You probably already know that Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s signature white grape, and you may well have tried some of the very popular wines we feature every year like Anton Bauer Grüner Veltliner Gmörk, Steininger Grüner Kamptal DAC, and the always popular Paul D Grüner in the liter bottle. All of those are crisp, refreshing wines with pretty orchard fruit, a touch of minerality, a bit of citrus, and classic Grüner notes of sweet pea and white pepper.
The very best of Austria’s Grüner Veltliners get a bit more serious. When the wine comes from older vines growing on the windblown glacial soils called loess soils on steep vineyards with great exposures to the sun, Grüner gets richer, deeper, and much more intensely delicious.
And, when those old-vine, steeply sloped sites are in the region called the Wachau, well you get some of Austria’s greatest Grüner of all.
A Grant from the Holy Roman Emperor
Martin Mittlebach’s family arrived in the Wachau village of Dürnstein from their home in Bavaria nearly 100 years ago. There they took on the mantle of one of Austria’s oldest winegrowing communities. Holy Roman emperor Henry II granted the Benedictine monastery of Tegernsee land in the steeply sloped Wachau valley. In 1176, the monks built their winery and christened it Tegernseerhof, and the Mittlebachs continue that heritage today.
Martin and his family farm sites across the Wachau, but their pride and joy are six profound vineyards rising up over the Danube river plain, including one – Zwerithaler – where the vines are 100 years old. They bottle some profound Riesling and Grüner Veltliner from these sites, wines that year-after-year earn some of the highest accolades in Austria.
High Altitude, High-end Grüner
Bergdistel is Martin’s introduction to the joys of high-altitude, high-end Grüner, designed to showcase the quality of the vintage, the Wachau, and the Tegernseerhof house style. Martin selects lots from each of his best Grüner vineyards, some at lower altitudes for tropical fruit and richness, others from higher, steeply sloped, sites for cut and minerally depth.
Just like Martin’s top wines, Bergdistel carries the Wachau’s highest quality designation: Smaragd. To borrow an old American advertising slogan, “With a name like ‘Smaragd,’ it has to be good.” In the 1980s, the growers of the Wachau came together to create some of the world’s toughest rule for quality in grape growing and winemaking. Only the region’s very best wines – those of superior ripeness and acidity – get the extra-long corks, the emerald lizard emblem on the bottle neck, and the (unpronounceable to non-German speakers) “Smaragd” designation on the label.
Many Smaragd-level Wachau Grüner Veltliners of this quality and character come with $40, $70, even $100 price tags. At his regular $30 price, Martin’s Bergdistel is already a fantastic value. At our $21.98 bottle and $19.98/ea six-pack price…well, you’d be “Smaragd” not to miss it!