Bricks Wine Advent Calendar 2017: Day 23

23 12 2017

By Raymond Lamontagne

We have reached the penultimate day of what was occasionally a rather hectic yet still always fun endeavor (for me, in any event … I did not have to write one of these suckers every single day). This is my last advent entry, at least for this year, and our loyal readers (I know there are at least three!) can probably predict the country from which this special wine hails. If it is me writing about Advent wines this year, there’s a solid 50% chance the wine is Austrian. If that were not enough, I have also ended with the same producer with which I started, Gruber Roschitz, neatly closing the circle. Its been a wild ride, if one defines wild as cracking wine books, doing many Google searches, and, you know, drinking. These are three things I do rather frequently anyways, and it was a pleasure to share it with the world. Thank you Peter and Dan. And thank you to everyone who reads our musings.

IMG_0535

Who me, peek? It was clearly the cat.

The Grubers are three siblings:  Ewald, Maria, and Christian. Ewald provides the winemaking philosophy and oenological know-how, Maria is the marketing genius, and Christian handles the important work in the vineyards. Gruber Roschitz does not shy away from modern technology, although the winemaking remains anchored in low intervention principles such as moving the liquid as little as possible, using no fining, and no fertilizer in the vineyards except compost. I’ll also admit that I love the critters on the labels. The Grubers offer several theories as to the nature of these goblins or sprites. I prefer the “little children of Bacchus ensuring joy and pleasure” account. YMMV.IMG_0536

Botrytized or noble-rotted Chardonnays are not particularly numerous, although if you go looking you will find a few from around the world. Although some argue that Chardonnay is less susceptible to noble rot than Riesling or Semillon, other sources state that this varietal’s tight clusters make it one of the most susceptible grapes. Regardless, a non-Riesling trockenbeerenauslese is rather intriguing. TBAs are explicitly made from late harvest grapes, all of which are botrytized and painstakingly picked by hand. My powers of deduction lead me to conclude that these grapes hail from the Hinterholz vineyard. Here the soil lies over bedrock and an adjacent woodland helps to regulate temperature, producing a large contrast between day and night and yielding a smooth Chardonnay. Of course, the noble rot is going to be a game changer.IMG_0537

You can almost feel the heft as you pour this. My first impression of the nose is a pleasant, bright fruitiness: lemons and limes along with a little grapefruit and tangerine, although these all grade toward Sweetart candy as opposed to the fresh genuine article. Fragrant guava or passion fruit nectar, a whiff of petrol. This also has that classic noble rot aroma as well, which some describe as like dry honey without the sweetness. On the palate this is full of canned peaches and mandarins (including the syrup), dried apricots, pears, sweet corn, yellow flowers (honeysuckle mostly, or perhaps Caragana), mixed fruit drops from that old tin some grandparents bust out at Christmas, basil, and a subtle note that recalls fungus or earthy, musty root cellar. Silky smooth and elegant, with a crystalline purity. Some citrus-type acid catches at the back of my throat and persists for an eternity, as if the kingly imp on the label is perched on my uvula, seductively waving for further sips. I do not find the sweetness overbearing, as the acid, bright primary fruits, and tertiary dust all provide balance and complexity. This goes down the hatch like a wine that has far less body than is actually the case (and it goes down rather quickly, I might add. Fortunately the ABV is 8.5%). We could have stopped here, really. This would be an appropriate finale. But we have one more surprise to go …

92 points

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