Best Austrian Wines from Terry Theise

02 Jun Best Austrian Wines from Terry Theise

New Austrians


Spät bump? Anyone?

from Terry Theise!

“Thanks to the enormous talents of some of its winemakers as well as the dedication and hard work of high-quality U.S. importer Terry Theise, Austria is bursting on the American scene as a source of superb white wines. Austrian Rieslings are extremely distinctive from those produced in Alsace or Germany. They have the harmony between acidity and fruit found in French Rieslings, as well as the sharp focus found in the Germans. The finest Grüner Veltliners are fresh, peppery whites with considerable complexity, flavors reminiscent of smoked bell peppers, white/yellow fruits, rhubarb, and flowers.”
-Robert Parker



1997?! Yes, 1997.

1997 Nikolaihof Riesling Vinothek, Wachau
On Sale $159.99
Aged for 17 years in a domestic 3,500-liter cask before it was bottled in August 2014, the 1997 Riesling Vinothek is the best part of the regular 1997 Riesling Smaragd Im Weingebirge, which was bottled and marketed in late 1998. The aged Vinothek version offers a fascinatingly clear, bright, deep and multi-layered nose with iodine and ripe as well as intense white-fleshed fruit aromas. Full-bodied, full of finesse and elegant, this dry, transparent and mineral Riesling develops a great intensity, complexity and power on the palate, but never leaves its silky road of purity, finesse and transparency. There is a lot of Spiel and tension here, but the most exciting characteristic trait is the intense and very mineral, almost endless finish. How youthful this wine is! And its further aging potential is still terrific.
97 Points, The Wine Advocate

2014 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Hefaeabzug, Wachau
On Sale $23.99
Funky notes of yeast still dominate the nose, but there is an abundance of yellow, juicy pear and Russet apple once they blow off, framed by citrus freshness and underlined with a yeasty savoriness that recalls slightly pungent herbs like watercress and arugula. The finish is ultra clean.
93 Points, Wine Enthusiast

2014 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Federspiel, Wachau
On Sale $28.99
Bittersweet floral notes waft from the glass and continue to play across the palate. Roasted root vegetables mingled with dark leafy greens, smoky nut oils, moss, iodine-tinged shellfish reduction and tangy fresh lime make for an expression of Grüner Veltliner that is deep and dark but at the same time refreshingly juicy and stimulatingly crunchy. Finishing lift and utterly intriguing length further encourage the next sip.
93 Points, Vinous Media

2013 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Smaragd, Wachau
On Sale $54.99
Bottled in November of last year, this repeatedly failed the official test for Qualitätswein, a detail that Niki Saahs imparts with seeming relish as well as amusement. High-toned suggestions of floral distillates mingle with hints of moss and intimations of the fruits to come. Rhubarb, apple and lime team up for a palate performance of Riesling-like brightness, sap and clarity. A sense of infused crushed stone, black tea and shrimp-shell reduction makes for a fascinating and almost preternaturally persistent finish.
94 Points, Vinous Media

2014 Nikolaihof Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel, Wachau
On Sale $31.99
This is so very young that the yeasty aromas of fermentation still cling on: There is earthiness and some funk-but underneath slumbers ripe stone fruit and wet stone. The palate is textured and tight, with a citric fault line of lemony acidity. The length is pure and thrilling, the body wonderfully light. Think sublimated lemon and you have it.
93 Points, Wine Enthusiast


Smaragd was the best we could think of for our best wine

2012 Nikolaihof Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, Wachau
On Sale $56.99
Raised in a traditional oak cask for 2.5 years, the 2012 Riesling Smaragd Vom Stein opens with a deep, ripe and very intense pip fruit aroma on the nose. On the palate, this is a rich, ripe and concentrated Riesling with a lot of power and complexity, but also freshness and mineral vitality. The finish is firm, complex and very long, announcing a great aging potential. So much salt and tension here!
93 Points, The Wine Advocate

