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We here at Chambers Street are thrilled to offer a list of new (and almost new) arrivals from Austria and Germany to inspire you to revisit some favorite produers, or perhaps step out of your comfort zone and into unknown territory. This selection of wines represents a wide swath of styles, grapes, and regions—from Sankt Laurent Pét-Nat made in Burgenland, to Sauvignon Blanc grown in two very different methods by two brothers in Südsteiermark, on over to skin-contact Riesling from Clemens Busch in the Mosel, and a fantastic, fresh no sulfur-added Dornfelder from the Northern Pfalz.
In addition, wines from benchmark Biodynamic estate Weingut Odinstal in Wachenheim are finally here, along with the first tranche of sulfur-free pét-nats and still wines from brothers Daniel & Jonas Brand in Bockenheim. We have minuscule amounts of both a no-sulfur-added, elegant Pinot Noir from the garage of Andreas Durst (also in Bockenheim) and single-vineyard Sylvaner from Stefan Vetter in Gambach. Rounding out the mix, a delightful Riesling from Bianka and Daniel Schmitt in the Rheinhessen, and our favorite 'Wild & Free' bottling of skin-contact Pinot Gris from Michael Wenzel has returned. All wines are biodynamically or organically farmed, and all have very low to no sulfur added! We hope you enjoy! Cari Bernard
The wine that first caught my attention, Michael's 2015 Pinot Gris 'Wild & Free', did so because it was a complex, natural wine that was both fun and sophisticated; food-friendly but stood well on its own. For the 'Wild & Free' line of wines, grapes are hand-harvested, and spend between 10-15 days in contact with the skins before pressing. Wines age in neutral barrels. The 2016 conjures the same delight as the 2015: deep, umami notes of umeboshi plum mingle with sour cherry, blood orange, red apple skin, raspberry, stewed strawberry, and red grapefruit zest, medium-bodied with the lightest tannic tack and bright acidity--elegance and drinkability! Cari Bernard
It's no secret, the wines of Daniel and Jonas Brand are getting better with every vintage and their pét-nats continue to be a solid go-to for pure drinking delight! I have blazed through many bottles since their arrival, and don't see myself stopping any time soon. France may take the credit for popularizing the style in the States, but pét-nats from Germany and Austria have been some of my favorite bubbly bottles to date! Their Pét-Nat Weiß comes from 30-year-old vines of Sylvaner and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), has no sulfur added, and has just a bit more ripeness this vintage, with notes of Fuji apple, lees, pineapple, green strawberry and mango, white cherries, and a creamy mousse. Cheers to a job well done! Cari Bernard
It's no secret, the wines of Daniel and Jonas Brand are getting better with every vintage and their pét-nats continue to be a solid go-to for pure drinking delight! I have blazed through many bottles since their arrival, and don't see myself stopping any time soon. France may take the credit for popularizing the style in the States, but pét-nats from Germany and Austria have been some of my favorite bubbly bottles to date! Their Pét-Nat Blanc comes from 30-year-old vines of Sylvaner and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and has no sulfur added, and has just a bit more ripeness this vintage, with notes of Fuji apple, lees, pineapple, green strawberry and mango, white cherries, and a creamy mousse. Cheers to a job well done! Cari Bernard
The Brothers Brand have taken over the family vineyards, working organically with some biodynamic treatments, using natural yeast fermentation, and low or no sulfur additions (none is used with their pét-nats or 'Pur' line). Their 2017 Pét-Nat Rosé is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir, with about 10% old-vine Portugieser (vine age is about 40 years-old). A pleasing, deep magenta, jewel-toned rose in color, with a sprightly mousse and a mélange of tart and juicy red fruits: raspberry, watermelon, sour cherry, red plum all burst forth and wash over the palate, and the bright acidity primes you for the next sip--incredibly thirst-quenching! Cari Bernard
The Brothers Brand have taken over the family vineyards, working organically with some biodynamic treatments, using natural yeast fermentation, and low or no sulfur additions (none is used with their pét-nats or 'Pur' line). Their 2017 Pét-Nat Rosé is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir, with about 10% old-vine Portugieser (vine age is about 40 years-old). A pleasing, deep magenta, jewel-toned rose in color, with a sprightly mousse and a mélange of tart and juicy red fruits: raspberry, watermelon, sour cherry, red plum all burst forth and wash over the palate, and the bright acidity primes you for the next sip--incredibly thirst-quenching! This would be fun with a wide range of hors d'oeuvres, from gougères to potato chips to roasted beet crostini. Cari Bernard
