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Based in the town of Zöbing, Barbara Öhlzelt farms six hectares of vines. Her Grüner Leader is always a go-to bottle for gatherings. The 2019 is very fresh and fun; juicy ripe peach and apples, balanced by green pineapple acidity. Enjoy with salty snacks, salads, light pastas, fresh cheeses! Cari Bernard
Matthias Hager has been making wine on 13 hectares around the village of Mollands in the Kamptal for about 15 years, started converting his vines to biodynamics in 2005, and has been Demeter certified Biodynamic since 2008. Seeberg is a south-facing vineyard in the Kamptal (west of Zöbing), with warmer days followed by a cooling influence from the forest to the north, soils here are a mix of sand, clay, and slate. Harvest is by hand, grapes ferment spontaneously and the wine ages in old oak barrels. Concentrated and dense palate with notes of Fuji apple, nectarine, mango, beeswax, honeysuckle, and apricot; effusive and bright, lovely ripe fruit balanced by acidity, this Grüner drinks almost like a Riesling! Incredibly enjoyable now, this wine has the stuffing to last at least 5-10 years in your cellar. Cari Bernard
From clay and loess soils in the Kamptal, this is a charming and pitch-perfect dry Riesling. Nice density, 3-4 g RS, very pretty, with a chalky, mineral finish. Terrassen is the name Matthias gives to this blend from different sites, with vines of an average age of 25 years. The density is ideal, and it's truly a great value, considering Matthias' fantastic farming and the pedigree of the region. -EL
Lackner-Tinnacher is one of (if not the) only certified organic producers in the Styria region of Austria. Styrian wines are not known widely in the US, mostly because there is a healthy local tradition of drinking wine and 90% of wine made in Styria is consumed there! Kati Tinnacher is a bit of an exception to the rule in the area. Where lower quality wines are often produced in good quantity and quickly, she has been trying to slow down releases and is working only with estate fruit instead of also buying grapes. This Morillon (Chardonnay) is from the local equivalent of a premier cru parcel called Eckberg. Morillon was likely brought to the area in the 17th or 18th century and is a mort tart and acidic clone of Chardonnay. The wine here is aged in large Acacia barrels and then in bottle for 6 months before release. Our friend Daniel Hubbard knows the winery and the region well and explains that the area has more in common with Friuli than Austria, as there is three times the amount of rainfall here than in the Danube Valley, and soils are similar to those in Friuli as well. The wine has nice structure and a bit of weight. If you don't like Chardonnay, pretend it's not, and if you do, this may not be your favorite but will be unique to any Chardonnay you've tried and is, subjectively, very enjoyable. - Eben
This bottling from the Lutzmannsburg vineyard is from the oldest vines (some are 110 years old!). Sitting flat atop a plateau with soils of mostly loess and loam with volcanic topsoils, this site sees more warmth and ripeness than the Neckenmarkt site. Because of the age of the vines, yields and production are very small. Fermentation is done in open-top fermenters with native yeasts, gentle extraction for a more elegant style of Blaufrankisch than many of their neighbors, and then aging is done in a mix of used French, Slavonian, Austrian and German barrels. -MD
This bottling is from Moric's old-vine Blaufrankisch from the Neckenmarket vineyard. These are higher elevation, hillside parcels from 50-90 years old, with some slate and some limestone soils lending the wines their intense minerality. The fruit is organically farmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top fermenters, and then aged in mix of used French, Slavonian, Austrian, and German barrels.
An assemblage from older parcels in Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg, the Reserve is the little sibling to Velich's top wines, which are single vineyard expressions from the oldest vines in those sites. Indigenous yeast fermentation in open vats, and aging in 500 Liter used barrels. No filtration or fining.
This is the "gateway wine" from Roland Velich's Moric project. Sourced from young vines (10-50 years old) in the Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg vineyards, from mixed soils of limestone, primary rock, and loam. Velich's aim is to combine rigorous selection in the vineyard with low yields (usually 25 hectoliters per hectare), in order to guarantee a high quality of fruit, with ideal concentration. Fermentation is with indigenous yeast, in open vats and steel tank. Aging is in a combination of barrels ranging from 600-4500L in size. No fining or filtration and minimal SO2 added at bottling. Though this is by all means a lovely bottle of Blaufrankisch to drink now, there is a great potential to age for 10-15 years, which from my experience helps the wine develop a truly impressive aromatic complexity, and a refinement of fruit and tannins. An exceptional Blaufrankisch and a great introduction to the Moric project.
