F.X. Pichler Riesling Loibner Steinertal Smaragd 2010


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“Cinnamon and Szechuan pepper pungently and memorably accent Pichlers’ 2010 Riesling Smaragd Steinertal; mingle with fresh, juicy purple plum and lime; and join with crushed stone and salt for a tactilely intense, mouth-shakingly invigorating finish. Thanks to its pronounced minerality, high acidity, and mere 13% alcohol, this comes off as leaner than usual for a Pichler Riesling, but what focus and dynamic it projects! I would look for 12-15 years of excitement. Drink: 2011-2026. 95 points

The 2010 vintage in many respects played into Lucas and F.X. Pichler’s hands, inasmuch as their fine sites and vine selections seldom fail to fully ripen, but at the same time, the desire they have voiced since 2008 (and about which I shall write further in an upcoming report on that and the 2009 vintage) to moderate alcohol levels received nature’s considerable cooperation. Picking began already in the first week of October but lasted into mid-November, “and at the end it actually got a bit too warm,” reports Lucas Pichler, “and the sugar levels went almost too high in a couple of instances.” Only the must for Riesling Federspiel was de-acidified “because I had to harvest early to insure low-enough Oechsle,” says Pichler. “But I think the wines should taste as they are, and their acidity is not unripe. With Riesling, one can help out by leaving a few extra grams of residual sugar, and it fits wonderfully,” he observes, alluding to a measure already taken with certain 2008s and 2009s as much to moderate finished alcohol levels as to balance acidity. “I’m really happy to have wines with this year’s lively enticement,” he continues, “after quite a few recent vintages of low acidity. In our terraces, foliage remained on the vines into the middle of November despite frost at lower elevations, which aided in ripening the acids. And this year we gave even our Federspiel wines 6-8 hours of skin contact. The vintage reminds me of 1999 in its ripeness and freedom from botrytis, as well as in its salinity.” While the overall crop level is down significantly as just about everywhere in 2010, it is the Gruner Veltliner that took it on the chin. “We actually had close to a normal crop of Riesling,” explains Pichler, “because there was almost no botrytis this year” whereas in a typical vintage at this estate, noble rot has robbed the characteristically late-harvested Riesling of considerable juice. Incidentally, in this year of the first Pichler Liebenberg Gruner Veltliner (see my description below), Hollerin Riesling ceased its run at this address, as the rented vines reverted back to their owner, Weingut Schmidl. (I did not get chance to taste Pichler’s two Sauvignon Blancs from 2010.).”

David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate (197)