The Bobo clan gathered for the big Penn State vs Ohio State showdown Saturday night. In an attempt to stay awake for the entire game, I selected a couple lighter alcohol wines for the evening. 2006 was a ripe warm vintage in the Wachau and the Franz Hirtzberger, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, Rotes Tor reflected those conditions. This vintage was richer and riper on the palate then usual for this bottling. Hirtzberger is located in Spitz at the western end of the Wachau, where the cool air gets trapped as it flows down the Wachau. This area tends to produce wines that are racier and more mineral driven than those from the rest of the Wachau. The main flavor I found in the 2006 was banana, which I often find in Gruner Veltliners from warm vintages (such as 2003). In contrast, the 2004 version of this wine was bright and lean. Hirtzberger is a very skilled producer and despite its richness, the wine was framed by an elegant texture. While I enjoyed this single vineyard cuvee, I find myself less enamored with Gruner Veltliners in general. The top producers in the Wachau usually charge the same amount for their Gruner Veltliners and Rieslings. Personally, I would rather consume a Riesling.
The next wine screamed northern rhone from the start. A good dose of black olive hit my nose as I sniffed the Phillipe Faury, Saint-Joseph, rouge, 2005. The wine was pure and elegant in the mouth. While traditionally styled, this wine was fruitier than the benchmark wines made by the great Raymond Trollat. It was a joy to drink a serious wine that weighed in at only 12.8% alcohol. I actually made it to the third quarter of the Hawaii game, which started at midnight!