Tag Archives: Austria

Austrian-Portuguese marriage

Back in England for the Real Wine fair. This time I started in Brighton, and I visited the Ten Green Bottles wine bar and restaurant, that recently celebrated 10 years of existence. They started as a supplier of artisan wines to bigger establishments, some famous restaurants like the Fat Duck, but they had a dream to set up a cosy Italian style enoteca. Now this ambitious wine bar can be found in downtown Brighton just off North Rd.

ten green bottles brighton

It was here that I tasted this Carnuntum blaufränkisch, an Austrian-Portuguese collaboration. The people behind the wine is the formerly married couple Dorli Muhr and Dirk van der Niepoort, the latter well-known for port wine and for various table wine projects, in Portugal and elsewhere. They have great help from South African Craig Hawkins (formerly with Eben Sadie, now with his own project in the Swartland), who stays at the winery three months every year. In fact, only two days later I met -well, not only Sam from the Ten Green Bottles- but Craig himself at the Real Wine fair, presenting and pouring his own wines.

IMG_4245 Craig Hawkins, consultant in oenology

Carnuntum is a small wine region east of Vienna, rich in limestone, planted by the Romans, but neglected and forgotten untill quite recently. It’s here we find the Muhr family property. Dorli and Dirk also make an old vine blaufränkisch, but the Carnuntum is sourced from younger plants. The grapes are partly foot-trodden, with some stems, the grapes are not treated with any sulphur, and no cultured yeasts are used. The maceration is very light, no pumping over – and the wine is kept in big barrels for two years before bottling.

carnuntum

Carnuntum 2011 (Muhr-van der Niepoort)

Dark red. Quite flowery with red berries (like mature cherries), some woodland notes too, mushroom. Velvety tannins, grapey and juicy with a nice acidic touch. Refined, sophisticated.

Price: Medium

 

Meinklang’s Wörth Grüner

Here is a long-time favourite, or maybe better: one in a whole family of favourites. Angela and Werner Michlits jr. are launching one lovely, cheap, serious-but-quaffable wine after another, various grüners, blaufränkisches, zweigelts and more.

Their biodynamically managed estate is found in Pamhagen, Burgenland, by the big Neusiedlersee and bordering Hungaria. The soil is made up of clay and sandstone, and the vines used here are not very old, planted between 10 and 20 years ago. It’s in this area we find the Wörth vineyard, Meinklang’s biggest. In Werner’s own words, they are “recultivating nature”, in short allow for more variation “to keep up biodiversity and create stable ecosystems for many different buds and organisms”.

Mainklang Angus Some of their 800 Angus cows (credit: Meinklang)

This wine is made from 100% grüner veltliner, made with natural yeasts, kept for 6 months in steel. It’s obviously un-oaked, not fined and only lightly filtered.

Meinklang Wörth

Grüner Veltliner Wörth Single Vineyard 2016

(Meinklang)

Light straw. Direct fruit, notes of citrus, green apple, a touch herbal. Here is fruit all the way through the taste and aftertaste, with a vibrant acidity and a mineral finish. So simple, so good!

Price: Low

Food: Fish (white and red), shellfish, salads, a variety of cheeses, lightly spicy Asian…

From the legendary Steiner Hund vineyard: Nikolaihof’s contribution version 2012

This is one of several stars from a recent tasting of wines from Austria’s coolest wine regions, Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal.

Nikolaihof of Wachau is famed for being Austria’s oldest winery, with 2000 years in the business, and built on a St. Nikola’s monastery. The Saahs family was also among the first to convert to biodynamic prinsciples, almost 50 years ago.

The Steiner Hund lies between Wachau and Kremstal, Stein itself lying in the western outskirts of the village Krems. The soils in Kremstal is diverse, and west of Krems, towards Wachau where the valley gets steeper, there is more granite and gneiss. It is here we find the Steiner Hund vineyard, and here riesling has a potencial for great elegance.

The Steiner Hund is a stony vineyard, extremely difficult to work. A local legend says that it once was owned by a wealthy winemaker, who exchanged it for a dog when there was famine in the region. Today producers from Kremstal to the east and Wachau in the west has ownership in the vineyard. The site is south-facing and is comprised of conglomerate rock with a thin topsoil of loess and loam.

In Nikolaihofs vineyards no herbicides, fertilisers, pesticides, nor synthetic sprays are used. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented without artificial yeast and stored in big, old Austrian oak casks.

Nikolaihof Steiner Hund

Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Riesling Reserve 2012 (Nikolaihof)

Deep yellow with some green. Concentrated aroma. It’s more open than the previous vintage; still young though, but begins to reveal flowers, herbs, honey and fresh berries (gooseberry). There is probably much more to come during the next few years. Quite full in the mouth, rich, mineral (crushed stone). We know from experience that it will keep well.

Price: High (just over the limit to “high” in our classification)

Food: Grilled fish, shellfish, light meat, can do with rich sauces – the food must be good though

Darkest Zweigelt so far

A grape mostly famous for rosés and lightly coloured ‘gluggable’ reds, This is probably the darkest zweigelt I have tasted so far. Having said that, it’s still quite easy to drink, and doesn’t necessarily need food.

