I recently attended a tasting of Austrian wines. The focus was on Blaufränkisch, which is Austria’s big red gift to the wine world in my opinion. However there were other varietals there. The cross sections of wines and styles were inspiring and I plan on tasting more and more wines from Austria going forward. If the tasting I attended was any indication there will be plenty of selections worth reporting on. Today I’m going to look at two white wines from winemaker Johann Donabaum. This relatively young producer makes a bit less than 6,000 cases of wine. Of these, 60% are Austria’s great white wine Grüner Veltliner. The first wine I’m looking at is the Johann Donabaum 2008 Smaragd Setzberg Riesling. This wine was produced using fruit from a single vineyard. This wine sells for approximately $40
The nose of this 2008 Riesling is lead by a combination of floral and stone fruit aromas. Honeysuckle, apricot and ginger play supporting roles. The apricot theme continues and in fact builds throughout the palate where it’s joined by yellow peach and subtle mango notes. Lemon zest kicks in around mid palate and shows the way to the finish which is zesty, spicy and lingers memorably. This wine is balanced by crisp acidity.
The finish of this wine goes on and on, quite impressively. That along with the overall balance are the two most impressive hallmarks of this wine. This is a world class Riesling that will stand up to cellaring over the next 7-10 years.
The second wine is the Johann Donabaum 2007 Loibner Reserve Grüner Veltliner. The fruit for this offering was sourced from select vines in Loiben village vineyards. Their use of the term reserve designates particularly ripe grapes that are left to rest on the lees for an extended period of time. The suggested retail price for this Grüner Veltliner is approximately $40.
Moderate kiwi, citrus and green melon aromas waft from the somewhat reserved nose of this wine. Lemon/Lime zest is apparent throughout the palate along with a cornucopia of spice notes. Minerals and hints of chalk mark the seriously lengthy finish of this wine along with ginger, vanilla bean, and small doses of white pepper. This wine clings to the back of the throat for a nice long while.
As with the Riesling the finish is the single most impressive aspect of this Grüner Veltliner. Hints of sweetness are balanced by excellent acidity keeping everything in check. This is a very well made Grüner Veltliner and a terrific selection to pair with food. This wine will also age gracefully over the next 7-10 years.
Both of these wines from Johann Donabaum are excellent expressions of the respective varietal and fine examples of the serious and well crafted Austrian offerings that are hitting our shores these days. Both of these wines are worth making a special effort to seek out.