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F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich Smaragd 2017

F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich Smaragd 2017

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"The 2017 Riesling Smaragd Unendlich is sourced 50/50 in the Kellerberg and Loibenberg and based on shriveled but healthy grapes. Macerated for 24 hours and entirely vinified in large oak, this is a stunningly clear and refined Riesling with ripe and concentrated fruit that intertwines the ripeness of the Loibenberg and the flintiness and crystalline elegance of the Kellerberg. Rich and powerful, with great intensity and finesse, this is a full-bodied, dense and firmly structured Unendlich with great vitality. A long-distance runner that should be kept for years or even decades. Tasted August 2018. Drink: 2024-2040. 95+ points

"2017 was even more dry than 2018," says Lucas Pichler. "Last year we had only 150 liters of rain during the vegetation period, whereas the normal average is 200 to 230 liters." (In contrast, by mid-September of 2018, they already had 220 liters of rain.) Especially young vines suffered from the summer drought in 2017, and Lucas estimates that "5% to 6%" of young vines died that summer, although one million liters of water irrigated the vineyards. "We had permanently 30 degrees Celsius or even more since the flowering last year and started harvesting even earlier than in 2003, on September 12." However, in 2018, they started earlier than ever before, on August 29. Lucas' father Franz Xaver (FX) scratched his head when he saw the pickers in his vineyards: "That's everything but normal. Something is wrong out there. We never started harvesting before the [leaves turned] yellow." Yet as skeptical as he was seeing his son harvesting that early, he seemed to be just as convinced about the qualities of the 2017s. "Given this warm and dry vintage, we [were] wondering where the vivacious acidity [was] coming from," he said without giving the answer. "If we didn't have the rainfalls in early September, 2018 would have become a vintage like 2017 probably. But now we have to start with the Rieslings in the flatter sites because they are starting to rot," Lucas said.

His 2017 Riesling Smaragds are fabulous, and the Liebenberg again displays a class he rarely showed in earlier times. With global warming, this is becoming another top site in the Wachau. Pichler's Kellerberg benefits from the cool winds coming from the Waldviertel. His best plots are not facing the Danube but to the side valley, which makes his Kellerberg one of the greatest Rieslings from the Wachau every year. In 2017, the Veltliner is also outstanding and one of the best you can find in the Wachau because it is rich but also fresh and structured. Another great Riesling is the crunchy Burgstall Federspiel Riesling, which I find nothing less than spectacular."

Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (240)