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Richard Walzer, “Wolfsgraben” Grüner VeltlinerKremstal, Austria 2019 (750mL)

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Richard Walzer, “Wolfsgraben” Grüner Veltliner Kremstal, Austria 2019 (750mL)

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This is hardly the first time we’ve sung Richard Walzer’s praises on SommSelect, and it certainly won’t be the last—not if he continues hand-crafting such glittering, multidimensional Grüner Veltliners. We’ve been laser-focused on his clean, translucent style of winemaking ever since we tasted his 2016 “Wolfsgraben,” a wine that offers affordable express transport to the emerald banks of the Danube.


Walzer's restraint and attention to detail lends itself well to such an expressive grape, particularly from a year as extraordinary as 2019. Universally lauded as one of the best vintages in living memory, the 2019 doubles down on the potential of his meticulously cared-for old vines. Richard is pretty much a one-man show, tending his vines with the deliberation and precision of a bonsai master—every passing year coaxes more flavor from his well-placed parcels. In the spirit of the world’s very best Grüners, Walzer’s Wolfsgraben bottling lingers in the space between lean and creamy, mineral and unctuous, green and fruity. Few wines can match this grace, tension, and pleasure at such a reasonable price. This sets an extraordinarily high bar for 2021. We’ll keep looking, of course, but it’s hard to imagine another Grüner coming along and knocking it out of the top spot. Mouthwatering, lively, complex, affordable...this is the kind of wine we live for around here!


Richard Walzer has continued to fine-tune his viticulture and winemaking since we offered his 2016. The success of the interim vintages hasn’t translated to scaling up his operation. On the contrary, it’s only emphasized how niche of an operation Walzer really is: 3.8 hectares of vineyards cared for with just a few pairs of helping hands. The cellar was deliberately designed to match the size of his vineyard holdings, allowing Richard to control every step of the production himself. The vines are a mere 500 meters away, and while the building itself is hewn from clean lines of simple stone, the view over the vines and down into the Danube valley provides plenty of inspiration for his concentrated, jewel-bright wines. 


The modesty and reservation Richard exhibits as a person is in complete contrast with the ornate layers of his Grüners. The level of detail he imbues in each bottling is absolutely staggering. This wine comes from a small parcel within the well-regarded Wolfsgraben vineyard, south/southeast-facing vines buried in classic loess (silt) soils at a cool 1,000 feet of elevation. The predominance of calcium carbonate in the sedimentary soils contributes a particularly fine minerality, my favorite tell-tale sign for high-quality Grüner in a blind tasting. The vines are farmed sustainably and hand-picked by Richard himself. The ‘Wolfsgraben’ Grüner Veltliner is made in the perfectly balanced ‘Federspiel’ style—medium weight, with ample richness tamed by bright minerality and  crispy acidity. Richard achieves this middle-weight by using stainless steel for both fermentation and aging on fine lees. While the wine comes entirely from the Kremstal region, his 2019 carries the more general Niederösterreich designation due to the time of its bottling. Whatever decisions Richard is making are the right ones: this bottle absolutely glows. 
 
The 2019 ‘Wolfsgraben’ shines bright and true—light yellow with silver and green reflections. It’s creamy and energetic right from the get. I was impressed by the additional layers of concentration that the 2019 vintage added to an already generous flavor profile. The familiar notes of white peach skin, sugar snap peas, and beet greens were joined by a note of radish and raw honey. Wonderful pepperiness gives the palate a pleasant tingle, mingling with the taste of lemon bars and limestone for broad strokes of refreshment. I loved Walzer’s 2016 with a year of bottle age, and am really pleased to see that the ’19 is equally amenable to a couple of years of softening. It hasn’t lost any of its nuance, just gained a little depth and elegance—the perfect pairing for a big bowl of winter greens. The chicory, radish, and anchovy salad from SF’s legendary Bar Tartine might rank as one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted. Its strong flavors and balance of salt and bitterness will harmonize perfectly with the wine, and with my daydreams of the Danube! Enjoy!




Richard Walzer, “Wolfsgraben” Grüner Veltliner Kremstal, Austria 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryAustria
  • RegionNiederösterreich
  • Sub-RegionKremstal
  • SoilLoess
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrüner Veltliner
  • Alcohol12.5%

  • CountryAustria
  • RegionNiederösterreich
  • Sub-RegionKremstal
  • SoilLoess
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrüner Veltliner
  • Alcohol12.5%
  • Temp.Serve at 45-50° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2023
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingChicory, Radish & Anchovy Salad