Obscurity to Obsession: Unknown Austria - 2011 Donabaum Neuburger Federspiel

Posted by Joe Salamone

Obscurity to Obsession
2011 Donabaum Neuburger Federspiel

Compared to Grüner and Riesling, Neuburger is beyond obscure.

Yet, for the initiated few, it's easy to develop an obsession.

I remember spending an evening at Cru with an Austrian collector who had caught the Neuburger bug. From that holy list at Cru (with the grandest of the Grand Crus to geeky gems like 02 Overnoy Poulsard and 99 Roilette Tardive, etc), we lined up a Hirtzberger Neuburger vertical from the 80s.

The wines were glorious.

Then came a 1988 FX Pichler Neuburger that has become somewhat of a legend among a few of us.

Like I said, it's easy to become obsessed.

With this as the context, we are always on the lookout for Neuburger. It's a grape that has great potential, but that potential isn't always (or even often) actualized. Our latest Neuburger find literally just walked in off the street. Basically, a friend showed up saying, "I have something you have to try."

He was right; Donabaum's Neuburger Federspiel really impressed us. It's very rare that we buy something on the spot without discussion among the buyers, but in this case we just looked at each other and signed up for everything right on the spot.

So, what's the deal? Neuburger wows you not so much with its lavish flavors as it does with its depth of flavor. There's an elusiveness to it, a mystery.

If you combine some of the roundness of Chardonnay with the cut and zing of Riesling, you get a good idea.

What makes Donabaum's 2011 Neuburger Federspiel stand out is its compact, detailed fine-ness. It's finely etched with zingy minerals and yellow fruits. Overall, the sense of poise, balance and refreshment is just lovely.

It is also incredibly versatile on the table. Which should come as no surprise since this bottling was overseen by Leo Schneeman, a sommelier at Wallsé, one of New York's best Austrian restaurants.

Neuburger's acidity, not to mention 2011 Donabaum's balance, allows it to age well. You can hold on to these for at least five years and watch it gain richness and witness its subtle depths get teased out.

We've bought all that we could, but there just isn't that much wine available. This is recommended and limited.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

2011 Donabaum
Neuburger Federspiel (Wallsé bottling)