango-guava thing, but the fruit is ripe AND tense, not fleshy in the least, made even purer by a shimmering acidity, a salt and flower tango that is awesome. Lovely, lovely, juicy wine. Can I guarantee you will like this? Maybe. Writes Terry Theise: "In its plummy overt way, this is mighty freakin’ good Riesling, profoundly rich and salty and with its usual core of meaty fruit that gets more mineral and green as it adumbrates, ending as a wolfishly yummy Riesling that’s like a salad of 17 edible herbs and flowers with a warm bacony dressing."

Riesling Liebenberg Smaragd

All these wines are for the purists, but this wine is REALLY for purists - it has a bit less residual sugar, so the acidity shows itself a bit more, the whole wine feels very rigid and firm, porcelain infused with a delicate, pretty lime zest and spring flower thing. This is very, very pretty wine - and I mean that in the best, best possible way. Here's Theise's commentary, which honestly I find impenetrable but so it goes: "...the wine is a clear leafy stream of rock-dust. I suspect a rare combo of botrytis and acidity is at play. The radish-y tatsoi nature of the site, as if you had the flavor of wasabi but not the heat, is strongly present."

Riesling Hollerin Smaragd

Juicy, fruity, juicy - Hollerin is always forward, yet not gushing like the Loibenberg - always pure and clean and rounded and so much fun to drink essentially at any time, day or night - try it with your fruit loops for breakfast. Writes Herr Theise: "Always the fruity one; a mirabelle-balsam-apricot liqueur, and there’s the sense of some insanely fruity grappa in here. It resolves as a clinging echo of warm sweet grain and hedge-flowers. This dry wine is so pretty, I wonder where’s the clamor for wines like it."

Grüner Veltliner Muhlpoint Smaragd

I think this is the most underrated wine in the portfolio - it can be so delicate that it echoes quietly over the palate. At its best, it reminds me of the Steinertal (under which the vineyard resides) - this is NOT a wine to bury in the cellar - drink it up! It's also not a wine to miss. Schreibt der Theise: "Leo has really stepped this boy up the past few vintages, and this has some of the taut geen aromas of Steinertal; walnut and rye rather than wax-beans; a thick dumpling of minerality; ample and adamant mid-palate meatiness. Impressive."

Grüner Veltliner Loibenberg Smaragd

This is one of the bigger wines of the collection, an mini-epic Grüner. About as fleshy and exotic as Alzinger gets. I give this Theise description 100 points: "Again quite graceful for a high-alcohol wine; meaty, salumeria aromas and flavors, rose-hips and wild-boar ham and an electric spicy palate wash – like you rode your tongue through a car-wash spray of liquid stone. I believe very much in this wine but would suggest drinking between Fall ’10 and Spring ’12, as it will be most attractive while it still has some baby-fat."

Wine available late next week!
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