Regarded as one of the young, leading winemakers in Austria, Johannes Hirsch combines the quality of his renowned vineyards, dedication to viticulture and precise winemaking to craft wines of the highest class. Johannes works exclusively with Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, bottling most of his cuvees as single site, single terroir wines – the Lamm, Gaisberg and Heiligenstein vineyards.
The Lamm vineyard, with its south-facing slopes, and soil composed of loess and loam lends itself to wines that combine power, focus and structure.
Considered to be Grand Cru quality and one of the best vineyard sites in Europe, Heiligenstein, a bowl-shaped vineyard with southern exposure and conglomerate soils of desert sandstone imbedded with decomposed volcanic and carbonized vegetation, produces classy, celebrated wines of great purity.
In close proximity to the Heiligenstein vineyard, the Gaisberg vineyard exhibits soils of fertile brown earth and crystalline rock creating wines that are dense with mineral and intertwined with exotic floral notes.
Johannes farms his vineyards sustainably and biodynamically and is certified by RESPEKT! Natural efforts have been made to ensure physiologically ripe grapes including high density planting (5,500 vines per hectare), low trellising, canopy management and handpicking. His father began using manure for compost over 30 years ago by trading hay from Hirsch’s agricultural fields to a friend Robert Paget in the neighboring village. Paget is a cheesemaker and his goats and water buffalo eat the hay and their manure is transported back to Hirsch for compost to fertilize Johannes’ vineyards.
The winemaking process is marked by ambient yeast fermentations, whole cluster pressing, slow vinification, late bottling and release of the wines upon appropriate maturation. In 2003, Hirsch was notably the first producer to bottle all level of his wines in Stelvin closure. A five-year study has just been completed by Austrian wine-magazine Vinaria validating the efforts surrounding Stelvin closures. Johannes Hirsch is one of the most innovative and renowned winemakers in Austria and was name “Winemaker of the Year” by Falstaff Magazine in 2011.
It’s not wine, it’s food! A veal and porcini liquid poured over toasted rye bread with dark-meat turkey; weighty but beautifully proportioned. Drink within 4-5 years, I’d say, as this vintage doesn’t seem structured to go for decades.
A beautiful fragrance, like a potion of irises and lavender; the palate defaults to its mineral middle, with a long silky texture and a dusty wash of scree and leaves; a lovely light essence of Riesling.
A fine salty grip that’s fun, not strict; wet Wheaties and black salt; you go back a long way to find a vintage as good as this. ~Terry Theise
A superb vintage of this! Bright, clear, spicy-minty and leesy; it recalls Bründlmayer in its deft balancing of weight, clarity and momentum. Power and snap. The second plus is only hedged pending bottling. ~Terry Theise
CORE-LIST WINE. Adorable, winsome and deliciously mineral. It has an allusive attack but a firm direct finale. Rockpowder texture and a fragrance reeking of irises. ~Terry Theise
The label will change to something less whimsical, as ‘Hannes started to feel it was too “supermarket-y,” and it will also stay the same each year. End of an era, alas, though I seem to have been the only guy who liked those silly funny labels and liked that they changed every year.
If I ever am asked to guest-lecture for some class in marketing, I will ask the eager students to take extremely careful note of each thing I say, every pearl of genius I strew upon them, every suggestion and every holy principle—and then do precisely the opposite. I am a little waif among wiser elders who have better suits than I do. I am one.wrong.dude. when it comes to marketing. I shall retreat proudly though! Even as they revoke my parking permit…
This wine has a schwe-e-e-et aroma; total classic GV at its most winning and forthcoming…oh man, this is ridiculous quality for this echelon, the legume-lentil GV with loads of loessy charm. It is the BEST WINE IN ITS CATEGORY IN 2014, and an amazing piece of work.
I put it in quotes because it is actually (and inexplicably) the general-site, not the single-site, and to try to explain it would involve all the Talmudic intricacy of bureaucratic thought—or, “thought.” In any case, beginning with vintage-2015 this wine will be known as “Kammern,” and will thus take its more explicable place as a village-wine.
It has always been the perfect medium-weight GV, and this ’14 is a pristine version of this perennially tasty fellow. That’s all. But consider: how many times have I used a word like “pristine” to describe a ’14 wine? ~Terry Theise
Core List Wine. The village-wine, basically young vines from the two Crus. It’s clean, nubby and mineral in ’14; iris-y but less riotously floralsweet than, say, the 13 was; it needs air, and after a few minutes the wisteria scents started appearing, and the minerality clarified. ~Terry Theise
Though it was a wine-in-development, it’s clearly a potential masterpiece; a beaded curtain of herbs leads to rusks and vetiver; infinite strength and articulation without the thing we usually call “power,” because wines like this assert nothing but communicate everything. Nuances of star-fruit and veal stock lead into a youthfully stern finish. ~Terry Theise
Now we’re talking. Wonderful aroma, pure vetiver; as primordial as spring-water, rich and densely textured, a lovely complex wine that’s almost fluffy; a swirl of infinitely fine pieces of flavor, all seen from the corner of your palate’s eye, and snuggling beneath a virtually tactile blanket of texture and mineral richness. ~Terry Theise