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Neuburger. Once relegated to the level of pallid blending grape and a variety that has seen a stark decrease of planted hectarage, there has been an increase of really compelling wines being made solely with this humble crossing of Roter Veltliner and Sylvaner. Markus Altenburger works to preserve and continue producing beautiful wines with autochthonous varieties. These 'local' grapes take well to the Burgenland climate and soils, and Markus has some really great sites within the Leithaberg DAC, northwest of the Neusidlersee. Here soils can range from shell limestone and slate to schist, gneiss, and loam. 'Betont' is a play on words, translating to 'pronounced', while also referencing the german word 'beton', which is concrete. 80% of the grapes are destemmed and left on the skins for five days before spontaneously fermenting and aging together in concrete egg with the remaining 20% that was whole bunch macerated for two weeks. The wine stays on the lees until being bottled unfined, unfiltered, with very low sulfur addition. A really fun mix of minty herbaceouness and tropical fruitiness on the nose, there's just a slight tack from the skin contact woven into the savory leesiness, pears, yellow apples on the medium-weight palate. A delightful wine! Cari Bernard *bottle photo courtesy Schatzi website
The Riesling from Alzinger's Steinertal parcel often sells out the moment it arrives from Austria; the steep, higher reaches of the vineyard have a sparse layer of soil over the primary rock of Gföhler gneiss which lends itself well to growing Riesling with intense minerality and power. The vineyard is located at the end of two valleys, where cool air intensifies in the autumn, providing ideal diurnal range to preserve acidity, ripeness, and aromas in the grapes. Luckily for us, this year there's enough available to make it to the website! Vibrant energy, elegant structure, age-worthy concentration, these are the attributes that make this wine so sought after! 2018 reflects the warmth of the vintage with a touch more fruitiness on the palate. Apricot skin and stone on the nose, the palate is dense and very youthful with flavors of ripe peach, orange zest, tangerine juice and wildflowers. Cari Bernard
Sourced from vineyards around the town of Dürnstein, on more gravelly, sandy, alluvial soils in contrast to the more stony meager soils further up slope. The 2019 boasts an effusively floral nose: jonquils, lemon blossoms, sweet pea, and clover, with some notes of apple skin and wet stone. The palate is lithe and racy, even agile. There are bright acidity and stone notes, driving a distinctly sapid palate. You get the savory herbal notes walking hand in hand with the preserved lemon, tart apple, and underripe white peach culminating in a lingering, mouthwatering, and pleasingly bittersweet finish. The contrast between fruit and stone is compelling and this shows plenty of lively detail in each sip. John McIlwain
Renner sits at the base of the Kammerner Gaisberg, soils here are a mix of limestone and sandy loam on top of loess and mica schist with alluvial deposits. Cellar info paraphrased from the Skurnik website: whole cluster pressed, natural yeast fermentation and aging in a mix of stainless tank and large format, neutral oak barrel with lees contact until just a few months before bottling. Cari Bernard
Delightfully fruity but balanced with refreshing acidity, this year's Hirschvergnügen comes from all estate fruit, hand-harvested, ambient fermentation and aging occurs in stainless steel. Bursting with tropical citrus fruits, green apples, and the slightest touch of herbal spice. This is a great Grüner to pair with lighter fare. Cari Bernard
2015 was a very warm vintage, with drought conditions during the summer months, followed by intermittent rains later in the harvest. Although wines were on the more concentrated and ripe side, acidity still remained fairly fresh for the vintage. Paraphrased from the Weygandt website: Rotes Tor is a reference to a gate in the town wall that was red with blood during the Swedish Wars (1630). Vines here are on average 25 years old, planted on a mix of gneiss, mica, schist, and brown soil.