The cherubic, young Bacchus is a nod to an old, carved-front barrel in town, lovingly drawn for the label by Daniel & Jonas Brand's Oma (grandmother) without color to delineate the series from other projects at the winery. The main difference being that all 'Pur' wines have absolutely no sulfur added during winemaking. Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Sylvaner (pre-harvest of Elis vineyard), Scheurebe, and whole bunch Riesling spend six months on the lees in stainless steel before bottling. This wine is incredibly delicious with just the right amount of texture to balance the flavors of salty yellow apricot, juicy yellow apple, white blossoms, yogurt, young ginger, and sour orange zest. Cari Bernard
Are you drinking enough Dornfelder? Did you have to think too long on that answer? Did you wonder, what is Dornfelder, and why am I missing out? Well, easy fix—'Cuvée Flora' has returned! This release is a blend of 2016 and 2017: '16 fermented on the skins for three weeks, '17 was semi-carbonic maceration. Fun fact about this Dornfelder is you're going to pour it into the glass, and as you swirl the deep, opaque liquid around, you'll notice it's practically staining your glass. Then you're going to wonder why we told you to put a slight chill on the wine as you gaze into its inky depths. Then you're going to try a sip and it will all make sense. Dornfelder was made to act as a blending grape to (mostly) add pigment to the lighter German red wines back in the mid-1950s and onward (it also happens to have great acidity and structure). When you break it down, Dornfelder is a crossing of Helfensteiner (Frühburgunder/Pinot Noir Précoce × Trollinger/Schiava Grossa) and Heroldrebe (Blauer Portugieser × Blaufränkisch/Lemberger*)—all those parent grapes rule; and Dornfelder deserves its time in the spotlight! As the chill wears off a touch, scents of bramble fruit, red flowers, cantaloupe, cucumber, and raspberries proliferate. The palate has just enough structure and grip, balancing crunchy, red cranberry and strawberries, plums, savory herbs and white pepper. Cari Bernard ((*grape parentage information taken from Wikipedia))
Riesling with extended skin-maceration time can sometimes lose its footing, falling into the spectrum of 'cidery'. And of course there's a place for that, but it's very exciting to find wines that still hold onto the acidity and balance of fruit and minerality. Clemens has hit this note, with the 2016 vintage of the (alter) Native—we see extended skin maceration and the wine spends 15 months sur lie in large old German oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Decant for at least a half hour to fully enjoy the subtle texture with notes of burnished peach, yellow apple, white blossom, balanced by juicy nectarine, green herbs and vibrant tangerine acidity. Cari Bernard
Andreas Durst lives but a stone's throw away from Daniel and Jonas Brand, in Bockenheim, a small town in the northern Pfalz (very close to the Rheinhessen border). Working less than a hectare in total, and making wine out of his garage, Andreas has managed to produce some incredibly spell-binding Pinot Noir (not to mention Portugieser and Sylvaner), aged in old barrel. The 2014 Pinot Noir "N" is labeled thusly because it had no sulfur added at any point. An experiment that panned out beautifully, the wine is incredibly elegant, with subtle flavors of ripe sour cherries, strawberry juiciness, and a touch of lees, layered with savory notes of red flowers on the lengthy finish. Every time we've opened a bottle it shows yet another angle, a delightful case study in wine as a living, evolving entity. Cari Bernard
Claus Preisinger's first vintage was in in early 2000s, after stints working in California as well as with Hans and Anita Nittnaus in Burgenland, where his vineyards are also located. His 19 hectares of vineyards have been certified Biodynamic (Respekt) since 2008. This vintage of the Kalkundkiesel is Weißburgunder, Grüner Veltliner, Muskat, and Welschriesling selected from a variety of vineyard sites, with soils containing limestone and pebbles. Maceration is for four days and the wine ages in a mix of used, wooden vessels before being bottled without any added sulfur. Elegantly textured with layers of ripe apricot, lees, salted yellow apple, quince, soft floral tones, and savory clay: a stunning wine! Cari Bernard
