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This is the first in a planned series to turn the spotlight onto young(er) winemakers out there in Germany and Austria. By no means comprehensive, this is just a dainty toe-dip into the pool of talent in the Teutonic wine world. First up, Martin and Anna Arndorfer in Straß im Straßertale, Kamptal, Austria.
I first experienced the mirthful Martin and Anna Arndorfer over a year ago at the Indie Wineries Portfolio Tasting. Hearing these two speak about their wines with such enthusiasm was truly enthralling. Tasting through the selection of wines, I found myself almost overwhelmed by the variety. They have quite a vast portfolio to choose from, sourced from a number of different vineyard sites, with a focus on utilizing the native grapes of Austria, along with some international varieties. Winemaking for the Arndorfers seems to be a constant experiment, a labor of love, and also a way to carry on their heritage.
Both Martin and Anna hail from winemaking families, and luckily caught the wine bug early in life--growing up in the vineyards, helping in the cellar, coming to know the region with an intimacy of an old friend. Through this invaluable experience, along with familial connections and an openness to revive derelict vineyards, they have been able to secure some sites with old vines planted as early as 1958. Time spent at school for winemaking, coupled with stints working internationally, has greatly influenced their style and penchant for experimentation. Working in Italy, Martin gained an appreciation for using oak barrels as means of making age-worthy whites and reds with complexity. Going to school also taught them what they didn’t want to do, and with each vintage, they become more hands-off with their winemaking. Experimenting with skin-maceration, letting the fermentations run at their own pace, and a dedicated focus on their region’s site-specific terror are just a few of the reasons I’m excited to keep trying their wines whenever possible.
The Vorgeschmack (“appetizer”) series of wines appeals to both my sense of thrift and delight at finding wines that are both complex and affordable. Both the red and rose are refreshing yet structured. The Per Se Grüner Veltliner is from a new line of no-sulfur-added, single-variety wines with extended skin contact. This is a thought-provoking Grüner that strays far from the norm. Very little of this wine is available, so we are pleased to offer it to you today. Cari Bernard
100% Grüner Veltliner, skin-macerated for two weeks, followed by 16 months on the lees with no sulfur added. A savory tone is cast with notes of black pepper, earthy tea, bruised yellow apple, and white flowers with a touch of tannic texture. Cari Bernard
If you are looking for a wine that stands out in the sea of light and easygoing summer sippers, this mercurial, savory rosé from the loess and gravel soils of Austria's Kamtal region is exactly what you need. Made predominately from the juicy and spicy Zweigelt grape, which lends refreshing notes of plush cherry and blackberry, the inclusion of Gruner Veltiner skins and partial aging in neutral oak results in a pronounced and alluring texture which is reinforced by a firm spine of minerality. Sydney Snyder
Mostly Zweigelt with about 20% Pinot Noir, grown on predominantly loess and clay soils. The nose is perfumed with juicy, bruised dark fruit, and the zip of black pepper. The palate strikes a nice balance between red and black fruit, with juicy acidity and a touch of drying tannins on the finish. Throw a slight chill on this, and light up the grill. Cari Bernard