Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd 'Steinterrassen'
Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd 'Steinterrassen'

Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd 'Steinterrassen'

Lower Austria, Austria 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$65.00
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Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd 'Steinterrassen'

The historic Hirtzberger estate is nestled between the village of Spitz and the glistening Danube River. The coolest sites in the Wachau, their vineyards enjoy a unique microclimate benefitting from the winds of the Waldviertel highlands coupled with the moderating influence of the Danube, which results in ideal phenolic ripeness as well as bright acidity. The Hirtzbergers have poured their passion into the land here for five-generations and heir historic vineyards, home and winery date to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest estates in the Wachau. Franz Hirtzberger Sr. took the reins from his father in 1983 and today his son, Franz Jr. works alongside him. Believed by many to be my Austrian doppelganger, Franz, Jr. is always generous with his time and energy when I am in town and loves to share as much about the rich complexity of the Wachau’s sacred terroir as I care to learn. Their Steinterrassen Riesling is derived from three unique, terraced vineyards – Setzberg, Hochrain and Singerriedel – which all lie on primary soils. Composed of gneiss (metamorphic, decomposed granite), silicate and rocky brown earth, this terroir reveals more intense minerality than the loess soils found in the lower lying vineyards along the Danube. The family sustainably farms the vineyards with meticulous attention to detail and conducts 4-5 passages through each vine during harvest to ensure every grape on every cluster achieves perfect ripeness. This particular wine is a Smagard (late-picked) style.

This effort displays a deep golden yellow core with green reflections on the rim. Highly concentrated aromatics of slightly dried white peach, green papaya and green apple are wound inside fragrances of honey, beeswax, a touch of white pepper, white flowers, crushed stones and a hint of petrol, intrinsic to great Riesling. This wine reveals an incredible sensory explosion straight out of the gate. Flavors of nectarine, green apple, green mango peel and honeysuckle give way to white pepper, subtle petrol and a powerful expression of crushed granite that drives the seemingly endless finish. Although phenomenal in its current state, this wine has a seriously long life ahead of it. For a classic pairing worthy of this enchanting wine, try this recipe for Stelze – or Austrian hamhock – and let the magic unfold in your mouth.

Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd 'Steinterrassen'


Northeastern Austria


Considered by most to be the oldest growing zone in Austria, Weinviertel is also, geographically, the largest in the country and covers the vast, northeastern expanse of Lower Austria, stretching from the western border of Slovakia, following the Danube inland and veering up to the southern border of Czechia. Its name, which translates to “wine quarter,” reflects the region’s rich, ancient wine heritage and, according to the Weinviertel DAC website, there are “7,000 years of artifacts to prove it.”

Northeastern Austria


Austria’s Wachau appellation is the country’s most acclaimed region. About an hour northwest of Vienna along the Danube River, the vista of the steep, terraced vineyards of the Wachau creates a magnificent landscape akin to a verdant, ancient amphitheater—it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, after all. With rich and unique soils here of löess and gneiss, which lend vivid minerality to the wine.

Eastern Austria


The Burgenland appellation, running along Austria’s border with Hungary southeast of Vienna, has a diverse topography and a mix of soils, with more primary rock and slate at higher locations and dense loams in the rolling hills that extend toward the Pannonian plain.

Southeastern Austria


The region of Styria (Steiermark) is in southeastern Austria which sits near the border with Slovenia. This area is studded with long-extinct volcanoes whose deposits are a key component of the local soils and the vineyards benefit from a classic Austrian push-pull of cool Alpine air and warmer “Pannonian” currents from the east.

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