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Although the time has come when some of us instinctively reach for red wine over white and rosé, I like to think that the seasons for wine aren't so cut and dry. With this in mind, we are excited to highlight newly-arrived whites and rosés from some store favorites from Austria and Germany.
Enderle & Moll may already be on your radar for their reds, but the 2015 whites and rosé are not only showing incredibly well, they are great transitional wines for summer into fall. The winemaking region of Baden in southwest Germany has a history of large-scale wine production for co-ops, with little regard to responsible farming and overall quality of the wines. In more recent years, a small handful of winemakers have been making an effort to focus on quality over quantity. Sven Enderle and Florian Moll work their two hectares of vines organically with biodynamic treatments, and are constantly experimenting when it comes to methodology in the cellar. This makes for compelling wines with great texture and complexity, coming from both skin contact as well as how the wines are aged. When visiting this past summer, they had gotten their hands on extremely large ceramic vessels that reminded me of those traditional crocks in which one ferments sauerkraut, but large enough for an adult to stand in. These were nestled in next to the collection of fiberglass containers, used barrels from Domaine Dujac, and stainless tanks in their cellar (large garage, really). We have not one but two Müller-Thurgau wines: one with grapes sourced partially from friend Stefan Steinmetz, and the other made with all estate fruit. There is also a Grauburgunder and Grau/Weißburgunder blend, as well as a Spätburgunder rosé which is just the right balance of fruity and savory to pair with heartier fare.
Not to be outdone, Austria has increasing numbers of winemakers using organic and biodynamic farming along with non-interventionist cellar work using natural yeasts and neutral vessels. We have a dark and textured rosé of Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch from Gut Oggau in Burgenland, where Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe are working about 13 hectares on a mix of gravel, schist, and limestone with Demeter Biodynamic certification. The conversion was aided by the fact that the old-vine vineyards they purchased had been basically untouched for 20 years.
Even though I've just plugged in my space heater, I still want to drink Gemischter Satz, a traditional Viennese field blend made from a minimum of three varieties of grapes that are harvested together and co-fermented. Listed below are some stunning examples that have weight and intrigue from biodynamic winemakers Bernhard Ott (2015 is his first vintage producing a Gemischter Satz, from a newly sourced vineyard) and Jutta Ambrositsch, who has been making Gemischter Satz wines from some of the finest plots of vines in the Vienna DAC. Cheers to Fall! Cari Bernard
Müller-Thurgau from both estate vineyards and fruit from Stefan Steinmetz, fermented on 25% of the skins for 5-6 months. Tropical aromatics and orange oil on the nose, the palate is tart and savory with notes of golden raisin, yellow apple, sandalwood, and juicy pineapple. Cari Bernard
Made with purely estate fruit, the nose is slightly darker than the regular Müller-Thurgau, with notes of overripe pineapple and savory herbs. The palate has a great chalky texture with notes of bruised apples, dried orange peel, and zesty starfruit. Cari Bernard
Skin-contact Pinot Gris with texture and bite, quite the departure from light, crisp Pinot Grigio, with vibrant flavors of rich apricot, apples and cinnamon, and dried black tea leaves. The rich texture and warming, savory qualities pair well with the deep, rustic flavors found in many classic Thanksgiving dishes: from gravy-laced mashed potatoes, to chestnut-studded stuffing with roasted apples. Cari Bernard
With more Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) than Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), the grapes are picked and fermented together in ceramic vessels. The wine is grippy yet lush, tart and juicy with bright acidity, notes of yellow peach skin, apricot, white blossom, orange oil and beeswax. Cari Bernard
A great rosé of Pinot Noir for fall and winter, the grape must sees up to six days of skin contact, making for a wine with great texture that begs to be sipped with hearty food. Cherries and red flowers fill the nose; the palate has high-toned sour cherries, red hibiscus, and cranberries, contrasted by savory notes of soy sauce, black tea, and earth. Cari Bernard
Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt grown biodynamically on gravel, with an average vine age of 35 years. Cellar work for Eduard and Stephanie is very hands-off and traditional in its simplicity. Grapes are hand harvested and ferment in large, used oak barrels. The élevage is also in used oak (500 L barrels), and like their other wines, there is no batonnage, no fining, no filtration, and no added sulfur. The result is a rosé that is textured and savory, with notes of baked and fresh wild strawberries on both the nose and palate followed by herbs, orange zest, and black tea. Cari Bernard
Jutta Ambrositsch did her quarter-life crisis right, making the jump from a career in graphic design to organically farming some of the finest plots of old vines in the 19th District Vienna DAC along with a satellite plot, from which this wine takes its name. This wine comes partly from the Bisamberg vineyard in the 21st district, north of the Danube with predominately sandy loess soils and calcarious subsoil. A blend of co-harvested and stainless steel fermented Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc the nose is both floral and soft, with just a hint of flint. The wine is juicy and bright, medium in body with notes of white cherries and white peach, tarragon, and orange zest. Cari Bernard
This is the first Gemischter Satz from Bernhard Ott: a field blend of Welshriesling, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc from newly acquired vineyard plots. Harvested together, carbonically macerated, and aged in stainless steel together, they form a chorus of vibrant, refreshing acidity, great tension and texture, with floral notes on both nose and palate, along with white cherry fruit, brisk minerality, and a touch of the savory. Cari Bernard