The reappearance of a crowned Wine of the Year!
Why this strange, earth-shaking occurrence? The fact of the matter is that we've been touting the merits of this kooky little Austrian white wine for years, in spite of the fact that the grape remains (even for us) very esoteric. In my Wine of the Year email I (ironically) wrote, "...this bottle will probably never score 100 points - so far as I can find, no one's ever even rated it..."
So you can imagine that my jaw dropped when I saw the Wine Advocate's belated report on the 2006 Austrians. Not only was the wine reviewed, but Stadlmann's little gem was given an impressive review and even more important to me personally, a great and inspired write-up by one of the most respected scholars of Austrian and German wine, David Schildknecht!
Despite the continuing depreciation of the dollar against the Euro, due to our support for the wine in the past we were able to obtain near-2007 pricing on a small but sizable quantity and I'm thrilled to offer my 2007 Wine of the Year - AGAIN - at virtually the same price as we did in December of 2007!
No, the wine didn't receive the sacred 100 points and frankly that's not the point (no pun intended), but it is fascinating to do a cross-section on the bottles that Schildknecht put on the same level as the 06 Stadlmann Zierfandler Mandel-Hoh. How about the FX Pichler Gruner Loibnerberg Smaragd, Prager Riesling Klaus and Achleiten Smaragds, Nigl Gruner Alte Reben - even cult bottles like the Melusine Gruner Lyra. Good company indeed!
So what exactly is "Zierfandler" and what does it taste like?
Zierfandler is an indigenous grape grown in the Thermenregion, a tiny place just south of Vienna; the name refers to the thermal springs that abound in the area. The Mandel-Hoh vineyard is the grape's favorite spot on earth and Stadlmann's bottling represents the most noble expression of Zierfandler.
The Zierfandler vines in the Mandel-Hoh vineyard are roughly 45 years old and the gems of the estate. The grapes are harvested with great care and fermented in large old wooden barrels. Fermentation takes about two weeks, though the wine is left to settle for an additional 8 months before it is bottled.
As for what the wine tastes like, well, I'm going to defer to the inspired pen of David Schildknecht, while simultaneously thanking him for his rigor and scholarship - giving Stadlmann's Zierfandler Mandel-Hoh its due!
"The 2006 Zierfandler Mandel-Hoh smells ripely and mouth-wateringly of quince, marzipan, gentian, and violets, saturates the palate with lush compote of apples, quince and mango, wreathed in flowers and accepted by bitter-sweet grapefruit zest. The piquant, persistently floral, bitter-sweet, zesty, as well as subtly stony finish is truly haunting. Once you experience Mandel-Hoh you'll be hooked. This wine has virtually cult status in Austria, yet the price is not at all outrageous, and Stadlmann sees fit to share some with the United States."
"The affable Johann Stadlmann is by all accounts (as well as my limited experience) the leading grower in the Thermenregion south of Vienna, where he demonstrates the distinctive wiles of this sector's Rotgipfler and Zierfandler grapes, while also crafting some outstanding examples of more familiar traditional Austrian varieties. I only had opportunity to taste a subset of his 2005s and 2006s but as a group, they were impressive, and his Mandel-Hoh Zierfandler is a wine that simply must be experienced."
We carry the whole lot of the Stadlmann wines - including the Rotgipfler - so for a tour-de-force of the charms of the Thermenregion, click the button below and see our real-time inventory.