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.
2013 Hirsch “Heiligenstein” Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria
The 2013 Austrian vintage wasn’t the easiest on record either, but it is believed by many authoritative figures–all of them far more so than we are–to hold more potential for age-worthiness than any since 2002 or 1999. Which isn’t to say that the wines don’t drink well right now, because they certainly do. Hirsch’s ’13 Heiligenstein has plenty of snap, but its acids aren’t shrill in the least; it has plenty of substance, but doesn’t at all come off as busy; and it has plenty of energetic life, but it’s well-organized and nothing on the palate is wasted or superfluous. The weird thing for us is that, even after all of our half-witted attempts to describe it (see above), the wine mostly just tastes like…fun. A nearly perfect veltliner for the price.
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