WorldWine Blog

2011-09-07

Grüner Veltliner: 50 years old but not the least bit tired

Only red wines can age, whites must be drunken in the first or second year after the vintage? Luckily, this prejudice ist to be heard less and less often. Nevertheless even wine geeks and pros often look at me in utter astonishment when I tell them that I am right now finishing my (dry) whites of the 1980ies - at the same time as the reds from that decade. Yet, what I was able to experience with some old wines of Austrian Geyerhof, astonished even me.

During a visit to Hamburg in August last year, Ilse Maier, vintner and wine maker at the Kremstal domain Geyerhof had left me a small number of bottles from her cellar. No wines of the superbe vintage 2009 and nothing from the top vineyards Steinleithn or Goldberg either. Just some "ordinary" estate Veltliners without vineyard designation and without even proper labels - just a piece of paper with the variety and the year of production hanging from their neck: 1981 Kabinett, 1977, and - believe it or not - 1960. Those were, of course, wines which she hadn't even made herself but which stemmed from her father's active time.

As it sometimes happenes I even forgot those bottles for some time in my office - shame on me! - and only opened them during this summer. But far from being tired or over the top, the wine I poured from the bottles was just overwhelming.

Let us start with the 1981 Kabinett, perhaps the best of the three if you go for the sheer numeric rating: "brilliant, intense yellow-green, pretty much closed in the nose with a little balsamic note and some yellow fruit, but with enormous power and presence on the palate, nearly burgundy-like structure - a perfectly matured, very good wine, great drinking pleasure", say my tasting notes - a clear 5-star-wine.

The most difficult of the three wines was the 1977: "brilliant, intense yellow, very closed in the beginning and then with nuts and banana, some minty, spicy aroma, wines opens up pretty quickly in the glas, appears confused on the palate, with animal and zitrus notes, becomes a little bit more burgundy-like with the aeration but in the finish falls apart again." But careful: We are speaking about a 34 years old wine.

Last but not least the 1960, which seemed to us - Mario Scheuermann shared the bottle with me - by far the most spectacular of the three: "fresh straw-green, in the nose some grapefruit, unripe zitrus notes, still acidity-driven on the palate, tastes like a 10 year old wine, with the aeration very profound zitrus aroma, length and minerality, remains fresh in the glass, even after 2 hours".


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