ABOUT THIS WINE:
Soil type: gneiss, mica schist, primary rock & loam
Wine-making: Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel. Elevage in Acacia.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER:
Leo Alzinger is located in Unterloiben, just across the street from Knoll. Leo owns parcels in two of the great vineyards in this part of the river valley: Loibenberg and Steinertal. Loibenberg is a towering, terraced hillside, while the diminutive (5.5 hectare) Steinertal is hidden and maintains a cooler micro-climate. On the terraced vineyards of both sites, Riesling is cultivated on the higher, more primary rock-rich parcels while Grüner Veltliner is cultivated on the lower, silty, loess-based parcels.
Leo Alzinger Jr took over the family domaine in 2002 after returning from harvest in New Zealand. Prior to that he traveled to other regions to gain more experience and was fortunate to spend time with legendary winemaker Hans Günter Schwarz just prior to his retirement in 2002. “The most significant experience came with my work in the Pfalz at Müller-Catoir in the vintage 2000. Hans Günter Schwarz revealed things in the cellar, small details that gave stronger impressions of vineyard and place. He taught me not to be afraid of skin contact, that good grapes will give good phenols, for example. How important work with the lees is and many other things.”
Harvest at Alzinger happens later than some of Leo’s neighbors in Unterloiben, something he attributes to old vines and the specific exposition of his parcels. The extra time on the vine doesn’t increase sugar levels, Leo says, but rather pushes physiological ripeness to greater balance. Alzinger crushes whole cluster with a short maceration, then allows the must to settle for 24 hours, dropping any green tannins out. Tasting the wines next to some of the other Wachau greats, it becomes apparent that elegance and pristine fruit is what Leo looks for in winemaking, rather than opulence. Alzinger’s wines are never forceful or assertive; they are instead amazingly sanguine and calmly transparent.