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Here at Chambers Street we relish the opportunity to work with wines that we can support and champion for all the right reasons, and today we are pleased to spotlight some new arrivals from Austrian winemakers: Claus Preisinger, Michael Gindl, and Matthias Hager, all certified Biodynamic!
Claus Preisinger is currently working 19 hectares (spread between 64 plots) in Burgenland, north of Lake Neusiedl. After finishing viticulture high school, Claus took a job at a small winery in Sonoma, California followed by a few years working with Hans and Anita Nittnaus in Burgenland, during which time he was able to vinify a few wines of his own. His first official vintage was 2002 and since then he has been using native yeast fermentation, low (sometimes no) sulfur additions, and in 2008 became certified Biodynamic (Respekt). His skin-contact white blend of Weißburgunder with Grüner and Chardonnay yields soft texture and elegant balance. The Puszta Libre! is the fun, chillable red blend (Zweigelt and St. Laurent) of the bunch, fresh and juicy with an invigorating acidity. Zweigelt Kieselstein (pebble stone) reflects a more serious, structured style, yet still manages to be balanced and vibrant.
Michael Gindl started making wines during his time at agriculture high school, and now works ten hectares of vines on his family's property: a mix of farm land, woodland, and pasture where cattle graze and ever so conveniently provide necessary ingredients for a number of the Biodynamic treatments used in the vineyard. The vines (Demeter certified Biodynamic starting with the 2014 vintage) grow on a mix of predominately loess and loam soils, common to the eastern Weinviertel region of Austria. Vinification is spontaneous and without temperature control; Michael doesn't filter or add anything to the wines save for a small addition of sulfur at bottling for specific cuvées. Ageing happens in a variety of vessels, ranging from stainless steel, to clay amphorae, to acacia and oak barrels made from trees felled on the Gindl's property. The 'Buteo' line of wines take their name from the birds of prey that inhabit the vineyards. Little Buteo is the entry level Grüner, fresh and lifted with floral scents and linear minerality.
Matthias Hager went to school for Oenology & Viticulture in Krems, after which he spent some years working with Austrian winemakers Franz Hirtzberger and Ernst Triebaumer. He has been making wine on 12.5 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. He doesn't like to categorize his wines as just white or red, he has separated his wines into 'blue' and 'brown' collections. The 'blue' line of wines are fresh, bright, and fruity, to be enjoyed within the first four years after bottling. The 'brown' line of wines are more suited to be held onto, layered and serious. We've chosen the Zweigelt Eiswein from the brown line: a deeply complex and affordable option to age or open now to pair with cheeses and a wide range of desserts. Keep your eyes peeled for wines from the blue line as we coast into warmer days! 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. The Kalkundkiesel white is a blend of approximately 50% Weißburgunder, 30% Grüner Veltliner, and 20% Chardonnay, from different vineyards grown on chalk/limestone (kalk) and pebbles (kiesel). The grapes can spend up to eight months on the skins, but for this vintage it was closer to four to six. The wine then spends 14 months in neutral, small barrels (a mix of French and Austrian oak), before being bottled with no added sulfur. Incredibly clean and soft, the palate has complexity, but not the tannic texture one often expects on a white wine with months of skin contact. Savory notes mix with yellow apple and peaches on the nose, the wine has rich flavors of saffron, yellow apple, and fresh green pear with a floral overtone. Cari Bernard
Unusually slender for a red wine bottle, the Puszta Libre! bottle shape takes its inspiration from vintage soda bottles, a cheeky nod to how chuggable this wine is; and if that's not enough we are also instructed by the label to "drink cold"! Mostly Zweigelt with Sankt Laurent, fermented in stainless steel and aged in large (600L to 1000L) used oak barrels; fans of refreshing Loire reds, take notice! A touch funky upon first opening, there are black raspberries and dark, ripe plums that take hold shortly thereafter. The palate is juicy with tart red plums, blackberries, green herbs, and delicate tannins on the finish. A delightful option to sip with sunny days in mind! Cari Bernard
Claus Preisinger makes a wide range of red wines, from the fresh and gluggable Puszta Libre! to the more modern and full-bodied style of his Heideboden and Pannoble wines. The Zweigelt Kieselstein runs close to the middle of the bunch: a wine enjoyable now, but with potential to age with elegance. 'Kieselstein' is in reference to the abundance of pebble stones found in the vineyards, where vine age is around 25 years on average. A touch tight on the nose, the palate opens up with notes of rich black plums, savory thyme, ripe blackberries, and a bright, balancing acidity. Cari Bernard
Michael Gindl currently works ten hectares of Demeter certified vineyards in the Weinviertel, about 30 km northeast of Vienna. The Little Buteo is made from Grüner Veltliner grown on loam and loess soils on gently rolling hills outside of his home village of Hohenruppersdorf. The must spontaneously ferments in stainless steel with no temperature control, and ages for six months on the lees in stainless tanks. A small amount of sulfur was added at bottling. The wine is fresh and complex, with notes of pollen and white blossom on the nose; on the palate the wine is linear, savory, and bright, with tart lemon zest, green plum and apple, and a core of stony minerality. Cari Bernard
Biodynamic. Zweigelt. Eiswein. Under $40. Matthias Hager works 12.5 hectares of vines in the Kamptal (Demeter certified since 2010). The vines for the Eiswein are 25 years old on average, grown on a mix of clay and stone soils. The harvest for the 2013 vintage started one night in November and then a spike in warm weather that morning meant they would have to wait until ideal conditions returned in January. Frozen grapes go directly to press, the juice ferments with native yeasts, and ages for one year in neutral oak. More of a Weißherbst wine in color, a blanc de noirs! On the nose come the sharp notes of botrytis: saffron, marmalade candy, ripe mango with a piquant intensity. The palate has a distinctive broad texture and richness balanced by intense acidity bolstering the vibrant flavors of raspberry, honey, and citron with a whisper of graphite and flower stems. A unique eiswein to sip with assorted cheeses and fruit- or chocolate-based desserts. Cari Bernard