2010 Nikolaihof Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, Wachau
On Sale $56.99
Here we have the sharply bright, spine-tingling, almost eye-watering intensity that few vintages can deliver like 2010. Pungent sage and tangerine rind harken back to Muscat in Riesling’s family tree, while generous fresh lemon juiciness serves for stimulating refreshment of a sort that few if any Muscats could supply. At 12.5% alcohol, this also harkens back to the weight typical of Smaragd in the late ’80s or early ’90s, with a corresponding sense of levity.
91 Points, The Wine Advocate

2014 Nikolaihof Gewurtztraminer, Wachau
On Sale $33.99
This is the first vintage I’ve really liked this wine; figures, with its high acidity. It has some of the basic nuttiness of the cellar, and interestingly also of (the variety) Neuburger, yet it’s varietally true; dry, not gaudy, 12% alc and no RS-but also no bitterness-and a focus of lychee stands out of the smoky murmuring dream.
Terry Theise


2014 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Privat Senftenberger Pellingen
On Sale $48.99
Ripe peach and mirabelle, shadowed by their distilled counterparts, lend luscious, almost sweet suggestions of fruitiness to this bottling, complemented by cooling mint and bittersweet, iris-like inner-mouth perfume. Tart rhubarb, crunchy snap pea, incisive pepper, ginger and piquant huckleberry all provide an impressive and invigorating counterpoint. Expansive and texturally glossy yet energetic and buoyant, this finishes with some of the interactive dynamics, crystalline clarity and tingling vibrancy so memorably demonstrated by Nigl’s 2013s, underlain by an elusive ore-like sense of mineral matter. One lot for this was raised in cask and displayed greater depth before bottling than did the tank-raised portion from another picking. Happily, though, the bottled blend proved superior to either component.
92 Points, Vinous Media

2014 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben
On Sale $33.99
Mint-tinged pear, lentil and snap pea inform an alluring nose and a rich, subtly creamy palate. But while there is satisfyingly persistent juiciness, this lacks the animation or clarity displayed by most of its stablemates and will, I suspect, be best enjoyed young. Here is a wine that illustrates what Nigl describes as a surprising dropping-off of acidity in certain sites as harvest progressed, so that he readily admits the finished product (taking into consideration its malolactic transformation) would have benefited from a bit more.
88 Points, Vinous Media

2013 Nigl Sekt Rosé Brut de Brut nigl rose
On Sale $26.99
I saw “Nigl Sparkling Zweigelt” on the airport wine list while getting ready to fly to Austria this May and I thought it must be a misprint. I asked for a glass and the bottle, then sent Nigl a note asking why he hadn’t informed me about this little delight. Imagine a cherry and strawberry shrub but with the merest suggestion of sweetness. An infusion of diverse green herbs in the form of an almost medicinal note is at once delightfully cooling and stimulatingly piquant, an effect that cuts nicely through the thickness of ripe fruit. The luscious finish compels the next sip.
89 Points, Vinous Media

NV Nigl Brut de Brut Sekt
On Sale $26.99
Disgorged to order-and superb! Huge fun, generous, snappy and biscuit; it’s “extra-Brut” with 3g/l RS but it “reads” sweet because of all that crusty sweet hay flavor. Mostly Chardonnay and a little Grüner.
Terry Theise


2014 Sattler St. Laurent, Burgenland
On Sale $14.99
For the first time this saw some wood, about 25% old large casks; I tasted a still-unfiltered cask sample, but juicy and dark-chocolatey, a bit richer than usual (as there’s nothing above it in ’14) and a fine example of SL at its most earnest.
Terry Theise

2014 Sattler Zweigelt Burgenland
On Sale $14.99
Again some old oak, and this is a beauty; Zweigelt at its roundest, most satiny and seductive, almost more in the SL direction but layered with all those sweet berries.
Terry Theise


