Austrian white Riesling over £10
Franz Hirtzberger, Singerriedel Riesling Smaragd, Wachau 2009
Franz Hirtzberger hardly needs an introduction: if he isn’t the most famous winemaker in Austria, he certainly ranks second.
It wasn’t so long ago that his face was splashed on the cover of the Austrian news magazine Profil. In Austria he has a similar status to a footballer here.
The Hirtzbergers have been making wine in their quaint thirteenth century house for five generations. His father – another Franz – was one of the pioneers of dry white wine in the Wachau, and the present Franz was involved with the Vinea Wachau organisation when it was created in 1983 and has been its long-standing president.
The estate is not huge (a little more than 10 hectares), but it has some of the best sites in the Wachau. He gave the Singerriedel vineyard a new lease of life by rebuilding its terraces one by one. The process took twenty years.
The Singerriedel is Hirtzberger’s top Riesling site and Smaragd is it finest expression. The word was originally ‘Honivogel’, the name of Hirtzberger’s best and ripest Grüner Veltliner plot which lies just below the Singerriedel in Spitz, but a certain Frau Honivogel objected to seeing her name emblazoned on the labels of so many wines and it was replaced by that of the Wachau salamander or ‘Smaragd’.
Everything is traditional at Hirtzberger. He harvests as late as possible, neither clarifies nor sulphurs his must and uses only ambient yeasts.
The wines mature in old tuns: acacia for Riesling and oak for Grüner Veltliner.
£49.70 from Clark Foyster. www.hirtzberger.com +43 2713 2209