It comes from the vast Burgenland in eastern Austria, in Heideboden near the big lake, to be more precise. Here are perfect conditions for that early-ripener; warm, mild and sparse rain.

It’s always spontaneously fermented, aged in big, used oak vats.

 

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Blauer Zweigelt 2015 (Weing. Nittnaus)

Blue-blackish colour. Young, fresh aroma with hints of dark berries, spices and aromatic herbs. Medium weight, fine tannins, lovely.

Price: Low

Söllner’s Roter Veltliner

Have you ever heard about roter veltliner? It’s not a cousin of grüner veltliner, nor is it a grape for making red wines (although the skins have some colour). It’s a grape mostly found in Austria and maybe most prominently in Wagram, Niederösterreich. We don’t know exactly where it came from. What we know is that red muscat is one of the many synonyms, along with various traminers.
The Söllner winery is located in Wagram, some 70 kilometers west of Wien, very near Wachau. It has a view over the Donau valley and lies on sandy terraces with red gravel, organic since 1997. They claim that the variety is the oldest in the region, probably introduced by the Romans.

 

 

 

For the roter veltliner they use hand-picked, selected, ripe grapes from differnent plots around the village Gösing. The fermentation, spontaneous from indigenous yeasts, is carried out in stainless steel.

roter-veltliner

Roter Veltliner von Gösing 2015 (Söllner)

Light yellow with green hints. Aroma of citrus and white flowers, apricot and herbs. Fresh acidity, dry and very appealing.

Price: Low

Food: White fish, seafood, salads, lightly spiced Asian

 

Heinrich’s Zweigelt of Burgenland

I tasted this at the Territoriet (The Territory) wine bar in Oslo a few weeks ago. It was a perfect red wine for a warm, humid, but not sunny day in Oslo.

Heinrich grows the grapes after biodynamic principles, though the wine has no certification. It is a 100% zweigelt, underwent a spontaneous fermentation in steel and big oak vats, and had two weeks maceration.

2014 is also in the market, and both are good.

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Zweigelt 2013 (Heinrich)

Cherry red. Aromatic, with mature red berries, some green pepper. Quite warm and round in the mouth, but also with light and elegant tannins and a crisp, refreshing acidity.

Price: Low

 

Austrian with great personality

I met Eduard and Stephanie two years ago in London. In fact, the first time I had contact with Eduard Tscheppe he was doing a range of more conventional wines in Südsteiermark, so I was surprised to find him there. But at the RAW (fair for natural wines) I tasted through a whole range of Burgenland wines with great personality. Yesterday, by coincidence, I was presented to a bottle at my local wine store. This is the only shop in my country where it can be found at the moment, and there is only one bottle left. But luckily this one and other Tscheppe wines can be ordered from anywhere in this strange land.

Tscheppe Stephanie Tscheppe-Eselböck and Eduard Tscheppe

They took over the winery Gut Oggau some years ago. It’s named after the village Oggau am Neusiedler See, close to both the Hungarian and the Slovakian border. From 13 hectars biodynamically cultivated vineyards come a range of wines. These are all vinified with grapes from a single plot, and each cuvée is named after a fictional character, together forming a whole family.

In short, the winemaking includes some time on the skins and lees for both red and white wines, indigenous yeasts, no filtration or fining. It may sound frightening to some, but the results are elegant wines full of life. The wines most often get used to oxygen early in in their development, contrary to the modern norm, where all contact with oxygen must be avoided.

Timotheus then, we learn from the back label, is a representative from the elegant elderly generation, powerful and self-confident, and with both feet planted «in life». You can maybe see this from his portrait, but to get the whole presentation you must buy a bottle.

This wine is made from grüner veltliner and weissburgunder and aged for 9 months in used 500 liter barrels.

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Timotheus 2013 (Gut Oggau)

Misty yellow with a brownish-greenish hue. Expressive (but by no means ‘boasting’), quite complex aromas with elements of clementine, flowers, almond… In the mouth it’s round, fleshy, a bit appley, and with a slightly bitter aftertaste that often comes with the grape variety.

Price: Medium

 

One of two good Zweigelts

In our private wine club last Monday the theme was Austrian red wine with focus on the three grapes Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and their crossing Zweigelt. While there were seveal good wines from, at least for me, more well-known producers and especially from Blaufränkisch, the biggest revelation was the two Zweigelts from Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster.

Bilderesultat for muster zweigelt

While most wines were from the Burgenland area the Muster family is found in Südsteiermark. There they have inherited a 10 hectar vineyard that they work according to biodynamic methods. The landscape is very steep and the soil has rocks, clay and silt. Sheltered from a nearby mountain range the nights are cool and mild. The vines grow on single wire trellises, an ancient practise in the region.

They imply spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, preferably done in barrels and casks. They also like to keep them for a long time, around two years before bottling, to secure maturity and balance.

Graf Zweigelt 2007 (Maria & Sepp Muster)

Bright red. Cool aromas with hints of cherries and plums. Quite concentrated, but grapey and juicy at the same time, and with a delicate and playful acidity. Really enjoyable and calls for more.

Price: Medium