Weingut Tegernseerhof

The Story

Martin Mittelbach is a Wachau insider with an outsider’s perspective. He is the fifth generation of Mittelbachs to run the historical Tegernseerhof, an estate that goes further back than 1000 years. Despite the estate’s historical merit you couldn’t find a much more progressive winemaker with his own set of standards and way of thinking in this region. Martin took over the estate at a very young age and immediately changed the way things were done. As you could imagine, there was some friction with his father who preferred to make wines more on the sweeter side. Today, you would be hard pressed to find a more dry and straight style in the Wachau. The grapes are harvested and sorted rigorously to take out any botrytis grapes and then vinified and raised in stainless steel. They are harvested with no botrytis to keep the wines focused and tense. His wines are like his personality: intense, focused and highly intellectual. These laser beams are as far away from the often baroque style that can be found in this region. In every level his wines excel and can stand tall next to any of the greatest producers in Austria.

Lay of the Land

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Austria’s Wachau gorge is home to arguably the most prestigious winegrowing region in the country, and its most visually stunning. The eastern border is west of Vienna by about an hour drive and begins in a town called Unterloiben. It runs through the river gorge thirteen or so kilometers ending in Spitz, a town that marks the far western end of the winegrowing areas along the river.

Though one of the coolest winegrowing regions in Austria (not only in temperature, but also in vibe), the Wachau is located in an area strongly affected by opposing climatic influences. Warm Pannonian winds move in from the east and collide with colder Atlantic and Alpine winds insulated by the wilderness surrounding the gorge, which creates a tug-of-war of extremes between day and nighttime temperatures during the summer and fall. Much less than in the past, before the hydroelectric dams were installed and slowed its vigorous pace, the Danube River regulates temperatures and mitigates some risk of spring frost. Tegernseerhof’s vineyards are all located on the far eastern end of the Wachau gorge in its most warm zone, however still considered a cold climate wine region.

On the steeply terraced hills principally composed of Gföhler gneiss (orthogneiss) and other ancient igneous and metamorphic bedrock formations with a thin, gravelly decomposition of the bedrock itself is the kind of stressful environment where Riesling thrives best. By contrast, Austria’s most popular (and common) white wine grape, Gruner Veltliner, typically grows lower down the slopes on more löss (also spelled loess, or löess) dominated soils mixed with river sand and alluvium. Grüner Veltliner needs to be coddled to find its glory, and the nutrient rich and high water retentive qualities of löss are perfect.

Reid Steinertal Riesling
Reid Steinertal Riesling

Weingut Tegernseerhof - 2016 Riesling, Smaragd, “Steinertal”

Price: $47.00
Size: 750ml
Availability:

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: White
Grape(s): Riesling
Style: High acid, Mineral

The Wine

Inside the bottle: If there were a wine in Martin's range that he might favor, Steinertal might be it. The vineyard's particularities (as explained below in the terroir description) give it tremendous range, making it is a very special wine.

The first aromas beam out of the glass with insanely attractive and high-toned mineral impressions. If it sounds exciting, it is! The second wave comes from the riesling as it unfolds layers of discrete late-summer stone fruits, citrus and flowers, with a touch of french lavender. The exotic and sweet herbal notes follow, displaying fresh thyme, lemongrass and very subtle nuances of wheatgrass and watermelon rind. In the deepest parts of the wine, the acidity is fluid but intensely focussed and is supported by fine and refreshing tannins; yes tannins in a white wine! I love it! This full-size orchestra of profound intellectual and hedonistic pleasure seems to have no end, so prepare yourself. Also, if one were to cut their teeth on a Wachau wine with this wine, this wine may set the bar a little high.

Terroir: Shaped like an amphitheater, the south-facing Steinertal is quietly tucked between two massive wine hills, Loibenberg to west and to the east, the Kremstal's Pfaffenberg. The soils, while gneiss dominated, have slightly more sand and schist than some of the other great riesling crus in the near vicinity. However, the two most defining elements are its unique amphitheater shape, which captures tremendous daytime heat, and the numerous ravines that cut through the vineyard that bring very cool nighttime air, giving it a large diurnal shift. Once you understand this duality, it is easy to see why Steinertal is so high-toned and at the same time, deeply concentrated.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: Steinertal forms a southeast facing amphitheater cut into solid orthogneiss (metamorphosed granite) surrounded by massive rock formations. A soft layer of sand covers the gneiss terraces bringing elevation to the wine’s aromas and high tones, further accentuated by a cold north wind that blows across the vineyard at night. It typically has a more intense mineral quality when compared to other crus, weighing between Martin’s Kellerberg (more powerful) and Loibenberg (elegant and charming) Riesling wines.

Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand in small bins. They are whole cluster macerated between 6-36 hours depending on the vintage (higher acid vintages longer, warm years less). The first sulfur addition rarely happens before fermentation but is dependent on the quality of the fruit—perfect fruit may not be sulfured until after primary fermentation. On average about 2/3 of the fermentation is natural and about 1/3 neutral yeasts (used if not naturally started after 10-12 days). Primary fermentation lasts between 1-2 months and is kept below 23 degrees C. The wines sometimes make natural malolactic fermentation.

Aging: Stainless steel for 6-9 months on the lees, filtered but not fined before bottling.

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Bright Yellow and White Fruit, High Mineral, Salty, High-Energy, Sappy Core, Spice, Straight

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

A metamorphic bedrock of Gföhl gneiss (orthogneiss) and sandy decomposed gneiss topsoil.

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

20-45 years old (2019)

Altitude (meters):

231-298

Aspect:

South East/South West

Slope:

Extremely Steep (up to 64%)
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfur Dioxide. Yeast (please read the vinification).

Alcohol:

13-13.5

Titratable Acidity:

6.5-7.0

Residual Sugar:

>4

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Martin Mittelbach (Tegernseerhof) with some technical details from Vinea-Wachau.at

About The Wine

Inside the bottle: If there were a wine in Martin’s range that he might favor, Steinertal might be it. The vineyard’s particularities (as explained below in the terroir description) give it tremendous range, making it is a very special wine.

The first aromas beam out of the glass with insanely attractive and high-toned mineral impressions. If it sounds exciting, it is! The second wave comes from the riesling as it unfolds layers of discrete late-summer stone fruits, citrus and flowers, with a touch of french lavender. The exotic and sweet herbal notes follow, displaying fresh thyme, lemongrass and very subtle nuances of wheatgrass and watermelon rind. In the deepest parts of the wine, the acidity is fluid but intensely focussed and is supported by fine and refreshing tannins; yes tannins in a white wine! I love it! This full-size orchestra of profound intellectual and hedonistic pleasure seems to have no end, so prepare yourself. Also, if one were to cut their teeth on a Wachau wine with this wine, this wine may set the bar a little high.

Terroir: Shaped like an amphitheater, the south-facing Steinertal is quietly tucked between two massive wine hills, Loibenberg to west and to the east, the Kremstal’s Pfaffenberg. The soils, while gneiss dominated, have slightly more sand and schist than some of the other great riesling crus in the near vicinity. However, the two most defining elements are its unique amphitheater shape, which captures tremendous daytime heat, and the numerous ravines that cut through the vineyard that bring very cool nighttime air, giving it a large diurnal shift. Once you understand this duality, it is easy to see why Steinertal is so high-toned and at the same time, deeply concentrated.