Analogies that resemble low-hanging fruit are best left on the vine but sometimes we just can’t resist: Willi Brundlmayer, Johannes Hiedler, Johannes Hirsch and Michi Moosbrugger are like the Four Horsemen of the Kamptal, with the obvious caveat that, unlike their ecclesiastical counterparts, everything grows where they’ve trod. Eventually Kickshaw will showcase wine from each of them, but meantime we have to satisfy ourselves (and you!) with only these three veltliners from Hirsch and a zweigelt from Moosbrugger (the winemaker at Schloss Gobelsburg). We make it sound measly only because the aggregate body of work from those four guys is so staggeringly broad and deep, but in truth there is no better place for us to begin any general discussion of the Kamptal than with fruit of the Heiligenstein vineyard, and more specifically with Hirsch’s treatment of it. These wines are barely even “made,” handled in the cellar only as much as is necessary to loosen their tongues and get them talking. Kickshaw disapproves of “earing” wine (and those of you who have seen it know to what behavior we refer), but were we ever to…um…maybe think about it…you know…in like a private moment? Just sayin.
2011 Hirsch “Heiligenstein” Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria
The 2011 Heiligenstein veltliner from Johannes Hirsch is the first of three outstanding vintages we have chosen to feature from the legendary, historically significant vineyard in the Kamptal region of Austria. It is also the ripest of the three, with a juicier, rounder fruit profile and more subdued acidity; the serrate herbal hallmark of veltliner is doubtless present, but the 2011 version just takes a longer view than its more introspective cousins, and allows us a little more elbow room. Johannes has never reverse-engineered a wine, always bottling the finest possible expression of any vintage, and we found his 2011’s the most outstanding from Heiligenstein for the year.
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