Martin Muthenthaler is part of the small cadre of winemakers in the Wachau that are eschewing the Vinea Wachau system to focus on organic farming and wines that shy away from the lush (and at sometimes Baroque) style that made the valley internationally famous. Winemakers like Peter Veyder-Malberg, Andreas & Maria Harm, and Martin Muthenthaler have been painstakingly tending to these legendary (often terraced) vineyards with a new vision: to preserve historical terroir and care for the land through bio farming, producing vibrant wines of place, unencumbered by having to adhere to a style profile dictated by the Vinea. Martin once worked as a mechanic and truck driver for what is now called Domäne Wachau. In 2006 he took control of his family's ~3 hectares of vines in the Spitzer Graben, the coolest part of the Wachau valley. Here he's been able to rehab the terraces and through meticulous handwork, has converted to organic farming. The Bruck vineyard is S/SW in orientation, with steep, stone terraces rising to up to 480 m in elevation with orthogneiss/schist/granite soils, vines in Martin's parcels are about 50 years old. Fermentation is spontaneous with wild yeasts, and all aging is in stainless tank with long lees contact (8 months). Electric green strawberries and peach blossoms flood the nose, the palate has a balance between crystalline acidity and a concentrated density with tangy lemon and just ripe stone fruits; a beautiful representation of Bruck! Cari Bernard
Several years ago, Martin had the misfortune of a really bad harvest, and only had enough grapes to make one Gruner Veltliner bottling. He had to blend older and younger fruit from the Bruck and Schön vineyards, and out of necessity came a revelation that he really liked the balance and complexity of the wine. Vergelt's Gott (directly translated as God's reward, but generally used as a form of 'thank you') is the name Muthenthaler gave the wine, and he has continued to produce a bottling under this name ever since. The 2017 is a blend from 20 and 40 year old vines, fermented in a combination of 1 new and 2 old, large Austrian barrels, and aged in old Austrian barrels. The wine goes through malo-lactic fermentation. This is the kind of Gruner that is clearly on another level, and does more than most young Gruners I've tasted to make a convincing argument that Gruner Veltliner is truly capable of producing exquisite and high quality white wine, as many die-hard fans of Austrian wines already know well. The palate is constantly evolving, and there is a delightfully LONG finish. A compelling wine! -EL
Vom Stein is a parcel behind the town of Mautern, which is on the banks of the Danube in the famous Wachau region. It is one of the principal vineyards that Nikolaus and Christine Saahs farm at the Nikolaihof estate. Soils here are a mix of loess, loam, and Danube gravel. Grapes spontaneously ferment and the wine ages for six months in large, oak casks.
Claus Preisinger's winery is right outside the tiny town of Gols, on the northeast corner of the Neusiedlersee. Biodynamic since 2008. The name 'Kalkstein' is in reference to the shell limestone soils found in the vineyards where the Blaufränkisch grows. Average vine age is 30-years-old, grapes are hand-harvested, and spontaneously ferment in stainless tank followed by aging sur lie in used large wooden barrel for six months before being bottled with low amounts of sulfur. True to form, his Blaufränkisch shows bright minerality and great texture through the layers of juicy plum, black raspberry, and savory herbs. The newly arived 2019 is delicious and vibrant, with dark fruit and light-medium body. People speak about drinkability, and we don't like to overuse the term, but it couldn't be more apt to describe this lovely red.
The Stadlmann family has been making wine since the 1780s in the Thermenregion; sheltered from the northern winds by the Vienna Woods, it is one of Austria's warmest wine growing areas. The 'Classic' line of wines are aged in large, used barrels to showcase the true character of the grape and terroir. Cari Bernard
Maria and Andreas Harm have around ten hectares spread between Kremstal and Wachau, with their 500-year-old cellar located on the Kremstal side. 'FIO' stands for four-in-one: Grüner Veltliner from vines aging 10-30 years, from four different vineyards. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel, with lees contact until bottling. White blossoms mixed with green herbal scents, the wine boasts a rich texture balanced by saline notes, and orchard fruit.
Michael Wenzel is one of the few winemakers left in Austria making dry Furmint (a grape usually found in noble sweet wines of both Austria and Hungary). His father, Robert, brought Furmint clippings from Hungary back into his family's hectarage in the mid-eighties. Michael continues to plant vines and has been looking for ways to adapt the grape to the current terroir of Rust. So far the results have been (for us) a benchmark example of the variety. Scents of quince, white blossoms, apples, nectarine and herbs waft from the glass readily; the palate is powerfully concentrated with stone fruit and quince balanced with crystalline acidity. Fantastic! -CB
Wimmer-Czerny estate has been producing Roter Veltliner wines since the 1880s, and is the source for two major clones of Roter Veltliner, so they know a thing or two about the grape! Roter is possibly related to Vitovska or yellow Traminer (different theories abound), and has an extremely high phenolic content for a white grape, with a type of acidity that has more in common with red grapes than other white grapes. Romans liked this grape, most likely because of its vitality and ripeness late in the harvest, which gave more alcohol. This is the most interesting and enjoyable Roter Veltliner I've tried and sparked a desire to try more. From 55 year old vines. There is a nice, broad texture, roundness without ripeness or "fruitiness." It does stand out as a bit different from most whites. It's hard to explain but at $20, just try one and you'll see. -Eben