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Brundlmayer Riesling Steinmassel Reserve 2013

Brundlmayer Riesling Steinmassel Reserve 2013

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"From the Bründlmayers’ oldest vines in the Steinmassl, situated much lower down than those that inform the corresponding “regular” version, this wine represents the latest in a line of bottlings only begun in 2011. Lusciously ripe, piquantly pit- and rind-tinged grapefruit and peach are further accented by smoky black tea, and this Riesling shows an almost tannic impression of grip, allied to sizzling stony, peppery and herbal impingements as well as to mouthwatering salinity familiar from the corresponding “regular” bottling. Considering its 13.5% alcohol, there is a surprising sense of buoyancy to this concentrated wine’s at once soaring and gripping finish. Drinking window: 2015-2028. 92 points

Having as much as any other grower, save perhaps Alois Kracher, served since the mid-1990s as the face of Austrian wine abroad, Willi Bründlmayer, who in 1980 assumed control of his family’s estate, scarcely requires an introduction. Among the less known of many remarkable aspects to his work is the consistently high quality he achieves from an enormous acreage and reflecting so many projects and grape varieties over and beyond the dominant Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. These include some of Austria’s most nuanced red wines (from vines Bründlmayer foresightedly planted as a hedge against ever-warmer weather, years before “climate change” was on more than a few lips); sparkling wines; and nobly sweet elixirs, the latter including memorable late harvests of Chardonnay and Muskateller. Because this array of wines is so vast, I tend to supplement my tastings of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner selectively, and in years with a significant amount of botrytis wine like 2013 I postpone red wine tasting for a subsequent visit. Fermentation and maturation of the top Grüner Veltliners are typically in oak or acacia of at most a few years’ age, so that especially when they are young, a woody element is often noticeable, though usually well-integrated. And sweet wines are more often than not rendered in barrels, often new. Bründlmayer’s son Vincent has for some years now been an important part of the large winery team.

While his Grüner Veltliners of 2013 were finished close to absolute dryness, Bründlmayer compensated successfully for their prominent acidity by selectively encouraging malolactic transformation, including in certain lots of his less expensive bottlings. The Rieslings, by contrast, remained as usual lactose-free; though permitting them to finish with three to six grams of residual sugar represents a departure from the estate’s analytically drier norm. The numerous nobly sweet 2013s were picked out simultaneous with the corresponding main harvests in order to insure that the dry wines remained virtually botrytis-free. But even if that makes the latter wines the products of necessity, Bründlmayer, not given to hyperbole, says he thinks they include the finest Prädikat Rieslings he has ever made. While tasting and purchasing Bründlmayer’s young 2013s is highly recommended, it should be noted that he has held back a larger share than usual (up to one quarter, in fact) of his top bottlings for leisurely later release. Such late releases of wines with characteristically three to eight years of bottle age are routinely reflected in U.S. offerings from this estate, although Bründlmayer indicates that many of his markets, including his home market, tend not to take advantage of his offerings’ vintage depth."

David Schildknecht, Vinous (11/15)