'Joiseph' is the project of three friends (Richard Artner, Xandl Kagl and Luka Krawmann), started in 2015 in the town of Jois, north of the Neusidlersee in Burgenland. They've slowly been acquiring great parcels (now with close to six hectares in total), farming organically with some biodynamic leanings. We were drawn to their 'Mischkultur': a mix of Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Neuburger, Muskateller, and Traminer from two separate parcels, with vines ranging from 10 to nearly 100 years in age, on limestone and slate soils. Not sure what the skin contact time is on this, but the wine is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with very low levels of sulfur added. White cherries and almond cream on the nose, the medium-bodied palate has a beautiful play between texture and juicy pineapple with a more bitter almond note over apple tart tatin, and white flowers. Cari Bernard
A new arrival from Alwin and Stefanie Jurtschitsch in the Kamptal, 'Mon Blanc' is a blend of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Gelber Muskateller and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from the Loiserberg vineyard (cooler site, glimmerschiefer and loess, certified organic since 2009). About two weeks of skin contact, spontaneous fermentation in open-top wooden vats, aging is in 600L old oak barrel, the wine is unfined and unfiltered with a small amount of SO2 added only at bottling. High-tones of lemon zest and herbs with peaches on the nose, the wine is refreshing and tart with just a hint of texture framing white florals, lemon juice, apricot and chamomile. Cari Bernard
White pepper and black fruit – what a combo! And distinctly nutty/grainy aromas as well. A rich, peachy, totally dry white wine, with creamy texture and great length. Fascinating and delicious wine that goes well with a great many foods – a great match for Asian spices, for instance. JW Nearly 15 years on from the vintage, Knoll's 2001 Loibenberg GV is a quite impressive wine, with the peachy flavors Jamie first wrote about years ago having mostly receded, leaving in their place a citric, herbaceous Grüner with telltale aromas and flavors of nuts, grains and lentils. Knoll's wines age wonderfully, retaining freshness and loads of character, even after their obvious, forward fruit has faded. Still youthful but showing quite well and promises to unfold more over the next 5-10 years. John Ritchie
A blend of Welschriesling, Grauburgunder, and Traminer biodynamically grown on a rocky loam soils. Hand-harvested, the grapes macerate for about a week followed by spontaneous fermentation and aging in stainless tank on the lees. The wine is unfined, unfiltered, and only 25 mg/L of SO2 is added before bottling. A nice balance of florals, apricot, slightly oxidized apple, and savory leesiness with just a whisper of texture. Cari Bernard
Nikolaihof is the oldest winery in Austria, with the cellar dating back about 2,000 years. The Saahs family took the reins in 1894 and went biodynamic in the early 1970s. 'Zwickl' is a reference to the unfiltered beers of Germany (Zwickelbier), and this is the unfiltered version of the Nikolaihof Hefeabzug. Although it won't be quite as cloudy as its beer counterpart, the texture is present just enough to give depth and delight to the fresh floral, peachy, and pollen notes. Serve with spring vegetable salads, asparagus tart, roasted chicken and herbed new potatoes. Cari Bernard
Sankt Laurent, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, and Merlot sourced from higher parcels in the Rosenberg, Altenberg, and Ungerberg vineyards, hand-harvested, the grapes ferment spontaneously and age separately for 18 months in neutral 500L barrels, blended and bottled unfiltered with low sulfur added. Black plums, soy sauce, black pepper, deep savory spice wafts up from the glass, belying the fresh and juicy palate of tart raspberries, plums, violets with well-integrated structure. Cari Bernard
50% Zweigelt, 30% Blaufrankisch, 20% Merlot fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks and then aged for 14 months in neutral small oak barrels.
Named for the chalk and limestone rich soils of the preferred sites used for this 100% Blaufrankisch bottling. The grapes are handpicked, fermented in stainless steel, and then aged for 6 months in large neutral barrels.
The name Kalkundkiesel designates the use of sites that are rich in chalk (kalk) and pebbles (kiesel). The blend is 60 % Weissburgunder, 30 % Grüner Veltliner, 10 % Chardonnay. The fermentation occurs with the skins, and then the wine is aged for 6 months in neutral oak barrels on the lees.
Sonntag Geschlossen (“Closed on Sundays”) is a collaboration between Florian Schuhmann and his friend Marcus Sonntag. The story goes that Marcus had been farming his family’s two hectares of old-vine (50 y/o) Grüner Veltliner for years, converting to biodynamics in 2009. Interestingly enough, he really didn’t take to the winemaking part, so the juice was kept in old barrels in his family’s cellar being topped up and lightly sulfured for nearly seven years before Florian got around to asking after the wines. Florian offered to bottle the wines under this label, releasing each barrel separately. This first release is from a 2400L (very old) barrel, unfined and unfiltered. Slightly oxidative on the nose, with bitter herbs, salted pineapple, yellow apple core and stone on the finish—we look forward to future barrels! Cari Bernard
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
The Stagård family's parcel on the Steiner Gaisberg (western Kremstal) is comprised of 12 southeast-facing terraces, surrounded by forest and shrubs. Grapes here are anywhere from 4-60 years old and grow on a mix of Gföhler gneiss and mica schist that is warmed by the sun and holds the heat well into the evening hours. The seventh generation of winemakers in the family, Urban and Dominique have been focusing on organic farming for their 17 hectares (certified since 2009). They mostly grow Riesling on some epic Wachau/Kremstal sites and cellar work is with wild yeasts, often in stainless tank, although some recent projects have been in steinzeug, or stone tank/crock. Long lees aging and minimal skin contact depending on the vintage/site helps stabilize and "harmonize" the wines. First tasted as a tank sample in summer of 2017, we've since tried it (in 2019) and think it would be a fantastic wine to pair with whatever graces your holiday table. Showing that warmth of the summer months on the Gaisberg, soft apricots, yellow apple, chamomile and brown sugar waft dreamily out of the glass and are echoed on the richly balanced palate along with ripe pineapple and pear on the very long finish. Cari Bernard
Franz Weninger has vines in both Sopron, Hungary and Burgenland, Austria. He started converting to biodynamics in 2006 and is now Demeter certified. Franz grows a variety of grapes on a mix of limestone, clay, loam, and loess soils (on the Austrian side), but his main focus is Blaufränkisch and its ability to showcase terroir. You can see this dedication in the sheer number of different, single-vineyard expressions he bottles from both sides of the border. The 2017 is from multiple Burgenland parcels. Cari Bernard