Hiedler Loess Gruner Veltliner 2017
Among the starter-GVs I offer, this one is the creamiest, and suggested it for the taster who isn’t sure he “likes Veltliner.” And yet this ’17 is unusual and seems to herald a change; it’s less tapioca and oatmeal and corn-sweet, and more brassica, racier, closer to Bründlmayer in style, like a somewhat more muscular Kamptaler Terassen. Whether this is a vintage thing or a harbinger of things to come remains to be seen.
Hiedler’s holdings are in the best vineyards in the Kamptal, with riesling parcels in the Heiligenstein and Gaisberg, and grüner veltliner in the deep loess vineyards that rest at the base of those two mountains: Lamm, Grub, and Renner. Hiedler’s other sites in the area include a ‘Grand Cru’ monopole, Thal, Spiegel, Steinhaus, and Loiserberg. In addition to grüner veltiliner and riesling, the Hiedlers work with weissburgunder, the first plantings of which were planted by Ludwig’s father in the Schenkenbickl, a ‘Grand Cru’ plot just below the Käferberg. The estate is a pioneer in ecological winegrowing and only sustainable vineyard practices are implemented – intense cover of herbs and flowering vegetation are used, as well as a compost program and integrated pest management. The first organic experiments began in the sites Thal and Kittmannsberg and have extended throughout Hiedler’s parcels.
Ludwig extends his natural approach to his vines in the cellar as well. For the past several years now, Ludwig has operated with only spontaneous fermentations, without temperature control, enzymes or even SO2. Grapes are selectively harvested by hand. After fermentation, wines are matured in either stainless steel or casks made with local Langenlois acacia, employing extended lees contact and selective batonnage. Notably, malolactic fermentation is never blocked but allowed to occur naturally, allowing Hiedler a quite broad and unique dimension of texture and weight; a distinctive approach to both grüner veltliner and riesling from this region.
Climbing north and slightly east of the Kremstal region, Kamptal has very little vineyard area bordering the Danube River (unlike Wachau and Kremstal, whose vineyards run along it). The region takes its name from the river called Kamp, which traverses it north and south. Kamptal’s densely planted vineyards represent eight percent of Austria’s total.
The area experiences wide diurnal temperature variations like the Wachau but with less rain and more frost. Its vast geologic diversity makes it suitable for various experimentations with other varieties besides Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent and Zweigelt.
But the region is probably most noted for the beautiful and expansive terraced Heiligenstein, arguably one of the world’s top Riesling sites, as well as some of Austria’s most extraordinary Grüner Veltliner vineyards. Kamptal’s soils, which are mostly loess and sand with some gravel and rocks, make it suitable for Grüner Veltliner, so much so that actually half of the zone is planted to that grape.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important and most planted white grape. Somm Secret—About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.