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Pfaffl, Recent Vintages

I’ve tasted a number of wines of Pfaffl before. Frighteningly, my profile of Roman Pfaffl and his domaine seems to have been written five years ago, proof that you don’t have to be on the brink of death in order to have your life flash by.

Unsurprisingly, things have changed here over that length of time. Roman and his wife Adelheid have now been joined by their son and daughter, one managing the estate the other looking after viticulture and winemaking. There are new cellars and winemaking facilities too, and the vineyards have more than doubled in size. This is certainly not the domaine it was five years ago. So I was glad to be able to take a fresh look at some of the wines. The first two I report on here were my favourites from a half-dozen I tasted.

Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC Reserve Hundsleiten 2011: From a vineyard of flysch, alternating sandstone and clay speckled with quartz, planted with vines now 32 years old. Bottled under screwcap. A delightfully fruit-rich character on the nose, forward, open and expressive, with notes of bright and vibrant orange zest along with pineapple tinges. Fresh, bright, pithy, with vanilla, minerally and white pepper elements. The palate is just as fruit rich as the nose, with slightly salty, minerally tinges running alongside notes of lemon and orange fruit, lychee and white peach, all with a slightly bitter, pithy depth and grip. A good firm finish to this, with a sappy, savoury substance underneath the fruit, and it is stacked with minerals. Alcohol 13.5%. 16.5/20

Pfaffl Riesling Am Berg 2010: From the In Sandlern vineyard. Bottled under natural cork. Some really interesting character on the nose here, as although it starts off with vibrant and rather plainly defined fruit, backed up by the richness of honey on toast, there are more complex elements here too, although they take a little time to come out. There are notes of chalky minerality, with a lightly matchsticky reductive edge. The palate shows the sweet flesh of a handsome residual sugar, and on top of that there is concentrated, lightly pithy fruit sweetness, with lovely smoky and minerally edges to the diffuse tropical fruit character. We have pineapple here, with hints of kiwi and passion fruit, and a good pithy, grippy finish. This is really appealing. Alcohol 12.5%. 16.5/20

Pfaffl

The remaining wines were as follows:

Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC Haidviertel 2011: From a vineyard of deep loess over flysch, and the vines are 27 years old. Bottled under screwcap. Bright, minerally, with white stone elements and white peach suggestions as well, and with lightly smoky and salty elements to it. These latter aspects come through very well on the palate, which has plenty of pith to it but also plenty of finely poised, energetic minerality. This has a super freshness and slightly diffuse but exotic fruit character. Good style here, with a tight and minerally style. Alcohol 12.5%. 15.5/20

Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC Reserve Goldjoch 2011: From loess and sandy soils. Bottled under natural cork. A lovely, fresh, lightly tropical fruit character at first, but this gives way to a slightly fimer, more minerally, salty character. And the fruit shows a more challenging, lemony edge too, which adds appeal. The palate has that full, fat character that comes with the richer, tropical tones first picked up, but there is plenty of grip and structure beneath it as well. Rather a rich style of Grüner here, slightly fleshy, but certainly dry. And amongst the lemony-tropical fruit there is a classic white pepper minerality to it, and enough bite to keep it alive on the palate. Although in the finish, to be honest, it misses a little definition. Alcohol 14%. 16/20

Pfaffl Wien 2 2010: A blend of Blauer Zweigelt (a cross between St Laurent and Blaufränkisch) and Pinot Noir. Bottled under screwcap. A moderately deep cherry-red hue, although certainly transparent. Smoke and baked strawberry on the nose, with a very soft feel to it. There is a charred, toasted-almond edge alongside that smoke as well. A softly plump palate, although it is quite dry, with a nice grip to it around a rather full and gently weighty feel. Good definition to the structure at least, with a linear feel to it around the fatter, softer, centre of the wine. It has a bright acidic tone as well, although the fruit is less clearly prescribed, suggestive of puréed raspberry and strawberry laced with a trace of savoury beetroot. Alcohol 12.5%. 14/20

Pfaffl St Laurent Altenberg 2009: From loess and loam soils. Bottled under natural cork. A slightly deeper colour here than Wien 2, with a more claretty hue. A more reserved nose, dark plum, opening out to reveal richer and more defined fruit characteristics, damson with a wild hawthorn edge. A very harmonious and unassuming, rather polished start to the palate, with a little more crunch to the definition of the wine through the middle. Supple in style, with nicely defined edges to the palate again, ripe but restrained fruit character and a little grip in the finish. Overall, pretty good. Alcohol 13.5%. 15/20