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New Customers Save $30 off $100+* with code JULYNEW30
New Customers Save $30* with code JULYNEW30
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Hirsch Zobing Riesling 2009
Hirsch takes full advantage of the distinct terroirs found in the Lamm, Gaisberg and Heiligenstein vineyards. 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, low trellising, canopy management and handpicking.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of anyone who loves bright, elegant wines. These food-friendly, cool-climate reds and whites are quintessentially European in style with racy acidity, moderate alcohol, and tart, fresh fruit flavors. Austrian wines are prized for their near-uniform dedication to excellence, and it is now difficult to find a bad bottle.
Rather than joining in on the worldwide trend to plant international varieties, Austria has chosen to stake its reputation mainly on its native grapes. Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and vegetal and peppery aromatics, is the most important, comprising nearly a third of Austrian wines. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Unlike their German counterparts, Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry, with higher alcohol, slightly lower acidity, and flavors that lean more toward the citrus end of the fruit spectrum. Field blends of these two grapes along with Pinot Blanc and other white varieties known as Gemischter Satz are popular for daily consumption in Vienna. Red wines include light, tart-fruited Zweigelt, juicy and spicy Blaufränkisch, and Pinot-Noir-like Saint Laurent.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling, and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Oregon, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes in New York.
In the Glass
Riesling is low in alcohol, with high acidity, steely minerality, and stone fruit, spice, citrus, and floral notes. At its ripest it leans towards juicy peach and nectarine, and pineapple, while in cooler climes it is more redolent of meyer lemon, lime, and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of gasoline.
Riesling is very versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice), and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.