I literally couldn’t wait to taste these. But then I had to wait. First, there wasn’t enough time to do them justice before leaving on vacation, and then when we got back I wanted to wait a few days to get over jet-lag. Then I started feeling a cold coming on, and again, I wanted to be in perfect shape to taste these. And then the household had a little skirmish with covid, and while I had no symptoms I was on Paxlovid for five days and dealing with those effects. Finally, all was well, and I started tasting, GV’s and the 3-year “Tradition” on day-1, Rieslings and the 10-year Tradition on day-2, rinse/repeat over the following five days.
You will note the wines are “out of date” in terms of what’s in the market now. Sometimes samples take forever to reach me. I’m in the habit of “reviewing” wines and it’s a habit I’d like to break. That’s partly because it’s nearly impossible to be au courant – if you knew the byzantine manner the samples get to me you’d be amazed – and also because I enjoy being liberated from “commercial” concerns as a taster. These days I just want to inhabit the wines and see what they have to say. If I happen to be “useful” to you as you consider what (or whether) to buy, I’m glad of course, but it’s an ancillary purpose.
A larger question is whether a great estate can withstand some wines that aren’t great, and still preserve its reputation. “Of course it can” is my answer, yet the question is less elementary than it seems. What, after all, do we have any right to presume upon? If we look at wider arcs of time, the question of “greatness” doesn’t have to depend on every wine, every year.
Gobelsburg has a tendency to go deep. The “current” vintage really doesn’t pertain to the apprehension of the wines. (In this case the 2020 vintage wasn’t especially chummy to the Veltliners, though it loved the Rieslings, and the slice of ’21 I tasted – the “smaller” wines – tended toward austerity in that acid-driven crop. I report what I tasted simply because it is consequential, because the winery is consequential, and while we all want all the wines to be excellent, nature has the final word.
Apropos final words, the Tradition wines continue to perplex me, because while I think I understand what Moosbrugger wanted to impart when he made and offered these wonderful wines, I wonder if he ever thought about how they might actually be used. For me they are classic vini di meditatzione, but who meditates over a wine these days? Sure you can have them with food if you want to waste the wine, which is profound enough to wish we aren’t distracted when we drink it.
It's a wine for study, for contemplation. It is the way we might study a room we know well, lit only by candlelight. In effect we study both the wine and the act of study itself. Contemplation needn’t have an object. Reverie is its own reward. And reverie is the crux of these wines, an easy way in to a state of mind that doesn’t feel at all esoteric. I think we should make space for wines such as these, but of course I’m a guy who gets pensive with old bottles.
Still, if wine doesn’t do this for you, I really hope something does, and that you know how to find it, because otherwise we are wasting our lives.