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F.X. Pichler Riesling Reserve M 2015

F.X. Pichler Riesling Reserve M 2015

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"Reliance on late-harvested Loibenberg fruit resulted in a bottling that finished with too much residual sugar to qualify as Smaragd. (More thoroughly shriveled Loibenberg fruit resulted in a B.A. and T.B.A.) Lusciously ripe peach is tinged with banana and mingled with almond extract and liquid heliotrope perfume. Fortunately, a measure of grapefruit is not only pungently fragrant but also brightly juicy and piquantly zesty, helping – along with piquancy of peach kernel – to offset this bottling’s enveloping richness and sheer surfeit of ripe, sugar-reinforced fruit. The impressively sustained finish is, however, not at all overtly sweet. Drinking window: 2017-2022. 91-92 points

“Even with irrigation,” said Lucas Pichler, “there was a month in the summer when the vines weren’t doing much.” He emphasized the importance of moderating the crop load so as not to aggravate vine stress, although another consequence was doubtless the present collection’s elevated alcohol levels compared not only with those of its two predecessors, but also when compared with Lucas Pichler’s long-term aspiration to significantly depress alcohol levels vis-à-vis those that prevailed at this address a decade or more ago. “But provided you achieve physiological ripeness without botrytis,” he maintained, “you preserve a sense of transparency to vineyard character,” and that is certainly evident in the present collection. “Even when the wines are rich, they need to preserve ‘juiciness’ – ‘Saftigkeit’,” added the younger Pichler, using both the English and German words. Picking in 2015 began on September 22, reflecting the aforementioned interest in achieving moderate alcohol, but it was already too late to pick Riesling at Federspiel levels even in the Burgstall, a site they intend in principle to dedicate to that weight class; only a portion of the Klostersatz Grüner Veltliner squeaked by on the cusp of Smaragd. And at the other end of harvest, a significant share of Riesling left hanging in the Loibenberg inadvertently resulted in B.A. and T.B.A. Lucas Pichler compares his top Rieslings from 2015 with those of 2013 and this is among the few instances where I would concur in such a flattering comparison. All of the wines were bottled by summer’s end, but many were still in cask or tank when I tasted them in June. There will definitely be an impressively complex 2015 Sauvignon Blanc bottling, probably two, raised entirely in barriques and demi-muids, some new, whose contents I canvassed. I’ll report on the finished wine(s) when I return to cover the 2016 vintage.

David Schildknecht, Vinous (02/17)