Stephen Bitterolf at Crush is a great wine salesman. The guy knows a ton about Austrian wine… and knows an easy mark when he sees one. I was planning on buying a few Stockkulturs but ended up getting cajoled into pretty much the whole 2007 Prager lineup. Notes will follow as I drink 'em.
The first one up was the Prager 2007 Wachstum Bodenstein Riesling Smaragd. According to the Crush email this is a young planting by Toni Bodenstein in a high-altitude plot so cool the neighbors were skeptical the grapes wouldn’t ripen. My kind of dry riesling. It cuts like a razor blade, with fruit so iridescently bright maybe it’s more like a light saber. But it does more than slice and dice because the flavors are enticing too, bold meyer-lemon type fruit laced with a darker stoniness, freshened even further by the aroma of a salty ocean breeze. This was so piercing and acute at first, but the leftovers the next day reveal an underlying creaminess without any loss of purity or detail.
The Prager 2007 Klaus Riesling Smaragd starts out pretty similarly to the Bodenstein, with the exact same oceanic scent. It’s slightly more jagged in texture and deeper in complexion but mostly it feels like more of the same. At least at first. As it sits in the glass it diverges dramatically. The fruit turns deeper and creamier but also a little bit bitter, with the alcohol biting back on the finish. It’s not totally spirity but it’s getting there. This really needs to be kept at ice-bucket temperatures to show well. Advantage Bodenstein.
to be cont’d.
Thanks for the notes, Keith. I’ve really enjoyed almost all the Pragers I’ve had (a '99 Chardonnay Smaragd being the notable exception). Have you tasted any of the '06s? The vintage sounds like it might be riper and more full throttle than I care for, but I wondered if particularly the high altitude wines (Wachstum Bodenstein) managed to stay nimble. Any thoughts?
I haven’t had any 2006 Pragers, but I have been a fan of the vintage in general since day one. I think many of the people who initially thought it “too much” would be very surprised to taste the wines again now and see how classic they have gotten, even over just one year.
Very interesting, and great to know about your positive experiences with the vintage. The high alcohols had bee scaring me off, but maybe I should reconsider.
Love Pragers as well. Waiting to hear the note on the Achleiten if you have it.
Wachstum Bodenstein is a new vinyard at the very top of the ridge the terraces are on. Not just high, but further from the Donau as well.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the 2006’s. The Wachau was one European region which did pretty well even in 03! Probably because they allow irrigation.
First, the Wachstum Bodenstein Gruner Veltliner, nice stuff although not nearly as electric as the riesling from the same site. With time in the glass it does develop a nice zing, but here the fruit is simpler, fatter, and more tropical – almost has a banana thing going on. It’s good stuff but the riesling was a force of nature, this is just nice wine.
I opened the Achleiten Riesling and Achleiten Gruner Veltliner to serve one after another the same night and the main thing that struck me about them was how much closer they were in personality to each other than the Bodensteins were. The flavors were a little different - the gruner had a bit of the banana thing I tasted in the Bodenstein - but the structure and cut were exactly the same. And that’s where they really excel. They don’t have quite the acuity and sizzle as the Bodenstein riesling, but they are pretty close. The switch from the riesling to the gruner was more or less seamless. Usually gruner takes you down an octave or two but this was just as bright and piercing.