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- 90p by Stephan Reinhardt
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The 2018 Grüner Veltliner Ried Loiserberg 1ÖTW displays an intense yellow color and a concentrated, still somewhat untamed bouquet with lime and lemon aromas intertwined with riper and dense stone fruit aromas. Full-bodied, lush and intense but dry and with good structure, this is a charming and intensely fruity yet elegant and focused Veltliner from the Loiserberg. There is 14.5% alcohol, which I really didn't taste. Tasted at Schloss Grafenegg in September 2019.
Sometimes you need two tries to discover the greatness of a vintage. My first encounter with Willi Bründlmayer's 2018 Erste Lage wines at Schloss Grafenegg was pretty disappointing. So, I took the chance and met up with him and his estate manager Andreas Wickhoff MW, who also has a significant impact on the viticulture, harvest and winemaking. In the end, I spent several hours in the domain in Langenlois and tasted a wide range of wines, not only the white 2018s but also older vintages of the Heiligenstein, which is one of the greatest Riesling sites on planet wine for me.
In fact, you won't discover the full potential of Bründlmayer's 2018 Heiligenstein selections if you don't take all the time you need and they deserve. In the end, however, you will see that there is most probably no better combination of vintage and winemaker for the Heiligenstein history than Bründlmayer's 2018s. These are world-class white wines, and they spurred me to re-taste all the other 2018 Heiligenstein Rieslings I could get the other day. And yes, there was a gap, and the gap was huge. In 2018, the harvest began earlier than ever before at Bründlmayer, on August 20 for sparkling wine. The average temperature of the vintage was two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 30-year average and, after 2003, the hottest year since record-keeping began. Nevertheless, heavy rainfall on the first and second of September (with 70 liters of precipitation per square meter in Langenlois) forced Bründlmayer to make rigorous selections when harvesting Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. The Grüner Veltliner, on the other hand, was grateful for the urgently needed water and, in addition to sugar and strength, for a broad spectrum of aromas. The Veltliners then ripened very quickly, after they had already reached an average of 95° Oechsle at the end of August, so Bründlmayer had to prioritize the different locations. The thick-skinned Riesling, on the other hand, was still able to hang on, especially since it had not yet developed any intense fruit aromas in September. Although it was decimated after the rain, it nevertheless built up a "beautiful" botrytis, which led to a Heiligenstein "Essenz" Trockenbeerenauslese that I haven't tasted yet and which had to be bottled with more than 400 grams of residual sugar—at 6.5% alcohol and a total acidity of about 19 grams per liter!
Nevertheless, at Bründlmayer, they still left the Veltliner hanging, in the Ried Lamm, for example, for another four weeks. "The must weights went down again after the rain and then only increased slowly and, at some point, not at all, but probably aromatically," Willi Bründlmayer explains. At 40 hectoliters per hectare, the average yield was also not very high for the Veltliner, whereas the Riesling was more generous.