A blanc de noir, this méthode ancestral (read: pét-nat) sparkler is 100% Sankt Laurent, picked early to preserve acidity. Aromatic and fresh, notes of white flowers and strawberries give way to a lively mousse with vibrant flavors of tart peach yogurt, juicy wild strawberries, apricots, Fuji apple, underripe pineapple, and some funk on the finish. Cari Bernard
Biodynamically grown Riesling from three different limestone-based parcels in the Rheinhessen, aged for ten months on the lees in 1200L neutral oak barrel, with no sulfur added at any point during the cellar work. Fresh and sprightly, piquant notes of lime oil and pineapple core, green herbs, red peach flesh, sour orange pith, guava, and pear. Delicious! Cari Bernard
The GK stands for Gambacher Kalbenstein, a terraced vineyard site that has concentrations of both colored sandstone and limestone. Because of this duality, Stefan has made two different wines, each one focused on the grapes grown on the predominant soil type. This is the Muschelkalk bottling (only 300L made), sourced from the shell limestone part of the Kalbenstein, from vines around 50 to 60 years in age. The grapes are pressed in a basket press and stay on the lees for 18 months in used barrel (Thank you jfr for the technical info!). Please decant 45 minutes to an hour to fully enjoy the white tropical blossoms, soft mango, sweet ginger spice, and orchids wafting up from the glass. The wine develops a fantastic harmony of the slightest hint of oxidation with fresh notes of Gala apple, kiwi, green plum, quince, and underripe pear, rhubarb tartness and salted lemonade tempered by a slightly unctuous body and the grounding flavor of green tea leaves on the finish. Cari Bernard
Andreas Schumann has been making wine at Weingut Odinstal since 2004, certified Biodynamic since 2006 and they've been organic since the 90's. The estate sits up from the town Wachenheim far back behind a forest, butting up to a basalt quarry, representative of one of the many soil types found in the 5.5 hectares of vineyards. As the vineyard is a monopole, Schumann chooses to differentiate parcels by elevation above sea level and soil type. The herbs needed to make the biodynamic preparations grow near the vineyard and cows graze further afield. In the vineyards, a mix of tall grasses and delicate flowers reach upward, at times higher than the vines. The Riesling 350 N.N. is from the highest parcel in the vineyard, and shows its basalt pedigree in the nose, with a mineral nerviness and the intoxicating scent of stone fruit on the cusp of ripeness. A juxtaposition of stone and opulence plays out on the palate, concentrated and luxuriously textured with notes of soft mango, apricot, and orange zest. Cari Bernard
All of the insects and amphibians found on the labels of Andreas Tscheppe's wines, are also found in the vineyards, where he biodynamically farms a variety of grapes, like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gelber and Gold Muskateller, and Sauvignon Blanc on tall terraces with no stone walls, only green cover, soil structure and the roots of the vines for support. Soil types in this region range from brown clay to chalky-silty marl (known locally as 'Opok'). Blue Dragonfly is 100% Sauvignon Blanc—the vineyard a mix of seven different clones planted in 2007. After de-stemming and a direct press, the must goes through spontaneous fermentation and ages in old wood barrels of various sizes up to 600L for 18 months during which the wine is racked twice. Just a touch riper than our perennial favorite, the Green Dragonfly, the nose is both stony with minerality and rich with stone fruit, there's a great balance struck between integrated acidity, and juicy yellow apple, raspberry seeds, and candied lime zest and an lengthy, elegant finish. Cari Bernard
Ewald Tscheppe took on the family vineyards around their house in Südsteiermark, where lines of gnarled vines arc their way back towards the 'Opok' soils (a compressed mixture of marl and clay). Although the terrain and training of the vineyards looks incredibly different from those of his brother, Andreas Tscheppe, the work in the cellar is fairly congruent: grapes are hand harvested, de-stemmed and directly pressed, the must spontaneously ferments, and the wine ages in old barrels (from 300 to 3000L in size) for 18 months, with no sulfur added at any time. The 'vom Opok' line of wines are sourced from further down the hillside, with vines around 30 years of age. 100% Sauvignon Blanc boasting bright flavors of tangerine oil, sour oranges, peach yogurt, yellow apple, apricot, just underripe red cherries, marjoram, vibrant balance with pleasing texture. Cari Bernard