Malat - 2013 Gruner Veltliner, ‘Hohlgraben’ Alte Reben
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This wine, coming from 60-year-old vines grown in a thin layer of loess on top of conglomerate and silty soils rich in calcium, spends about six months in 5,000-10,000 liter barrels after it goes through a natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It is picked much later than the basic version (which is not really basic at all), and a little later than the other wine bottled under the same name, but spends more time on its lees. When compared to the other bottling of younger vine Hohlgraben, it is similar to comparing a Federspiel wine from the Wachau to a Smaragd.
I won’t beat around the bush on this one: this is my favorite wine in the range of wines from Michael Malat, despite my preference for Riesling over Gruner Veltliner. This rendition from Hohlgraben has a wonderfully delicate nose of toasted fig leaf, sweetened almond flour, brown butter, praline, dried papaya, and mango notes. Its palate is equally charming, with brisk and tense notes that are both generous and playful. Spice, nutmeg, and peach cobbler are sharpened by notes of Meyer lemon pith, zest and juice. The four-pronged attack of this magnificent Veltliner pleases the senses with its sweet, bitter, sour and salty, ocean spray characteristics. This is the total experience, and if you’re going to spend a little extra on a full-package wine, this is the one to do it on.