Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fred Loimer Lois Gruner Veltliner, 1999

I get a great deal of pleasure from a good Austrian Gruner Veltliner such as Fred Loimer's Lois. It's lively enough to match up with spicy Asian fusion dishes and yet subtle enough to make you sit back and contemplate. From everything I have read, Gruner ages well, maybe even better than white Burgundy, but since this wine is a relatively new find for me, I have never had the chance to see how a good bottle holds up in the cellar. As a result, I was intrigued by this 1999 Lois when I was bottom fishing for bargains in a recent WineBid auction. It was clear from the auction photo that the color had deepened considerably, and that may have been why the wine had no takers--even at $5 a bottle. I thought it was worth the chance and won a three-bottle lot.

Very deep color but it doesn't deepen any more when opened, as some over-the-hill whites do. There is a definite stale, oxidized smell on top--not to my liking. But it's possible to get past that to some deeper smells and flavors--nuts, spices, white pepper (maybe). Full bodied and well balanced for fruit and acidity. It's not what I expected from an aged Gruner, but then again, I don't know what I expected. I'm not sure it's typical, either for its age or the Lois label. The wine is definitely not corked; the green closure is a cork substitute. The wine may have been exposed to heat or light damage (due to the clear bottle). Another possibility is that the smell I dislike is merely part of the normal maturation of Gruner Veltliner that takes some getting used to. I'd be happy to hear from readers who have more experience than I have with mature Gruner.

6 comments:

  1. I think an oxidised smell is hardly unexpected in a 20yo white wine, no ?

    Wachau Rieslings and Grueners typically lose their fruit after 5 or so years, in my experience.

    The only non-oxidised whites I've had with this much bottle age was at a tasting of Mosel Rieslings - here: http://cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com/2011/06/aged-mosel-rieslings-at-cambridge-wine.html

    Cheers, Tom

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  2. Well, yes, oxidation happens. And I expected a deeper color and some mature smells and flavors. Sometimes, though, the oxidation that occurs can interact with other elements of the wine to create something well worth waiting for. I've had aged Savennierres from the Loire (including a 1979 tasted recently) that smelled and tasted incredibly fresh. White burgundies from the early 1990s should be drinking well (I have notes on a 1990 Bourgogne Blanc from Madame Leroy and a 1996 Saint Aubin from Louis Latour). Chablis ages well and I've even had success with older Vat 47 Chardonnays from Tyrrell's (Australia). My purchase of the 1991 Lois was an experiment: I wanted to see what happens to a Gruner after 20 years. I was not really disappointed but not overly impressed either.

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  3. Fred,
    many thanks for reviewing one of our wines. We started making LOIS, our crisp Grüner Veltliner, in 2000. So, I wonder what the bottle actually said. It cannot be a LOIS from us, though, but maybe our classic Grüner Veltliner? LOIS' drinking window is between 1-3 years; we focus on freshness with this wine while for our Kamptal DAC Reserve category (our single vineyards and Terrassen wines) ageworthiness and complexity are crucial and this is attained by a completely different vinification regime and, of course, site selection. And Grüner Veltliner can age gracefully but ageability varies from year to year in our region just like in Burgundy. Try our 1994 Käferberg, for instance, when you come to our winery or other examples from the Kamptal or Wachau. To find out more about our wines, please hop on www.loimer.at or www.premiumestates.at
    Cheers,
    Andreas Wickhoff

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  4. Thank you very much for your response, Andreas. I really appreciate your information about your wines and the ageworthiness of Gruner Veltliner. I'm an experienced wine drinker but a newcomer to Austrian wines and am interested in adding some bottles of Gruner to my cellar.

    It's interesting because I bought the wine from WineBid online auction house, and it's actually a 1999 rather than a 1991. (Sorry for that error.) It has a mottled green and black front label with "Lois" in white letters. The back label indicates that it is a Product of Austria Grunder Veltliner produced and bottled by Fred Loimer A-3550 Langelois, Imported by Vin Divino of Chicago. At the top: White Table Wine 1999, dry, L10099, Alc 11% by Vol. It's a clear bottle with no capsule and a green closure.

    Is that your LOIS? The wine shows a very deep color through the clear bottle, darker than most Sauternes of a comparable age. I've been drinking your LOIS from 2007 and 2008 and enjoying it immensely. That's why I wanted to experiment with an older version when three bottles were available on WineBid for $5 a bottle. Is is possible I bought a counterfeit?

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  5. Sorry, the LOIS wines I've been drinking are from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

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