2014 Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Kamptaller Terrassen
On Sale $22.99
Like a crunchy salad of lime-drenched lettuce, cress, cucumber, celery root and green bean, this texturally polished, buoyant and refreshing offering delivers a characteristically peppery and invigorating bite in its strikingly sustained finish. The character of the vintage really suits this wine.
89 Points Vinous Media


Come, let us have a picnic

2013 Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Spiegel
On Sale $62.99
Fermented in domestic acacia and oak barrels as well as in French barriques and stainless steel where the wine aged for 3 months (with repeated bâtonnage) before the different barrels were united in a large wooden cask the 2013 barrel sample appears fresh, very subtle, precise and discreetly spicy on the nose offering a brilliant citrus flavor. On the palate this full-bodied, mineral, sweet and salty wine exhibits a vibrancy, transparency and finesse that so many other Grüners from Erste Lagen lack in 2013. This is surely a big and expressive wine you can enjoy for at least 12 years.
92+ Points, The Wine Advocate

2014 Bründlmayer Riesling Kamptaler Terrassen
On Sale $21.99
Crisp apple, fresh lemon and honeydew melon-all strongly marked by the tartness and bite of their rinds-inform a spare, intense palate and a refreshingly juicy finish.
Vinous Media

2014 Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein
On Sale $32.99 750mL, $17.99 375mL
Gentian and buddleia meet salinity and iodine on the nose. The latter features lend oyster-liquor intrigue and saliva inducement to a polished and expansive palate of fresh grapefruit, tangerine and white peach whose ripeness, improbably given the growing season, approach liqueur-like richness. Yet for all that ripeness, there is delightful buoyancy thanks to a level of alcohol just under 12.5%, a combination that hasn’t been witnessed often from Heiligenstein in the past two decades. Fresh ginger, citrus zest and alkali lend invigoration to a soaring, shimmeringly interactive and succulently persistent finish in which echoes of site-typical florality are hauntingly retained.
94 Points, Vinous Media

2014 Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbiner Heiligenstein Alte Reben
On Sale $67.99
Bittersweet, herbally pungent floral perfume suggesting gentian and lavender rises from the glass, then wafts through the entire polished performance, while the marine mineral elements so prominent in this estate’s other two Riesling Heiligenstein bottlings here turn in a stonier but no less mouthwateringly savory direction. Pepper and crushed stone impingements along with hazelnut piquancy and cooling mint extend a long finish that preserves primary juiciness of lime, ripe mirabelle and white peach. Weighing in alcoholically between its “Lyra” and “regular” Heiligenstein siblings of the vintage, this strikes a felicitously elegant balance between richness and refreshing animation.
93 Points, Vinous Media

Schloss Gobelsburg

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg St. Laurent Reserve
On Sale $46.99
The 2012 St Laurent Reserve displays a deep and ripe, but also fresh and refined fruit of blackberries along with raw meat, blood, juniper, gammon and toasty flavors. Silky textured, fresh and elegant, this full-bodied St Laurent is compact but a bit astringent in the finish.
The Wine Advocate

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg Zweigelt Reserve
On Sale $46.99
Blackberry and raspberry aromas are complicated by woodsmoke. Tart black fruit flavors show a salty, faintly bitter edge that’s softened by a subtle vanilla cream quality. Ultimately rather velvety, finishing with fine-grained tannins and delicate spice character, this wine transcends the category of Zweigelt.
90 Points, Vinous Media


2013 Hirsch Grüner Veltliner Heiligenstein
On Sale $22.99
Leading with elusive scents of ginseng and sea spray, this goes on to deliver a buoyant, juicy, polished palate performance leading to an invigorating finish of tart, juicy lemon and apple seemingly suffused with white pepper, crushed stone and the alkalinity and salinity of the ocean. There’s more force, grip and depth here than in the corresponding generic bottling, if neither more charm nor perhaps more complexity – just another wonderful example of skilled hands and vintage virtues!
91 Points, Vinous Media

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